REVIEW: EVOLUTION PLATINUM 550

By: Bernard Clancy


The Evolution Platinum 550 has one of the best stern setups on a small boat that Bernard Clancy has ever seen. Simply, it’s a fishing craft that doesn’t skimp on features or performance

REVIEW: EVOLUTION PLATINUM 550
TEST: EVOLUTION PLATINUM 550

The most notable thing about the Evolution Platinum 550 is its space. Fishermen love it, especially in the work area, and this ‘little’ boat, a mere 5.5m in length, has loads of it. Mind you, that 5.5m is actual boat. Length overall, including the bowsprit and pod, is 6.1m.
The Evolution is a relatively new boat on the market, so it’s worth telling the story from the beginning. It was designed and made by well known Victorian boatie and fisherman Paul ‘Junga’ Junginger, who worked with Streaker Boats at Bayswater for 13 years.
But Junga had his own ideas of what makes a good boat and set about doing his own thing. He set up PM Marine, designed the 550, and now builds them at Bayswater. The fit-up is done by PD Marine, at Dandenong. 
In designing the boat, Junga wanted a stable fishing platform that could still handle rough water. He went for a fairly fine entry, maximum width (2.49m), 21 degrees of deadrise, 120 mm wide, heavily reversed chines, small planing plank, and two over-large planing strakes. The formula seems to work well, remembering that every boat’s hull design is a compromise between performance and stability.
The Evolution is fully moulded, inside and out, and appears to be built well. The boat we tested had wooden stringers, but Junga says he’s now moving to full fibreglass, apart from the transom. And from what we saw there appears to be no skimping on the amount of ‘glass in the boat. The gaps are foam-filled as well. It’s solid and performs that way.

BRIGHT IDEAS
The good ideas start with the type of windlass fitted to the boat, beneath a side opening hatch on the bow. The chain is retrieved over a Teflon roller to a barrel designed to prevent the chain snagging, bunching or jamming. The anchor is mounted on the bowsprit between a solid split bowrail.
The foredeck is a bubble job but with the added bonus of a narrow walkaround, non-slip deck if you need to get to the bow. The four-piece curved screen is glass but needs a reinforcing grabrail. Easy to fix.
The skipper’s bucket seat (standard Raeline, as is the other) sits on a custom moulded storage box, which features a five-drawer tackle box in the back as well as storage behind an acrylic door at the side. The passenger bucket seat sits on a similar box with a livebait tank, behind which is a window to easily check the condition of your livies.
The dash is huge and has two inbuilt drinkholders and a recessed drain rail around the edge to draw water off. There is a grabrail in front of the passenger, who needs it because the bulkhead is open – although there are footrests moulded into the ends of the bunks. There’s no glovebox, but an open storage bin to the left is quite adequate for storing odds and ends.
The driver’s position is excellent with all instrumentation and radios right in front, exactly where you want them. The Lowrance X17M combo unit is front and centre with the compass behind. A 12V plug, engine gauges and windlass controls are all in a row below that. Radios (both 27MHz and VHF) are left of the helm and a switch panel is to the right. Hydraulic steering is standard and the control box is hidden behind the side coaming. Very neat and tidy. Moulded footrests complete a great driving position.
The cockpit is where this little boat really shines. I said earlier that the Evolution had a lipped walkway around the bubble bow. This ends in a neat drain-away adjacent to the back of the seats and the coaming widens to give considerably more width to the cockpit. And yet the thigh-height gunwales, with inbuilt, recessed grabrails, are still wide enough to accommodate two stainless steel rodholders either side, as well as another two in the transom.

HEADING ASTERN
Two large cleats are in recessed mouldings in the stern quarters. There are hidden fluoro lights under the gunwales for night lights as well as a couple more shining down from the six-pot rocket launcher.
The transom has a wide, enclosed cupboard with batteries mounted in the centre, storage on the port side and a five-drawer tackle box on the starboard side. Above that, the centrally-mounted bait station has an additional two stainless steel rodholders and a well-drained, lidded Teflon centrepiece. A switch for the baitwell and washdown hose is flush-mounted and the oil bottle filler for two strokes is on top the transom – another nice touch for easy operation. Padding across the back also adds to the comfort level.
Without doubt, this is one of the best stern treatments I’ve ever seen on a small boat. You’ll fish four out of it easily, even over the motor, and there are a number of much larger boats on the market that’d struggle to do that.
There is a carpet-covered, 200lt fuel tank and a large fish bin. The side pockets are long and wide, although the moulded glass covering board perhaps could have been a little stronger for those who insist on using it as a step. Mounted inside the boards are an additional stack of four vertical stainless rodholders and there’s also space for three horizontally-mounted rodholders. If you filled every rodholder on the Evolution it would look like a porcupine! Great stuff.
The 150 Evinrude E-Tec is mounted on a small pod that’s moulded into the hull, with optional boarding platforms either side. Stainless steel rails curve from the gunwales to the platforms. A telescopic ladder hides under the port platform.
The cuddy is fully moulded and fairly basic, as one would expect in a fishing boat. The floor slopes from front to back to prevent water retention and the anchor hatch is large. Vinyl cushions cover the storage bunks and, while head height is adequate, I would have liked to have seen some padded lining of some sort. However, the parcel shelves are carpeted and padded.
All wiring is concealed behind a tackle drawer hatch and in glassed-in piping. Oval windows and an interior light make things bright and breezy inside.

ATTRACTIVE PERFORMANCE
Sadly, the boat’s performance was tainted by the wrong prop being fitted on the day. It was a 17-inch stainless but with too much cupping and you could actually feel the blades ‘gulping’ mouthfuls of water. We couldn’t really trim the boat right out due to some porpoising but, even so, we managed a very respectable 80km/h at 5000rpm and cruised comfortably at 3000rpm for 45km/h on fairly calm water. The ride, as it should have been on such low chop, was quite dry.
We were hoping to test the boat again, correctly propped and on rough water, but that didn’t eventuate before writing this report, so the best we can say is that the Evolution handled conditions well. The boat felt good, with the wide chines catching the camera boat’s wake a couple of times. However, I got the distinct impression it would handle rough water quite competently. Reports are that it does.
Stability was exceptional, both at rest and during our figure eight exercise for the camera. I simply couldn’t get the boat to lean at all. The Evolution reversed well and no water came on board.
Make no mistake, the Evolution 550 is going to make friends and influence people. And on its Dunbier dual axle full roller trailer, its weight of just 1700kg will be very attractive to the Falcon/Holden owner.

WHAT WE LIKED
Anchor chain barrel storage
Excellent helm station
Excellent cockpit setup for fishing

NOT SO MUCH
No windscreen grabrail
No glovebox
No cabin lining

 


Specifications: Evolution Platinum 550

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $59,000
Options fitted: stress-free anchor winch, Lowrance X17 sounder/GPS, deckwash and livewell, baitboard and snapper racks, tackle boxes, canopy clears, radios, rocket launcher, compass, outriggers, spotlights
Priced from: $39,900

GENERAL
Material:    GRP
Length overall:   6.2m
Beam:     2.49m
Deadrise:    21°
Rec max HP  150
Hull weight: 820kg
Weight  on trailer:   1700kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel:     200lt

ENGINE
Make/model:    Evinrude E-Tec
Type:     Two-stroke V6
Rated HP:    150
Displacement:    2600cc
Weight:    190kg
Prop:     17-inch stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
PD Marine,
Dandenong South, Vic.
Phone: (03) 9706 4643
Web: www.pmmarine.com.au/evolution

Originally published in Trailerboat #210

 


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