By: Bernard Clancy, Photography by: Bernard Clancy

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The Triumph range of “indestructible” plastic boats includes the family runabout 195DC bow rider that easily converts into a sound fishing platform, writes Bernard Clancy




There is a degree of scepticism in all of us, I suppose, but boaties seem to have more than their fair share. So it is with some disdain that the customers of Going Boating Geelong (Victoria) can approach the Triumph range of boats.
They're made of plastic you see, liquid stuff that's injected into a hot mould and comes out the other end as a boat. "Yeah well," they scoff, "I'd like to see that."
It's not until they go for a ride with importer Brett Swann that the eyebrows go up, they concede that Triumph may have something really special, and the direction the company is taking is the way of the future. After all, fibreglass is an absolute bugger to work with.
Triumph calls their "plastic" Roplene, an automotive grade polymer. The boats are made in one piece in an injection molding process so they're formed as a single seamless unit, gunwales, sideliners, stringers, the lot. The range goes all the way up to eight metres.




So what you see on the outside is what you get all the way through, as the brochure says - no laminations, no gelcoat or paint to spider crack, scratch or wear through, no adhesives to fail, no wood to rot.
The process begins with polymer injected into a steel mould and 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. A 5cm stainless steel cross member reinforces the stringers and a 150mm non-skid polypropylene deck is screwed to that for added strength.
Triumph claims Roplene has five times the impact resistance of fibreglass, it floats and is virtually unsinkable. Roplene never needs waxing, polishing or gelcoat touch-ups (there is none), is impervious to saltwater, sunlight and humidity.
Triumph is a yet another brand of the mega US boating corporation Genmar and they've invested many millions into the R&D on these craft so it'll be interesting to watch how people react to them in the long term.
I first came across a Triumph last year when I tested the fishing oriented 195CC, a sister ship to the subject of this test, the 195DC or dual console. We call them bow riders here in Oz. The performance of the CC impressed me and so did this boat.
One could be forgiven for thinking that a plastic-moulded boat could be subject to flex under pressure. Yes, the company says, but flexibility adds to a smooth ride whereas a stiff boat will slap and bang - hard to argue with that. However, I didn't detect any at all, although there was not much of a chop on Corio Bay when we did the test. Triumph claims that when one of their boats hits a wave, the polymer absorbs energy for a soft, quiet ride.
I'd love a dollar for every boat that promises a "soft, dry ride" and fails to deliver. It's the favourite cliché of used-boat salesmen who say it's all too hard to take you for a test run. The Triumph certainly lives up to the brochure promise, although test day saw only a few knots on the clock. One jump across the camera boat's wake sent up a bit of spray, but nothing the windscreen couldn't handle, it must have been the way we hit the wave because other crosses proved smooth and dry.
There was no discernible twisting or undue flex, or even a thrill-seeking jump. The boat just stayed "solid" throughout our testing manoeuvres. On tight turns it slid sideways without any hint of grabbing and broaching and, in fact, felt a bit like a speedway car at times with perhaps a little too much exuberance. At speed (wide open throttle was 73kmh at 5700rpm on the 140hp Suzuki four-stroke) there was considerable prop torque coming through the hydraulic steering but no hull lean.  Cruising was easy at 4000rpm for 50kmh.
It came on to the plane quickly and quite flat, even with the engine trimmed well out.
The design and fitout of this all-rounder is good too. Although it's essentially a bowrider, it is also quite a good compromise family-fishing design. The huge bowsprit will carry an anchor - tied off on a cleat behind - with the rope from that snaking into a bin under the front U-berth cushion.  The low-profile bowrail is large gauge and solid.
The U-shaped seating in the bow is wide and has hatched storage bins under the seat cushions with a floor hatch between. Another hatch between the seats carries a single battery, and cleats either side are handy. The backrests on the bulkhead open to reveal storage bins on both consoles.




Both seats are comfortable although not true buckets. The skipper's chair is mounted on a large livebait tank and this doubles as a dicky seat. The three-spoke stainless steel helm has one of those infernal knobs attached but they are good for docking.
Faria gauges give you all needed information from a grey moulded panel. A row of rocker switches on the right covers all electrics. However, you'd be hardpressed to find a spot for radios and electronics - walkthroughs certainly rob you of a lot of dashboard space. There is a small mesh-covered odds-and-ends pocket under the throttle and the ubiquitous cupholder - like Chicken Man, they're everywhere.
The three-piece screen is supported by stainless steel rods and the centre swings open for access to the bow, however, there is no door underneath that so on a cold day, wind blowing through is likely to be uncomfortable. Portside the passenger has a glovebox in front and two cupholders, a plastic grab handle and a CD player in front. On the coaming there is a small lidded box and a parcel shelf with webbing cover.
Gunnels are below average height, just above my knees, and there are no toeholds under the moulded, padded coamings either so safety is an issue here, particularly if you're playing with a mako on the end of a gaff.  Even the thought scares me. Gunnels have a light non-skid moulded surface and feature two rodholders.
The foam-filled coamings are fully enclosed so there are no sidepockets. The floor is a finely-patterned non-skid Roplene sheet screwed to the sub-frame, but there is no hatch in the floor making storage on this boat a premium. Twin self-draining stainless steel plugs complete the floor treatment.
There are two large cleats on the stern, four additional rodholders either side of the small engine well which has a piano-hinged flap that drops when the motor is raised. More cupholders? Of course!
The four transom rodholders double as repositories for two rear quarter seats which can be plugged in for family days or completely removed to gain space for fishing days - a great and simple idea.
A boarding platform is attached on the starboard side and incorporates a stainless steel telescopic ladder. A 12V plug is fitted on the rear outboard step, which appears a rather strange place.
The boat comes with an American drive-on Ezyloader trailer which features carpet covered boards but no rollers.
In summary, the boat is certainly worth a second glance. The Triumph is a good looking boat but its "coat" is certainly not as bright or as a well finished as a glass boat. However, the 195DC is practical and handled very well indeed.




New technology
Livebait tank
Rear removable seats




Windscreen height and fit
Low gunnels
No toeholds
Dull finish
Storage space at a premium





Specifications: Triumph 195 DC




Price as tested: $54,990
Options fitted: Bimini, stereo, swim ladder, and custom trailer




Material:  Roplene 
Length overall:  6.10m
Beam:   2.49m
Deadrise:   16º
Rec. max. HP: 150hp
Weight: 1300kg (BMT)




Fuel:   227lt




Make:  Suzuki
Type:   Four-stroke
Rated HP:  140
Weight:  186kg
Displacement: 2044cc
Propeller:  Suzuki stainless steel three-blade 14 x 21in




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



Originally published in TrailerBoat #229

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