By: Rick Huckstepp

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The Skeeter 20-Foot I-Class might be the Rolls Royce of light tackle sportsfishing boats, writes Rick Huckstepp



I first got to look at the Skeeter boats at the Australian Marine Industry Federation (AMIF) awards, held on the Gold Coast earlier this year. The ZX-190 model was entered in the imported trailerboat section at the awards. It wasn't a boat for the fainthearted and nor is the subject of this test, the 20-Foot I-Class. Both boats exhibit awesome handling for those who are game to push it.
Built in the US, the test boat was fitted with an Evinrude E-Tec engine.
And built for speed on America's expansive bass lakes, the 20-Foot I-Class is finding itself at home on some of this country's lakes and estuaries.
The test boat is owned by Kaj Busch, or 'Bushy' as he is known to many, and was on loan for the Evinrude E-Tec media day, which was held on the Gold Coast recently.




About 12 boats of various sizes were available to test the various E-Tec horsepower engines bolted on their transoms and, when all were racing up and down the canal at full noise, some of the wash generated was the sloppiest you could imagine. With two aboard and Bushy at the helm, this low profile, stiletto-shaped rig literally ate up the entire chop dished up to it with ease. It proved to be very soft-riding and exhibited no ill manners when thrown around in tight turns over some pretty nasty water.
High speed crossing of big boat wash into a 20km/h wind saw no bad behaviour either, with the boat hugging the surface at all times.
With two on board, the boat, fitted with the 225hp HO E-tec, wound out to a neat 71.7km/h, as registered on the Furuno GPS. And unlike two strokes of old, the noise is minimal, with no fumes or smoke to contend with, either.
The soft ride of the boat can be partly attributed to its weight. It is fitted with all manner of accessories, many of them standard with the packaged boat from the US.
The long forward casting deck has a number of hatches in it, with two large holds for rigged fishing rods. These are mounted in the standard Skeeter rod rack, and between these compartments another large one held an array of standard Skeeter tackle boxes in a rack under a padded lid, which stopped them bouncing around inside. All hatches featured double lips to prevent water intrusion and a 101lb thrust, 36V Minn Kota graced the pointy bow. It was fitted with a gas strut so that it would lower itself into the water gently without crashing the shaft through the mount. The foot control, when installed on the Minn Kota, sat in a rebate, making it more comfortable to operate.
Other hatches on the foredeck offered further stowage and, for added rod safety during short trips, retractable elastic straps coming from the inner liner anchored rods to the carpet so that you don't need to stow them below deck. And get this: all hatches featured central locking operated from the helm. Love that!
The livewells were fully plumbed and dividable to separate the catch of competing anglers. A rebated console under the skipper's forearm at the helm featured the switches to fill and drain these wells.
The cockpit was big enough to fit three large anglers. Stowage was available under the plush cushioning. Two modules made up the consoles and, while vinyl covered, they featured an upswept perspex facia to deflect wind off the occupants' face at high speed.
Bushy runs Furuno's new FCV-585 on this rig and loves it. A self confessed dunce when it comes to marine electronics, this is a unit he just switches on and goes fishing with. It doing everything and more that he expects of it.




The fore and aft casting decks feature a base plate flush-mounted to take the pedestal pin of a bum seat. The one on the front was quite rusty which puzzled considerably. Considering the effort put into the rest of the boat, why would the manufacturer put anything but quality stainless steel into this part of the rig?
Well, it would be unfair to go on my judgment of a rig without considering the expertise of Bushy, who has spent 75 hours on the throttle of his Skeeter.
As Bushy says: "It can go fast but remains dry in impoundment chop. When you fish, that's the biggest plus with this boat. They have designed it so that it spins on nothing with the electric motor and, while it looks down in the arse with the big engine on, that is what pulls half the front out of the water, making manoeuvring on the electric fantastic. This is a 20ft boat that spins around like one 15ft long. Now, while the boat sits back down, the foredeck has been designed so that it is level when the rig is floating in the water; just smart thinking all-round. This is a really fun boat to fish out of and you can go through most stuff without getting banged or bumped. The full-skid trailer makes life easy as well, and one person can handle this at the ramp with ease."
Well, Bushy's impressed. So if you are into impoundment fishing and like the nice things in life, you probably won't be too fussed about spending the extra bucks to get into what might well be the Rolls Royce of light tackle sportsfishing boats.




Fast with an unusually soft ride over big chop
No expense spared when fitting standard equipment
Very stable




The metal fitting for the foredeck seat base was rusting





Specifications: Skeeter 20-Foot I-Class




Price as tested:                          $85,000
Options fitted: Minn Kota upgrade, Hot Foot and Pro Trim, two Furuno sounders and GPS, mag wheels and spare tyre on trailer, swing-away tongue on trailer.
Priced from:                             $79,995




Material:                                   Fibreglass
Length overall:                          8m
Beam:                             2.4m
Weight:                                     840kg hull only




Fuel:                                         182lt
Passengers:                               5
Rec/max hp:                             250
Rec/min hp:                              225
Hull Warranty:                         10 years




Make/model:                            Evinrude E-Tec 225 HO
Type:                                       V6 direct injection two-stroke
Rated HP:                                  225
Displacement:                           3279cc
Weight:                                     231kg
Gear box ratio:                          1.86:1 high speed
Propeller:                                  26-inch Raker
Jacking plate:                            12-inch Slidemaster, one-inch high.




Bushy, for Skeeter Australia



Originally published in TrailerBoat #213

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