REVIEW: WADECRAFT X310 BY SHARPCRAFT

By: TIM VAN DUYL, Photography by: NATHAN JACOBS, Video by: JOHN-PAUL BEIRUTY

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We let Editor TIM VAN DUYL loose on the Gulf St Vincent aboard A 9M Sporting 550HP out back, his response? “Hell, Yeah!”

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REVIEW: Wadecraft X310 by SharpCraft

RATINGS

  • Suitability for purpose           8/10 
  • Innovation                              7/10 
  • Design and layout                  7.5/10 
  • Quality of finish                      8/10 
  • Handling and ride                   9/10 
  • Stability at rest                       8/10 
  • Ergonomics                             8/10 
  • Standard equipment               7.5/10 
  • Value for money                     8/10 
  • X-factor                                  7.5/10 

Our first taste of what Nick Sharp of SharpCraft has to offer was through his own design, the 4.7 Scout, a runabout that impressed in the same slop seen in this test. When trailing the 4.7 Scout, we had this Wadecraft X310 as our camera boat, but one look at it and we needed to know what the 550hp on the transom could do with the sleek-looking hull.

Nick has since moved to a new shed, much bigger, brighter and I hear better insulated to the chills of SA’s winter. With the move comes the room to do his normal job of repairs, plug making and technical repairs.

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REWORKS

Owner Jim picked up his X310 as a near bare hull, so bare it didn’t have a console and needed some floor and casting deck work, it was a proper blank canvas. Being a bit of a speed freak and with a big bunch of mates always keen to head out with him, he needed a big boat with big power but was on a tight budget.

What it had was room to move and safe, tall gunwale heights, a fully flat floor and a good-size dive door. What it needed were motors, console, some work on the floor and front lockers. Jim did a lot of the work himself but brought in specialists for key parts, like the well-made and good looking console. Jim set it back, not fully to the rear though, I would call it a centre-rear-console. The benefit of this setup is being able to stand closer to the planing surface of the hull; too far forward and the up and down becomes tiresome for some.

It’s a big boat, but not unwieldy. Yes, it’s over-width for standard towing and once laden, is heavy. For Jim though, a good 100 Series LandCruiser and a set of flags is all he needs to get the boat to the water from his nearby home.

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TECH

Twin Simrad NSS12s adorn the dash and fill it nicely. I’ve been a big fan of the touchscreen NSS12s since I first played around with them some years ago. They have decent backlighting and a clever screen coating that handles most of the guts and sunscreen smears a lot of touchscreens tend to show. Obviously a display is nothing without the brains behind it and the sounder below. These units, like most modern ones now, have all the important bits inside already; gone are the days of a separate CHIRP or StructureScan module taking up most of the inside of your dash. Down in the wet bit lives the popular and reliable Airmar 1kW sounder. Using twin screens offers Jim the opportunity to run his 3G radar separately to his sounder. He told us he often runs at dusk and dawn where the fog and haze that often covers Gulf St Vincent can be a real hazard, so having pro-level radar overlays on his charts is a good safety feature.

Backing up the Simrad is a FUSION MS-IP600 marine stereo, it’s easy to use and with Bluetooth, flexible to what you want to play, and a Garmin VHF. Jim told us all the electronics were picked up at boat shows when on special, saving him thousands.

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RELIABLE MERCS

The strict budget was most at risk with the biggest buy, the outboards. The thing that separates Jim from most is that he was happy to buy some key components secondhand, like the 275hp Verados strapped to the back of the X310. Jim did what anyone buying secondhand motors should do, he bought from someone he trusted and had the engines checked over by an independent third party. The result, an affordable 550hp of smooth-as-silk in-line supercharged sixes, and with cams driven by chain service costs are good compared to most. We couldn’t get fuel figures on the day, it was too rough, but I’m happy to report they behaved with aplomb, started easily and ran without smoke or oddities.

Part of the appeal of the 275s was the electronic throttle and built-in power-assisted steering. Merc was first to get these two cutting edge bits of tech into the one motor when it released the first of the inline-six Verados back in the early 2000s, and proved the concept. Available in more brands and across more of the Mercury range now, electronic throttles do away with potentially notchy and maintenance-heavy cables, while the power-assisted steering makes light work of the torque the big twins provide.

Props were 14.625- by 21-inch pitch Revolution from Merc. They are hand-cast and hand-polished stainless steel works of art. Being four-blade and 21-inch pitch, they had a lot of bite, which came in handy in what were pretty horrible conditions.

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THE BUILD

There is no denying the X310 looks similar to some the famous boats that started the Cigarette-style cult but it is its own design. First penned 20 years ago by WA’s Chris Wade, the hull was engineered to tackle the west’s worst chop. Wade was a shipwright and avid offshore racer, a great combo for a go-fast design. The designs are not owned by Sharpcraft but are leased on a per-build basis, hence Wadecraft X310 by Sharpcraft.

This means you get the same generous warranty as Nick Sharp’s own design, the aforementioned 4.7 Scout, an almost unbelievable 10 years on the structural hull. I quizzed Nick hard on this when out on the water and the reasoning was simple to him. He builds the boats, so he knows what goes into them and how they should perform. Oh, and did I mention he is a qualified shipwright, mould maker and go-to-guy for a range of local brands needing expert ’glass work? Nick’s confidence has valid grounds and for you buyers, that’s a great thing.

Talking to Nick about the cost to replace Jim’s X310, we were told to expect around $200K, pretty good value for what goes into a bespoke build but there is room to spend more, a lot more. Nick will look into rating the hull for up to 800hp, yep, for a pair of Mercury 400Rs and when you cost just them, you’ll see how you could spend a lot more than Jim.

Looking around the boat, when on the hard, a moderate radius deep-vee stood out to me as did the slightly extended and raised semi-pod. I say semi as it is full-width, not like most traditional pods but it is clearly an extension. Defined strakes make an appearance front to just before the semi-pod, while the chines are not massive but still deep enough looking at the front to take some spray and wide enough down back to add some lift and stability. Looking at the hull, the props and the power, I expected okay holeshot and some serious top end.

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TESTING

Unfortunately 30kts of breeze and a sea proving hard to read meant we couldn’t really push the X310, the best we could do was nudge 40kts with more than 1000rpm left. I’m told it will cruise in the mid-forties day-in, day-out. Our glimpses of 40kts was with the wind and down the chop, how you hope to drive heading home an hour after you should have, but it was into the windswept swell that would test the rear-set console for dryness and ride. I was first up. Treating the boat like I do all boats, with care, rolling off each 2m swell with the throttle at 20-odd-kts and pushing in a few more revs as the bow approached the next, the ride was great. The amount of water over the bow, practically none. Giving it some more, and holding speed into the coming onslaught and yeah, a few broke to the sides and some was pulled over with the wind but really, it was better than any other boat of its size I can recall.

Throwing it into some turns, as I love to do, I tried to put the hull side on at the peak of crest, much to my companions’ worry. I wanted to feel how the keel-line responded to falling away water and how the boat as a whole lifted when side on. It was good, it was confident. As it slumped into the water, coming off the plane, the chines and strakes did a great job of stabilising the hull before the next wave simply lifted us like a cork in the ocean. For a big boat, with 550hp and a console set rearward, it felt idiot-proof. Time to use it for photos.

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STABILITY

As mentioned earlier, the X310 was to be our photography platform when testing the 4.7 Scout. Nick chose it as he wanted my off-the-record thoughts on the hull before committing to publicising his intention to build them to order, that and we needed something big to counter the swells.

It was bad out there, bad enough that for safety reasons, I would have pulled the pin completely had we not had three able skippers between the two boats, good communication and the luxury of launching at sheltered North Haven Marina.

Out in the briny proper, the hull sat well in the water. You could feel the keel was deep and the boat heavy, even though the raised floor had our feet well above the waterline. We weren’t running a full fuel load, only a bit over half, so there was room for the boat to sit deeper still. It was surprisingly stable for a 2.8m beam to nearly 10m length and with more gear and people, will impress more.

THE WRAP

Boats like these attract a certain buyer. There is no hiding the fact that the cost will deter many, but there is also the need to know what you’re doing and what you want to do. This is not a ‘first boat’. This is the last go-fast, the last show-off, the last boat you buy to have all of your mates choose you to be the driver. 

Specifications Wadecraft X310

PRICED FROM

$200,000 plus options

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH Approx 9.4m

BEAM 2.8m

DRAFT 565mm (approx)

WEIGHT 2500kg (on-water, approx.)

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Twin Verado 275

TYPE Supercharged DOHC EFI straight-six outboard

RATED HP 275 (each)

MAX RPM RANGE 5800 to 6400

DISPLACEMENT 2.6lt (each)

WEIGHT 288kg (each)

FOR MORE INFORMATION

SHARPCRAFT MARINE

PHONE 0411 383 014

EMAIL sharpcraftmarine.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #502 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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