Review: Sailfish 3200 Platinum

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

We heard the latest Sailfish spawned from a desire for deck space so we sent John Ford out to answer the age-old question: is bigger really better?

 

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Sailfish 3200 Platinum Review

Like many buyers, our progenitor (let's call him Mark) had been working towards a bigger boat for some time. He was happy with his Seafarer  Voyager but hankered for more room so his growing family could spend more time on the water.

Mark's search eventually led him to Sailfish's east coast dealership Webbe Marine to sample the very handy Sailfish 30, where he remarked that the cockpit was a bit small for his liking – Webbe Marine director Gavan Daly listened.

Such was the close relationship between the dealership and the builder that when Daly suggested to Sailfish that they build a longer version of the 30, the deal was done on the spot and the new Platinum 32 was added to the catalogue.

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THE BUILDER

Sailfish Catamarans have been a favourite at Trade-a-Boat for years. They've won consecutive Trailer Boat of the Year awards, but it’s been a while since we reviewed one of their larger offerings. The 32 joins their Platinum Sports range, which extends from the 30 to a 37.

The company has its home in Alstonville, on the far north coast of NSW, where a workforce of over 20 employees produce around 30 boats a year. This relatively modest turnout reflects the fact that most boats, particularly the larger ones, are bespoke outcomes that cater to the wants and needs of owners – every one finished with minute attention to detail. This is particularly true of Mark's 32. As a young, technologically-inclined customer, he's opted for all of the latest electronics from the long list of options.

Measuring 9.7m long with a 3m beam, the twin hulls are a plate aluminium construction with lower sections formed from 6mm marine alloy and 4mm topsides. The result is a rigid and robust beast, weighing close to 4,500kg, with a generous deck-space suited to both fishing and entertaining.

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Creases in the gunmetal grey alloy flanks add strength and a sporty aesthetic. From a straight run at the rear, the sheerline steps up from amidships, where a tinted windscreen and a sharply raked cabin lead back to an extended roofline.

A distinctive wave-piercing section under the full bow is designed to soften the ride through larger swells. Overall, the look avoids the commercial ruggedness of their offshore rescue vessels, while the well-finished welds and beautifully formed, rounded edges give a softer impression than most aluminium boats.

The test boat’s prominent carbon fibre outrigger poles and roof-mounted tuna tower brand it as a serious game fisher, and the extreme on-board fitout reinforces that notion. However, the boat has a gentler side for family-friendly outings.

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THE COCKPIT

Stepping through the starboard-side door, I landed on a strip timber-style Ultralon deck and noticed it had a softer feel than the standard-issue paint chip finish. A Reelax bait station sits at centre stage, mounted on a pedestal that would also suit a game chair, should the future call for it.

There are rod holders everywhere. Four at the bait table, six along the sides, two more at the walkthrough and nine in the overhead rocket launcher – more than enough to hold my
whole collection!

Padded coaming and smooth moulding runs around the high-sided cockpit, which also features footholds to lock you close to the edge when fishing. At the transom there's another bait table with fresh and salt water wash as well as a drain. Alongside are a pair of plumbed tuna tubes that smaller inserts for those fabricated to hold slimies as well as the larger bait. There's another bait tank to port, along with a stainless steel sink and hot-and cold fresh water shower.

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Outboard engines often cop flack on game boats because they can get in the way of fish that fight their way to the back of the boat. Sailfish has solved this by extending the deck with a gated walkway between the engines, allowing you to get safely over the fish.

The starboard gunwale has a base for a Cannon downrigger, while there's loads of side deck storage for gaffs and tag poles further back, as well as Anderson plugs for electric reels.
Underfloor kill tanks could accommodate a catch up to 1.5m, and because the hulls are foam-filled, they are insulated. Also below decks are twin independent 300L fuel tanks for fishing far-flung locations.

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Up against the cabin bulkhead, in the forward section of the cockpit, is a large entertainment module with a Galleymate 1100 slide-out BBQ, lots of storage and a sink. On the other side of the outward-opening saloon door is a 47L Evakool fridge-freezer with a rear-facing seat on top.

Accessing the bow is a one-sided affair. The cabin extends close to the port edge, leaving a walkway to starboard only. This creates more space inside but might make it more difficult to pick up lines when docking on the narrow side. Hand holds on the cabin roof, moreUltralon flooring and a secure bow rail allow safe access to the wide bow section. There’s a Lone Star drum winch, which is secured in a hatch, and a large plough anchor sitting on a stainless steel bowsprit. Side access also gets you to a ladder that leads up to a mini tuna tower on the roof. 

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THE INTERIOR

Inside to port there's a dinette that seats five and also converts into a comfortable daybed. This is backed by a sizeable opening-window that integrates the cabin and cockpit into a single space, while deep windows all around the saloon combine with roof hatches to bring in light and circulate air. A small galley near the door has a bench with built-in LG microwave and room on the Laminex Freestyle top for a portable gas cooker and a coffee machine.

Forward of the saloon is a sizeable twin-berth cabin, a head with Jabsco electric toilet, holding tank and a hand-held shower. Modifications include a four-slot rod holder so that reels can be cleaned with fresh water on the trip home.

It took a while to absorb the impressive display of electronics at the helm. It wasn't configured to a tight budget, but rather to maximise safety and fishing potential.

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The dash was modified to accept a pair of Furuno TZTL12F 12-inch screens that are networked to a variety of external sources that includes a plotter, DRS4D-NXT radar, SC-30 satellite compass, NavPilot 711C autopilot and a FLIR MD625 thermal camera. A separate FCV1150 sounder, mounted on a shelf to the left of the main console, receives information from a DFF3D processor and a trio of Airmar transducers – 1kw SS175H 130-210hz, TM54 165hz multi-beam and 82B-35HR 2kw 65-110hz – which combine to give side, 3D and down-views.

The roof console is fitted with a six-speaker Fusion Sound system and a VHF (there’s another VHF at the dash). Meanwhile, a mobile phone booster hooks to a Telstra Wi-Fi modem so everyone on the boat benefits from the signal. Add in a wireless Fell Marine Man Overboard system, a remote-control searchlight, cockpit cameras, lots of Railblaza mounts, additional USB points, shore power and extra underwater lights and the options list just keeps building.

The engines of Mark's 32 are 300hp Yamahas, which are an upgrade over the standard 250s. These powerful Yammies have been harnessed with an optional Yamaha Helm Master (at a cool $26,000) for joystick control at docking and chasing down big fish.

A 7-inch Garmin display with C Zone switch panel keeps the dash looking neat by wrapping all of the accessories into one tidy touch-screen. The electronics are powered with a dedicated supply from engine-charged house batteries and a roof-mounted solar panel running through a Mastervolt charger/controller and inverter.

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THE DRIVE

Twin air-assist helm seats with bolsters are spaced far enough for a couple of crew to stand between them when under way, with a sturdy grab bar nearby for extra support. These seats provide excellent visibility. Even the most discerning driver would be happy to steer from the comfort of the contoured seat, with their feet braced against the built-in ergonomic footrest. The stainless steel wheel has a speed knob to spin the boat effortlessly in slow manoeuvres, although Mark's Helm Master takes out the effort entirely.

The day of our test had all but the hardiest of boaties tucked up at home. A southerly had been blowing all night and had settled to 20-25kts. The 2-3m swell and nasty chop off Sydney Heads was enough to test Sailfish's claim that in comparison to monohulls "catamarans are superior in every way in rough seas."

Before putting that to the test, we found some smoother water inside where we put the 600hp to the test. It took us to 45kts with 500L of fuel, lots of gear and two occupants. I’m told the boat ran 48kt in trials on smooth water carrying minimum weight. While that figure is largely academic, it's nice to know and gives a benchmark against similar rigs.

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Acceleration from rest was energetic, smooth and with almost no bow lift. A 6kt trolling speed came at 1200rpm for a combined fuel use of 13L/h (269NM range) or at 1,500rpm and similar consumption on one engine (maximum speed on a single engine was 18kt at 5,500rpm and 110L/h).

We were planing at around 12kt, and by 3,000rpm we were already hitting 20kt. The feeling of speed was deceptive inside the cabin, where you're protected from the wind and riding high above the water. It felt as though we were travelling at a fraction of the speed, and even at full throttle the ride was smooth and stable on the 50cm wind chop.

The most efficient cruising speed was at 2,500rpm and 15kts, but the range was almost linear between 2,000rpm and 3,500 at around 220NM. This should be adequate for big days fishing past the shelf, or for long, sedate coastal cruises.

We were glad of the protective hardtop out wide because conditions caused us to move mountains of water, much of which was directed back to the boat by a stiff breeze. I saw speeds around 20kt driving into the 2m swell but slowed back to planing for the bigger ones. Yes, there was some banging on re-entry, but the boat felt safe and stable, and there was more than enough power to pick our way through the mess.

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Just for the sake of it, we hove to for a look at how stable things would be at rest. I probably wouldn’t have been fishing by choice, but the boat rode the sea without extra lurching or exaggerated roll. It was as good as could be expected in such trying conditions.
Running back into the harbour was much more fun. I was grateful for the instant power on-tap to get over the back of waves and the cabin, as it continued to keep us dry. An extra central wiper would be nice, and – wait for it – a separate switch for the wipers would work better than the touch-screen. But you have to give some of the credit to the stable ride, self-draining deck and reliable grunt from the big Yamahas.

So, are catamarans better in rough seas, you ask? Without comparing a similar size monohull in the same conditions, it's hard to be definitive. What I can say is the 32 handled the situation with confidence and style; it felt safe; it performed admirably and without fault. Sure, it felt different, moved and rolled unlike a mono and required different throttle and steering control. Maybe the answer is in the number of ocean rescue Sailfish variants now in service here and overseas, which regularly face more challenging conditions than we did.

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THE WRAP

The 32 Platinum hits all the right checkpoints for a fantastic fishing boat, a pleasant day boat and even a small family weekender. Its layout maximises usable space, and the stability both on the go and when anchored will keep the passengers happy.

Don't be frightened by the drive-away price of this particular 32 Platinum because, at around $460,000, it's it's anything but frugal. But with so many options fitted, it tips the top of the scale. Starting price, on the other hand, is $349,000 and includes an extensive inventory of fittings. For a lot less, most of us could make-do with twin 250s and a more basic electronics package, while still catching plenty of fish and having a ball with the family.

Sea Trials

Two on board, 80% fuel, 50mm harbour chop.
600L fuel tank (calculations using 10% reserve-540L)

Rpm Speed (kts) Economy (lt/nm) Range (nm)
600 3.5 4.8 394
1000 5 9.6 281
1300 (trolling) 6.5 13 269
1500 8 15.5 278
2000 9.5 23 223
2500 15 36 225
3000 20 50 216
3500 25 65 207
4000 30 90 180
4500 34 110 166
5000 38 140 146
5500 42 180 126
5800 (WOT) 45 200 121

*Sea-trial data supplied by the author.

This story was originally published in issue #509 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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