I have to admit that I've never been a lover of bowrider-style boats, at least not in aluminium anyway. I've tested a few smaller versions of aluminium bowriders in the past and they didn't impress me much. They were too heavy in the aft end when the crew were all behind the helm and once a bit of chop came up whoever was up in the bow section got bounced around like a pinball. None of the above is my idea of an enjoyable day out on the water.
However, while testing a few boats for the industry's Boat of the Year awards recently, I jumped aboard Quintrex's new 500 Freedom Sport, a 5.0m bowrider featuring the new Millennium Hull and Maxi Transom.
After going for a run, the boat's excellent performance and well-designed layout made me question my opinion of alloy bowriders. The Freedom Sport is certainly an ideal rig for a fishing family, for spending a day on the water and even a weekend away camping.
Quintrex's new Millennium Hull design follows the success of the marque's smaller Hornet barra boats. The bow entry begins as a flare, giving the boat a finer entry than previously available in aluminium rigs. The flare continues down the hull, forming a slightly concave bottom which continues all the way to the transom.
This design offers better penetration of the hull in choppy conditions and a softer ride. This is due to the air trapped in the 'tunnel' formed by the continuation of the flare. What you end up with is a variable deadrise hull which has been very difficult to achieve in aluminium hull boats in the past.
The Maxi Transom has been developed largely because of the introduction of four-stroke engines. These engines tend to be heavier than their two-stroke counterparts and have not always been compatible on all boats. The additional weight has meant that many boats are heavy in the aft end and the engine cops more than its fair share of saltwater dunkings. Such boats are also slower to get up on the plane.
The biggest problems with four-strokes tended to arise on smaller boats with half pods. The buoyancy and lift wasn't there for these heavier engines. The full pod followed the half pod and the Maxi Transom is now the next stage that Quintrex has developed.
The advantages of increased lift and performance from initial trials of the Maxi Transom were so pleasing that Quintrex now utilises the new design on all of its boats from 4.5m and up.
ON THE PLANE
After driving one of the new Freedoms you soon appreciate the improvements that this hull delivers. The boat we tested was fitted with one of Envinrude's new Suzuki-built 70hp four-stroke engines, so we were able to test the hull for those stern-heavy problems we've just mentioned.
One of the first things you notice on any boat is how well it lifts out of the water when you push the throttle down. The Freedom Sport slips straight up onto the plane with ease without having to push the throttle right down before you start making any progress.
Once you are up and running you can back off considerably and still stay on the plane at relatively slow speeds.
This is an area where you can appreciate the additional lift and buoyancy of the Maxi Transom.
The Millennium design hull tacks noticeably better in the water than most alloy craft this size with no desire to wander either side. The same is true once you get out into some open water, punching into a few waves or running down the face of the ocean swell. It's nice to feel in control of your rig and be confident in how the hull will respond.
With time behind the wheel, new owners will quickly gain confidence in these new Millennium hulls.
LAYOUT TO LAYABOUT
I found the layout of the boat to be quite appealing and comfortable. There's no bow-high attitude and you don't encounter any pounding when seated up the front.
Padded benchseats occupy the entire bow section and the side coamings have padded backrests so you can really lean back and enjoy the ride. A substantial amount of storage is also found under these seats.
A centre section will slip between these seats to create a good size sleeping area, if you don't mind snoozing under the stars. And with the cushions removed you have a decent sort of casting platform.
The bowrider format means that the helm is positioned amidships, and in this case we had a half windscreen either side with a walkway to the bow section in the centre.
Padded swivel seats behind the wheel are comfortable and sturdy. With Quintrex's new dash designs, the instruments are well laid out in front of you on a stylish PVC panel.
Across the transom there is provision for a rear lounge, either in standard format or the deluxe version which you see pictured in this particular rig. The comfortable lounge spreads right across the transom and has room to seat four.
Yet another advantage of the Maxi Transom comes into play here as it provides that additional buoyancy needed to balance the weight of the passengers at the transom.
With a canopy fitted to the boat, you also have protection from the elements. Take a close look at the layout of the boat and you will realise its potential for interactive social days out on the water with friends, as well as fishing days with the family.
Quintrex has obviously done its homework with this new series of boats.
The layout, improved performance of the Millennium Hull and easy-start packages on offer are no doubt the major reasons that this company dominates the marketplace in Australia and is making significant inroads on the international market.
|QUINTREX 500 FREEDOM SPORT|
|Price as tested $26,900|
|Type: Variable deadrise moderate-vee monohull|
|Material: Pressed aluminium|
|Deadrise at transom: 9°|
|Weight: 380kg (hull only)|
|Fuel capacity: 90lt underfloor|
|Max rated hp: 90hp|
|Rec hp: 70-90hp|
|Type: SOHC fuel-injected inline four-cylinder four-stroke|
|Rated hp: 70hp|
|Supplied by Quintrex Australia, Molendinar (Qld), tel (07) 5539 2888.|