Boat Review Date: February 2011
Author: Mike Brown
One of the stars on Aquasports Marine’s stand at the Fremantle Show is the New Zealand-built Surtees 6.1 Centre Console. New Zealand imports generally emphasise shelter from wind and rain, but this one was built with WA input to the design and emphasises something Kiwis seldom worry about: shelter from the sun. A rugged frame carries a T-top of unusually big area.
Rigid as it is, the loosening of four bolts removes it. This is useful not only for low-slung carports but also when under tow for longer distances – T-tops create surprising amounts of air drag.
With the length of unobstructed rail available, centre consoles need very good stability to cope with the weight of anglers likely to be at one side. The 6.1 has just that, yet combines it with a super sharp-bottomed hull that has legendary sea-keeping qualities. The key factor is the 350L of seawater ballast you can take on at rest, and automatically eject when moving again.
This system is becoming commoner, but Surtees was among the very first to use it and they have a refinement: a gate over the end of the ballast compartment. This allows you to choose whether or not to retain the ballast when moving, and can be very useful. In bad seas the extra 360kg not only lowers your centre of gravity, but its extra mass softens the boat’s ride.
All Surtees boats are aimed at the fisherman (the boats actually have a plaque with the motto ‘built to fish’), and long ago the builder worked out and incorporated all the most-wanted fishing features. A slightly unusual addition is the tubed matting over the chequer plate deck. This is cushioning to stand on, keeps bare feet from burning, and is infinitely easier to clean than carpet. The same material lines the side pockets.
The more conventional inclusions are an under deck catch tank, a deck wash pump, an aerated live bait tank within the transom – with glass front allowing you to check on the bait’s health – rocket launchers, four side deck rod holders with matching sinker cups, a burley muncher on the transom, and a magnificent bait station.
This gadget drops into sockets in your choice of either side or at the transom. As well as providing a timber cutting surface it has a sheath to hold the knife, a set of tackle drawers, and feeders for leader line.
A great feature for the relaxed angler is the wide side decks or coamings; they are at just the right height for sitting with rod in hand. That was never a key intention of course: the width of deck adds greatly to hull rigidity, and it also puts the weight of standing anglers a little further inboard enhancing stability.
There is a fair number for seats to use when moving: a double at the console, and a drop-down settee aft that could squeeze in four. Any standing have the frame of the T-top to hang on to. The lowering of the settee reveals the transom space containing battery, filter and the like, with room left over for storage. Interestingly, the only genuine door on board is in the bait station, covering the bank of drawers. The console has a pair of shelves, and lifting the cushion of the double seat opens the other storage compartment. This is simplicity that Surtees owners like.
A 115hp fuel-injected two-stroke Mercury Optimax provided the power and, in two-stroke fashion, gave solid acceleration. This was useful in getting us up and planing quickly, draining the ballast water in seconds. Vision was good sitting or standing but, as is often the way with centre consoles, it felt more natural to drive standing.
Every Surtees I have driven has given a soft ride by any standard other than a good rigid inflatable, but this has the edge over the forward control models. With the driver just a little further aft, he is that much further from the impact zone.
The Surtees might emphasise plain and simple, but that does not mean any shortcomings in finish. Welding looked excellent to my non-tradesman’s eyes, I checked every cut edge of aluminium, including the hidden ones, and they had all been radiused and smoothed, and the paintwork was first class.
Price as reviewed AUD $61,990
Price from AUD $57,990
Length overall 6.1m
Fuel capacity 170L
Hull weight 650kg
Power range 100-150hp
Motor fitted 115hp Mercury Optimax