BOAT TEST: TRAILCRAFT 640 SPORTSCAB

By: PHIL KABERRY, Photography by: PHIL KABERRY


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There’s a big, blue ocean out there teeming with tasty reef and pelagic fish. But you don’t have a spare $100,000 for a fully-cocked bluewater gameboat. Well, there is an alternative. Trailcraft’s 640 Sportscab will put you in the thick of it and not make you feel like you’ve won second prize

BOAT TEST: TRAILCRAFT 640 SPORTSCAB
TRAILCRAFT 640 SPORTSCAB

 

TOUGH ENOUGH


By now most keen boaties would be aware of the Trailcraft name. Over the last 20 years the brand has attracted a loyal following in its home state of Western Australia, where the seas can turn extremely nasty very quickly, but it's been in the years since the company was taken over by Brett Martin that the brand has grown into a national giant - they even export to New Zealand.
Some elements of the build quality and design philosophy that go into Trailcraft Boats have been detailed elsewhere in the magazine (see news feature and box hereabouts), so let's take a closer look at just one of the many exciting new models Trailcraft has cooked up for an eager boating public this year: the 640 Sportscab.

 

DESIGNS ON FISHING


One look at the new 6.4m Sportscab will reveal its intended purpose: offshore fishing. And after spending some time aboard the boat off the coast of Mandurah, a seaside resort town an hour south of Fremantle, I can say the ride is about as good as you can get on an aluminium boat of this size. It's also remarkably quiet thanks to the extraordinarily thick plate used in its construction (4mm pressed sides and 5mm bottom and transom), plus the use of foam flotation under the sealed deck which helps deaden the sound of wave-slap, which is a bit of a bugbear on other tinnies.
The remarkable thing about this boat is its internal volume. Extremely high sides (floor to gunwale height in the cockpit is 70cm or upper thigh height) and a huge beam for its length (2.55m - you'll probably need a daylight hours towing permit in most states) means there is a veritable football field of cockpit space inside, plus enormous extruded gunwales which make good seats when feeding down a line for snapper. I'd like to see slide-out vinyl coaming pads as standard, though. Little touches like that make all the difference in a fishing boat.
The stern treatment is also exceptionally well thought-out with a flush transom bulkhead incorporating a big locking hatch to access batteries and oil bottles, which are set up off the floor. There's toe-under room too, so you can lean up against the transom to keep that rampaging snapper away from the prop.
Speaking of the floor, it drains via a set of oversized scuppers, so if you do cop a wave, or get stuck in a tropical downpour, or simply want to hose the deck out after a big session catching tuna, the water flows out easily without clogging up.
The wide transom door also allows good access to the enclosed boarding platform/fastback transom so you can fish off that, too, when conditions permit.
Atop this wide stern bulkhead is a big livebait tank which you can order with plumbing, while I also liked the beefy handrails which trace each transom coaming. In joggly conditions over a reef at anchor, you can never have too many handholds. Saves on bruises, let me tell you.
There are wide and deep sidepockets for rod and gaff storage, or you can use the six-pot launcher off the targa arch for your floatline outfits. You'll find two plastic rodholders in each coaming and there's a couple more on the baitboard should you decide to order that as well, which I'd recommend you did.

 

 

CABIN FEVER


There's a vinyl-encased vee-bunk with infill inside the cozy cabin, with the sunken footwell promoting decent seated headroom. Cabin sidepockets provide incidental storage, plus there's cavernous holds under the lounge bases.
Practically speaking, the attractively-styled cabin does a great job of protecting the crew when underway, and anyone's who's copped frozen hands on a mid-winter pre-dawn run out to the grounds is going to love that about this boat. There is room for a nap on the bunk for an adult, and there is space for a marine toilet inside too if you want one, but in reality this area will be used to store things that need to be kept dry.
There's a tinted Perspex hatch in the front, although spacious companionways around the cabin hemmed by extra thick bowrails which are very strong and secure will provide easier access to the bow.
Up front there's a good-sized anchor well and an anchor-carrying bowsprit, but because of the length of the cabin, there's not a huge amount of room up front.

 

 

DRIVER'S DELIGHT


Two custom-made chairs sit on aluminium storage boxes, and they swivel but don't slide. Shouldn't be too much of a drama for blokes of average height. There's a thick four-piece Perspex screen, but it was tinted, and with sunglasses on the view is just too dark. I would also like to see a strong grabrail tracing the screen top for more security in rough weather.
Apart from that, though, there was ample space for electronics, the non-feedback steering was firm but not overly so; throttle setup appears correct and was easy to use. Likewise the view ahead and the crucial gauges were easy enough to see, even in direct sunlight.
There was a passenger grabrail, armrests on the chairs, marine carpet on the floor (which was comfy under-foot), six-way switch panel, 12V outlet, and plenty of cross-bollards scattered about the boat to make anchoring up easier. There's also a huge fishbox in the floor to store fenders if you're unlucky, and a couple of thumper kingfish if you are.

 

 

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING


Six-and-a-half metres is a pretty big tinnie, and you could feel the size of the rig on the water. The big internal volume makes you feel safe, thanks to the beam and high sides. That fatness coupled with big chines makes this boat very solid at rest too. The breeze sprang up for our mid-afternoon late summer test, and quickly whipped a steep chop. I was fully expecting to be banging around all over the shop, and while it mightn't be as smooth and quiet as an equivalent 'glass boat, you're not paying the money for one and you don't get the toughness of plate alloy. Flying sinkers can do damage to gelcoat, but they won't trouble tin.
That said, you could sit on a comfortable cruising speed and cut a swathe through the chop. Despite the occasional bang over larger waves, I felt confident sitting to drive this boat and it felt safe up-sea, down-sea and running side-on to the chop. I think it would love a fat, rolling east-coast swell.
It was also dry, thanks to those high sides. With a load of fuel (250lt), three blokes with gear and a boatful of fishing gear, the 640 Sportscab will handle even better.
Top speed was in the low 70kmh-zone with the 140hp tow-stroke, economical cruise was held easily with correct trim even in the chop, and the boat turned without leaning alarmingly.

 

 

CONCLUSION


If you're looking for a very safe, very strong, and very tough boat to explore your local reefs or hunt for pelagic fish, it would be hard to fault this rig. For the money, it's a hell of a lot of boat and it seems to ride well and you can be assured the workmanship won't let you down. Which means better resale value.
It's an affordable new boat for the family man and one which anyone would be proud to park in the driveway. Those sandgropers sure know how to design a handsome-looking rig, and one that's pretty comprehensively spec'd as standard.
The 640 Sportscab is an honest, well-made, attractive boat that delivers performance, fishing-friendly features and value for money. What more could you ask for in an offshore rig?

 

 

BUILT TOUGH


Brett Martin, director of Trailcraft, passionately believes plate aluminium is the ideal material for making boats. It's strong, stiff and resistant to denting, but it's what Trailcraft's designers and welders do with it that makes these boats so tough. In fact, if anything, Trailcraft boats are over-engineered.
A recently-purchased CAD/CAM computer-controlled Plasma cutter cuts the various parts of the boat from a sheet of plate alloy, and the machine allows for incredibly accurate, precise tolerances so the parts fit together properly, and it also minimises wastage. The bottom sheets (a minimum of 4mm, with the exception of the smaller dinghies, and up to 5mm bottoms on the larger boats) and side panels (which are also clinker pressed by a large machine) are stitch-welded together before the rib bulkheads are welded in. Trailcraft uses a heap more bulkheads than other builders for extra strength. Then the keel and chines strakes are fully welded in, not once, but twice - once on the inside, once on the outside, and the coamings are also fully welded onto the boat. Most tinnies are stitch-welded, and you can only imagine the incredible strength and rigidity these double full welds give to the boat.
The floor is placed over the bulkheads and again, this is fully welded in to be completely watertight. The fuel tank is still acceptable through a sealed hatch in the deck. All Trailcrafts (bar the small open dinghies) have fully scuppered self-draining decks, an excellent safety feature and strong selling point. Foam flotation is also used to dampen noise and provide additional buoyancy.
The boats go through a rigorous quality control check at each stage of production, from build through to paintshop (quality two-pack is used), fitout and final finish, and good quality OEM parts are used. While Martin says warranty claims do not trouble the company (no doubt due in part to the company custom designing its own heavy-duty I-Beam trailers to fit its boats), all models are covered by a three-year warranty.

 

 

HIGHS


* Exceptionally strong, over-engineered build
* Nice finish
* Great internal volume, big cockpit
* Good performance
* Value for money package

 

 

LOWS


* Tinted windscreen
* No grabrail tracing windscreen
* Not a great deal of space on bow deck for anchoring

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Trailcraft 640 Sportscab

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested (BMT): $49,990
Options fitted: Bimini top, Navman VHF radio
Priced from: $49,990 w/ 140hp Mariner two-stroke and Trailcraft I-Beam trailer

 

 

GENERAL


Hull type: Monohull cuddy cabin
Material: Fully welded 4mm and 5mm plate aluminium with press sides
Length overall: 6.9m
Beam:  2.55m
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: 920kg (hull only)

 

 

CAPACITIES


Rec/max HP: 140/200
Fuel: 250lt
Passengers: Six adults
Water: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Engine make: Mariner
Engine type: V6 two-stroke carbureted
Rated output: 140

Prop: 17in aluminium

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Trailcraft Boats, Henderson, WA, tel 1300 550 321 or visit www.trailcraft.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #191

Find Trailcraft boats for sale.

 


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