Sailfish 25th Anniversary

By: John Willis, Photography by: Supplied

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

AS ONE OF THE FIRST TO CAST OUT ABOARD A SAILFISH CATAMARAN IN COMPETITION, John Willis reflects ON THE COMPANY’S SUCCESS 25 YEARS ON

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Sailfish burst onto the Australian boating scene way back in January 1993 with its impressive locally-manufactured aluminium twin hull designs that hit the mark with Australian sportsfishers, divers and nomadic seafarers. Twenty-five years on and it has risen from humble beginnings to become one of Australia’s most successful marine manufacturers.

Sailfish has always offered a blend of seaworthy offshore-capable packages with maximised hull efficiency delivering huge volume, deck space and stability; all wrapped up into towable-sized packages on innovative alloy trailers. They carry their full beam virtually all the way to the bow and have enormously high sponsons that appear mammoth when out on the trailer. In reality, they pack so much more volume and facility into the compact packages than equivalent-length monohulls, and offer somewhat less weight than fibreglass boats with similar purpose enhanced by their innovations in alloy trailer construction.

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The high sponsons provide the added safety of very stable self-draining decks and the internal work space is maximised creating mobile sportsfishing/diving weapons. Sailfish offers a range of cabin layouts and options to suit long-range sojourns and weekenders, but mostly with a leaning towards providing terrific outdoor facilities for day sports activity.

A brief look at just some of Sailfish’s award successes reveals an impressive story that includes:

  • 2014 Trade A Boat Magazine – Finalist Aluminium Boat Of The Year Canyon Master
  • 2015 Trade A Boat Magazine Aluminium Boat Of The Year S7
  • 2016 Trade A Boat magazine Aluminium Boat Of The Year S8
  • 2012 Australian Marine Export Industry – Best export performer – medium exporter
  • Ballina Chamber Of Commerce – Business of the year – Industrial & Trade Services + Manufacturer Of The Year
  • 2012 Trade A Boat magazine – Aluminium Catamaran Of The Year
  • First ever Aluminium Catamaran to be approved for Volvo Penta IPS installation
  • 2017 NSW Safework Awards Winner – Excellence In Workplace Health & Safety Culture

FROM LITTLE THINGS

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Sailfish Catamarans started from humble beginnings in a little 152m² factory in the Northern NSW township of Alstonville, close to where the magnificent Richmond River spills to sea at the Northern Rivers mecca of Ballina. Its first 5.5m offering was displayed at the Sydney International Boat Show some months later, enjoying immediate acceptance and successfully landing four more contracts for complete BMT packages. Sailfish was an innovator in manufacturing its packages with custom aluminium trailers to keep the towing weight low, and the complete 5.5m package fitted with twin 70hp engines retailed for $34,999.

The team grew to cover the demand and their continual devotion to success led to the release of a smaller but no less capable 5m model in 1994, followed by 6.5 and 7.5m models in 1995, and eventually increasing their aesthetic appeal by revealing innovative and attractive coloured hull sides in 1996.

Sailfish cats attract recreational and commercial users alike with many government authorities, safety organisations and marine service providers following the lead set by NSW Maritime Services Board which purchased a 5.5 hardtop way back in 1995.

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Incidentally, it was during thisperiod that Melbourne’s Boronia Marine was appointed as a dealership and this was where I was first introduced to the products. I was one of the salesmen and part of the game fishing team who set-up a 5.5m hull for competition fishing mainly out of Bermagui on the south coast of NSW. We were wowed by their abilities and had many successful results with regular captures of marlin, tuna, albacore and sharks. But mostly we were impressed by the ride, with the twin hulls creating that aquatic cushion of air in the tunnels, plus the stability and deck space where we could comfortably fish four to five anglers from a 5.5m hull. Fond memories indeed. Well over 20 years later I still say, "Though the brand and its people have progressed a long way, the theory remains the same."

THE PEOPLE

Sailfish Catamarans was originally the brainchild of Darren Foster who commenced his career building aluminium catamarans in 1984 at Marlin Broadbill. He nowadays boasts more than 34 years of alloy twin hull boatbuilding.

A mere three years after the birth of Sailfish, a partnership was formed with Sydney’s Webbe Marine. This partnership grows stronger to this day, now some 22 years later. Webbe Marine has presented the brand to every Sydney Boat Show since then and is a regular at selected shows throughout the country.

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In 1998, Sailfish joined forces with Sports Marine in Western Australia, further strengthening the national alliance and brand representation. Sailfish Catamarans has grown from its humble beginnings of two staff producing five boats a year to now employing a staff of more than 20 full-time tradesmen and apprentices, which were recognised by its 2017 NSW Safework Award for Excellence In Workplace Health & Safety Culture. The team now produces approximately 30 custom-built plate aluminium power catamarans per year, with a very respectable total of more than 440 vessels in its 25-year history. Whilst recreational boats dominate sales, Sailfish has also supplied almost 100 Commercial Series vessels for survey and working applications including international exports to the USA, PNG, Russia and New Zealand.

Sailfish was also a pioneer in supplying fully rigged packages ex-factory. This guarantees a fully performance tested engine/hull combination with a multitude of benefits including factory manufactured electrical looms, professional fitout of standard equipment and optional accessories, custom-design capability, "one-stop shop" warranty reference and OEM purchasing of all componentry with savings passed in the purchase pricing.

25 YEARS ON

Sailfish has a distinguished history forged on terrific products built by professional tradespeople with highly qualified and friendly staff that present a "customer comes first" attitude. The manufacturing premises has grown considerably to reflect the Sailfish success. Finally, after three moves each to larger premises, Sailfish built its own custom boat factory in 2000 that includes seven boatbuilding bays, a spray painting booth, trailer building bay and two fit-up bays to deliver turnkey packages.

The company has always enjoyed the benefits of proper training and continue to employ apprentices of which three have been presented with state awards. Sailfish says, "Our success is dependent on the teamwork that exists in our company and we will continue to cultivate the highest levels of ethical standards and workmanship within our workplace.

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"The aim of our business is to ensure a professionally custom built, high-quality range of aluminium power catamarans for the leisure, commercial and rescue boating markets."

SUCCESS INDEED

Sailfish’s recognition started as far back as 1995 when it won a business award hosted by the Ballina Shire. The Sailfish team has met stringent standards required by government and maritime authorities, professional fishermen, safety and rescue bodies as well as a large number of pleasure craft owners and have been highly awarded as market leaders by professional boating journalists and qualified commentators.

Success can also be quantified by the high volume of repeat business it enjoys with satisfied customers often returning to update or upsize. Premium products also reflect high retainment value with Sailfish packages being eagerly sort after on the second-hand market.

To quote Sailfish, "Sailfish Catamarans will always continue to be market leaders, not market followers. Our philosophy is to build quality boats that not only meet but exceed our customers’ expectations."

Success has been further recognised by industry peers with both the Canyon Master, S7 and S8 models both invited

to the finals of Trade A Boat Magazine Australia’s Greatest Boats awards for three years running, with the S7 taking out the Aluminium Award for 2015 and S8 in 2016. Sailfish is the only manufacturer to have won this award twice in the history of the competition.

THE FUTURE

The Sailfish future is here and now, with the new and exclusive Hydroflow Gen 3 hull that offers unmatched performance, amazing efficiency, maximum stability plus lightning-fast holeshot performance! The traditional "cushion of air" has advanced to a magic carpet ride with improved hydrodynamics providing the softest, most predictable and reliable offshore hulls available.

The sales network combines with innovative design and flexible manufacturing to customise your dream machine to suit your lifestyle. Who said the perfect boat will never be made – Sailfish has been doing it for 25 years! 

Check out the full feature in issue #502 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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