Baz's Blog: a day with Bear

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Plus playing with the Formula 19 battle cruiser

Baz's Blog: a day with Bear
Baz's Blog: a day with Bear

If you’ve been reading TrailerBoat recently you’ll know that I’m new in the editorial chair – so much of what goes on in the mag is a novelty. I have to tell you, my first day shooting boats while John Willis tested them was the best day ever for me as an ACP Magazines editor/photographer.

We left Beaumaris on Port Phillip Bay (Vic) around 11.00am to test Ben Sandman’s Haines Hunter 585R, along with a Formula’s F19 fibreglass fishing boat. Conditions were overcast to begin with, and not too promising I’d have to say, but bugger me, after an hour or so we got amazing light and epic cloud formations over a glassy sea.

And from there it got better. A little way offshore we came on a pod of dolphins, feeding on a baitball in that relaxed, rolling motion they use, jumping right out of the water occasionally, while huge gannets dive-bombed the mob, invariably surfacing with a tiny sliver torpedo in their mouths, then swallowing it before climbing again for another high speed attack.

It was a fantastic scene. And I had no idea being in a trailerboat could be so damn cool.


Because he’s John Willis and he loves boats more than anything, even fresh tuna fishcakes.

A day out with Bear is the best education someone like me can get, although he was shagged at the end of it all, what with me asking endless questions about ‘clears’, ‘quartering a sloppy sea’, ‘transom bulkheads’, ‘rebated aft ends’, ‘WOTS’, and other strange objects with unlikely names. In any event, John kept his cool. He laughed every time I asked a dumb question but produced an answer I could understand every time.

John even let me drive the boat for a while. That was safe though. It wasn’t his boat.


Ray Furugia likes fishing as much as The Bear does and on this occasion was kind enough to entrust us with his brand spanking Formula F19 battle cruiser.

Ray chases Southern Bluefin Tuna way into the Southern Ocean, but all we wanted on this occasion was to put his boat through its paces on Port Phillip Bay. "No probs" he said, while Bear started what I like to call his "preliminary investigations". That means he crawled over it.

Ray explained that, when he was looking for a new boat, he wanted an easily towed package he could handle on his own when he got "outside". He fishes alone most of the time, but occasionally likes company, so the boat had to be capable of handling three enthusiastic fishos and all their boot. Everything about the Formula suited him, from the deep-V hull to the full-length strakes and practical helm layout. And of course Formula’s Rob Oram was happy to customise the craft with Ray’s preferred gear.

We didn’t get ideal conditions for testing this boat – "nasty chop and a howling gale", according to J Willis – but as you can see, getting out on the bay can be a damn fine experience when perfect testing conditions fail to appear. Pity we didn’t have any real rods though. Fish were everywhere.

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