REVIEW: FORMULA ST TROPEZ CENTRE CONSOLE

By: Daniel Nash, Photography by: Ellen Dewar


There’s been a change in the wind at Formula Powerboats Australia for 2006 with the release of the St Tropez Centre Console, which, as Daniel Nash found out, is a real driver’s boat

Not to be confused with the American company of a similar name, Formula Powerboats Australia has been undergoing significant change during 2006. The company has moved to exciting new state-of-the-art premises in Thomastown, Melbourne, while there have been two significant additions to the company in terms of personnel.
Ric Martin joins Formula Power Boats Australia as chief marketing and promotions officer. He brings a wealth of business experience and knowledge to Formula, having a degree in economics and an MBA. Conrad Fischer assumes the role of production factory manager and brings with him 18 years of experience in the fibreglass boatbuilding industry.
Formula is hoping these changes will see an increase in its model line-up and maintain the quality of its product, which in the past has received positive reviews in these pages.
One such addition to the line-up is the Formula St Tropez Centre Console. Like the Formula 21 that hails form the same stable, the St Tropez Centre Console is built around the same offshore racing hull that was developed in the United States in the 1960s.
The hull was designed by Jim Wynne and Don Aronow and each Formula Powerboat has almost identical dimensions to this hull, making it a feisty machine for the bluewater.

TRIED AND TOUGH
I arrived at Warmies Boat Ramp in Williamstown to find the St Tropez Centre Console. Looking at the boat on trailer, you see a sleek yet classic-looking hull, with a deep-vee at the transom and a flared bow. It also gives the impression it’s going to be a flighty boat and a lot of fun on the water.
Each Formula hull is built to Victorian 3C Survey specifications, which for the uninitiated means that it complies with commercial vessel requirements in terms of design, construction, and equipment.
All hulls are constructed using double woven rovings and isothalic resins for strength and quality. A preformed cross grid stringer system is resin impregnated and encapsulated in fibreglass as it is bonded to the hull for rigidity and strength. Buoyancy cavities are filled with closed cell foam.

ON DECK
Working our way from bow to back we noted a Simpson Lawrence Delta anchor coupled to an electric anchor winch. A bow cleat sat just forward of a large anchor locker that opens on stainless steel hinges. A stainless steel bowrail flanks the front half of the boat and, like all stainless fittings on the St Tropez, it is ‘marine grade’ 316. There are also cleats both port and starboard of the bow.
The bow section of the boat provides an insight into the fishing nature of the St Tropez. Coamings are padded from transom to bow, albeit offering a look that is perhaps a little dated and there’s plenty of large storage areas hidden away.
Beneath the bow seat there’s a 50lt storage bin, while underfloor storage upfront measures 175lt. The floor is upholstered with marine grade carpet.
Forward of the centre console there’s an additional seat and storage box. There’s also long sidepockets housed in the gunwales. So in terms of storage space for gear, it’s a case of ‘take your pick’ with this boat. You’ll be able to configure your fishing gear anyway you want and that’s even before you utilise further fishing-specific bins at the transom.

SKIPPER’S STATION
Like many aspects of the St Tropez Centre Console, the helm setup is totally flexible depending on what you want from your boat.
The test boat was equipped with a Hunmminbird NS 25 sonar chartplotter, Ritchie compass, and Mercury SmartCraft gauges. The dash also featured an anchor windlass control switch, trim tab switch, marine stereo with MP3 capacity, GME AM Transceiver and GME VHF Transceiver.
Switches catered for flood lights, the anchor light, cockpit lights, bilge pump, and navigation lights.
Due to technical difficulties encountered on the day of the test, the SmartCraft gauges were not working, which was disappointing because it made difficult a comprehensive speed analysis difficult.
The helm station was housed under a targa top with a sliding roof. Like the majority of fittings in the St Tropez, it was constructed by McQuarrie Fabrications, which is a stainless steel welding and fabrication specialists based in Williamstown, Victoria. I particularly like the idea of the sliding roof as it’ll provide extra protection from the scorching summer sun when fishing.
There’s also a stainless steel console rail and, while the screen atop the console can be best described as minimal, there was not a great deal of spray coming on board, rendering it more a cosmetic feature than anything else.
The helm seat was comfortable but a little too far from the steering wheel. This may force the driver to have to slouch and lean forward to be in control of the dash and wheel. There was another large storage box under the seat measuring 350lt.
At the rear of the cockpit was an underfloor kill tank measuring 145lt and two transom bait tanks of about 50lt. In between the bait tanks stands a baitboard complete with rodholders. There are more rodholders in the aft of the helm station both port and starboard, and the absence of a rear lounge indicates fish are the major priority of the St Tropez.
Housing for the battery and oil container sits off the floor in the transom moulding as required of a vessel built to survey, while PVC pipe has been glassed into the hull to run cables and leads.

PERFORMANCE
The test boat was powered by a Mercury 225hp Optimax spinning a 19-inch stainless steel prop. As cited previously, speed assessment was not possible on the day of the test due to technical problems with the gauges. But the big Mercury outboard provided ample power to the hull, offering a soft yet exhilarating ride.
Indeed, exhilarating, feisty and flighty are words that fit well with the St Tropez as it is a real performance vessel. It’s a pure driver’s boat that will get to your favourite GPS mark quicker than most. If your new to boating then I’d probably be looking elsewhere for a boat to start out on the water. But if you’re an experienced angler looking for a boat that offers great performance and fishability, then it might be exactly what you’re after. 

Specifications: Formula St Tropez Centre Console

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $79,990
Options fitted: Stainless steel targa top with sliding roof, electric anchor winch, trim tabs, luxury trim and carpet, baitboard, GPS sounder, three radios, transom steps, two tone hull, Mercury SmartCraft gauges

GENERAL
Material: GRP
Length overall 6.4m
Beam: 2.39m
Deadrise: 20 degrees variable
Weight (BMT): 2250kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel: 260lt
Rec. max HP: 200/250
Passengers: 6

ENGINE
Make/model: Mercury Optimax
Type: DI two-stroke
Rated HP: 225
Displacement: 3032cc
Weight: 229kg
Gearbox ratio: 1.75:1
Propellar: 19-inch Mirage stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
Formula Powerboats Australia,
32 Greenaway St, Bulleen, Vic, 3105
Phone: (03) 9850 9280
Website: www.formulaboats.com.au
Email: formula@formulaboats.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #213

 


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