By: Bernard Clancy

Don’t want tin? Fibreglass either? How about a Roplene boat! The Triumph Range of plastic craft have their advantages, says Bernard Clancy

There were times when I thought I was in a very smart little tinnie, such was the nippy performance of the Triumph 170CC, until I realised there was no Crash! Bang! Wallop!
The little plastic centre console was as smooth as silk, taking the rough with the smooth, almost gliding across the upper reaches of Geelong’s Corio Bay with a style most boats can only dream of.

Gee it was fun. But firstly, a little about this unusual brand. The 170 (and its sister boats) are made from Roplene, an automotive grade polymer in an injection moulding process. They come out of the mould in one piece as a seamless unit, hull, gunwales, sideliners, stringers, the lot, giving you, in effect, a double hull. They’re centre consoles so they have no deck.
So, as the brochure says, there’s no gelcoat or paint to crack, scratch or wear, no laminates to separate, no adhesives to fail, no wood to rot. What you see on the outside is what you get all the way through. Plastic fantastic. Ohh, apart from the foam filling in the polymer "sandwich".
The building process begins with a steel mould into which the polymer is injected then "baked" in a computer controlled oven. Following cooling, high density foam is injected into every cavity in the hull and sides. The job is finished by a CNC router to form decks, hatches and other parts to fine tolerances. Add a 5cm stainless steel cross member reinforcing bar to the top of the stringers, screw down a 150mm non-skid polypropylene deck and you have a very solid and strong boat.
Triumph also claims that Roplene has five times the impact resistance of fibreglass, it floats and is virtually unsinkable whereas glass sinks. Roplene never needs waxing, polishing or gelcoat touch-ups (there’s no gelcoat), is impervious to saltwater, sunlight and humidity.
The company concedes that the boats have more flexibility than glass but makes a virtue of this, saying flexibility adds to a smooth ride whereas a stiff boat will slap and bang. It says that when a Triumph hits a wave or a dock, the polymer absorbs energy for a soft, quiet ride. Certainly there was some movement in the hull but it was not disconcerting at all. In fact it felt quite comfortable and certainly added to the "feel" of the ride.
The bay was quite calm so rough-water performance could not be tested but nevertheless we managed to create a few figure-eight waves of our own and pushed the 170CC through them as hard as we could. It was a nice ride, the boat doing what the brochure says and absorbing the shock, pushing through the top, rather than flipping the bow over the top, which was impressive for such a relatively small and light boat.
There was no uncomfortable twisting or undue flex. The boat felt really "solid" throughout our tests. On tight turns it slid sideways without any hint of grabbing and broaching. Damn good fun!

While a little lacking in the bells and whistles department, the 170CC was still reasonably well equipped for the dollar demand. The bow had a stainless rail but no anchor well, bowsprit or rope locker. The centre console configuration allows for a raised non-skid casting platform in front over twin-vee lidded storage compartments.
Twin recessed cleats up forward would handle mooring lines and anchor rope because the bow point features a navigation light, a common feature of American boats.
The deck is a one-piece, non-skid polypropylene sheet on which the console is mounted a little forward of the centre point of the boat. It has two vertical stainless steel rod holders incorporated into each side.
The console is well set up with a forward padded seat mounted on a sizeable livebait tank. Behind the screen you see a five-spoke stainless steel helm, throttle to the right and full gauges in front, a cup holder in the right-hand top of the dash alongside a Garmin Fishfinder 90 behind a small, smoked Perspex screen which would keep out the wind if seated. It is protected by a grabrail.
Beneath the helm is an access hatch to the wiring and at floor level you can tuck your toes under the console while standing. The white vinyl seat for two with a two-way padded backrest is mounted over a removable cooler. The cockpit is self-draining, a feature very few five-metre boats have. Gunnels are low with no non-skid, two stainless steel rod holders and rear cleats.
The engine well is large with quarter seats over storage bins. A metre-plus light pole is clipped out of the way along the starboard coaming. There are no sidepockets because of the boat’s construction method and so nowhere to tuck your toes under. Of course this also means that storage space is at a premium.

Despite having non-hydraulic steering, the boat was easy to handle and rode really well, a little akin to a sports car. It was fun to charge along at 57 kmh at 6200rpm registering on the Suzuki 70h four-stroke and feel perfectly safe. Cruising was cool at 30kmh at 4000rpm. We got a little water over the low stern after a fairly quick stop but nothing untoward. The boat was dry, although sea conditions were kindly. The ride was certainly better than what one would expect from a similar sized tinnie. While stability at rest was a little tender, despite a deadrise of only 13 degrees, it was probably equal to most non deep-vee tinnies this size.
The test boat was fitted with a high, self-supporting bimini which would be great to keep the sun off without restricting movement around the boat. The 170CC comes on an American drive-on Ezyloader trailer which features carpet covered boards but no rollers. At 4.9m, Brett Swann of Going Boating in Geelong assures me the boat escapes the "must-wear-lifejacket at all times" rule by the barest of margins.
The Triumph is a good looking boat but it’s "coat" is certainly not as bright as a well finished glass boat but then again maintenance is probably far easier.
Triumph is a yet another brand of the mega boating corporation Genmar and they’ve invested many millions into the R&D on these craft so it’ll be interesting to watch whether the market takes to them here in Australia. If you’re shopping around for something in the five-metre range and don’t like fibreglass, then the Triumph is certainly worth a look.

Sports car-like performance
Console set-up
Forward casting deck
Livebait tank

Storage space limited
Low gunnels
No anchor well
No toe holds


Specifications: 170 CC Triumph

Price as tested:...$ 34,450.00
Options fitted: Bimini, bowrail , Garmin fishfinder ,safety pack , boat and trailer registrations
Priced from: $ 32,950.00

Material:  Roplene
Length overall:  4.90m
Beam:   1.98m
Deadrise:   13°
Weight (BMT): 890kg

Fuel:   80lt
Rec/max HP:  75
Passengers:  6

Make/model:  Suzuki
Type:   Four-stroke
Rated HP:  70 hp
Weight:  162kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.42:1
Propeller:  3 x 3.75 x 13

Going Boating Victoria
141 Fyans St ,
South Geelong, Vic, 3220.
Phone: (03) 5224 2085

Originally published in TrailerBoat #218


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