The Melbourne Boat Show was a bonanza for anglers who spend a lot of time towing, writes David Lockwood.
Victorians love to travel by boat, yet most of their time is spent behind the wheel of a tow vehicle. Whether heading to their adopted port of Bermagui or going outback on the Murray, our southern-state friends seem permanently hitched to the joys of trailerboating.
Unsurprisingly, this month's Melbourne Boat Show was mudguard to mudguard with new rigs. They ranged from serious bluewater fishing machines to cool wakeboarding craft and everything in between.
Bigger trailerboats are the trend, with hardtops to improve weather protection, and more mod cons including the kitchen sink. Having trolled the show, here are the standout new maxi trailerboats heading for a ramp near you.
Haines Hunter's flagship 760R gained a new fibreglass lid. An engineered frame forms the foundation, there are grab rails, opening glass sunroof, overhead electronic and storage space, plus a reinforced radar mount and spotlight location.
Weighing more than three tonnes, the 760R demands a truck to tow it. Powered by a single 350hp outboard or twin 150-225hp outboards, the 760R is no lightweight on the purse, either, with a sticker nearing $200,000 fully loaded.
Meanwhile, Haines Hunter's 675 Offshore has been designed to punch above its two-tonne towing weight. Being able to fit up to six adults comfortably in an enlarged cockpit was central to the design brief. The deep-vee hull and 280-litre fuel tank cater for genuine long-range fishing, and dash space, cabin head room and storage have been optimised. A dive door in the hull side comes standard for dragging seriously big fish aboard.
Whittley was celebrating 60 years of boat building in Victoria. In the heavyweight class, its new Sea Legend 28 claimed the title of largest fibreglass boat at the show to be legally able to be put on a trailer (without permits or daylight restrictions).
There are a fully enclosed head, full-length berths, comfortable sitting headroom and a galley with built-in fridge and stove. Weighing just less than three tonnes, the SL 28 was powered by a petrol V8 380hp Volvo Penta inboard engine with sterndrive. Packages on trailer start from $184,999.
Caribbean unveiled a Cavalier MKII Hard Top with armour-plated windscreen, heavy-duty wipers, a built-in overhead radio console and a clean and uncluttered interior. Bundled with a 150hp outboard on trailer, very reasonably for under $60,000, the new 19-footer is a smaller version of the evergreen 21-foot Caribbean Reef Runner.
Streaker had a spread of its honest fibreglass family/fishing boats, and Evolution had some standouts including a bright-blue 552 Series sportfisher with big-boat attitude, side-opening door and cool custom fish graphics.
Savage displayed a big line-up of its fibreglass fish and family rigs; the Haines Signature was well represented - and on the expansion trail after acquiring Tournament Boats - and Brisbane-based CruiseCraft had a new 595 Explorer cuddy cabin.
Fishing is a big motivator for Victorians, who could choose from plenty of local lines and imported sportfishers such as Robalo. Yet many anglers prefer the practicality and easy towability of aluminium.
Keen fishers admired the latest Bar Crushers. Its Gen2 plate-aluminium hull made its show debut under the 615C, its 535XS gained the Quickflow water-ballast technology, and the 730HT follows the trend to hardtops or lids.
The latest tow boats were hard to miss. Burnished orange, bright blue and green hulls are in vogue, with thumping subwoofers and big outdoor speakers hanging from their towers. Wake-making ballast and trim-tab systems are linked to programmable computer pilots at the dash for set-and-forget towing.
Malibu and Mastercraft rule the wake-boarding waves these days; the latter's X-Star social tow boat has lots of seating, pickle-fork bow, and one of the steepest wakes around. But you'll need more than $180,000 for the V8-powered rig. If you need more speed try Sea-Doo's LTD Edition GTX 260 with supercharged 255hp Rotax engine for more than 100km/h. Goggles extra.