Boat Review Date: December 2015
Author: Mike Brown
The Stessco Tornado SFX 470 is technically a dinghy, and that is what its builder calls it. The dimensions are right for a biggish dinghy – hull length 4.7 metres, beam 2.2 – but the structure is pocket battleship tough and rigid. Coamings or side decks cap the sides all round, stiffening everything up. Sides and bottom are three mils thick. Every component is beefy and comprehensively welded in place. By good looking welds that are easy to examine: not a lick of paint on the boat.
The paint-free motif emphasises that this is a no nonsense work horse. That said it is also exceptionally well laid out and equipped. This is not the kind of dinghy where you stumble over naked bottom frames; there is a level carpeted deck throughout, except where the deck turns into platforms fore and aft.
The dinghy layout gives maximum room for fishing. Stability is good enough for two or three people to dispose themselves pretty well wherever they wish within that area. Moving around does not cause great changes in trim, but nor does the open set up call for much movement. Standard equipment provides two pedestal chairs to fit in a choice of four sockets, and this arrangement gives all the room for casting and otherwise spacious fishing. In trendy fashion one of the sockets is in the raised bow platform.
Another is ideally positioned for the driving seat, letting the driver’s hand drop naturally onto the tiller. 70 horsepower is a lot of motor to power a dinghy; it is also a lot of motor to be controlled by tiller. Tiller steerable Yamahas go as high as 115hp, but those are usually for heavy duty applications such as fish farm barges. The Stessco with its 70 makes a spritely animal indeed.
It would have been a literal handful with a stumpy old style tiller, but the length of the 70’s tiller, plus all the controls being close to hand, make it utterly controllable as well as a lot of fun. The customer for the review boat either fishes distant grounds or likes blistering speed; the agents more usually fit 40hp and occasionally 50.
It is always a good idea to have more on board than just the driver. With tiller steering it can be crucial for putting weight in the right place (we only dropped our manning to one so I could take the pictures). Naturally we had the kill switch lanyard in place.
The Tornado has fuel capacity for long range: a built-in 70 litre under floor tank. An advantage this has over portable tanks, besides convenience and capacity, is its location amidships. This is where the weight is wanted for good trim.
One of the most maddening sounds aluminium boats are capable of producing is the rattle of chain in the anchor well. Stessco fixed this in the obvious way: by lining the well with plastic. The well itself is usefully large, equipped with a beefy bollard and even a mini bowsprit and roller.
Dinghies tend to be cluttered simply because of their total lack of dedicated stowage; not so here. In addition to the usual side pockets, there are vast quantities of room under the platforms reached by five hatches. Part of the rear space is consumed by a rarity in such a small vessel: a live bait tank. Other features adding to an already capable boat are a catch tank, twin boarding platforms and a transducer bracket. This is clearly a serious fishing boat.
Price from AUD $20,285
Price as reviewed AUD $26,600
Length overall 4.95m
Fuel capacity 70L
Motor fitted 70hp Yamaha four-stroke