REVIEW: WELLCRAFT 302 FISHERMAN

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Think centre consoles, think fishing. But add 800hp and the amenities to cater for a crowd, and the 30-foot Wellcraft 302 Fisherman morphs into an adrenaline, family-loving sportsboat, too.

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HIGHS

  • Modern and sexy design
  • Loaded with features
  • Refined finishes throughout
  • Reasonably priced
  • Big performer

LOWS

  • A touch flighty on the bow at high speed with light loads, perhaps larger blade trim tabs
  • Bow seat backrests could do with a lock/pin to secure in place

REVIEW: WELLCRAFT 302 FISHERMAN priced from $380,000

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If a new centre console or an upgrade is on the cards for 2018, then this is an opportune time to get out and have a look at what’s on offer locally. The popularity of centre consoles, the ranges available, and the brand choices are growing rapidly and yes, most of them are imports from the USA. But man, they do produce some incredible boats and no wonder they are becoming a common sight on our waters.

The new age centre consoles are loaded with fantastic features that suit entertaining, family boating in style and as big gamefish chasers all at the same time. To top it off, the big boy centre consoles are all serious performers, with dual- and triple-outboard rigs from an insane 600hp to 1050hp now a common sight on these American beasts.

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A new kid on the block to the centre console market I tested recently was the Wellcraft 302 Fisherman, supplied by HiOctane Marine on the Gold Coast. Swanking the latest twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R supercharged outboards, this centre console is another prime example of the high-performance, innovative and quality craftsmanship we are seeing from the States.

Now, 800 supercharged horses mean some serious business belting around on the water, however, this offshore weapon is also crammed with stylish lines, heaps of city bling, and numerous creature comforts to please all. In fact, it’s one of the coolest and sexiest centre consoles around, turning heads on and off the water.

CHIC STYLING

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So, what sets the Wellcraft apart from the competition, considering there’s a fair selection of 30ft centre consoles going around now? Well, it’s aesthetically mesmerising, thanks to the futuristic Scarab design features that incorporate sharp and fast lines, and an array of fantastic colour palettes blended into an executive type layout. Creating the perfect family entertainer and offshore sportsfisher is no easy feat, but Wellcraft has done a sterling job with the 302’s layout and it would most certainly please family daytrippers and serious gamefisherman alike.

A centre console this size means maximum space and maximum numbers onboard. Legally rated to 12 persons you can load the 302 Fisherman up with family, friends and extended family for a day out to the islands, or just cruising and sipping sundowners on an afternoon cruise. Seating provisions for the masses include: a sizeable bowrider-style layout, with drop-down table and optional infill pad; a huge forward console lounger; stylish dual helm seats; and triple fold-down transom seating.

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The console flaunting a stylish black facia, is spacious, provides good protection at the helm, and has a good layout with ample space to flush-mount electronics. In this case, there is no need for a dual-sounder/GPS setup as the upgraded 22in Garmin has a huge multifunction display, even when split into four screens. Coupled with the Garmin open array radar system and 1kW through-hull transducer, this electronics package is ready for some big offshore fish-finding action.

Another positive of the larger centre consoles is the depth inside the console to fit a head, the Wellcraft 302 with electric-flush loo and a plumbed vanity basin, as well as easy access to the rear of all dash electronics. Plus doubling as a great storage spot for game rods.

The stylish insulated T-top provides decent protection from the elements, as well as including an additional electronics panel, storage glove box, plus moulded light fittings and inbuilt speakers. Black powder coated framework adds to the sporty look and with the curved frame extending over the back of the seating, there are good holding points and additional rodholder stowage.

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The balance of the layout includes numerous extras and features, actually just too many to mention. There’s no lack of storage space onboard for gear, the gunwale rod-rack system with SeaDek padding to protect reels on rods is great, the dive entry or exit door provides easy access, decks are non-slip and self-draining, the upgraded sea-grass mat package is soft on the feet and easy to rinse down, while the upgraded premium sound system takes care of the tunes for the day.

For the serious fisherman the 302 has sizable livewells built into the stern plus dedicated bait cutting board/hatch, big insulated killtank/hatches, outriggers, multiple flush-mount rodholders, and raw water deckwash. The list just goes on and on. Plain and simply, it’s well-equipped and nicely set out in all areas.

BIG KAHUNAS

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With tests generally restricted for time, we can get a fair idea of a hull’s ride and performance, but when you are given a boat for a full day and includes running out to the deep to try your luck at a few fish, well nothing can beat that.

The venue was the Gold Coast and the plan was a run to The Pin from Runaway Bay on flat water to shoot some awesome pics and crank the Verados to their max. Following that was to head offshore and catch a dolphin fish or marlin, then return south and back through the Gold Coast seaway ending the day with a cold one – that’s simple enough.

INSHORE FLYER

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Again, the Scarab lines and design coupled with the twin 400R supercharged Mercury Verado’s most certainly portray an image of power and speed – and that the 302 Fisherman does with ease.

Regardless of load, the 302 has the holeshot of a smaller sportsboat, however the transition is far smoother. Digital throttle and steering control also make it ever so smooth to drive and handle.

On the plane and tapping off to mid-range revs, you can sit comfortably at 4000rpm and 27kts, at an economy of 87lt/h, which is not bad considering the size, weight and grunt on the transom. Let’s not forget that you will be averaging comfortable and higher speeds on these boats, so although fuel consumption might be a tad higher than usual, you will get to your destination far quicker.

ADRENALIN FIX

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Regardless of who you are the 800hp of supercharged business sitting on the transom is a temptation no-one can resist. Knock the throttle down from mid-range rpm and this baby winds up pretty quickly to a topped-out 7020rpm at 49kts and 298lt/h with the motors trimmed to just short of cavitation. WOT is 49kts, and that’s a rush on its own. Fuel burn is to be expected and nothing to worry about as you won’t, or shouldn’t be hammering along at this speed all day long.

BAR CROSSING

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Flexing 800hp is no problem, cranking you at pace around waves and out through the bar. In saying that, run-out tides do produce those awesome standing waves on the banks and just to prove the stability on the 302, we copped a decent one over the snout. Again, this was just to check stability and drainage speed off the decks of course, and passed without issue.

OFFSHORE

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Like most 30ft centre consoles, the 302’s 1014lt fuel capacity takes care of the big runs with spare change. We headed straight out to the 50 to 60m depth contour to troll for some gamefish and, although the wind was light variable at the time, the swell and leftover chop from the previous nights 20kt northeasterly was pretty ordinary to say the least. The ride is good, a constant and comfortable 25kts maintained in rough conditions.

So far plenty of pros, but there must be a con somewhere and the only minor niggle was the hull to be a little flighty at high speeds inshore – something you find on many hulls topped out to abnormal speeds. Now, it’s far from an issue as these hulls are designed to take a big load and when you have the 302 loaded with extra weight it rides even better. If anything, I would run the bigger blade trim tabs for more control of the bow lift when running big offshore fishing days with lighter loads.

THE WRAP

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If modern styling, design and high-performance all incorporated in a centre console is what you’re after, then the Wellcraft 302 Fisherman is most certainly worth a look as its loaded to the max in all areas.

What’s even better with the Wellcraft is that they are not bound to one outboard brand and you can get them pre-rigged for Mercury, Yamaha and Evinrude E-TEC in the States, or fully installed with other outboard brands in Australia. If touring and long-distance expeditions are the go, well they can also be towed with the big gun Dodge Rams or Ford F-trucks as oversized loads.

Overall, these are pretty flash centre consoles in all areas, and again just as well suited to family and entertaining as they are to serious offshore gamefishing. Priced from $255,800 to $380,000 for the tricked-up version is good value in my opinion, considering you can fork out up to 650 grand on other top brands.

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$380,000

OPTIONS FITTED

Twin Mercury Racing 400R Verados, Garmin 22in multfunction screen and electronics package, two-tone hull, cockpit upholstery colour, sea grass mats, black powder coated framework, side dive door, boarding ladder, wood-look console flooring, windless, anchor, rode and chain, electric toilet, premium sound system, Taco Outriggers, bow seating package, SeaDek package, safety pack, and more

PRICED FROM

$255,800

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH 9.2m

BEAM 2.9m

WEIGHT Approx 3039 to 3345kg

DEADRISE 22°

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 12

REC. HP Twin 250 to 400hp

REC MAX HP 800

FUEL 1014lt

WATER 49lt

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL 2 x Mercury Verado 400R

TYPE Supercharged inline six-cylinder

WEIGHT 303kg (dry)

DISPLACEMENT 2.6lt

GEAR RATIO 1.75:1

PROP Mercury Revolution 4 17in-pitch

SUPPLIED BY

Hioctance Marine

Shop 1A, Runaway Bay Marina,

247 Bayview Street,

Runaway Bay, QLD, 4216

PHONE 0491 221 117

EMAIL tim@HiOctaneMarine.com.au   

WEB hioctanemarine.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #500 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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