BOAT TEST: FORCE F24 (CUSTOM)

By: John Ford

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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This fast and furious head-turner was built for a world waterski champion. John Ford grabbed the first drive.

BOAT TEST: FORCE F24 (CUSTOM)
FORCE F24 (Custom)

FORCE F24 (Custom)

Sitting on the dock listening to the rumble from the custom exhaust, I'm reminded of the line in the Spinal Tap movie when the band leader describes why their band is best. He explains that while other bands have amplifiers that go to 10 on the volume dial, their amps go to 11. To my way of thinking, the performance dial on this new Force Boats F24 also goes to 11!

Finished in perfect black with silver trim, it sits stealth-like in the water. It oozes quality and brute strength and idles uncomfortably at rest. This boat has evolved from the F24B bowrider into a mind-boggling, show-stopping hotrod - complete with every custom-accessory available, and with even more hand-crafted modifications from the Force team.

This is the brainchild of boatbuilder Rod Bickerton's imagination and owner Damien Matthew's wallet. Nothing has been spared in the quest for extreme speed, a superb sound and sensational looks. From the $15,000 Gibson Powercurve exhaust system to the new design bow section, it's all about bling and action.

So while this isn't your average boat, Damien Matthews isn't your average boaty. As the observer on True Blue, Damien is part of Team Hell, which recently took out the Open Men's World Water Ski Championship in Belgium. He was a skiracer himself for many years, going back to his days as a lad being towed behind his father's boat, Corruption. During the '80s he was dominant behind Top Gun, and was Australian Open Men's Champion in 1991. His skiing career was then put on hold for several years when he damaged his shoulder after hitting a log during a race.

More recently he has been lured back into the sport to team up with Mark Cranny, driver and owner of Hell Bent, Hell Raiser and True Blue. The thrill of sitting backwards in a fully race-kitted, 1500hp Force F24 is the subject of many conversations for Damien, and he decided he wanted a boat in which he could share the thrills with other people. He naturally gravitated towards the Force hull because of his experience in the raceboats, which he says are the best because they are so well rounded, and able to perform in all sorts of water conditions.

 



ONLY THE BEST

When Damien went to Rod and Kelly at Force he asked them to build their best boat ever. It was to be a social boat but capable of being raced. With the biggest stock motor available, it had to be safe for passengers and have the creature comforts necessary for a day on the water with a bunch of friends. There would be no burning one's arm on an exposed exhaust or straddling a bar to get comfortable. There also had to be an Esky and a quality sound system.

It was a tall order, but one a custom-boatbuilder like Rod - a man with a flair for class and a desire for perfection - grabbed with both hands. While it's superbly finished, the layout is user-friendly and the materials are hardwearing and practical. Family and friends would be welcome, but the family pet better spend the day at home.

This most impressive of showboats was naturally based on the Force racing hull, which has evolved over years of testing by Rod and is based on a proven formula. The hull is hand-laid Vynilester resin, with a high-performance Klegecell foam core finished with FGI black gelcoat. The lot is vacuum bagged for a top final finish and superb structural integrity.

The 21° deadrise, combined with a flat running-plank incorporating three steps, one lifting strake and one stepped chine, all offer race winning performance.

A new deck mould has been added to the bowrider section of the F24B, and the rear section has been modified to accommodate the 1075 motor, stealing 350mm from the rear cockpit area.

 



LAP OF LUXURY

In the cockpit nothing is mundane. There is, however, a world-class finish of concourse quality. As you settle into the moulded silver-carbon seats you'll find a black moulded-dash spread out before you. In front of the driver is a set of Livorsi gauges with Rex Marine purple bezels. Black, purple and silver is the theme throughout the boat, with just enough of the purple to add zing without going overboard. The '60s-style purple pinup girl sets off the speaker covers and adds to the hotrod theme, but it's the Livorsi digital GPS and speedo set into the back of the driver and passenger seats that serve to educate (and scare!) the back seat passengers.

Steering is through a Latham hydraulic system incorporating a customised Italian steering wheel with leather trim, and the controls include a modified Force Stainless trimbox, a Latham Marine shift handle and a Mercury Hot Foot accelerator peddle.

Sound is from a Clarion marine DVD player feeding four 6in speakers and a 12in sub-woofer set into the low forward cabin. The DVD feeds the screens in the seats for rear passengers - just in case screaming along at warp speed becomes tedious. Six cupholders are placed conveniently around the cockpit, in purple of course.

While the set of wraparound gauges set the cockpit off, they are in fact for show, since the true readouts are set in the centre console with full Mercury VesselView. Many hours have gone into getting the Livorsi gauges to work, resulting in the running of a custom-adaptor harness from the digital system to the analogue gauges.

 



POWER TO BURN

Tucked into the modified engine bay and sitting on custom-made Force aluminium engine mounts is a Mercury 1075 SCi 557-cube (9.1lt) monster, pumping out 1075hp or 802kW. That's a lot of motor. The power transfers through the Number Six Sterndrive to a hand-built 27in four-blade prop, although a five-blade item is on the way for more speed. Noise exits through a custom CM1 stainless steel exhaust and the previously mentioned Gibson Powercurve muffler. A Hardin Marine Offshore Seastrainer takes care of the cooling water.

The engine bay gets the full makeover for action and looks. Top quality parts ensure the best in reliability and purple accessories complement the rest of the boat. Rod has allowed the motor plenty of air to breathe; with 3in Rex Marine ducts feeding clean air from the bow, and there's a Rex Marine billet fuel filler for the 420lt fibreglass fuel tank.

One thing quickly becomes apparent - none of these items are cheap. The motor and drive are worth $150,000, the props are around $15,000. But who's counting?

With an engine weight of 782kg, a lot of time was invested in getting the weight forward to help balance the boat at speed.

Our test was on launch day and before we went aboard, the Mercury technicians needed time to dial in and test the motor. The computer readouts send all information to the SmartCraft gauges, and the technicians had their own additional monitors to check performance. Satisfied that all was well, Rod and shop mechanic Tim donned helmets and lifejackets for some serious runs to see if their efforts had delivered.

The boat roared up the river and came rocketing past with a best speed indicated on the GPS of a shade under 170kmh.

 



IN THE HOTSEAT

Finally we got to have a go. Rod demonstrated his talents at the wheel, and with this toy, speed is the name of the game. At 145kmh it sits flat and steady on the water and turns with ease. Rod eventually let me hop into the driver's seat with instructions that the boat was being delivered to Damien the next day "and it's worth $350,000". Gulp!

The driving position is sporty and comfortable. The controls are well-positioned and smooth as you slide the gear lever forward and plant your foot, the boat wanting to head skyward but soon settling down. With a little trim the ride is flat and stable. At speeds over 110kmh the wind whips around your eyes; the yet-to-be-fitted wind deflector will make a welcome addition. To get the most out of this boat you'll need plenty of time at the wheel - to get a feel for the speed and learn the best trim for the conditions. This is not a show pony, and it has plenty of power to bite you if you don't give it your full respect.

At normal speeds it is safe, predictable and loads of fun, but with the potential to be in front of the field in true competition.

The boat comes onto the plane at just under 30kmh at around 1800rpm. At 2500rpm we had 53kmh and consumed 47lt/h. At 3000rpm we saw 96kmh with a fuel burn of 60lt/h; 4000rpm saw us skimming along at 112kmh and sucking down 140lt/h. At 5000rpm you'll hit 144kmh and use 280lt/h. At top seed the rev counter bounces around 6100rpm as it hits the limiter. At top speed the fuel burn is 350lt/h, which would give a range of about 260km with a bit to spare.

Since taking delivery of the boat, Damien has fitted the 28in prop and done some rebalancing to get some weight further back. He's recorded 185kmh since then and feels confident that with a bit more balancing he'll crack 190kmh.

And yes, he reckons he got what he asked for.

 



ON THE PLANE

Synapse-shredding power

Superb fit and finish

Luxurious creature comforts

Versatile

 



SANK LIKE A BRICK

Experienced skippers only

It doesn't come cheap!

 

 

 



Specifications: Force F24 (Custom)

 



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $350,000

Options fitted: This baby's got the lot!

Priced from: $125,000 (with 320hp motor)



GENERAL

Type: Monohull

Material: GRP

Length: 7.32m

Beam: 2.15m

Rec HP: 320-1075

Deadrise: 21°

Hull Weight: 650kg



CAPACITIES

Fuel: 420lt

People: Five



ENGINE

Make: Mercury 1075 SCi

Type: V8 petrol

Rated HP: 1075

Displacement: 9.1lt

Weight: 782kg



SUPPLIED BY

Force Boats

608 River Rd,

Lower Portland, NSW, 2756

Phone: (02) 4575 4038

Web: www.forceboats.com

 

 



Originally published in TrailerBoat 257.

Find Force F24 boats for sale.

 


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