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The Formosa Tomahawk 580 merges exceptional sturdiness with a nice assortment of standard features. Rick Huckstepp reports

The Formosa Tomahawk 580 combines sturdiness with plenty of standard features.

Established in Brisbane in 1998, Formosa Marine has spent the last decade building a name for themselves in the plate boat industry. The Tomahawk range is the culmination of all that development and the 580 model is sure make a good first impression.

The 580 hosts standard features that are typically optional extras on many similarly sized vessels. The strength of the hulls is excellent, with 4mm gauge 5083 grade high tensile plate used in the hull for both top and bottom sides.
The 580 has a raised sheer line in the forequarters that gives it a racy look and provides extra spray deflection when underway with wind on the forequarters. Further comfort at sea comes in the form of a steep deadrise from the keel line to gunwales in the forequarters that themselves run further forward than on many similar boats before rounding to the bowsprit. Its shaped hull is a clear winner in lousy seas. It has been typical of Formosa designs right from the outset but surprisingly no other manufacturer has tried to emulate it.

Although the forward third of the 580's hull bottom is smooth a number of strakes on the aft end control side slipped during hard and fast manoeuvring. To minimise rock and roll, full reverse chines wing the rounded aft hull bottom which is set at 17°.

Support for the coamings and bracing for the side sheets are different to the norm as well. Rather than have the usual multitude of ribs extending from the deck, the 580 has fewer box section ribs that measure about 100 x 90mm in diameter. They second as conduits in places to take looms about the vessel to and from the helm station. Extra strength and rigidity comes in the form of gussets installed from the inside of the rib to the inner edge of the coamings.
The transom has been designed with a three quarter deep walk through section on the port side, closed off with a nylon door. Midships on the transom bulkhead a bait rigging table is permanently fixed and the fore and aft sections have been sheeted to form a live bait tank. Access is through the top under a hinged nylon cutting board. This was bunged but not plumbed on the test boat, something that shouldn't be too difficult for a user. Four rod holders also bristle from the edges of this superstructure.

The transom bulkhead houses the oil reservoir for the ETEC engine but also the battery, fuel priming bulb and fuel filter. The bottom of the bulkhead is well off the deck, allowing for easy foot under access and cleaning should rubbish find its way to the aft of the deck. Rectangular scuppers exhaust water through the fast back edges of the hull.

There is no shortage of over engineered hand rails on the 580, with 32mm rails found in all the practicable places. And speaking of over engineering, check out the boarding steps.
Under deck a beamy kill tank is installed in the aft of the cockpit. It's long enough to take a large mackerel or other typically difficult to stow items like paddles.

Moving forward, the centre cab sits on a raised foredeck while the deck inside is rebated to aft deck level with a deeper rebate in the cab itself. The walls of the cab slope in toward the centre of the boat to alleviate the upper torso bouncing off when traversing the walk around. This means there is ample to run around and chase fish while allow you to hang on to surrounding bow rails. The sloping roof of the cab is also relatively flat.

While the look may appear odd to some who expect rounded features on such a superstructure, the practical side advantage is the fact that it's an excellent place to stow gear like swags, crab pots etc. This would be made easier with a hand rail running at its forward edge, abeam.

The anchor well is without a hatch and is sufficiently ample in volume to take a few hundred metres of rope and ground tackle, plus any anchor lifting float devices.

Several large tubular foot rests can assist the skipper and passengers seated on modules that have apertures on the inside edge for stowing gear. The inside of the cab is not that spacious, however, because it is designed primarily for dry stowage of gear with ease of access. In a pinch a couple of people could shelter in it during inclement weather.

The targa that runs up from the aft walls of the centre cab supports a hard top loaded with rod tubes and sail tracks on which to attach a set of clears. There are ample hand rails for those standing behind the seating when running to sea and the entire top section can be hinged back into the cockpit to reduce wind drag when towing and for stowage under low boat ports.

The size of the helm instrumentation spread is minimal. Two dial gauges which are housed in a small brow immediately behind the helm wheel handle all the functions of the Evinrude ETEC. The fascia to which the helm wheel is installed has a large blank panel on its port side in which instrumentation can also be installed.

Unfortunately it would be almost impossible to install a gimbal mounted GPS/depth sounder with a screen over 15cm in front of the skipper. However, one would happily fit diagonally across in front of the passenger and would remain within reach from the helm. More room could be made available with instruments down the ports side of the helm wheel with the current instrument brow simply left out of the equation.

Fitted with Evinrude's 130hp ETEC motor, and with two adults onboard, the 580 showed plenty of promise throughout the power band. It would be overkill to hit the maximum horsepower recommendation of 150, unless you intend to carry either a regular heavy or seven passengers - the maximum rating for the 580.
At 5,600rpm, 34kts was reached very quickly and manoeuvrability was excellent. A most welcome addition was the Seastar hydraulic steering, which comes standard.
On the test day we had a 5kt breeze and a low swell. We hammered this hull as much as we could in the slight conditions and it still passed all the tests with flying colours. In short, this is a nice boat with standard features that will be appreciated by its users.

    Foam filling comes standard
    Nice and beamy
    Stable and dry
    Robust construction


    The brow style instrumentation dash needs rethinking if you want big cabinet electronics

Specifications: Formosa Tomahawk 580

Price as tested: $52,990
Options fitted: hard top visor, coloured paint, bait board tank, plumbed kill tank, Humminbird GPS/sounder and VHF radio
Priced from: $47,990

Material: 5083 high tensile plate; 4mm top and bottom sides
Length: 6m
Beam: 2.45m
Deadrise: 17°
Weight: 760kg

Fuel: 200lt
Rec. max. HP: 150
Rec. min. HP: 115
People day: 7
Max. transom eight. 220kg

Make/model: Evinrude ETEC 130
Type: fuel-injected two-stroke
Rated HP: 130
Displacement: 1727cc
Weight: 177kg
Propeller: 17in Viper SS
VELS rating: 3-Star

Australian Marine Centre
3491 Pacific Hwy
Springwood, Qld
Phone: (07) 38087333


Originally published in TrailerBoat 246, August 2009.

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