REVIEW: WHITTLEY SEA LEGEND 700

By: Bernard Clancy


Whittley’s new fishing weapon, the versatile Sea Legend 700, is an awesome crossover that left Bernard Clancy hanging to get his line in

When you test boats week in, week out, you can become pretty blasé – some boats, quite frankly, do little to raise the excitement level even though they’re quite good craft in their own right.
But every now and again something comes along that’s very special. The new Whittley Sea Legend 700 is one such boat. While I’ve long been a fan of Whittley’s cruisers, I’ve never been very keen on its Sea Legend fishing boat range because, in my view, they’ve been first and foremost a cruiser with a couple of concessions made for fishermen.
Not any more. The new Kiwi-designed but Australian-built 700 is a very exciting boat. The emphasis has been turned around. This is primarily a potent fishing machine with heaps of comfort thrown in. But perhaps I shouldn’t say ‘thrown in’, because this boat was designed with a thought and thoroughness typical of Whittley. There was, apparently, considerable Aussie input into the design process.
Realistically, you could catch marlin off Bermagui with this boat, or spend a night on the Gippsland Lakes with a bream rod. It’s just so versatile and a terrific compromise that will win many fans.

FISH BEATER
So let’s first look at why it’s a good fishing machine. For starters, the cockpit is large enough to fish four people on snapper rods quite comfortably and practically. While the central area between the seats is carpeted, the fully-moulded cockpit sole is non-slip, easy to clean, self-draining, patterned GRP.
And beneath that, through an easy lift panel, are two of the most enormous lift-out fish bins I’ve ever seen. This space has been created by the central position of the 250lt fuel tank. So large are they that one hesitates to call them fish bins. You could store as much wet weather gear in them as you’d ever need.
The gunwales are thigh-high, flat and wide, and house four stainless rodholders. There’s plenty of room for another two. Coamings are padded and, although there are no side pockets, provisions can be made to insert rubber ‘socks’ to store rods and gaffs.
The test boat had an aftermarket strong plastic baitboard (optional) set at almost chest height, which featured a further two stainless steel rodholders, stainless grabrail, and central bin. Two snapper rod rails, which clip to the board on one end and fit into the two transom rodholders on the other, are another option.
The transom has four doors, two either side for maintenance and oil bottle access, and a central double door that reveals twin battery shelves quite high off the floor. There is a livebait tank on the starboard side, again fully-moulded and plumbed, and the port side features a walkthrough transom of sorts, although it’s really only a lower transom height by about 15cm to allow an easier step over. This features a lidded and plumbed sink with an inbuilt fresh water shower on a hose. Nice.
Beyond is a huge platform on which the motor is mounted. This features a boarding deck, twin cleats, vertical grabrails and a telescopic ladder.
The rocket launcher, which supports the high bimini, is solid and features five pots and a deck spotlight. Good quality clears clip to the five-piece glass screen, which is reinforced by a grabrail across the front section only. I felt that could have been a little heavier and a bit longer, but maybe that’s nit-picking. Vision was excellent both when seated and standing.
So that’s the ‘fishing boat’. The ‘comfort’ features are just as good.

COMFY CRUISING
The cuddy is huge, and I only call it a cuddy rather than a cabin because the bulkhead is open, but could quite easily be covered with a curtain. In fact the cuddy entry is large, with not only a very large cut-away in the bulkhead in front of the passenger seat, but also in the dash above it. No banging heads, elbows and shoulders in narrow doorways in rough seas here.
Everything is fully lined or carpeted and the charcoal and grey cloth vee-berth cushions even have vinyl inserts where the feet of fishermen are likely to go. A large glass hatch on a gas strut lets in plenty of light, however there is a central light overhead.
The portable toilet is under the large vee-berth. As usual there’s storage under the bunks. The parcel shelves are wide and padded.
One problem is the position of the marine radio inside the cabin where it can’t be seen quickly, although the handset is within easy reach. There has to be a better way.
There is no stove, no sink, no nifty little shelves for wine glasses, no little ‘niceties’ – and hooray to that! Man, this is a fishing boat!
The twin bucket seats are a little on the small side, though comfortable enough and well positioned on huge moulded storage boxes. Both can be adjusted forward or back, but not vertically, and, in the Whittley tradition, are rather upright.
The skipper’s position is good, with the compass mounted well forward under the screen and a two-tier black instrument panel right in front, twin multi-function Yamaha digital instruments in the top tier, and a Raytheon DS 600X fishfinder matched with a Raytheon RC435 chartplotter side by side on the second tier.
Switch panels are left and right of the sports helm, with anchor a windlass switch and trim tab switches left and right of the helm also. Both driver and passenger positions have footrests. Open storage bins are in each side of the boat near to hand with a stainless steel grabrail at the left of the helm. There are twin speakers just behind the seats.
The passenger seat, with such a large space in front, has a grabrail to the left, which would get plenty of use when on the sea because there’s nothing else to hang onto.
There are two seats behind the main ones – perfect for lure watching, and very comfortable. Lift them up and you discover two enormous storage pockets. Small sidesteps are built into these seats for foredeck access, where the bowsprit has a bowroller capable of carrying the main anchor.
The anchor windlass and rope locker are hidden beneath a side opening hatch, which makes everything look neat and tidy. A Teflon protection strip from the bowsprit to the locker protects the hull from chain abrasion. A split bowrail adds practicality and good looks to the boat.
While the boat was still on its Mackay dual axle, all roller trailer, I noticed the 700’s huge reverse chines and small planing plank. This is a totally new hull and promises a far more comfortable ride in a lumpy sea than its older brothers. Trim tabs are part of the JV Marine package. 
While Port Phillip Bay was almost mirror smooth on test day, the big Whittley achieved 68kmh at 6100rpm, thanks to the grunt from the big Yamaha 225 four-stroke. Cruising was comfortable at 45kmh at 4000rpm.
The boat ran very flat. While I would have liked to have tested those massive chines in about 20kt of breeze, the boat behaved beautifully in the conditions we had.

WHAT WE LIKED
Great balance between fishing/cruising
Spacious
Very fishable cockpit

NOT SO MUCH
Big on the road
Radio placement
Head placement

 

Specifications: Whittley Sea Legend 700

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $103,492
Options fitted: Windlass, Raytheon electronics, baitboard, snapper racks.
Priced from: $95,500

GENERAL
Material:    GRP
Length (overall):   7.12m
Beam:     2.46m
Deadrise:    23°
Rec. max HP:  250
Weight on trailer:   2870kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel:     250lt
Water:     160lt

ENGINE
Make/model:    Yamaha 225
Type:     Four-stroke V6
Rated HP:    225
Displacement:    3352cc
Weight:     275kg
Prop:     19-inch s/s

SUPPLIED BY
JV Marine,
Braeside, Vic.
Phone: (03) 9798 8883

Originally published in TrailerBoat #205

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