BOAT TEST: WHITE POINTER PRO SPORTSMAN 840
Jeff Strang regards the ultra-customised White Pointer Pro Sportsman 840 among the best boats he’s ever tested, and now they’re available in Oz.
White Pointer Boats builds robust and highly-capable offshore workhorses. Based at Gisborne on the North Island, the company has been the local crayfish industry's go-to boat supplier for more than two decades - and those boys take no prisoners.
For me, White Pointer has always represented the pinnacle of rough, tough, no-nonsense, on-the-water performance in a trailerable boat. If I ever had a quibble it's that the finish, while perfectly suited to the company's traditional customer, was not high enough to set them apart from the rabble.
And then there was the Girlfriend.
I've been aware of the existence of this boat since the first plans were drawn, and knowing some of the people involved personally, it was always likely she would be the one to redefine White Pointer boats as we know them. Without going into more detail than would be appreciated, the Brains Trust for this project would bring together the very best in eye-for-detail, top-of-the-bill gamefishing experience and superior hull construction. So, in reality, the result was a fait accompli.
The boat in question is a little over a year old now and has well and truly proven her pedigree. Winning the 12th Steinlager I'a Lapo'a Game Fishing Tournament in American Samoa, and qualifying her delighted crew for entry in the IGFA Offshore World Championship in Cabo San Lucas, is only part of the story.
This White Pointer has amassed an impressive 12 completed billfish captures with less than 200 engine hours on the clock. That's more than a billfish capture every second day of use - a record any top boat would be pleased with, especially when you take into consideration the time the boat is not actually chasing marlin.
Officially the Girlfriend is a White Pointer Pro Sportsman 840. In essence she is a fully-customised 8.4m (LOA) gamefisher powered by a 370hp Volvo Penta D6-370 via a counter-rotating duo-prop. However, the level of customisation goes much further than the well-thought-out cockpit and genuine leather interior. Aspects like the curve of the transom, the exact layout of the cabin, and even the detail in that leather stitching have all come under the owner's close scrutiny.
It is clear that no expense has been spared to ensure Girlfriend looks great pursuing her quarry. The level of pre-paint fairing is close to perfect, even in places that will rarely be inspected, such as the internal details of the roof. The paint itself is from the automotive industry and is protected from this tougher-than-usual environment by eight layers of clear coat. Some welds are visible, but only in locations where filling and fairing would wear and become a liability.
A fully-automatic free-fall Lewmar windlass virtually eliminates any need to clamber across the bow, but if the need does arise the gunwales are wide and the bowrails high enough to provide a measure of surety without intruding on her sleek, huntress-like lines.
The cabin is open plan and open styled. Clears can be used to close it up, but in reality they are unlikely to be employed on a scorching hot day of marlin fishing. The full-leather daybeds facing aft allude to the fact that this White Pointer is as much about comfort as it is about function. Each of these seats hides an Engel refrigeration unit, so cool refreshments will always be at hand.
The helm position is also hard to fault. The genuine leather theme is continued, as you would expect, on both bucket seats and on the dash. As already mentioned, the detail in the stitching is what you would see in a luxury European car, and even the layout of the gauges on the dash is testament to the time taken to get things just right. Their positioning is literally millimetre-perfect. The driving position is comfortable no matter how you like to ride, and the wide, curved glass windscreen and open layout allows for uninterrupted views of the world.
Apart from the Fusion sound system, all of Girfriend's electronics come from Raymarine and are at the very top of the range. The E140W hybrid-touch incorporates all the best this brand has to offer, including radar capable of identifying birds over the horizon. Other features bound to get a technophile's attention are the fully-integrated Raymarine ST70 autopilot, which includes a wireless remote, and the vessel trim controls that can be configured to operate completely automatically.
One thing that got me very excited was the throaty growl of the engine as it roared past. You could be forgiven for thinking there was a perfectly-tuned V8 under the hood. Of course, this is not the case. Instead, a common rail Volvo Penta D6-370 has been squeezed into the mid-cockpit engine box.
While it's fair to say there is not a lot of access room left around the block, Volvo has clearly run into this challenge before and designed this new configuration with overhead servicing in mind. Access to all the filters and sea-strainer poses no real challenge and should (in theory) contribute to slightly lower servicing costs.
THE BUSINESS END
On Girlfriend the real business happens in the cockpit, and this is where she impresses the most. To be honest, you have to be an expert to understand just how good this cockpit is because most of the detail will fly straight over the head of your average weekend warrior.
The first thing I noticed was the inbuilt tuna-tubes. This is only the second trailerboat I have reviewed with tubes, and the first one where they've been built into the gunwales. These tubes are large enough to take an oversized skipjack or even a small yellowfin, and the huge Jabsco pump delivers plenty of water volume.
Aft of the tubes on top of the gunwale is a rodholder, perfectly (and specifically) positioned to take a downrigger. About amidships is the shotgun rodholder. Heavy-tackle rodholder placement is an art, and unlike so many I see, this one is correctly fixed parallel to the gunwales and positioned so that when a full-length, big game-rod is in residence, the rod tip can be reached comfortably. Going forward again, the outrigger rodholder is angled at 15°, giving comfortable clearance to the lines.
Forward further still are the 'clearance' holders. The purpose of these is to provide a safe home for unemployed big game-rods during the heat of battle, without having to lift these weighty outfits up into the rocket launcher or, worse still, drag them inside and onto the floor (as is common practice with poorly-outfitted vessels).
However, the livebait tanks on Girlfriend could do with some improvement. One is built into the transom and supported by two more under the floor. The main tank is perfectly adequate for jack mackerel, but will probably prove insufficient in size or shape for more sensitive and highly-valued baits.
The underfloor tanks are not really up to the task either, due to a space issue caused by the need to house the trim tab rams. I raised this issue with the owner who, to his credit, acknowledged the issue and had already planned to rectify the situation with a large, rounded underfloor tank capable of keeping baits alive all night on anchor. Sounds like the perfect solution to me.
As expected, the rest of the cockpit has been designed with epic encounters in mind. The cockpit has a 'wet' sole, which allows any water ingress to drain through the floor into the two underfloor livewells. As a backup, and to deal with excessive volumes, oversized scuppers with bungeed covers come into play.
There is ample toe-kick room around the rear section of the cockpit, and a comfortable leaner pad takes care of any potential bruising during the action. As with any top-notch gamefisher, the rest of the cockpit is clear of line-snagging appendages, including foldaway cleats, and even the propeller is recessed out of harm's way.
ON THE WATER
It was a pretty safe bet that with 370hp under the hood this long-legged vixen was going to get up and go. Even so, I was surprised at just how quick and responsive to correct trimming she was. Most aluminium hulls have a relatively limited top speed. Apparently this is something to do with the drag, which is induced by the porous aluminium surface.
I have actually wondered if an epoxy hull coating would improve the performance of these hulls, but that is a fairly expensive experiment to try on a hunch. However at 39kts it's pretty hard to complain about Girlfriend's ability to gobble up the miles.
The fuel economy and performance out of this highly-spec'd engine also warrants a big tick. Our test run gave figures of 10lt/h hour at 8kts and 40lt/h hour at 30kts. Figures like those will allow a keen fisherman to fish a 12-hour day, 30 nautical miles offshore, with an hour running tacked on for around 200lt total fuel burn. With her 1000lt tank, that's a full five day's fishing you have up your sleeve between trips to the bowser.
Arguably even more impressive is the White Pointer's close manoeuvring ability. The counter-rotating props deliver clean, cavitation-free performance in reverse, and the power-to-weight ratio is such that an experienced throttle jockey will be able to extricate this boat from any tense situation. It's worth pointing out that the hydraulic steering is fingertip-light and the Volvo Penta fly-by-wire controls are a joy to use.
Even if gamefishing, or any powerboating for that matter, is not your thing, it's pretty obvious Girlfriend is one hot lady. The performance is exceptional and the attention to detail is class defining, but in my view it's the layout and setup that sets it apart from its peers.
In short, I honestly believe this White Pointer Pro Sportsman 840 is one of the top three trailerable boats I have ever reviewed. If you want to know what the other two are, buy me a beer sometime.
Specifications: White Pointer Pro Sportsman 840
Far too many to mention
Single 370hp Volvo Penta D6-370 turbo-diesel
SPEED FUEL BURN
*Sea-trial figures supplied by the author.
PEOPLE (DAY): 6
REC. HP: 300 (diesel)
REC. MAX HP: 370 (diesel)
MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D60
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 370
PROPELLER: Counter-rotating duo-prop
For NSW, QLD, WA and NT contact the manufacturer White Pointer Boats.
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 429, July-Aug 2012. Photos by Jeff Strang; Supplied.
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.