Calling all trailer sailors
This weekend's Rosehill boat show will cater for those with modest budgets, writes David Lockwood.
Forget the pollies and their token visit to Sydney's bellwether western suburbs. Something of much greater significance arrives this weekend - the annual Rosehill Trailer Boat Show, with a raft of affordable ways to get on the water in Sydney.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Rosehill event continues with the growing trend towards down-to-earth boat shows that engage the family and entry-level boaters.
To this end, trailer boats by their hundreds will be lined up at Rosehill like horses at the gate awaiting their jockeys. In keeping with the western suburbs and its wonderful multicultural mix, the spotlight is on grassroots boating.
Of the estimated 1 million craft plying Australia's waterways, most can be put on a trailer and many reside in garages in Sydney's west.
The National Boat Usage Study, Australia's first of its kind and released in late 2009, found 30 per cent of these trailer boats were less than five metres in length and 60 per cent of surveyed owners identified fishing as their favourite activity.
But prospective boaters of all bents will find bargains at the Rosehill Trailer Boat Show.
The show has been planned to coincide with the end of the boating high season. The subtext for the exhibitors is to clear the decks before winter and the arrival of new-season 2014 imported models. Take heed when you're negotiating your new boat.
To cater for the growing kayak-fishing fleet, there's bound to be a good range of affordable polyethylene paddle craft. Some are even purpose-built for fishing, but you only need to add some rod holders and a tackle box to catch fish from a 'yak. You can do the work yourself as time and money allow.
Next step up is the unsinkable, low-maintenance tinnie. Everything from the V-hulled dinghies to the flatter-bottomed bass-and-barra boats - used more often for catching bream on lures around Sydney's waterways - will be on show.
Tinnie buyers, take a tip and stick with the big-name brands such as Brooker, Quintrex, Savage, Sea-Al and Stacer, and Anglapro and even American Crestliner, which is muscling in on the show with a range of tinnies with tongue-and-groove hull construction. They're not quite as knockabout, though.
Aluminium sport fishers and offshore-fishing boats - including some cool trailer catamarans - are the next cabs off the ramps. Of all the serious trailer fishing boats, the plate-aluminium centre cabins and cuddy cabins hold the greatest sway.
Frugal four-stroke outboards are the engines of choice for offshore anglers, who will also encounter the latest fish-finding electronics and bargain tackle at Rosehill. Lures will be going for a song. Look for the prawn-imitation soft plastics for catching flathead, deep-diving minnows for trolling the headlands and bright skirts for game fish on the wide blue yonder.
The crossover fishing and family boater should turn to fibreglass for greater comfort. The American Chaparral 18 Ski and Fish (priced from $42,000 drive-away) is a clever bow rider that can morph from wakeboard tow boat to serious fishing machine in minutes. The boat comes with convertible seating, trolling motor, live-bait well, elevated casting platform seats and gunwale rod storage.
Sydney Sea Ray dealer 5 Star Motor Cruisers has special show deals this weekend on its run-out Yankee bow riders. If you "Like" its Facebook page you receive a $3000 discount voucher for use on new imported Sea Ray boats. Just add the subject message "Rosehill new order" and your preferred model.
Also from the US, the Regal 1900 and 2100 bow riders will be on show, with discounts on all models in stock as well as free upgrades on forward orders.
Suffice to say, there won't be an exhibitor among the 60-odd at this weekend's show who isn't offering some kind of deal. Brokers will be prepared to move a lot further than their advertised discount price.
Others, such as Quicksilver, are using the Rosehill show to test the water with new Australian trailer-boat releases.
If all that doesn't float your boat, check out the live-catch weigh-ins from 2pm daily courtesy of the Yamaha Bream Australian Open fishing competition. The country's best bream anglers and their purpose-built tournament boats will arrive in convoy, weigh their catch, field questions and then skedaddle back to the harbour to set the fish free.
The boat show also offers family entertainment, free entry and free parking. It is open all weekend from 9am-5pm at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, James Ruse Drive, Rosehill. See bia.org.au.