BOAT TEST: TROPHY 1902 WALKAROUND

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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This cute-as-a-button 19ft offshore fishing boat packs a hell of a lot into its diminutive dimensions, writes David Lockwood

BOAT TEST: TROPHY 1902 WALKAROUND
TROPHY 1902 WALKAROUND

 

FINDING NEMO


I've been enjoying the birth and rapid evolution of those American trailerable sportsfishers flying the Trophy flag. No longer sold as an appendage of their sister pleasure-boat brand Bayliner, Trophy has become a powerful stand-alone sportsfishing entity promising a lot more than a marketing trip for those who dare venture aboard and onto the wide blue yonder.
The last Trophy I tested, a 2103 Centre Console, and, to a lesser degree, the 2502 Walkaround, were two boats that really impressed this long-time trailerboat angler. In fact, that 21ft centre console was such a wonderful boat that it still heads my personal list of trailerable fishing boats that I would buy with my hard-earned bucks.
So you might well understand my enthusiasm for testing the new 17ft Trophy Centre Console. But for one reason or another, the local Bayliner marketing men said they wanted me to test an even newer model, a boat making waves overseas called the 1902 Walkaround. And I was even keener to see how this boat stacked up. After all, it competes against some local workarounds if not the established laws of boat design.
Specifically, I was champing at the bit to see how Trophy dealt with the design parameters of (a) making a walkaround for serious fishing out of a mere 19ft LOA hull; (b) accommodating a compact diesel inboard motor in the boat; and (c) providing a self-draining deck to boot.
Is this pushing the design envelope too far, or has Trophy managed to redefine the world of walkaround fishing boats? One thing for sure, the way the price of fuel is heading, this little diesel walkaround won't break the bank with running costs. It's a real miser, for sure.

 

 

MEETING THE CHALLENGES


The world's biggest boatbuilder, Brunswick Corporation, which is known for building mainstream or conventional boats for the masses, has been presented with some very real challenges here. Fortunately, however, the company appears to have discovered how to make stiff, monocoque or one-piece boats that, even in modest sizes, don't bang.
Backed by a 10-year limited warranty, the Trophy hulls are hand-laid GRP with a fibreglass stringer system bonded to the hull for stiffness. After a thorough workout in some truly rough water, I can say this doesn't feel like you're typical 19-footer. It's smooth, dry and very reassuring when charging into the fray. It's also nice to know the boat has level foam flotation and vinylester (waterproof) resin in case you want to leave the rig in the water.
The boat's hull is a little beauty and visually it looks like a cute little ship due to the exceptionally high bow and the fetching round portholes that instill a sense of tradition. I'm told the 1902 has been affectionately dubbed Nemo and the term on endearment suits the boat very well, indeed.
The exceptionally deep freeboard up front and flared sides, plus the wonderfully high windscreen, makes this a dry boat. I also noted excellent stability in the moderate-dead rise hull that has just 17 degrees of vee aft. As the smooth ride stems from driving the deep, fine bow into the waves, trim in rather to avoid landing on the flat rear end.
Helped by a wide 2.44m beam, the boat's walkarounds are stable and therefore able to be negotiated at sea. While you have to travel one foot over the other, the moulded step from the cockpit, high one-piece bow rail, toerails and upright windscreen provide security. Up front, there is enough deck space for retrieving the anchor or pitching a lure, lots of freeboard and just no chance of putting water on deck.
A one-piece moulding from to back, the 1902 should be easy to keep clean. Dotted about the fibreglass is what I consider scant few fittings to snare lines. There isn't a lot of storage space for tackle so, whatever you do, order a T-top with rocket launcher for rod storage and, of course, shade.

 

 

FISHING FEATURES


Though there wasn't a bowsprit, I was impressed by the boat's anchor locker. It had enough depth to carry a good length of rope. There was also a moulded recess for swinging a sand anchor. The stanchions for the bow rail will be handy mounting points for aftermarket tubes for carrying the reef pick.
The recessed deck cleats have enough room to tie off thin, say 8mm-12mm, rope for mooring, setting a sea anchor or securing a trophy fish. Underwater, the boat has bronze seacocks for things like the optional raw-water washdown, while there are both aft and forward bilge pumps. You don't know how happy I am to see the latter which is all too often missing in local boats with cabins that could fill with water.
The boat had two rodholders in the gunwales, twin simple aft plastic bait bins that are removable and easily cleaned, and the option of a small plumbed live-bait tank in the aft end of the co-pilot's seat. The demo boat had no side pockets due, I guess, to the foam flotation. The greatest amount of storage space was on the cabin sole.
But even with optional padded coamings, I'm not entirely comfortable with the depth of the self-draining deck on this boat. The lack of internal freeboard, and the difficulty of leaning into the sides to get support before the toes hit the sides, makes this a tough boat for fishing and your families.
The deep hull up front quickly tapers to a shallow cockpit that, in Australian waters, could easily spit crew out the back. Though the non-skid is excellent, I wouldn't be comfortable leaving my young niece and nephew on the aft-facing seats, as there is nothing to stop them falling out the transom. The lack of cockpit depth is surprising given the litigious nature of Americans.
So what do you do? Well, the fix in my eyes, at least, would be to fit a strong, supportive, stainless aft rail with padded coamings across its leading edge. The rail could incorporate a gate so you still had walkthrough access to the water and the swim ladder. And on that rail you could fit more rodholders and perhaps even a removable cutting board.
One thing I do know for sure is that, should you hook a big fish on standup tackle from a dead boat, you will have a job of getting around the transom while standing unsupported. You will also need to reach out to clear the line from the Alpha One sterndrive leg, which protrudes quite some distance from the transom.
The transom had a moulded central engine box lid which formed the central part of the low transom edge. Engine access was excellent, with additional storage room outboard of the 1.7lt 120hp Cummins-MerCruiser diesel block. It was good to see an external fuel shutoff in the cockpit, but a dipstick and easy access to the fuel tank would be handy.

 

 

BIG-HEARTED


Back at the nice, deep, pointy end, the boat has a wonderfully spacious cabin with seated headroom for two people on a nicely upholstered L- or V-shaped area. The supplied infill, retained in a storage net when not in use, is used to create a retreat for weary kids and crew to at least catnap.
There appeared to be no storage under the seating and no cabin sidepockets. However, I did find a portable loo, 12V cabin light and a hatch to professional wiring behind the dash. The lockup cabin means you have somewhere to stow the tackle when ashore and, another nice thing, the plastic moulded floor liner (I'm noticing the sudden appearance of a lot more moulded plastics in boats these days) is an easily-cleaned surface.
The dash itself is a simple but sartorial number, cut to accommodate the switch panel, the spread of Cummins Mercury engine gauges, compass and big stainless steel wheel, plus flush-mounted aftermarket electronics such as a marine radio, sounder and GPS chartplotter.
The high windscreen is another great thing, offering terrific protection and great views of the road ahead when seated. More boatbuilders of offshore fishing boats should look at this windscreen and follow suit. There was no wiper, but a good coating of Rainex will keep the water beading away.
I enjoyed driving this boat from the helm seats, which are reversible, despite the stand-up conditions at sea. When standing, I noted plenty of legroom and, while there isn't a grabrail around the windscreen, it at least appeared to be mounted strongly. A drinkholder and a small dry storage nook for wallets, keys and mobile phones was alongside the helm.
Crew, kids or mum's hoping for a ride in the 1902 Walkaround can sit on the aft end of the seat box under the twin helm seats. The importer has, sensibly, fitted an optional cushion package that included padded seat tops for these storage boxes. A plastic grab handle was alongside each seat and you should insist that crew hold on so they don't tumble out the transom when you plant the throttle or fly off a wave.

 

 

DIESEL DELIVERS


Think I'm joking about the acceleration? Think again. While the boat comes in outboard and petrol or diesel inboard variants, the latter on this boat provided terrific performance, great handling, top fuel economy and a big range from the 208lt sub-floor fuel tank.
There was some diesel clattering at low revs, but I like that sound and so do the fish that chase trolled lures and baits. Diesels raise fish. Period. Moving from trolling to cruising speeds was smooth with the Alpha One sterndrive leg trimmed in. Run free with the leg trimmed out, the boat has a tendency to porpoise. So, trim in and keep the forefoot glued to the water and the big bow cleaving the swell.
The boat/motor combo showed efficiency by planing at 8.5kt (16.2kmh) - fast lure-trolling speed! - at 2200rpm. At 2500rpm it's giving a low-speed, heavy-weather cruise of 13kt (25kmh). And at 3000rpm, the boat is cruising along through most conditions at a handy 19.3kt (37kmh).
I recorded a fast cruise of 27kt (51kmh) and a top-end of 31kt (59kmh). All these speeds, except the point of planing, are identical to the 42ft game fishing boat I often drive at sea. So while it's a minnow you should be able to keep up with the big boys, while using a comparative whiff of fuel.

 

 


HIGHS


* Terrific, safe, wave-breaking high bow with deep forefoot that cuts AND sheds waves
* Useful walkaround space for getting forward to anchor
* Big cabin with seating and loo
* High windscreen protects you from the elements
* Nice non-skid on deck and good moulding of liner and general finish
* Diesel economy and long range

 

 

LOWS


* Low internal cockpit freeboard
* Not much family seating
* Kids and anglers tied to big fish could too easily go for a swim
* Little by way of rod and tackle storage
* Can't dip fuel tank
* Black soot builds along transom
* Protruding sterndrive leg hard to clear for anglers

 

 

 


Specifications: Trophy 1902 Walkaround

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $59,990 w/ 120hp Cummins-MerCruiser 1.7L diesel engine with Alpha One drive
Options fitted: Base boat in Australia includes factory optional seating package, padded coamings, safety gear, dual-axle trailer, registrations in drive-away package
Priced from: As above

 

 

GENERAL


Material: GRP fibreglass with foam stringers and level and upright foam flotation
Type: Moderate-vee planing hull
Length Overall: 5.82m
Beam: 2.44m
Deadrise: 17°
Weight: Around 1641kg with base 125hp Mercury outboard

 

 

CAPACITIES


Berths: Camp on deck
Fuel capacity: 208lt
Water capacity: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Make/Model: Cummins-MerCruiser
Type: Inboard diesel four-stroke motor
Rated HP: 120hp @ 4000-4500rpm.
Displacement: 1.70lt
Weight: About 225kg
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Alpha One Sterndrive
Props: 21in alloy

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Avante Marine, Silverwater, tel (02) 9737 0727.
Bayliner Australia, Berowra Waters, NSW, tel (02) 9456 3200 for your nearest Bayliner dealer or www.bayliner.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #193

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