TAILORED MARINE TMA 25F WALKAROUND BOAT TEST
Tailored Marines’ new 25F Walkaround is a powerful predator for the fishing family and a real surprise packet to boot.
Everyone knows the glitter strip referred to as the Gold Coast is full of surprises. And as an ex-pat of its near neighbour the Broadwater more than 10 years ago, I was totally surprised by the change in the skyline along that traditionally more sedate foreshore, the launch site for this boat test on a typically golden early morning. I was also surprised at the amount of Lycra galloping past on the pathway.
But the biggest surprise was yet to come. Tailored Marine Accessories' (TMA) owner John Zac and his boat engineering manager Chris Coffey had already launched this year-old first-build by the time we got there. Individually these guys have extensive experience in the marine manufacturing industry and have pooled their knowledge, passion and resources to develop a sportsfishing craft to turn the heads of blue-water enthusiasts Australia wide. And thus the TMA 25F Walkaround was born.
Acknowledging the global market we now live in the craft's dimensions were designed to enable it to be shipped by container to any destination worldwide, quickly and efficiently. This, coupled with a manufacture and delivery duration of about eight weeks should appeal to buyers who buy and want-it-now, so to speak.
Another alluring aspect of purchasing one of these boats says John Zac, is how far he is prepared to cater to the customer's desires. TMA is willing to change pretty much anything the client requires to adapt the layout to suit a personal preference. For example, a larger capacity fuel tank can be incorporated by reducing the volume in the fish killtank, or a forward upholstered deck lounge can be fabricated where a storage compartment is situated. Nothing is out of the question.
Initially, I was impressed by the overall look of the boat. Shiny polished stainless steel fittings against a glossy gelcoat finish always looks fantastic on the water, but it was her high bowrail, fancy T-top and long sleek lines that drew my attention. Looking over her from the beach, this vessel with an overall length of 7.81m has a nice, subtly curved gunwale and an equally smooth chine to draw your eye. However, with a beam of 2.32m and a generous deadrise of 25 degrees, she looked long, narrow and so possibly tender. We would find out soon enough.
I took my time mooching around on Predator, while we wandered through the Broadwater heading for open water. For a 25-foot walkaround she seemed to have ample room. The cockpit fishing area had a nicely tuned, open layout, with adequate hatch capacity including tackle storage compartments, fish killtank, livebait tank, deckwash equipment, shower and general storage wells.
Future models will have slight modifications to the hatches and storage compartments but as stated before, any configuration to the layout will be possible for the purchaser. Also, the engine mounting area aft of the transom will be modified by fabricating a larger, flatter deck area more like a duckboard, enabling easier access to the cockpit and main deck after swimming or boarding. It will also extend fishing space if you want to get up close and personal to your piscatorial catch.
The deck sole and gunwales have a GRP-moulded non-slip surface - a fantastic idea that felt great under foot. I especially liked the non-slip on the gunwales as the kids will inevitably try jumping from these platforms into the water, and as stepping in over the sides is the vessel's only access point, it assures us oldies of surer footing when embarking.
As the deck sits just below the waterline, two strainer-covered scuppers funnel excess water from the floor into the bilge, two 1100gal/h pumps then empty it rather quickly.
The freeboard of the cockpit sides are high enough without being so high as to interfere with gimbal fittings if they're a part of your equipment. The rodholders are sufficiently and evenly spaced along the gunwale and are of a decent quality. Personally, I would like to see the inside of the gunwale be padded enough to give some comfort when fighting the big ones and toeholds around the perimeter of the cockpit would also be a great inclusion.
Access to the foredeck is safe and easy, with good handholds on the side of the cuddy cabin from the T-top. Nicely positioned decklights will guide your way at night and the adequately-sized, forward-raking bowrails make you feel safe and offer an assured holding point as you move along the sides.
All-in-all, the TMA 25F Predator offers most a serious fisherman would require in a boat this size.
And she is much more than an ample fishing platform. The 25F Walkaround provides not only space but many of the added comforts needed for the full range of offshore boating activities.
These days space is a top design priority - in the cockpit and at the helm - for all the necessary gear we carry onboard our boats and it is present in spades.
With this boat, John and Chris have created a very good-looking vessel that is well setup for serious fishing as well as social activities - including any involving the kids.
Comfort is the next consideration and it's Predator's subtle inclusions that motivate me to call this a multipurpose boat rather than purely a fisherman's platform.
Many fishing boats have a lack of decent seating for anyone but the helmsman. He gets a nice, dry perch, while the passengers are left to either stand, or dangle their butts over the gunwales edge hanging on for dear life. This vessel has a settee forward of the helm in a nice, dry area of the boat. On the 25F as tested, this was a storage compartment with a cushioned cover, but it would easily convert to a deep recessed, semi-lounge style seat for two or three people.
As well as a toilet, there is a sink in the cabin and sufficient table space for food preparation or a game of cards. This table can be lowered and converts the V-berth to a comfortable queen-size bed. As with the rest of the boat, there are plenty of storage compartments here. Overall the cabin provides an area snug enough for the ladies and the kids to escape in when they need a rest.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
We had rounded the breakwater of the Southport bar by the time I had a chance to settle into the helm seat and by then the typical spring northerlies had blown up to about 10 to 15kts, making the sea state quite lumpy topping off the one metre easterly swell. Even so, the TMA 25F was stable and happy to bob around without any undue listing, sitting comfortably at rest.
The driving position was agreeable, the steering wheel and left-hand throttle controls nicely within reach, even with my butt firmly settled into the back of the seat, which was adjustable fore and aft. I am a little short in stature and there was a relatively small gap with which to peer through below the windscreen's top frame joined to the clear's bottom zippers. John and Chris have already taken steps to rectify this on future builds.
Firstly, I tested the 25F Walkaround without any bow-up trim, basically trying out the response without having to actually drive her. The boat seemed slow and sluggish as I gently eased the power up on the 275hp Mercury Verado, while pointing the nose directly into the wind and swell testing her want to yaw off to any particular side or to dig in her bow. Pleasingly, she pushed up and settled nicely on the plane at around 2800rpm and about 18kts.
Slowing to a stop I trimmed correctly for a launch test, faced her running with the wind and swell on the stern and gave the Verado plenty of juice. The 25F climbed out of the hole easily and rode extremely well on the plane, holding 24kts. I had no qualms about performance now and as I got to know her, my confidence grew. I banked into a tight turn at good speed and still the 25F loved it. The chine dug in, rounded-up smoothly and took off again into the swell. We even put the boat through a speed test out in the open water and even though a standing position was sometimes a little more comfortable when driving, she handled it superbly.
The 25-degree deadrise in conjunction with the narrower beam definitely yielded an exceptional kind of rough-water performance. A fine entry with minimal bottom surface area combined with a very deep vee will have this boat running with the best of them. This hull absorbed the punishment on this particular day and will probably be as comfortable in rougher conditions.
A more stringent eye for detail needs to be cast over some of the finishes. There were no sloppy installations though, which you would expect from a boat of this price as a top-quality product. I found the wiring installation to be as neat as can be. Everything, including hoses, is well secured and its obvious Chris's passion for boatbuilding has seen a lot of forethought go into the layout, under-deck access and wiring harness solutions.
TMA's 25F Walkaround is a fantastic boat, suitable as a great offshore fisher that the family will find equally fun and comfortable. Carrying a price tag of $156,600, it's at the top of the price range for this type of vessel, but you get what you pay for.
TMA 25F WALKAROUND
PRICE AS TESTED
Mercury 275hp Verado, Lowrance HDS 8, Simrad autopilot , six heavy-duty gunwale rodholders, hardtop clears, Dunbier aluminium trailer, four-speaker stereo system and DVD player
$133,642 w/ 150hp Mercury Verado L4 150hp and Dunbier aluminium trailer
TYPE: Planing monohull
WEIGHT: Approx 2000kg (dry)
PEOPLE (DAY): 6
REC. HP: 150 to 225
REC. MAX HP: 300
MAKE/MODEL: Mercury Verado L6 MV 275XXL
TYPE: Six-cylinder petrol outboard
RATED HP: 275
GEAR RATIO: 1.75:1
PROPELLER: Stainless steel Mirage Plus
Tailored Marine Accessories,
18 Kingston Drive,
Helensvale, QLD, 4212
Phone: (07) 5502 7255; 0408 422 242
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; info@tailore dmarine.com.au
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 433, Nov-Dec 2012. Story: Brendon Rule Photos: Kevin Smith
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