BOAT TEST: EDENCRAFT 233 FORMULA
Fifty years after the original Formula 233 revolutionised offshore racing, the deep-vee hull had an established reputation for high-speed and roughwater performance. Recent innovations have made a great boat even greater, says John Willis. Photos by Stuart Grant.
TEST: EDENCRAFT 233 FORMULA
Wikipedia states that legend "may be transformed over time, in order to keep it fresh, vital and realistic." That's exactly what has happened to the legendary Edencraft Formula 233 hull. The builders have gone back to the drawing board to transformed the historic package, keeping it "fresh, vital and realistic."
The 233's origins date back to the late '50s when American offshore racing great Don Aronow formed the Formula Boat Company. Over the years his business interests included names like Donzi, Thunderbird, Magnum, Cigarette, Squadron XII and USA Racing.
During the same period, naval architect C. Raymond Hunt developed and patented the high-deadrise, or deep-vee, hull. His company, Hunt Design, is still designing commercial and pleasureboats, and the website says the deep-vee hull "is still proven and accepted as the ultimate hull form for speed with comfort and safety in rough water."
It's a measure of Hunt's genius that today, after decades of attempts by others to conceive something better, his original deadrise angle remains as the pinnacle
Hunt Design has been involved with the development of many other industry greats including Alden Yachts, Bertram & Bertram International, Black Watch, Boston Whaler, Chris-Craft, Robalo, Wellcraft, Four Winns, Grady White and Grand Banks. In Australia these designs were the foundation for the original Haines Hunters, a brand first swept into popularity by its founder, the late John Haines. Raymond, Don and John would be proud of the innovations that the current owners of Edencraft Boats have incorporated to bring this hull design up to modern standards.
Outboard motors were a fledgling idea in their day, hence the original boats were designed around big and heavy inboard motors. Even when the hulls were transformed to adequately incorporate an outboard, they were so thirsty you needed a separate fuel supply ship to run them to offshore fishing grounds.
Modern two-stroke and four-stroke technology has changed the way we think about these big canyon runners. Edencraft's Victorian owners have taken the initiative in redesigning the outboard pod by extending the keel right through to the engine-mounts, thus incorporating the pod into the hull length. Extending the keel line in this manner has changed the entire boat, giving it the feel of a bigger craft that doesn't drop its bum at rest or slow speeds. It also ensures there is better flotation for the big four-stroke outboards on the transom too, and it carries the added weight of several anglers working at the stern, without flooding the well.
But hull design doesn't stop there. It's essential to combine good design with structural integrity and so every Edencraft is built to the international USL code, as well as the commercial Survey standards of the Marine Board of Victoria.
Edencraft claims to use up to 40 per cent more resin and fibreglass in its construction compared to most recreational boats of similar size. It also utilises a carbonfibre composite in the laminate. All buoyancy chambers, including the stringers, are filled with fire retardant closed-cell foam, while the hull is reinforced with handlaid fibreglass incorporating biaxial cloth and woven roving.
We took two Edencraft Formula 233s to Portland in search of southern bluefin tuna, and after completing over 200km in a day I must say there's very little to criticise.
The first thing you notice is the boat's agility, and in this respect it leaves some of its competitors for dead. It loves to run hard in a straight line, but its turning ability fills you with confidence when the going gets tough. Traditionally, almost every big deep-vee I've driven is sensitive to trim tabs settings. This includes some of the classics such as Scarabs, Sonairs, Jenks and Mustangs. However, with its redefined pod and twin-outboards, the new Edencraft Formula can be driven quite comfortably without constantly adjusting the tabs. Trim settings on the outboards do the job just fine. I can see the tabs being of some assistance if quartering a sloppy sea, but we didn't need them at all.
The test boat was fitted with a pair of Suzuki 175hp four-strokes that confidently pushed the big trailerable package along with minimal noise or fuss. These boats really like to get up and boogie, so while I found the 175s more than gutsy, rocketing the big boat along at 81kmh at wide open throttle of 6100rpm, I can see why boys who like their toys often opt for twin 250hp engines. It's more about testosterone than practicality. 40 years ago I remember hearing an old salt say, "you need a minimum of 300hp for the Formula to work", and nothing's changed.
It's a pleasure to sit beside the big deep-vee and watch the design work in a swell. The boat sits well with a bow-high attitude and for the most part it rides comfortably on its chines at the rear. But it's when the swell gets up that you really see the rest of the boat work. The high, prominent chines work beautifully with the deep entry to cushion the sea. Spray is deflected for a very dry ride, while under the boat, water is channeled off the strakes increases lift and stability.
It's big sea conditions that necessitate the huge flared bow and in my opinion the Edencraft 233 Formula will allow you to tackle more adverse conditions than your average trailerboat. The hull tracks straight and true, a great relief when covering long distances as there's nothing worse than fighting the steering as well as the sea.
At rest, the big, heavy hull sits deep in the water, creating a great fishing platform. I really don't understand those who criticise the stability of this boat. Sure, some of the smaller V15s and V17s are a bit tender at rest, but look at their advantages. When you get up to the size and weight of the Edencraft 233 Formula though, that's negated.
Edencraft builds its boats for commercial operation and very serious recreational customers so the fitout is sparse and reflects the usage. The cockpit is big and open, with enclosed compartments at the transom to keep the dry cell batteries, switches and pumps high and dry. There's a removable side door, which would be better if it was hinged (an option), plus simple sidepocket storage. The entire cockpit is finished in speckled flowcoat that's both practical and easily cleaned. Personally, I'd opt for an alternative flooring to reduce slippage when the deck is wet or bloody.
The helm is very compact and comfortable. Stainless steel rocket launchers, bowrail, grabhandles and rodholders, electrical wiring, components and canopies are all first rate and Raeline seats are most welcome on a long voyage. The big lockable V-berth provides overnight accomodation, but most importantly gives plenty of room for storage and a hatch for bow access.
All I can say is that 50 years later, the legend lives on. Modern technology and developments have made the 233 bigger and better than ever. To quote a line from the Hunt Design website: "He got it all right. And the rest, of course, is history."
On the plane...
Big, seaworthy hull
Well matched horsepower
Improved ride from new pod
Greater stability and flotation
Deep, fishable cockpit
Quality fittings and components
Dragging the chain...
Lift-out cabin door
Sidedoor not hinged
Bare flowcoat floor
Specifications: Edencraft 233 Formula
Price as tested: $145,000
Options fitted: Livebait tank with window and lights, killtank, bunk-well, lift-out dive door, seat boxes with Raeline helm seats, 32mm bowrail, game rodholders, full bimini top with clears, rocket launchers, baitboard, snapper racks, Furuno 585 with 1kW transducer and Furuno Navnet, bow spotlight, squid lights, alloy trailer, VHF radio, stereo with iPod dock, LED rear worklights, deckwash, Rule 3700gph bilge with float switch, Maxi Stress Free electric winch, Reelax outriggers with shotgun centre
Priced from: $110,000
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Material: Fibreglass/composite carbonfibre
Length (overall): 7.1m
Towing weight: Approx. 3500kg
Dry hull weight: 1800kg
Rec. min HP: 2 x 150 or 1 x 300
Rec. max HP: 2 x 250
Make/model: 2 x Suzuki DF175
Type: Multi-point sequential electronic fuel-injection, DOHC 16-Valve, four-stroke
Rated HP: 2 x 175
Gearbox ratio: 2.50:1
Propeller: 15 x 21in
53 Riversdale Road,
Newtown, Geelong, Vic, 3220
Phone: (03) 5221 0444
Originally published in TrailerBoat 259.
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