Review: White Pointer 750 Sports Hardtop
The White Pointer 750 Sports Hardtop proves the Kiwis have a knack for building great aluminium fishing boats, many of which are taking the lead in the Australian market.
I just love it when I discover new boats that make me say "Wow!" - and after giving the New Zealand-built White Pointer 750 Sports Hardtop a veritable thumping through the notorious heads of Victoria's Port Phillip Bay, I have to admit that aluminium boat manufacturing has reached a pinnacle. In fact, I'll say it right now: "Wow!"
This plate-aluminium battleship is built for long, hard offshore expeditions, at the same time offering a level of comfort in the slop that's hard to match. It's solid and surefooted, with a terrific ride that fills you with confidence. This purpose-built fishing and diving machine displays excellent manoeuvrability at all speeds and combines a huge workspace with plenty of storage and comfort.
Like all of the White Pointer range, the 750 Sports Hardtop has workboat origins and each boat is built to rigorous NZ Survey standards, and then some. Like the secret to this boat's construction. It's all to do with building from the inside out - as you would a timber boat - instead of from the outside in. This method ensures all White Pointer boats are built to the same specifications from precision jigs, allowing the 6mm bottom sheets and 4mm side sheets to be curved, delivering a better ride and greater strength.
I quickly lose confidence in plate-boats that go "boing" as you carve through a wave. The movement of the sheets just has to subject an aluminium hull to additional strain. There was no "boing" in the White Pointer; in fact, the feel of the hull was characterised by a sense of superior strength and sound structural integrity.
Is it the best aluminium boat I've tested? Yes. I believe it's superior to other boats I've previously sold, driven and tested in this size and style. I'll qualify that with the fact that yes there are a number of boats on the market I haven't yet driven, but my experience comes from well over 20 years with charter vessels, sales of many brands and sportsfishing on most of the contenders in the Australian market, big and small. The White Pointer is a ripper! But be warned, this is just a spearhead of great Kiwi alloys and from what I've seen there'll be lots more exciting stuff to come.
Company founder and managing director Rex Briant has spent more than 20 years perfecting and fine-tuning his products and he welcomed the opportunity to take this flying Kiwi to the volatile waters of Port Phillip Heads to show us what it's made of. We returned safe and sound, with a strengthened Trans-Tasman alliance.
For those unfamiliar with it, The Rip is an area where the whole 2000km² or so of Port Phillip Bay (with a volume 35 times that of Sydney Harbour) tries to spill out over a narrow underwater waterfall, which rapidly shelves from a depth of 6m to 60m. It causes some very irregular sea conditions with whirlpools, sudden peaks, pressure waves, instantaneous washing machines and steep, unpredictable swells.
The White Pointer chewed these conditions up and spat them out in a powerful fury, aided by the gutsy efficiency of a 250hp Yamaha four-stroke engine. At all times the boat felt safe and secure; to my surprise, I never even left the driver's seat. Sure we took some water over the top, as you would expect when playing among the turmoil, but certainly no more than we expected. We pushed the hull hard to try to find fault, but our search was in vain.
We did have a small problem with cavitation - the boys had the engine set a little high - but that's easily overcome with a little more fine tuning. The quoted performance figures (see specs panel) will change slightly as the engine height and propeller size are altered.
There's storage everywhere you look, including deep sidepockets throughout the boat and twin shelves on each side in the cabin, the latter lending additional strength to that high-impact region that is the bow. There are two stepped seat modules in the cockpit with four plastic moulded seats. Personally, I wouldn't bother with the second set on the rear of the boxes; I'd happily settle for some simple padded cushions at the back and go for up-market helm seats.
The transom layout works really well, with a small doorway leading to a step and a strong dive ladder. There are cabinet enclosures for the batteries and plumbing, and a livebait tank is available as an option. You'll notice the strong, rolled edges on the wide gunwales, while the unmasked welds are some of the best I've ever seen. Many competitors hide their poor welding with body filler (i.e. bog) prior to painting. Not White Pointer - this is a company that's proud of its fine workmanship, and rightfully so.
UP AND AT 'EM
The 18° vee at the transom gives a good blend of ride versus stability, and the high internal freeboard here has a minimum height of 750mm. The standard 750SHT doesn't have scuppers or a self-draining cockpit; they are available as an option and do raise the floor height considerably reducing stability in the process. The deck otherwise drains to its own sump and large bilgepump and the entire underfloor construction is sealed by pressure-tested, airtight compartments. Further foam-filling of the upper hull sides is available as an option, aiding positive upright buoyancy if required. In its construction options White Pointer does a great job of walking the fine line between commercial and recreational requirements.
Indeed, I just love hardtop boats and this one is a beaut. Ventilation and vision can be a problem with some hardtops, but the big side-windows on this White Pointer allow plenty of air in, and you can stick your head out for night vision. I highly recommend a freshwater windscreen wash for all hardtop boats and White Pointer includes it in the options list. Those who've previously been drowned from a big flush of water over the back of a cabin roof will be pleased with the drain that runs across the back of this hardtop - a small but practical feature that really makes a difference in such a competitive field.
The hardtop also has a rocket launcher and work lights and inside a radio console above the windscreen. The interior of the hardtop and cabin are fully lined. There's a big, flat dash area to keep all those knickknacks, plus a passenger Jesus bar and another solid grab-handle under the roof for someone standing. The dashboard is simple but effective, with plenty of room for the new 12in Garmin GPSMAP 5012 3D marine navigator (a fantastic unit, I might add). White Pointer has done an enormous amount of testing with through-hull transducers and we had a perfect picture at wide open throttle in a strong current. You can comfortably lock yourself into the helm for full control in heavy seas, and all of your controls and gauges are within easy sight and reach.
The big, deep cabin has plenty of room for two adults and this can be enhanced with a drop-in bunk infill. Rex tells me there's an optional Porta Potti or electric flush toilet. He also recommends a third hammock berth, which also doubles as rod storage. If extended trips are envisaged, fridges, freezers and galley units can all be custom-fitted as required - just a few from a huge list of optional accessories. Minn Kota trim tabs were fitted to the test boat but I found I didn't need them at all. They would be handy if carrying a big moveable weight like a bunch of divers, or when running in strong crosswinds.
I've noticed over the years that Kiwis take a real pride in their workmanship and the White Pointer 750 Sports Hardtop is testimony to that dedication. Rex tells me that "fitout is the bones to longevity". He backs that up in the construction process by fitting all options and accessories to the bare hull, before removing them all prior to painting. This ensures a premium fitout that is free from contaminants such as drilling and grinding swarf, which can cause electrolysis. All bolted features are sealed with LanoCote to avoid seizure, while a range of metals are galvanised.
This extra care means White Pointer provides a 10-year construction warranty on the hull, and 12 months on the custom White Pointer aluminium trailer. The trailer is simply as good as the boat, and it meets all of our Australian Design Rules for road registration.
The White Pointer website describes its boats as, "The original, non-pounding hull design." Maybe we should register the acronym ONPHD? Personally, I think it's cool to abbreviate things to make them sound technical! White Pointer adds that its products are tested in severe NZ conditions and I honestly believe every word of it. In fact, the next time I'm caught out in severe conditions offshore, I hope it's in the security of a White Pointer.
WHITE POINTER 750 SPORTS HARDTOP
PRICE AS TESTED
Custom-built model with 250hp Yamaha, baitboard, deckwash, gunwale, stainless steel rodholders, Garmin GPS-sounder, and more
Single 250hp Yamaha outboard, three people and four dive bottles aboard, and approximately two-thirds fuel.
RPM SPEED FUEL BURN
2400 13kts n/a
2800 16.2kts n/a
3000 20kts 21lt/h
3200 23kt 25lt/h
3500 24.8kts 30.5lt/h
4000 29kts 41.3lt/h
4500 32.5kts 52.5lt/h
5000 35kts 74.5lt/h
5500 38kts 87lt/h
5800 (WOT against tide) 39.5kts 91lt/h
5800 (WOT with tide) 43kts n/a
* Note, test boat's engine was set a little high and figures from 5000rpm and above taken against 3-knot tide. Sea-trial data supplied by the author.
TYPE: Moderate-vee hardtop monohull
WEIGHT: 2200kg w/ 100lt fuel
PEOPLE (DAY): 8
FUEL: 300lt (standard)
REC. HP: 200 to 300
REC. MAX HP: 300
MAKE/MODEL: Yamaha 250
TYPE: V6 petrol four-stroke outboard
PROPELLER: 17in stainless steel Revolution 4
White Pointer Boats,
189 Stanley Road,
Gisborne, New Zealand
Phone: +64 6 868 6519
Geelong Boating Centre,
88 Barwon Heads Road,
Belmont, VIC, 3218
Phone: (03) 5241 6966
From Trade-a-Boat # 432, Oct-Nov 2012.
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