Boat Review Date: October 2010
Author: Mike Brown
New Zealand does many things well, sauvignon blanc effortlessly springing to mind, and plate aluminium boats are up there with the wine any day. The review Surtees 7.3 Sports Fisher is a first class example of what the Kiwis can do with aluminium.
It has very much the New Zealand profile, with long raking bow and fine entry, and the lacquered finish that reveals the absence of filler in the hull and the excellent quality of welding. The Sports Fisher in its name is fully justified: this is a boat to take you way offshore and it provides all the facilities a fisherman could ask for.
Interestingly, the Kiwis themselves tend not to fish very wide – they just go through hell getting to their inshore fishing spots. The often-horrendous river bar crossings they have to endure explain the toughness of their boats and their sea kindliness, qualities just as acceptable off the WA coast.
A version of the 7.3 has a lock-up wheelhouse to cope with the NZ climate, but the Sports Fisher has an extensive hardtop that provides a virtual backless wheelhouse. A fabric extension fits into sockets in the hardtop’s rear, spreading shade over 600mm more of the cockpit. A neat detail is a drain directing rain from the hardtop down the core of its supports and over the side.
The lined lock-up cabin has a pair of 1.9m bunks and a flushing toilet. It also has an exceptionally large fore hatch that should not be needed often for fore deck access. The anchor is handled by power windlass, and there are midship cleats for temporary berthing. Access via the side decks is good anyway, with safety provided by hardtop rails.
The cockpit deck is covered, and all shelves and pockets lined, with plastic reeded material: great cushioning and easy cleaning as well as first class non-skid. If you choose not to take this option, the exposed deck is in chequer plate to give the grip if not the softness.
Cockpit storage is given serious treatment: side pockets are deep enough to carry scuba tanks, there are double decker pockets alongside the main seats – as well as a battery of drink holders – and in front of the navigator there` is a stack of shelves.
All this is in addition to storage under the main and jump seats, although a fridge and a stow-away single burner stove take some of that space up (a New Zealand boat without some means of cooking is almost unthinkable). Those main seats are excellent: comfortable in their usual job they are also bolstered to give good standing support.
The third-class seats are right aft. The lockable flap covering the dual battery compartment hinges down, and a thin cushion on it makes it an acceptable lounge. The transom bait station would get in the way of people sitting there, but it has alternative sockets in the side coamings. This is some station. As well as the usual cutting board and rod sockets it has tackle drawers within a locker, and a pair of spools feeding leader wire through nozzles.
The bait itself gets a large live tank with clear front, and the catch could use the under deck compartment. The most significant thing under the deck though is the ballast chamber. Water ballasting is getting commoner as a means of giving a deep-V hull extra stability at rest, and I think Surtees were the first to introduce the technique in this hemisphere at least.
The ballast chamber has a door at the rear giving the choice of ballasting or not when the boat stops moving. I can’t think why you would choose to keep the door shut: the difference 460kg of water makes is dramatic, turning a twitchy boat into a reassuringly steady one.
You would certainly want the water in for hauling pots. Instead of using a version of the western pot tipper, the Surtees gets a folding derrick that drops into a coaming socket. A coaming-mounted power capstan hauls the pot and, once hauled, the derrick swings it inboard. Very neat.
The other rarely offered fishing feature is a burley muncher mounted in the platform aft.
Recommended power is from 200 to 300hp. Our 250 Verado proved more than adequate, hardly surprising since it was pushing a hull weight of only 1350kg. Driving was literally effortless with the Verado’s power steering, and it was also a fun task in pleasant surroundings. Control and dash layout is neat and ergonomic, and the compartment is well thought-out and finished. The hardtop, and the sides come to that, is lined and well ventilated. Side glass slides giving a choice of draft from its forward or rearward edges.
The windscreen gets two wipers, and these are the real deal: heavyweight southern ocean jobs. The well-located grab rails, too, are designed for hard work.
The Surtees trailer, though, makes for easy work: a clever catch on its post makes driving on and off a one-man operation. A painless way to end the day.
Price as reviewed $139,990
Price from $110,300
Length overall 7.3m
Hull weight 1350kg
Fuel capacity 300L
Fresh water 75L
Motor fitted 250hp Mercury Verado four-stroke