By: John Willis, Photography by: John Willis

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John Willis found it easy to forget his worries aboard this slick Surtees in the waters around Whakatane.



Receiving an invitation to fish in the 13th Annual Surtees Boats Fishing Competition at the beautiful Kiwi hot spot of Whakatane was thrill enough, but to then be offered a spot on the Surtees/Okuma 750 Gamefisher Hard Top, had me buzzing like an excited schoolboy.The boat's name is Okuma Matata referencing the "problem free philosophy" of a couple of my favorite cartoon characters, The Lion King's loveable rogues Timone and Pumba. My daughter (and I) loved these characters and the name had me reminiscing fond memories of singing their song together when she was merely a pup, it seems only yesterday! "Hakuna Matata - it means no worries for the rest of your days" Hence a fitting name for this wonderful craft.

Game Fisher

The boat and its crew had me comfortable from the beginning. Not only do I have total confidence in Surtees Boats, but to go to sea with a pair of 150HP Honda 4-strokes is like being driven by a team of trusted friends. Speaking of such friends, not only was the boat skippered by the closest thing to the Surtees family himself, Sales Manager Cliff Schick (renamed Capt Cluffurd), but joining our intrepid team were Tassie identities Hadley Deegan (Surtees Dealer, Ulverstone) and Team Penn/Simrad, and larger than life fisho, Adrian "Mozza" Morrisby. Also joining the fray was the winner of the Surtees photo competition, Sydney’s Adam Kelly, a mad keen fisho who regularly takes his ripper little Surtees 495 all the way to the Port Stephens "Car Park" some 40 kilometres offshore, to do battle with large pelagics — solo!

I must admit that I was originally a little concerned about having enough elbow space for five keen anglers in any trailer boat, especially when three of us are XXXOS heifers engaging Ahab the Tent Maker as our tailor. Oh how wrong I can be! We all fished easily together, at times with multiple lines each, and often with live baits for the region's XXXXOS snapper and kingfish. (Kungies!) But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Storage or seating? Who's to say ?


The Surtees 750 Gamefisher HT is a total weapon. For those of you that believe aluminium boats can never enjoy soft riding characteristics, then think again. Surtees re-wrote the rule book when creator Neil Surtees built the first prototype back in the early 1990s. That was the Surtees 550 Barcrusher and the start of the successful dynasty. In fact, there was a good many 550’s fishing in the field of 62 boats for the competition, including the original hull. Neil later told us that as far as he knows, every boat he has built is still in seaworthy condition, even over 25 year old hulls that have had the crap pounded out of them. (There will obviously be accidental exceptions).

Plenty of internal space and protection

The Surtees sistership, the smaller 700HT won TAB’s Australia’s Greatest Boats Competition and is the only brand that has competed as a finalist in every event. This one is simply bigger. Should I say better? Well, only if size really matters and every inch really does count in offshore conditions, especially with a big crew.

Surtees invented the "Razor Tech Hull". They call it part of their SiQ short for "Surtees Intelligence". They say, "Some manufacturers will tell you that boat building hasn’t changed much through the passage of time. However, with modern materials and technology, overlaid with new ideas, Surtees has enhanced time-honored ways to develop what is arguably the safest, best performing range of fishing boats on the water".

Surtees have developed a great combination of old and new ideas that have redefined the traditionally hard riding characteristics of alloy, but incorporating the ancient nautical principle of ballast has enabled them to modify the ride and improve the stability of their deep-V technology.

The 12" Raymarine shows what's around and below

This is a tough boat forged of the proud kiwi tradesmen and women of the foothills surrounding Whakatane. Their lines are sharper than many competitors, yet jump on board and head straight out to sea and the big Surtees greets you with the comforts and familiarity that feels like home. There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.

A fisherman's dream weapon of choice


We stopped briefly to fill the live bait tank with slimies and small kahawai. The tank is conveniently located in the transom under the rear door and forms both a doubles as a step, and at times, a seat. The inbuilt stability was immediately obvious with the large payload of shifting weight shuffling to prepare tackle for our fishing adventure. The entire deck space, checker plate floor, rod holder positioning, bait board, freeboard, combing width, raised electrical and plumbing compartment, accessible bilge, storage and seating layout has evolved to piscatorial perfection assisting your fishing adventure unimpeded. When you are travelling you can fold down an extended rear seat, however, we didn't bother. Yet, we made comment of how much comfort the wide combings offer right around the wide 2.5 metre deck.

The deck is design specifically for your fishing adventure

We headed eastward along the coast for perhaps twenty five miles to a mussel farm, with the Raymarine Multifunction unit and its 1kW transducer not only showing the way, but giving a clear indication of what lay below, and the radar displaying what was around us. It was a comfortable trip made even softer and quieter by the 6mm plate alloy hull. Three of us took up positions in the fully lockable cabin with its rear French doors, whilst the other two travelled securely on the rear upholstered storage cabinets behind the cabin bulkhead.

We found some kahawai "boil ups" and all easily cast lures to the marauding greenbacks. I fought an extended battle with a striped tuna (skippy in NZ) that I managed to jag in its side. We then sounded into the coastal reef and shallower water where we put down the Lone Star anchor winch to start berleying for snapper and hopefully kings. The action didn't take long to start and we soon had a nice assortment of reds on ice with many more released. You do have to carry a separate ice box as there’s no inbuilt kill tank on the 750, mainly due to the large 300 litre underfloor fuel tank for long range adventures.

There's plenty of space to take a nap in the large V-berth, even for an overnighter or long weekend. The cabin space is perfect for me and offers terrific protection from those chilly mornings in the deep south of Tassie, plus plenty of sun protection for northern climates assisted with big sliding windows on the sides and rear. The roofline is extended by an additional canvas awning.

Handrails and dashboard

I love the big dashboard with its Jesus bar support, plus there are more handrails under the fully lined hardtop for when the going really gets rough. The visibility is tremendous through the large safety glass 3-piece windscreen with wipers, and when the doors are open there’s plenty of flow through the boat. The 12" Raymarine is dashboard mounted and the helm is relatively small but very workable and comfortable. It features fully upholstered bolster style seats atop large storage units and all internal surfaces are fully lined, adding to that homely and comfortable feel. The twin binnacle controls are immediately at hand but I have to say it’s about time Honda released fully sync’d dual controls like most competitors – I’ve grown used to them.



I would volunteer to go to battle with trustworthy mates like the Honda BF150’s any day. They really have served as a reliable friend for a good many years. Plus, I love the sound of their high performance, technically advanced engines. But make no mistake, Honda aren’t the people to release new product willy-nilly without proper performance testing and evaluation, so if I have to wait a little while longer for synchronized throttles then so be it! (Third world problem really, eh!)

The Honda’s performed flawlessly, as usual, providing exceptional grunt to lift our large crew effortlessly with instantaneous response and grip. They were fitted with a pair of Honda 14.25 x 17" 3 blade stainless props and she just loved to get up and boogie at a fast offshore cruise of 25 knots at 4000RPM where she used only 13.8 lph per side giving a long range of 182 nautical miles with 10% reserve. That’s a long way in a trailer boat!

She just loves to get up and rumble at around 33 knots at 5000 RPM, however, you obviously reduce your range to a still considerable 140 nautical miles. We found a speedy 40 knots Wide Open Throttle with a light load peaking out at 6150 RPM.

Powerful and reliable, the Hondas performed flawlessly

The BF150’s are inline 4-cylinder, 4-stroke Double Overhead Cam, 16-valve, 2354cc engines with a long list of Honda features including Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC™) that was initially developed for Honda's high-performance sportscars. There’s Multi-port Programmed Fuel Injection, Lean Burn Control technology, and an O2 sensor that combined with the ECM, precisely controls the air/fuel mixture for the best fuel economy. They feature ECOmo (Economy Controlled Motor), the mode in which lean burn control is used during cruising to achieve higher fuel economy. Combine all of this with Linear Air Fuel and knock sensors that help determine the correct fuel flow and ignition curve, the patented, 'double sealed' multi-layered paint process of its Corrosion Protection System, enhanced corrosion protection, three separate cooling systems to keep the cylinder head cooler and the famous BLAST™ system, advancing the ignition curve for aggressive hole shot. It supplies 40 AMP charging power and NMEA2000 combatable linkage for electronic function, all in all, providing a pair of terrific, fuel efficient yet gutsy power plants. Plus, I personally like the Honda silver colour – it looks classy on any boat.

Heading to dock with smiles on out faces


There’s a host of extra’s that I could rattle on about for pages including an optional hot water system, trim tabs, Raymarine VHF, Fusion sound system, Garmin displays pads, bar fridge, rocket launcher, detachable combing rod racks, clear view to live bait tank, fold down "fin friendly" ladder, transom platform and much, much more. But I would like to leave you with the knowledge that this is a beautifully constructed, dedicated fishing and offshore capable machine that ticks every box for a large trailerable plate alloy sportsfisher. Do yourself a favour – inspect the welding quality, it is a testament to fine engineering and workmanship at its best, all on a package that simply works! And yes, we did catch six kingfish!

I’ll leave you with this quote, "We (Surtees) like to call this inventive streak Surtees IQ, or SiQ for short. SiQ ensures that Surtees stays well ahead of the pack by continuing to improve, fine-tune and innovate. Which begs the question, why would you settle for a boat with a lower IQ?

Good engineering and practicality is an excellent combination



$139k ($NZ)


  • A fishing and offshore weaponBuild quality
  • Overall layout
  • Sensible options
  • Huge deck
  • Enclosed cabin


  • No sync function on the Honda’s (third world problem!)
  • No kill tank


  • MATERIAL 6mm marine grade aluminum hull, 4mm sides, 3mm cabin
  • TYPE Deep-V with flooding ballast
  • LENGTH 7.5m
  • BEAM 2.5m
  • WEIGHT 2500kg (approx tow weight dry)


  • PEOPLE (NIGHT) 2 (DAY) 8
  • FUEL 300lt
  • WATER 80 ltr


  • MAKE/MODEL 2 X Honda BF150
  • TYPE 4-cylinder, 4-stroke Double Overhead Cam, 16-valve,
  • RATED 150HP
  • WEIGHT 2 x 220kg
  • GEAR RATIO 2.14:1
  • PROPELLER  Honda 14.25 x 17" 3 blade stainless



2909 State Highway 30
RD2 Whakatane
Bay of Plenty 3192
New Zealand

PHONE +64 7 3228461


Check out the full review in issue #504 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration. 


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