BOAT TEST: ELIMINATOR DAYTONA 25

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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Fast, sexy and exhilarating to drive, Eliminator’s Daytona 25 ups the sportsboat ante on the local front. David Lockwood has the story

BOAT TEST: ELIMINATOR DAYTONA 25
ELIMINATOR DAYTONA 25

I'm sure I'm not alone is saying there are elements of American culture than make us cringe. Similarly, there are some Yankee habits that seem like plain good fun. Should fun-seeking Aussie Chris "Sutto" Sutton have his way there will be poker runs Down Under before all we ageing playboys finally pop our Hush Puppies and call it a day.

A poker run is a popular boat-based game of chance in America where you race to five different checkpoints, collect a concealed card, and reveal your hand at an après lakeside boating bash. Judging from the online galleries, poker runs and the parties that follow are a real hoot.
Like Sutto, I reckon we could do with some boating events of this nature in Australia. Even though we haven't the Great Lakes of North America, we have lakes and long rivers. Fishing tournaments are one thing, but there is scant little for the saltwater sportsboater who wants to chase herrings of a different kind.
Along with a dearth of powerboat racing events there's a lack of real performance dayboats. I'm talking big-block V8 engines, graphics that scream "look-at-moi, look-at-moi" and handling that doesn't see you turn sunny side up when you hit triple figures (read 100km/h).
Sutto is setting about changing the sad state of (no) play Down Under. A biker with a penchant for sporty conveyances, he has taken it upon himself to import the go-fast Eliminator range of American performance boats and poker run competitors.

 

 

ATTENTION SEEKER


While there's an absolute flood of Yankee trailerboats, the funky Eliminators are exciting, refreshing, in a league of their own. If this Daytona 25 model is anything to go by, they can redefine the way you go boating. Speedily, but in one piece.
Thirty years old, the extraverted Eliminators hail from a range of go-fast boats that are considered the real boys toys of the American boating world. Their matchbox-styling, lithe hulls, garish graphics, race controls and gauges, and V8 engines command due attention.
The brochure says each boat is built as an "individual custom creation, tailored to the express wishes and desires of its owner". You get to choose hull colours, graphics, interior layouts, engines and optional equipment.
Our boat looked nice and racy with a five-colour blue-and-silver colour combo, trick anodised aluminium deck fittings and custom steering wheel. Oh, and a spiffing trailer to match (boat beam is 2.56m - you'll need a permit to tow it in most states).

 

 

CUSTOM TOUCHES


The two ranges of Eliminators from 19-36ft include the power catamarans called Daytonas and the monohulls known as Eagles. Both the cats and monohulls enjoy the weight savings that come from balsa-cored lay-ups and full-length balsa stringers. As such, they get around the track pretty quickly.
On the serious race circuit, the Eliminators have some big wins under their fanbelts. According to the company's website, a 33ft Eliminator recently took out the three top positions in a 2000km race down the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
The winning crew of Nigel Hook and Brett Seber had to endure "hot and humid conditions, scarce food, undrinkable water, and encounters with piranhas, anacondas, jaguars, boa constrictors, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes," claims the race report.
On the shark-infested waters of Sydney Harbour, I took it upon myself to explore the outer limits of the dashing Daytona 25. Thankfully, no Noahs, serpents or other life-threatening surprises. The cat hull was fast and flighty, but not unsettling.
Whereas a lot of supposed performance boats would exhibit strange handling traits beyond 60mph, the Daytona 25 made this ageing rocker look as nimble as Peter Brock. In fact, it instilled enough confidence at 70mph that - dare I say it - you could go for more power. This is something the Yanks are wont to do. While our boat sported a 425hp big-block V8, they option this 25-footer with motors up to a fully-blown 1200hp donk for top speeds of more than 100mph.
Incredible? Yes. Necessary? Only as much as an injection of fun is needed in our all-too-mundane lives. The boat's great handling isn't a result of luck, however.

 

 

HULL DESIGNS


The much-vaunted air-entrapment catamaran hull on the Daytona 25 lived up to its reputation. The faster I drove the boat the higher it rode on the cushion created by air being trapped between the hulls.
As though a magic carpet or a hydrofoil, the higher it ran the less drag there was. Speed increased accordingly, with little more than the Bravo One sterndrive leg left in the water.
In fact, the Daytona actually felt better the faster it went. Comfortable cruising was clocked at 50mph to 60mph on the boat's GPS-equipped speedo. Providing you took the corners gradually, the bows didn't dig in.
Coming out of the bend, I planted the race throttle and redlined the tacho. All we needed were wings and we would take off like the seaplanes nearby.

 

 

RIDE OF YOUR LIFE


These are custom boats. Our Daytona 25 sported an engine upgrade, upgraded power-assisted steering, jet canopies, full Gaffrig Monster gauges including the GPS speedo, bimini (alloy snap fittings for the frame) and tow covers.
The boat had a trick optional bowrider seating layout that converts what is a fast dayboat into a joyride that you can share with friends. When you have a boat like this everyone will want to come along for the ride. At least once.
The Daytona 25's bowrider layout can seat six to eight people. Sturdy stainless steel grabrails are within reach of the aft corners of the rear lounge. Other seats including the co-pilot's don't have grabrails, nor does it and the helm seat in any way adjustable.
The Bat Boat-like windshields did a fine job of protecting driver and co-pilot. But my crew was copping the brunt of the wind on the aft lounge. They came away looking positively bug-eyed and tousled.
There's a full-width upholstered sunpad that lifts on heavy-duty hydraulic stainless steel rams for engine access. The sunpad might come in handy when you pull into a beach for lunch between runs.
The matching aluminium swim platforms either side of the drive, fuel filler, engine vents and performance gauges add to the raceboat styling. As do the clean lines created by recessed stainless-steel nav lights, pop-up cleats, courtesy lights and the 10 lit drinkholders.
Storage comes by way of a central ski locker (tow eye provided), under-seat lockers, suspended nets and a glovebox. Carry-on iceboxes come standard. They are kept in the deep footwells under the moulded dash areas.
The clip-out carpet will make the boat easy to clean out after the Sunday drives and the upholstery, while not as sculpted as we have come to expect from big-ticket American boating badges, feels thick and welcoming.

 

 

RIDE OF YOUR LIFE


While the boat delivered a day of Thunder Down Under on a bumpy harbour, it is best suited to calm water. At 25ft (7.575m LOA), the boat hasn't the waterline length for offshore powerboating and it can't bridge all the troughs. It's way better than an ol' pickle-fork, though.
What the Daytona 25 does best is fly along flat water and cover incredible distance in a flash. The high-output 425hp MerCruiser 496 HO petrol motor and Bravo One performance drive gave a top speed of 70mph (119kmh) on the speedo.
Straight-through exhausts ensured the V8 attracted due attention, even before you could see the boat coming. And power-assisted steering meant the wheel never got loaded up, nor was it the steering light and floaty.
I can see the boat working on big rivers like the Murray, giant lakes like those in SE Queensland and Victoria, the SA Gulf Waters before the wind gets up, and most definitely Queensland's inside channels.
The importer has taken the Daytona 25 demo boat from Windsor on the freshwater reaches of the upper Hawkesbury River to salty Palm Beach for lunch and back again. The 250km round trip took about half the time than it would by road.
Range for such hikes is excellent with its 300lt tank. Sutto says he used about 200lt in the three hours of river cruising at 50-70mph (85-119kmh). At a loping 3600rpm, the big MerCruiser returned 52mph (88kmh) and at 4800rpm it maintained a 60mph (102kmh) cruise.
The Daytona 25 likes it fast and flat and though it has a big-ticket price that hasn't prevented a loyal Eliminator family following Up Over. Now it's time to get the race started Down Under. At least Sutto is revealing his hand.

 

 

HIGHS


* Great high-speed handling
* Easy 100kmh cruise
* Go-get-'em graphics
* Cool cat hull
* Raceboat fittings

 

 

LOWS


* Not enough grabrails
* Helm seats don't swivel or slide
* Trim in out-of-the-way places could be better finished
* Hard landings in rough water
* An expensive toy

 

 

 

Specifications: Eliminator Daytona 25

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $155,000 w/ options including trailer
Options fitted: Engine upgrade, power-assist steering, jet canopies, Monster gauges including GPS speedo, bimini and tow cover
Priced from about $95,000 w/ 5.7lt MerCruiser

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Cat raceboat hull
Material: GRP w/ balsa stringers
Length (centreline): 7.57m
Beam: 2.56m
Deadrise: n/a
Rec/max hp: 425 up to 1200hp
Weight: About 2000kg w/ standard motor

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: About 300lt
Water: n/a
Passengers: 6-8 adults
Accommodation: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: 425hp MerCruiser 496 HO petrol motor
Type: Fuel-injected V8 four-stroke petrol inboard
Rated hp: 425 @ 4600-5000rpm
Displacement: 8.1lt
Weight: About 544kg dry
Drive (make/ratio): Bravo One XR 1.5:1
Props: 24in

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Eliminator Boats, contact Chris Sutton, tel 0414 367 219 or visit www.eliminatorboat.com

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat # 190

Find Eliminator Daytona boats for sale.

 


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