By: John Willis

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  • Trade-A-Boat

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John Willis discovers a strong contender in the entry-level bowrider class, the versatile Savage 175B.




Savage has been building boats for over 110 years, and my, my - how the boating world has changed in that time! Mention of the Savage brand recalls many fond memories of iconic names in Australian boating history. Who can forget the many classics presented by Savage since the introduction of fibreglass boatbuilding in this country? There are models such as the Surveyor, Dolphin, Marlin, Bluefin, Escort, Envoy, Ensign, Pacific, Tasman, Mako and Atlantic, to name but a few.

As for the evolution of the industry itself, most of the dramatic changes seem to have occurred in recent years, with no small number of company turnovers, buyouts and instances of restructuring. But Savage is still here, now owned and managed by Queensland firm Telwater, and some of the company's first offerings are the new Savage 175B and 195B bowriders.



Thunderclouds, lightning and 30kts of Antarctic gale preceded our trip to Victoria's Latrobe Valley to meet with Terry Raymond, from Crawford Marine, in Morwell. Then it was on to the Hazelwood Pondage, a lake kept artificially warm by the local power station, which provides up to 25 per cent of Victoria's base load electricity.

It's a weird image that presents itself to the unsuspecting traveller when they first come across this body of water, with clouds of steam rising from the lake on a cold winter's day. There are pleasant surprises in store, however, as you round the western shore and discover a picturesque grassy lakefront with willow trees, islands and picnic tables, plus a caravan park and boat ramp. It's quite a large body of water and an ideal place for water skiing, wakeboarding, or even some fishing (if targeting carp can be called fishing).

Upon their unveiling, the new Savages looked brilliant. Their rich ebony and ivory, two-toned sidepanels glistened in the intermittent winter sunshine. Savage bowriders portray a very sporty image that should see them make quick inroads into the very competitive bowrider market.

Both of the packages presented well, especially when you consider the competitive retail pricing. The only surprise was that both models were fitted with MerCruiser 3lt four-cylinder engines; the 175 with a carburetted TKS (Turn Key Start) model supplying 135hp through the Alpha One leg; and the 195 with the slightly more sophisticated Multi Point Injected upgrade. The MPI option is also available for the 175 (we'll keep the details of the 195B for another day. It was fitted with an amazing integrated aftermarket audiovisual system, worthy of an article in its own right).



The smaller 175B was easily launched and we quickly got down to the serious business of fun. The smaller Savage did everything one could ask from a very well-priced package. Its performance was quite exhilarating, and its nimble manoeuvrability was loads of fun. It responded well through the standard power steering, and it even rode quite smoothly over the choppy side of the windy lake. It was a little flighty at high speeds with only one person on board, but I doubt you'll ever be able to keep the rest of the family and friends out of this enticing sports machine.

Crawford Marine replaced the standard 19in propeller with an 18in four-bladed version that gave very good grip in high-speed turns. It liked full trim for the most part, which indicates that it should have no problem carrying extra weight in the bow. It has a conventional bowrider layout with, as Terry describes, "a love lounge at the rear and good deep freeboard."

The helm is quite presentable, but lacks the finesse of many rivals, although its simplicity is quite appealing and reflected in the price. The plastic dashboard leaves a bit to be desired in such a high quality market, and while the passenger side glovebox and Perspex windscreen are quite serviceable, they lack the finished quality found in some competing models.

With a tilting sports-steering wheel the 175B was reasonably comfortable to drive, but I was a little unsure of seats with no side support, and they seemed a little flimsy. The flip-up bolster seats of the larger boat were far more acceptable.



Both boats feature inviting, attractive, thickly cushioned upholstery. I was pleased to see that the interiors have a full fibreglass liner with clip-in marine carpet too, and very good storage throughout. There are huge storage areas in the engine bay, more under that love seat, good sidepockets, a big skilocker in the floor and more access under the bowrider cushions.

There's no separate anchorlocker, but there is enough room under the front seat for the ground tackle. For customers who regularly anchor, I'd recommend talking to their dealer about some minor options to make the job a little easier and less messy where muddy anchors are concerned.

The rear platform is moulded into the boat and combines a fold-down ladder for access during summer watersports. Savage supplies a full canvas package consisting of a tonneau cover, bimini and bow cover as standard equipment. Both boats feature pop-up mooring cleats, optional CD/AM-FM/MP3 system with waterproof speakers, navigation lights, bilgepump and blower, battery isolator, hydraulic steering, two-tone gelcoat, ski hook, 85lt fuel tank and a stainless steel rubrail around the gunwale.

Telwater packages the boat with an aluminium trailer with American-style "bunks" replacing our more familiar rollers. The plumbing and fit-up is very tidy in both packages, and the laminate feels quite strong and well finished. There's underfloor positive flotation, but no foam.



The 175B felt good on the water and provided me with a fair thrill factor, even in the cold conditions. It turned really well with the engine trimmed right down, and ploughed through the small chop with comfort, no rattles and little spray. It cruised comfortably at 25kts (46.2kmh) and achieved a top speed of 36.5kts (67.6kmh) with only the driver and a passenger on board.

If you want a versatile sports funboat for general family watersports, as an entry-level bowrider the Savage 175B is certainly worth consideration. Its sporty looks will certainly make you the envy of your local pondage.

On the plane...

Looks great
Nice decals
Attractive mouldings
Sensibly priced
Sporty performance
Good storage
Drinkholders and grabrails


Dragging the chain...

Flimsy seats
Plastic dash


Specs: Savage 175B Bowrider



Price as tested: $34,990 (ex Crawford Marine)



Type: Moderate-vee monohull

Material: GRP

Length (overall): 5.2m

Beam: 2.25m

Hull weight (estimated dry): 785kg

Towing weight (estimated): 1350kg



People: 7

Fuel: Approx. 85lt

Rec. HP: 135

Max HP: 135 (four-stroke)



Make/model: MerCruiser 3.0lt TKS (Turn Key Start)

Type: Four-cylinder, naturally aspirated four-stroke

Rated HP: 135

Displacement: 3.0lt

Weight: 288kg with Alpha One Leg

Gearbox ratio: 2.0:1

Propeller: 18in four-blade aluminium



Savage Boats (Telwater)

53 Waterway Dr

Coomera, Qld, 4209


Tel: (07) 5585 9898



Crawford Marine

75-77 Chickerell Street,

Morwell, Vic, 3840

Phone: (03) 5134 6522




Originally published in TrailerBoat 260.


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