BOAT TEST: FORMULA 19
As John Willis discovered when he took the Formula 19 for a spin, Formula Boats has transformed itself from a boutique manufacturer into a mainstream contender.
Ray Furugia, the owner of our test boat, is a bloke who likes fishing. The dashboard of his boat bears a photo and dedication to his best mate and fishing companion, his father, who unfortunately he lost some four years ago. Ray is fanatical about his chosen sport, and pursuing it in Victoria means he needs a boat that's capable of long-range fishing adventures, but that can also chase snapper and whiting in the steep, sharp chop of Port Phillip Bay.
As Ray explained, his priority was for an easily towed package that could comfortably fish three crew offshore and return safely with a great feed for family and friends. Even so, Ray often fishes alone so he needed a boat that he could handle by himself. All these requirements led him to the Formula 19.
The origins of this hull are quite obvious to anyone who knows boats. A traditional 22.5° deep-vee with three full length strakes, a small hard chine, a keel running-plank, a sharp forefoot, and a large flared bow - that's the Formula. The boat is solidly built too, yet surprisingly light, and it's also great value for money. And while Formula will customise a boat to suit anyone, the fitout and configuration on Ray's boat is pretty much what I would have selected myself.
The hull has a fibreglass stringer system that incorporates biaxial cloth into the laminate. It's foam-filled underfloor, for maximum safety and to suppress noise, and the use of biaxial cloth has also reduced the overall weight while improving integral strength.
The 840kg is carried on a low centre of gravity that aids stability. However, when you put the power down, the hull shows its true passion for manageable speed. The running-plank gives it an even character, and from the impression I gained by creating wake chop, the hull easily cuts through sloppy conditions.
All operator controls are well-positioned and the instruments are easy to read, even in direct sunlight. I liked the strong stainless, spoked steering wheel too which, combined with a spinner knob and Sea Star hydraulic steering, made sharp manoeuvres easier.
Although the dash layout is large enough for flush-mounting a 10in sounder/GPS, Ray chose to position the Lowrance HDS10 colour-GPS/plotter and Furuno FCV620 colour-sounder on the big flat dash section, allowing them to be removed. The radios are mounted inside the cabin and operated remotely from the dash.
I've voiced my disapproval of seat pedestals many times. Why a fibreglass boat manufacturer would pay for pedestals instead of manufacturing strong seat boxes is beyond me. Nonetheless, many boat owners appear to like pedestal seats, and it does seem that the shell-style seats used on this boat are well-upholstered and comfortable. There are also footrests for driver and passenger.
TO DOOR OR NOT TO DOOR?
There's easy access through the front cabin hatch for anchoring via the bowsprit, a locking bollard, and a deep anchorwell. A removable divedoor is fitted to the starboard side of the cockpit. A nice touch was the way Formula foam-filled the lift-out section, just in case it's dropped overboard. However, the recess is not very deep into the cockpit. It will certainly aid with a large fish or reduce entry height for a diver, but I don't feel it's worth the extra $1200.
The strong and sensibly designed transom uses a traditional enginewell configuration. The removable rear quarter-seats are well-secured but they're still easily removed for full access to the back of the boat. The fibreglass enclosure for the batteries under the enginewell is another practical touch, particularly since I've seen many problems with open batteries, especially when that thrashing shark or tuna comes aboard with the death rattles, but this enclosure completely eliminates the possibility of damage in that vital area. It's obvious that the people building Formulas are also the people using them. Small but sensible inclusions are a secluded hatch for secure key-storage, pop-out rear cleats, LED worklights, good bimini canopies, and an easily-accessed fuel filler.
For power, Ray's preference was a Yamaha 150hp which the Formula 19 carried well. It's a good combination, with plenty of power combined with the quiet efficiency of the modern fuel-injected four-stroke. Top end speed was 38kts (70.4kmh) at 6100rpm where the speed limiters kicked in.
I thought the prop selection on the boat wasn't ideal. It topped out on the limiter and cavitated in tight turns, so I reckon a different prop would give much better performance. However, Ray has a different take. He says he's more than satisfied with the combination and the smaller prop does give excellent propulsion out of the hole and high torque to carry big loads.
The Formula 19 with a Yamaha 150hp four-stroke and Easytow tandem trailer is a practical, well-priced package. At less than 2000kg it can be towed by the average family car, and it has enough deck room to cope with a crew and their gear. It satisfies the basic needs for a family outing, but more importantly, it's highly suited for its intended purpose - in other words, it's terrific for fishing and diving.
On the plane...
Big fuel capacity
Premium quality construction
Dragging the chain...
Vision obscured by windscreen frame
Small livebait tank
We'd like to see...
Stepped seat boxes instead of single towers
A Stress Free Marine anchorwinch
Specs: Formula 19
Price as tested: $65,300
Options fitted: 150hp Yamaha, lock-up cabin, bowrail, rocket launcher, bimini and clears, divedoor, snapper racks, rodholders, hydraulic steering, baitboard, VHF radio, CD player, Lowrance GPS, Furuno sounder
Priced from: $49,990 (with 115 Mercury OptiMax)
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Length (overall): 5.9m
Hull weight (estimated dry): 850kg
Towing weight (estimated): 1800kg
Fuel: Approx. 200lt
Rec. HP: 150
Max HP: 175
Make/model: Yamaha F150A
Type: 16 Valve, DOHC Direct Action In-line four-cylinder EFI
Rated HP: 150
Gearbox ratio: 2.00:1
Propeller: 17in pitch stainless
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
Formula Power Boats Australia
20-22 Bostock Crt,
Thomastown, Vic, 3074
Phone: 0448 460 454
Originally published in TrailerBoat 260.
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