BOAT TEST: EVOLUTION 650 APEX PREDATOR

By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp


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As the name suggests the Evolution 650 Apex Predator is at the top of the (sea)food chain when it comes to going offshore and battling the elements in a dependable and over-engineered craft, notes Rick Huckstepp

BOAT TEST: EVOLUTION 650 APEX PREDATOR
EVOLUTION 650 APEX PREDATOR

 

TOP OF THE TREE
Apex predator - the term conjures up all sorts of images of the animal kingdom. Wedge-tailed eagles in command of the air, great white sharks the oceans and man on terra firma. And then there is the Evolution 650 Apex Predator, aptly named for its ability to command the seas - well, on its surface anyway.
The Apex Predator has been on our coastal waters for the past 12 months and is an upmarket version of the original 650 Predator which came out of the mould nine months earlier. While the hardtop, freshwater supply, seat bases, coloured hull, killtank and carbon fibre dash were all options on the original and still available 650 Predator, they are now all standard on the Apex.
We gave this boat a run down on the Gold Coast at the Evinrude E-TEC media day and due to constraints of the geography of our location on the canals, it was not possible to get outside into some of the rough stuff that these boats were designed for. Never fear, though, past experience of this writer with the standard Evolution 650 can vouch for its seaworthiness.
Four days aboard off the coast of Bermagui, NSW, in less than savoury weather is a test for any man or machine and the machine in that case, passed with flying colours. In that 40km journey offshore to the Tuross Canyons, two metre swells and a huge wind chop failed to faze the 650 Predator. The fifth day blessed us with 40-knot southerlies which pushed us to declare the 'man' beaten, so we retired instead to the local pub. There is more than one way to have a fishing holiday!

 

SUPERSIZE ME
Over engineered is probably the best way to describe the 650 Apex Predator. Everything is solid and oversize, like the support frame for the hardtop which is 50mm stainless steel tubing designed to withstand the stresses of having an adult perched atop for bird or lure watching.
The top itself is equally strong and it would be a cinch to have a seat of sorts fitted here that could be unbolted for stowage under a low boat port. As tested, ladder rungs were part of the aft framework each side and grabrails on top allowed one to climb up and down with ease. This would also be a good place to tie down swags or inflatable boats when camping away from home waters and it is rated to support 120kg of load.
The ceiling of the hardtop has angular boxes moulded into it in which radios and a CD player can be easily installed in a place where microphone cables won't be swinging in your face standing at the helm. The five-tube rod rack across the aft of the hardtop is also neat and strong.
A deep gutter for a walkaround path surrounds the cabin and is lipped at its aft end with a sieved drain in its bottom to exit any water before it flows into the cockpit area. To mount this walkaround, a step each side of the aft end of the cabin wall is moulded into the inner liner.
The walkaround section at the front of the cabin is much wider for easy traversing if fighting a fish from the bow. A rebate in the brow of the cabin roof has an upholstered cushion that one can park their bum in if trying to do the latter or work the ground tackle in rough seas. The anchor locker can handle heaps of rope and chain, and a drum winch is included as standard.
The solid bowsprit is formed as part of the topside and bottom hull.
A section of the cockpit under the hardtop is raised 115mm which will comply with survey requirements should you wish to make money working this boat.
Both helm seats are mounted on strong modules fixed to the raised deck and cockpit liner. The passenger seat module has a hatch in its aft end that opens to reveal a multiple-drawer tackle rack while that for the skipper has similar setup and opens to a stowage area. This module also has a small seat on its aft end for observers while trolling.
In the deck between the two modules is a large tank for dry stowage while two long hatches on the main cockpit deck will handle big, long fish such as wahoo and Spaniards. These are all insulated by the foam that fills the void between the hull and the cockpit liner.
The helm station is neat and capable of mounting a flush fit 10 to 12-inch screen. The binnacle controls for the pair of 130 E-TECs were out of elbow's way on a sloping ledge which made them comfortable to operate.
Entry to the cabin was rebated well back in the dash top. There wasn't a lot of space to stow gear on top of the dash such as keys, charts and the like, but we thought a fence of some sort bordering its aft end would be a practical addition to stop gear sliding off onto the deck.

 

CABIN GALLEY
The 650 Apex Predator features a lockable sliding door to the cabin. Inside you will find a galley module on the aft starboard corner which features a small sink, butane burner and a small refrigerator underneath in its fascia. The inclusion of the galley module reduces the V-berth space for sleeping to one adult and perhaps a child.
Access to the wiring looms behind the helm is via a flush-mounted hatch above the galley and a macerator pump-out toilet is fitted in the cabin, under a fibreglass hinged hatch. There is stowage under the berth cushions also.
If you are into hidey holes for nicknacks, there's no shortage of them on this boat.
A hatch at the passenger's left elbow opens to dry stowage and the freshwater filler port which has been positioned such to alienate it from the fuel filler. I've lost count of how many boats I have been on over the years where the freshwater stowage tank has been permanently contaminated due to accidental tainting with petrol or diesel (you just can't seem to get the taste out of the water no matter how many times you flush it with various cleaning agents). On the Evolution 650 Apex Predator, this problem has gone away!
There are also two levels of shelf stowage in the cockpit liner next to the passenger both featuring padded front fences while the fire extinguisher is neatly stowed in a deep rebate below.
The sidepockets are quite deep and high enough off the floor to offer ample foot space underneath with boots on.
A very large hatch is centrally located in the aft deck for underfloor storage. Directly above that in the transom bulkhead, triple batteries, isolator switches and twin-engine oil bottles with filling ports in the top of the bulkhead, are stowed. This is a neat and tidy installation.
The livebait tank is big and sits in the port side of the transom bulkhead. It has a Perspex front for viewing the next sacrificial offering and below this, in line, is another small tackle tray rack.
The step-through transom door, moulded in the starboard side, even has stowage within.
Like I said, plenty of hidey holes!

 

MORE POWER
The pair of E-TEC's handled this boat nicely. The 650 Predator this writer had off Bermagui was fitted with a pair of 115 E-TECs and the extra 30hp definitely gave this boat some extra, though not needed, punch. Unfortunately we were unable to log the speed of the boat due to a faulty speedometer.
Fuel consumption wise, total usage for both engines at 4000rpm was 46.5lt/h and at WOT of 5600rpm both engines used 85.5lt/h. The manufacturer quotes top end speed at 66kmh which we guessed on the day as being pretty well on the money.
Handling wise, it is very manoeuvrable and direct at the helm. The ride is as soft as you will get in this size and weight of boat, and its sharp entry at the keel forefoot allows it to punch chop with ease. As we mentioned earlier, it has excellent credentials when in a big sea.

 

WHAT WE LIKED
Good seagoing vessel
Lots of stowage areas, large and small

NOT SO MUCH
Would like to see scuppers in the transom rather than sieves in the deck
This boat has been designed for nasty seas and some of that eventually comes aboard
A fenced dash top area would be handy

 

 

Specifications: Evolution 650 Apex Predator

 

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested:   $135,000
Options fitted: Clears, chartplotter/sounder, CD player, toilet, sliding door
Priced from:  $98,950 (650 Predator)

 
GENERAL
Material:                          GRP
Length overall:                7.2m
Beam:                              2.49
Deadrise:                       21°
Weight:                               1750kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel:                                     320lt
Water:                                  65lt
People day:                          6
People berthed:                     2
Rec. min. HP:                     225
Rec. max. HP:                    300
Max. engine weight (single):                     290kg
Max. load:                         800kg (inc. engine)

ENGINE
Make/model: 2 x Evinrude E-TEC 130
Type: Direct injected two-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 130
Displacement: 1727cc
Weight: 183kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.25:1
Propellers: 17in Rebel (counter-rotating)

SUPPLIED BY
PM Marine Manufacturing,
4/254 Canterbury Road,
Bayswater, Vic. 3153
Phone: (03) 9738 0085
Fax: (03) 8740 3115
Email pmmarine@bigpond.com.au
Website: www.evolutionboats.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #239

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