BOAT TEST: QUINTREX 450 HORNET TROPHY
Quintrex’s clever Hornet has been a leader in its field for years. Warren Steptoe asks whether or not this “sociable fishing boat” is still ahead of the fleet.
TEST: QUINTREX 450 HORNET TROPHY
It can reasonably be said that the original Quintrex Hornets introduced a whole new trend in enclosed-water fishing boats that over the years has been copied by many other manufacturers. Hornets have undergone intense development over time, to a point where the boats we see today bear only a conceptual resemblance to their forbears.
The original squared bows have given way to today's sleekly pointed ones while the hull has gone from slightly stretch-formed to a radically flared, variable deadrise bottom that's still unique in Australian (and indeed global) boating.
For example, the transom has been developed over several generations and on our test boat - a 450 (for 4.5m) Hornet Trophy - this was the third-generation M3-series.
So, testing a 2010 generation Hornet means you can't ignore where the Hornet line came from while contemplating where the current generation is at. As a long term leader in the enclosed-water sportfishing genre, I wondered if Hornets could still show the way to an ever growing pack of ever improving competition.
I was about to find out.
I'm a fisherman with a passion for enclosed-water lure and fly casting that goes way back before Hornets were even invented, so I certainly feel qualified to make a few comments. As a boat tester who fishes, I just had to start by checking out an issue I've had with Hornets from their very beginning - rod storage.
How disappointing is it to find none. My mates at Quintrex were anticipating my reaction and quickly pointed out that there's a rodlocker on the options list. But I gotta tell you that did precious little to appease me. I really can't get my head around a boatbuilder - especially one that has been a leader for generations - continuing to skim over something a company with its track record of brilliant innovation and creative problem solving could sort out with a click of management fingers.
Circa 2010, keen fishos are apparently still expected to happily lay down ten or fifteen grand's worth of rods and reels on the deck to go fishing… Having a locker on the options list still implies the expectation where I come from and that's enough said.
But apart from that, this is a boat with almost everything else to like. In fact, the 450 Hornet hull is so far ahead of its flat-bottomed and pointy-bow punt ancestors it's actually laughable. I said something about brilliant innovation at Quintrex a moment ago, and referring to what is called an "Eclipse V-Flared" hull as brilliant would be nothing short of an understatement.
It's that good. This hull's stretch-formed bottom incorporates the best ride among the multitude of tinnies offered specifically to enclosed-water fishos these days, with excellent stability at rest, while its fishing capability is as industry-leading as ever. Whether or not competitors will ever come near to catching up is the only question posed here.
GET IN AND GO FOR IT
Another thing the hoon in me always enjoys about Hornets is that they're so much fun to drive. Maybe some imported metalflake wonder could show it up, but they don't handle Aussie conditions the way Hornets were originally developed to. Even after drooling over some low slung, glittering beastie with a massive motor perched like a fridge on the back, there's no denying this Hornet's helm is both sporty and comfortable. The way it points and responds in turns ain't too shabby either.
On to the other side of life - fishing - it won't disappoint here either. Quintrex has finetuned the relative dimensions of bow and stern casting decks with a central passenger area that works well as a "cockpit" when trolling, and it's pretty much spot on.
The transom too has been developed to an nth degree. Intrusion into deck space inside is a fair compromise between room to stand and cast, and acknowledgement that Hornets often serve as family and social boats too. You can step aboard over the square end onto semi-soft, non-slip pads, and as much as I like tiller-steering in small fishing boats, the safety factor in the high bulkhead incorporated into this M3 transom is undeniable.
Both bow and stern casting decks have multiple hatches accessing stowage underneath. In the bows there are three separate compartments with an anchor locker furthest forward, then a central stowage compartment. A full-width one is situated at the aft end of the deck, accessed through any or all of three split-hatches. All are lined with tough plastic rotomouldings, as are the three separate compartments under the stern casting deck. Of these the central and largest one is plumbed as a bait-tank, while a battery usually fills at least one of the side compartments.
Quintrex's side-consoles have come a long way since the boxes of yesteryear. Thanks to a sleek moulded-acrylic screen and moulded dash, you can no longer refer to a Hornet's side-console as "industrial grade". In another of those small yet profound developments, the lower section of the console is cut away to leave more room to stow an icebox or tacklebox.
Seating is the familiar, low-sided bucket seats, with appropriate alternatives provided with a selection of sockets in the deck. For two people this boat is as comfortable to travel in as it is to fish from - and that's darn comfortable.
I note that maximum power for the 450 Hornet hull is 70hp, something that illustrates about the only negative in the variable deadrise Eclipse bottom. Those complex curves certainly soften the roughwater ride but they inevitably increase the hull's wetted area. This results in increased drag, which in turn means it takes more power to gain a given amount of performance compared to a flat-surfaced hull.
So gone are the days of 25 and 30hp motors on 4.5m boats. The 60hp Mercury four-stroke on our test boat was a nice balance of power for the hull with the minimum gear we had aboard on the day, and it certainly performed well. Still, I can't imagine a 70hp wouldn't turn it into a fire breathing monster so much as a quicker version of a very user-friendly rig. If it weren't for the lack of rod stowage, I couldn't fault the 450 Hornet Trophy and I'd happily rate it as state-of-the-art in aluminium enclosed-water fishing boats.
On the plane...
Industry-leading (enclosed) roughwater ride
Well-proportioned balance between casting decks and central passenger area
Plenty of belowdecks stowage
Dragging the chain...
No rod stowage
Specifications: Quintrex 450 Hornet Trophy
Price as tested: $28,500
Options fitted: None (standard package)
Type: Side-console enclosed-water lure/fly caster
Length (LOA): 4.50m
Weight (hull): 354kg
Weight (BMT trailering): 840kg
Min. HP: 40
Max. HP: 70
Max. engine weight: 158kg
Make/model: Mercury 60hp EFI
Type: Four-cylinder, in-line, four-stroke
Gearbox ratio: 1.83:1
Propeller: 13in pitch Black Max aluminium
3445 Pacific Highway
Springwood (Brisbane), Qld, 4127
Tel: (07) 3884 7250
Originally published in TrailerBoat 265.
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