REVIEW: SAILFISH 7700 PLATINUM

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford, Coastcolour


The Sailfish 7700 Platinum catamaran is another of the maxi trailerboats punching their way into the market, as it does in rough conditions providing a tough rig for fishing, diving and touring

Measuring 8.40 metres overall, the Sailfish 7700 Platinum is a supersized trailerboat with the waterline length and height to bridge the worst wind waves you’re likely to encounter.
It says something that, if it weren’t for this test in a gale when no other boats were about, that we discovered two hapless scuba divers, exhausted and waving for help, drifting towards New Zealand. Had it not been for this boat, they probably wouldn’t be here today.
With 25 to 30kts and even more in the gusts whistling across the shallow expanse of Botany Bay, the scene was set for our test of the Sailfish 7700 Platinum. With a pair of feisty 150hp Honda VTEC outboards — a $3500 upgrade from the base 135hp motors — based on racecar technology with variable timing, the boat had snappy acceleration right through the rev range. Impressive for four-strokes.
Of course, cats have long been popular in coastal ports where there are bars, large bays, confused waters and often long runs to reach the wide grounds. So it is with Sailfish from Ballina on the NSW North Coast where there’s one damn lousy bar and frequent onshore winds. But if you don’t like your home waters, no worries, this beast is trailerable.
With the optional 2.50m trailerable beam, which doesn’t require a permit to tow, instead of the 2.60m trailerable (with permit) or the non-trailerable 2.80m beam, the Sailfish 7700 will clear the roads and the sea. Even though it measures almost 28ft overall, the rig weighs about 3200kg loaded with fuel, so it’s potentially not such a burden to tow.
Having said that, the big alloy cat dwarfed the Toyota LandCruiser tow vehicle. The giant cat towers 3.60m from the ground on its custom Sailfish tri-axial alloy trailer with disc brakes and Al-Ko suspension. On the road, swing wide in the tight bends — the rig measures more than nine metres on trailer — select your service station to avoid taking out the hardtop, and have a mate check when reversing.
Other than that, you’re ready to hit the highway with a trailerboat that can cruise places, double as a caravan and which you can fish or dive from when the going gets rough. A big little boat, indeed.

MARKET LEADER
The huge Sailfish 7700 is built (to USL code) from plate aluminium. The hull and transom are 5mm plate, the chines are 6mm, there’s a solid 25mm keel, and an externally and internally welded box-section grid provides stiffness.
The custom extruded aluminium gunwale cap adds to the finish. Add positive (slab) foam flotation and a self-draining hull, and little wonder NSW Maritime and Coast Guard are among Sailfish’s customers. The warranty is two years on the hull but I would have expected more.
I thought the welds were nice and clean; and clearly, there’s a lot of pride of workmanship here. The two-pack paintwork was similarly professional, while the engineering goes beyond what you would expect in a tinnie. That probably stems from the fact that Sailfish make big boats, with the entry-level model a 6.2m cat and the biggest boat being built measuring 14.7m. Suffice to say, Sailfish has grown to be the market leader in alloy cats.
There’s also something to be said for NSW dealer, Webbe Marine, which has been selling these boats for 12 years. After shedding its agencies for mainstream tinnies and bowriders, it’s now concentrating on the specialist cat market — it also sells the Glacier Bay boats from America — where the customers are seasoned and know what they want. Due to the impending long-range nature of this 7700 Platinum, there were some factory options fitted for overnighting and, of course, for serious fishing.
The boat has twin 180lt fuel tanks — twin 250lt tanks are optional and you can go bigger again on the non-trailerable wide-beamed 7700s — 65lt of water (up to 200lt possible), a deck shower in the cockpit, and a step-down WC in the cabin with second private cold shower and electric Jabsco loo linked to a 40lt holding tank.
Add the transverse double bed in the cab — not to mention the sleeping potential on deck — and you have the goods to venture to outer islands, reefs and nearby ports for the weekend. The demo boat was also fitted with an 85lt Isotherm 12V cockpit fridge, a small sink and it had an optional cockpit lunch table that, when not assembled, can be stowed in the cabin.
A gas bottle locker is built into the transom, requiring only a barbie on the rail for onboard cook-ups. Also at the transom, access to the dual heavy-duty batteries, with separate engine start, was nice and direct, and I noted Racors fuel filters with clear inspection bowls, along with the dual Hydrive hydraulic steering system. The boat was fitted with optional underfloor electric bilge pumps, too.

HARDTOP TO THE RESCUE
Besides the fine hulls, which flatten to running planks to assist with planing, onboard cruising comfort can be attributed to the optional hardtop that created an all-weather enclosure. I didn’t discern any spray from the station-wagon effect that plagues some cats, so consider this a dry boat. Among the options, a wiper was fitted as well.
The fixed hardtop has a GRP internal liner for a real sense of class, side-opening windows for ventilation and there was a toughened-glass windscreen. Under the hardtop you’ll find a handy handrail, radio box for the VHF and stereo, and storage compartments for personal effects. The boat’s lighting plan including fluoros and trick LED cockpit lights, plus floodlights mounted on the hardtop for fishing.
The dash housed one of the new widescreen Navman 8120 sounder/GPS plotters with, I must say, a nice bright colour display. The transducer was transom mounted and, in the conditions, I can’t comment on its ability to read at speed. The screen was also wired to a supplied DVD player so you could watch movies at your port of call. That is, if you’re not done with looking at the dash.
The boat had a nice spread of switches and a Maxwell windlass for handsfree shallow-water anchoring. Twin throttles, a good sturdy wheel, Honda engine gauges, Sailfish helms seats (rebranded Reelax models) on seat boxes, and plenty of head and shoulder room complete what was, during our test, a comfortable and pleasantly protected helm.
 
FISH ‘N’ DIVE
The cockpit on the Sailfish 7700 is just huge and, with the inherent stability of the cat hull, it plays into the hands of anglers and divers. The floor was topped with manmade Flexiteak which is more forgiving than checker-plate alloy, though it can get rather hot, and with padded coamings and toe kicks you can gain great support.
There was an optional Reelax Moreton Bay game chair, built-in berley pot, decent plumbed livebait tank with transom pickup and Johnson pump with QuickFit deckwash hose, plus cutting board and insulated square subfloor fishbox for, presumably, table fish. If you want a longer fishbox, there’s an optional deck-mounted alloy number, or chuck an icebox aboard. Full-length sidepockets provide somewhere to stash tackle and gear.
The hardtop had a rocket launcher for seven outfits; there were welded in-gunwale rodholders; and, Reelax 14ft poles in folding Reef Rigger bases mounted off the hardtop. Meanwhile, the co-pilot can wait for the bites by swivelling his or her seat under the hardtop.
The seat boxes contain an insulated icebox and five-drawer tackle lockers. Last but not least, anglers, divers and water lovers will love the transom walkthrough between the outboards that gives such great access to the water.

CAT OF TWO HULLS
Spinning stainless steel Solas 17 x 14in props, the twin 150hp Honda outboards, which are the maximum rated power for the 7700, produced a top speed of 35 to 36kts at 6000rpm. That’s fast, especially in 30kts of westerly wind.
More importantly, there was a good range of cruise speeds: 28.6kts at 5000rpm, 26kts at 4500rpm and 19.5 to 20kts at 3000rpm. At 3500rpm, the boat held its own punching into the tempest at 17kts with 45kts apparent wind, hence the reduced speed. You’ll get a similar effect when you tow the boat on the open road, too.
From a standing start, the cat comes out nice and level with full intrim for bar work. And in all directions, even headlong where cats don’t like it, this was just a reassuringly seaworthy boat. Without that, those two divers would never have been rescued. More power to the cats when the wind blows up.

WHAT WE LIKED
Maxi trailerboat can be towed new frontiers and used as a true exploration vessel
Great rough-water performance
Easily driven alloy cat hull
Good tough build, tidy welds and big-boat engineering
Honda VTEC outboards had snappy acceleration through the rev range for bar work
Stable at rest and with a massive cockpit for serious fishing and diving
Long-range performance
Cabin with amenities for staying away for the weekend
Established brand and dealership with expected good support
Resale value

NOT SO MUCH
Big-ticket trailerboat
Requires a maxi 4WD tow vehicle and some nerve to haul around town
Your looking at big fuel bills in the tow vehicle
High windage will lead to a fast drift rate at sea
Destined to be some typical cat tunnel slap when trolling into a short headsea

 

Specifications: Sailfish 7700 Platinum Series

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $191,500 w/ twin upgraded Honda 150hp VTEC outboards, custom tri-axle Sailfish trailer, and options
Options fitted: Upgraded special 2.50m trailerable beam, upgraded outboards from base Honda 135hp models, deluxe roof extension and enclosed hardtop, double bed, stepdown shower and toilet with holding tanks and pumpout, freshwater sink unit, fridge, windlass, house battery system, Navman electronics, Reelax 14ft poles and folding bases, Reelax Moreton Bay game chair, tackle drawers, Flexiteak cockpit sole, and more
Priced from: $145,000 w/ twin Honda 135hp VTEC outboards, custom tri-axle Sailfish trailer, and options

GENERAL
Material: Plate aluminium (5mm bottom, 6mm chines, 3mm sides)
Type: Catamaran with symmetrical hulls
Length overall: 8.40m w/ bowsprit
Beam: 2.50m
Draft: Approx 0.6m
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: Approx 2900kg (dry on road)

CAPACITIES
Berths: Two plus on deck
Fuel: 2 x 180lt tanks
Water: 65lt (holding tank 40lt)

ENGINE
Make/model: Honda 150hp VTEC outboard
Rated HP: 150 at 6000rpm
Displacement: 2.35lt
Weight: Approx 220kg
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Outboard 2.14:1
Props: Solas S/S 17 x 14in

SUPPLIED BY
Webbe Marine,
27 Marshall Road,
Kirrawee, NSW, 2232
Phone: (02) 9521 7944
Website: www.webbemarine.com.au
Builder: Sailfish Catamarans,
Alstonville, NSW, 2477
Phone: (02) 6628 5951
Website: www.sailfish.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #224

 


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