BOAT TEST: TROPHY 1903

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD, Photography by: JUAN FORD, COASTCOLOUR


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Trophy’s 1903 centre console is just the boat for the angler that likes to do everything from fly-fishing the flats to bottom bashing to chasing pelagics far offshore – and it’s not as pricey as you might think, says David Lockwood

BOAT TEST: TROPHY 1903
BAYLINER TROPHY 1903

 

THE WHOLE PACKAGE


The danger with reminiscing is that you can sound like an old goat, but let me take you on a brief trip down memory lane on an eye-opening introduction to America with my best buddy. We were miscreants and Miami seemed pretty scary as we drove around in a hired convertible listening to the radio reporting a spate of car-jackings and the day's shootings. In the back seat our suitcase poked skywards branding us as real tourists.
But as we headed south on the big freeway and over a series of long concrete bridges, our fear and loathing was replaced by the wonders of Florida Keys and places like picture-perfect Islamorada. The Keys is synonymous with sportsfishing, and expressly for that purpose it was flush with drop-dead gorgeous centre consoles that I'd only ever seen in one dimension on the pages of foreign magazines.
As we cruised down the Keys my head was like a lighthouse noting all the big-name badges. Centre consoles were lined gunwale to gunwale in the dry stacks, marinas, parked outside tackle stores and on jetties when not being towed behind huge RVs. Picture the boats and the shimmering flats famous for their sports fish and it was the stuff of a kid-fisher's dreams.
More than a decade on and closer to two decades, my enthusiasm for centre consoles hasn't waned. While Sydney is a long way from Florida, the appearance of a genuine America centre console had me excited once again. How would Trophy's new 19-footer stand-up to some rough water Down Under? We had 20 knots of wind and two-metre ground swells whacking the coastline. Perfect conditions, I reasoned, to assess this made-for-fishing boat.

 

 

HERITAGE LISTED


But first some background on Trophy. Parent company Brunswick Marine has enjoyed a great deal of success with this dedicated fishing boat brand. In fact, Trophy has become one of the best-selling badges in its 18-boat line-up. More than 2000 Trophies from 17 to 29 feet rolled off the production line last year.
With huge financial backing and a commensurate R&D investment the big American has done a great job of creating decent off-the-shelf trailerable fishing platforms of which four models are centre consoles from 17 to 25ft in length. Previously, I had tested the 2103 and I considered that a seriously seaworthy and fishing-savvy centre console for bluewater fishing, but the 1903 Trophy is quite a different boat to the 2103 Trophy.
While the 2103 is a big-water boat, the 19-footer still has an element of the Florida skiff about it. It's a lower-profile boat that wouldn't be out of sorts working the flats from the casting platform in the bow, swishing a fly rod or exercising the casting arm, when not heading wide on the fair-weather days.
The Trophy 1903 is a good-looking boat, sweetly proportioned and, with the optional moulded hardtop instead of the canvas bimini, it has a purposeful appearance. But like all good centre consoles, fishing factors come first. The Australian Trophy agents added a factory-fitted Pro Pack with padded coamings, saltwater deckwash, cushion package and esky that doubles as an impromptu seat in the bow for extra comfort.

 

 

HULL DESIGN


Trophy backs its boats with a transferable 10-year limited hull warranty underscored by a one-piece foam-filled fibreglass stringer system bonded to the hulls. All models from 19ft and under have foam-filled hulls for positive buoyancy in the event of being swamped and added insulation of their fish boxes. With self-draining decks and big aft drain holes - plus gutters around the floor hatches - you don't have to worry about putting water aboard. If in fact you can.
The Trophies also feature conduits for their wiring, sturdy sub-floor mounting bases for their T-tops, sub-floor mounted polyethylene fuel tanks, and decent stainless-steel deck gear. The optional moulded hardtop and aluminium framework had a lot of integrity for mounting, say, outriggers and carrying heavy game-fishing outfits on the rocket launcher while bounding out to sea. I also liked the decent spotlight that let's you illuminate the cockpit while night fishing or catching livies before sunrise.
The underwater design doesn't break new ground but instead draws on proven attributes such as a decent amount of flare in the bow to shed water, a good amount of buoyancy up front to support anglers or anchormen, and a useful amount of deadrise - 19 degrees in the 1903 featured here. The seamless deck moulding is perhaps a greater feature. The liner flows from its non-skid sole up the sides to the gunwales and from the forward casting platform to the transom in one continuous moulding. This created an uncluttered, easy-to-clean and accommodating interior, kept that way by the side rod racks and fish wells that are recessed.
A good grade of non-skid on the expansive decks and gunwales, where you might step ashore, helps with your footing. And when you shift your weight around, the hull doesn't lurch as if there's too much vee. Similarly, the nose and transom seem nice and buoyant. The boat's 2.49m beam helps with its surefootedness.

 

 

CLEAR-CUT DECKS


Stainless steel navigation lights, recessed cleats and side grabrails adorn the bow. There's a concealed anchor locker designed to swing a sand or plough anchor - serious offshore anglers keen on reef fishing will have to store a pick elsewhere - and the Pro Pack introduces a cushion on the big forward casting platform so you can create a daybed or lounging area for the those times that the family is up for some lounging aboard.
Without the bow cushions the 1903 has a huge casting platform with very little by way of snags to catch fly lines or backing. As touched on much earlier, the boat would be just at home in the tropics tossing lures or flies at sportsfish as it would in the temperate areas chasing Aussie salmon on lures. Back from the casting platform is enough flat floor beside the console, which has handy handrails, to fight a fast-running fish on your feet while the skipper drives the boat forward.
A nice big lined fish well in which you can pack ice and catch hides under the casting platform. It drains back overboard and not to the bilge, so no foul smells from fetid fish blood when you remove the covers for your weekend fishing trips. Food, drinks and perhaps bait can be kept in the Igloo cooler strapped down ahead of the console. With a cushioned top and small backrest it's doubles as a seat at rest.
Dry storage, which is in great demand in an open boat, ranges from a hatch in the forward panel of the console, in which there is also access to the dash wiring, to a small nook in the dash for your personals. Overhead is a clever zip-up pocket in the underside of the hardtop for stowing lifejackets and your wet-weather suit.
The cockpit had padded coamings (another part of the Pro Pack), two rodholders and two drinkholders per gunwale - you will need to fit more - and four rodholders on the rocket launcher from where you could run a shotgun or long centre trolling line. Under the coamings were moulded rock racks with room to carry two gaff handles, rods or long-handled nets per side.

 

 

BACK IT UP


While the permanently moulded aft-quarter seats will be handy for carrying the family - and more and more people are using centre consoles like this as family fliers, hence the supplied swim ladder - anglers won't be so thrilled at the lack of thigh support. However, the boat has padded coamings so you can fight big fish off the sides with stand-up tackle and gain support on your thighs.
The battery and oil bottle for the Mercury 150hp OptiMax outboard are accessed under the aft seat bases and there's a deceptively efficient splash well that kept water out. The aft boarding platform will be handy for family use, yet enough space exists alongside the outboard to mount a berley pot and transom-hung transducer(s).
A padded cushion on the lid of the livebait tank creates an aft-facing seat while waiting for the fish to bite. Add a bait-cutting board over the transom and this would be a great snapper-fishing platform. Lift the lid and you'll find a decent 68lt livebait tank with pump and aerator. If you want to nail big dolphin fish or mahi mahi in summer from the FADs you need live bait. The nearby raw-water deck wash will help you flush the blood away before stowing the fish in the bow on ice.

 

 

DRIVING EAST


The two-person helm leaning seat is quite tight to the console but I like the fact you can wedge yourself in when taking flight - which is something I did often for the camera. There are a couple of drinkholders, a compass and a windshield that kept some spray at bay, plus a Trophy dash panel with switches for anchor and nav lights, bilge pump, baitwell and three accessory options, plus a 12V plug.
Engine gauges for the Mercury 150hp Optimax included a combination tacho, fuel and volts meter, a speedo with engine temperature read out and a trim gauge, which is something you always get standard with outboard-powered boats. There was a good amount of space for mounting electronics and a marine radio. The stainless-steel steering wheel had a good sturdy feel to it.
With the outboard leg fully trimmed in, the 19-footer held plane at 2200rpm and anywhere from 7.8 to 9.4 knots (15-18km/h), so this is an efficient hull. Low speed plane for heavy-weather boating was clocked at 2500rpm and about 12 knots (23km/h), but the boat seemed to be able to go anywhere including into the teeth of a near unfishable sea at 3000rpm with mid trim for a 20 knot (38km/h) cruise.
The 1903 was a rocket with its maximum 150hp outboard. At the generally accepted optimum revs for outboard efficiency of 4000rpm the boat turned in a speedy 31 knots (57km/h) - but how often can you maintain that speed at sea? - and flat out I record 40.6 knots (77km/h). At high speeds the boat tended to porpoise somewhat, but this was a factor of all the weight being aft or amidships - there was no weight at all in the bow.
You didn't have to be a great driver to grab some air during the test. Purely for the pictures, I whacked the throttle as I hit the steeper wave face beyond Sydney Heads and the boat leapt skyward much like a jumping jetski. But at about 3000rpm it sliced the swells with its sharp entry and it didn't throw an inordinate amount of spray around. I felt like I could run around all day at 3000rpm.
With a bit of the skiff, a lot of the sportsfisher, the ability to troll the bluewater, take the family for a spin, and head away to hot trailerboat destinations, the Trophy 1903 has broad appeal. The 208lt fuel capacity will be stretched for big days out to Browns Mountain, however, it's fine for sportsfishing off most ports.
This was also a quite keenly-priced package and the big moulded liner will make maintenance a breeze. If you can't find the bucks for the 2103, this is the next best Trophy Centre Console - and you don't need to travel to Florida to see it.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


* The hull feels good charging into a sea
* Oodles of non-skid deck space and handy built-in storage
* Forward casting platform is a beauty and the cockpit is roomy enough to fish seriously
* Padded coamings let you fight big fish with stand-up tackle off the sidedecks
* Live-bait tank is generous and there's excellent fish storage under the casting platform

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


* Transom boarding platform and permanent rear quarter seats hinder fishing around the motor and make it a reach to work the berley pot
* Two rodholders isn't enough and access is limited to through-bolt instead of self-tapper others to the boat
* You need a custom stainless-framed cutting board over the engine well
* The boat is a lot lower to the water and somewhat more skiff-like than the true bluewater models starting with the 2103

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Trophy 1903 Centre Console

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Priced as tested: $61,490 w/ 150hp Mercury Optimax outboard engine and factory options, and galvanised trailer
Options fitted: Base boat in Australia includes factory optional moulded hardtop, seating package, padded coamings, safety gear, trailer, registrations in drive-away package
Priced from: $51,990 w/ base two-stroke 125hp Mercury outboard

 

 

GENERAL


Material: GRP fibreglass with foam stringers and level and upright foam flotation
Type: Moderate-to-deep vee planing hull
Length Overall: 5.79m
Beam: 2.49m
Deadrise: 19°
Weight: Around 1061kg with base 125hp Mercury outboard

 

 

CAPACITIES


Rec/max HP: 125/150
Fuel capacity: 208lt
Berths: Camp on deck
Water capacity: n/a
Passengers: Five adults

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Mercury OptiMax 150hp
Type: High-pressure injected two-stroke motor
Rated HP: 150hp @ 5250-5750rpm
Displacement: 2507cc
Weight: About 195kg
Gearboxes (make/ratio): Mercury 1.87:1 outboard leg
Prop: 21in alloy

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Avante Marine,
Silverwater, NSW.
Phone: (02) 9737 0727.
Contact Bayliner Australia on (02) 9456 3200

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #196

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