TESTED: FORCE F14 TENDER

By: JACK MURPHY, Photography by: JACK MURPHY

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

FORCE F14 TENDER-02.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-02.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-03.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-03.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-01.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-01.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-04.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-04.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-05.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-05.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-06.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-06.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-07.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-07.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-08.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-08.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-09.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-09.jpg
FORCE F14 TENDER-10.jpg FORCE F14 TENDER-10.jpg

Mention Force Boats and tender in the one breath and the response will probably be stunned silence. But the F14 Tender is what it says, and it carries the heritage of its high-octane siblings.

TESTED: FORCE F14 TENDER
The Force F14 Tender: Force Boats makes more than just go-fast pocket rockets.

Based on the NSW’s Hawkesbury River, Force Boats has a well-deserved reputation as a manufacturer of quality ski and race machines forged in the cauldron of the tournament trail. The lovechild of Rod and Kelly Bickerton, Force has been racking up the accolades and filling trophy cabinets since the first hull popped out of the mould 18 years ago.

The manufacturer’s hyper-powered machines offer breathtaking performance – they’re loud, brawny, muscular and intimidating. Its new F14 is none of these, yet promises so much more.



DIFFERENT FORCE

Force has boats with names like Burnin’, Hellrazor and Pigs Arsenal, so I was more than a little surprised by what I saw. There before me, piggybacked atop a Riviera cruiser, was my ride for the day. And it was naked. No wrap or decals proclaiming a fiery end, just a pretty, little white boat with a 50hp outboard. I was confused.

After several minutes taking in the lines of this fun-sized Force it started to look familiar, more Force-ish, almost like a two-thirds scale model of a real one. The next thought that popped into my head was, "I’m going to get wet today." Low to the water and with little protection, I thought myself lucky to have brought my board shorts along. But boy was I wrong. After five minutes it became obvious this thing wasn’t just an F21 that had shrunk in the wash – it was the real deal. And I certainly let rip.

In a departure from traditional skiboat hull architecture, the F14 is blessed with a deep 19° deadrise. The sharp hull entry sliced the water like butter and the aggressive front reverse chines pushed the spray away. I didn’t get a single drop on me – but more on that later.



SWISS ARMY BOAT

As I soon discovered, the Force F14 is really several boats in one. One day you could be flying up river with a boat-full of bikini-clad babes while towing a tube or skier, the next day you could be running tender duties or even having a fish. The boat will thus appeal to a broad market, not just watersports enthusiasts.

When I quizzed Force’s Kelly Bickerton on the subject, she said it was an opportunity to explore new markets and reach out to customers who didn’t need a big boat or uber horsepower to get the job done. And since the company was considering a tender for its own cruiser Kelly’s husband Rod – the creative influence behind Force Boats – decided to create one of his own. I reckon these guys might be onto something.

There are two hull options available, Tender and Social. The main differences between the two are weight and price. The Tender configuration is vacuum-bagged and 75kg lighter than the Social. Although this will obviously increase performance, it’s also ideal for davit-lifting requirements when used as a tender on larger mother ships.

The Social will be a few thousand dollars cheaper but is designed to be trailered. It all comes down to your intended application.

I tested the lightweight Tender model with a few bells and several whistles. We tubed, skied, barefooted, barbecued, and even had a sneaky fish in the afternoon. Not a bad effort for something I could just about carry in my camera bag.



WATERBORNE WARRIOR

The F14 is seriously entertaining on the water. It’s a bit like driving a go-cart powered by nitrous oxide – the fun factor is off the grid. As I mentioned, the impressive reverse chine deflects spray and keeps you dry even when loaded and underway with up to five people. What really impressed me, however, was the under-floor submersible hull.

When the boat comes to a stop, this separate chamber fills with water, giving amazing stability at rest. The hull quickly empties when you shoot onto the plane and the boat once again becomes light as a feather. Although this isn’t exactly a new concept, it’s rare to see on fibreglass hulls these days, and it works particularly well in the F14. For a boat that has ballast at rest it really does plane quickly and effortlessly. By trimming it in you can get the F14 onto the plane within seconds, where it comfortably holds while dialing in more trim.

Fourteen-year-old Riley Exton volunteered to go for a ride and carved up the Hawkesbury River on his single ski. He fell in love with the boat and its wake instantly and said he’d buy one if his mum would let him.



SMOOTH OPERATOR

Given the little F14 is built to the same exacting standards as Force’s world champion race and ski boats, its quality of finish and construction are second to none. That is pretty impressive for a rig that can actually cost less than the fuel bill for one of those speed demons. The boat just feels solid and inspires confidence and the fittings are all top notch. You can really tell Team Force has pride in its product so-much-so, in fact, that the company even offers a lifetime warranty on the hull.

You can find storage almost everywhere you look. The layout is clean and minimalistic, rodholders are well placed in the transom well and the telescopic, all-round white light even rises from the deck with the flick of a button. James Bond, eat your heart out. Even though these features are optional they fit the boat well without screaming "poser" in the way an aftermarket spoiler on a family car does.

Seating is also plentiful. Five adults can jump in and not feel cramped, unstable or unsafe, and I reckon it’s going to be hard to keep the kids out of this one.



JACK OF ALL TRADES

What it lacks in length the F14 more than makes up for in comfort, stability, speed and style. Although this may be Force’s first crack at the small social and tender market, it’s not just dipping its toe in the water. It has drawn on considerable expertise and customer feedback and is set to make a rather large public splash. Kelly tells me the company has already been inundated with enquiries and has orders on the books.

As a tender, the F14 will be stronger, more durable and in some cases, actually lighter than a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat). And there will of course be none of the air-pressure hassles that commonly occur with these blow-up rivals.

The standard, bow-mounted tender cradle on the Riviera mother ship did require a few adjustments in order to fit the F14 but nothing major, and the guys at Force can customise your existing tender cradle to fit one. Rod also added a resting platform for the bow to sit in.

The Force F14 ticks all the right boxes as a fun, social dayboat and a tender like no other.



[HIGHS]

› Planes instantly and very responsive to trim

› Under-floor submersible hull makes the boat incredibly stable for its size

› Deep seats and a well-designed driver’s side footrest keep you locked in place

› Extremely versatile; the perfect crossover tender/fun boat



[LOWS]

› No room to flush-mount a sounder/GPS on the driver’s dash

› No navigational or anchor lights as standard





[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS… ]

The F14 is the cheapest offering in the Force range with almost miserly power requirements and has the potential to coax buyers at the expense of other small tender manufacturers. Like all Force boats F14s are built to order and almost everything can be customised, so no excuses for not blinging her out as a luxury tender.



SPECIFICATIONS: FORCE F14 TENDER

PRICE AS TESTED

$31,014



OPTIONS FITTED

Fuel gauge and sender, trim gauge and sender, three LED lights, stainless steel LED navigation lights, LED stern light, three rodholders, and stainless steel propeller



PRICED FROM

$29,322 w/ 40hp Mercury two-stroke and galvanised single-axle trailer



GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Planing monohull

LOA 4.4m

BEAM 1.9m

DEADRISE 19°

DRAFT 300mm

WEIGHT 280kg (boat and engine)



CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 4

REC. MAX HP 60

REC. MIN HP 25

FUEL 42lt



ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Mercury 50hp

TYPE Petrol two-stroke outboard

WEIGHT 93kg

DISPLACEMENT 967cc

GEAR RATIO 1.83:1



MANUFACTURED BY

Force Boats,

608 River Road,

Lower Portland, NSW, 2756

Phone: (02) 4575 4038

Fax: (02) 4575 5284

Email: sales@forceboats.com

Web: www.forceboats.com


Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #440, May/June 2013

Find Force boats for sale.

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.