TEST: TOURNAMENT 1900 BLUEWATER

By: Ian Macrae, Photography by: Ian Macrae


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Forget everything you thought you knew about Tournament Pleasure Boats because this new addition to the Bluewater range is a real winner

TEST: TOURNAMENT 1900 BLUEWATER
Tournament Winner

TOURNAMENT WINNER
Anyone with any preconceived ideas about Tournament Boats (a hangover from the old Mustang Pleasure Boat days), should take a ‘Bex’ and have a good lie down. Why? Because the company has a new name, new owner, new factory and best of all, the boats are being completely redesigned. They bear little resemblance to the old Mustangs and their performance, handling, standard of finish and — incredible in today’s economic climate — pricing, will blow readers away.
Tournament Pleasure Boats builds boats from 16ft to 24ft with cuddy cabins, express cruisers and now the fantastic Tournament 1900 Centre Console (more about that boat in coming editions) all in the line-up. But there’s another standout newcomer at Tournament and that’s the exciting new 1900 Bluewater; a fishing machine and cruising cuddy cabin designed specifically for heading out wide and chasing the big ones.
When Stewart Thompson brought Mustang Pleasure Boats from the Hancocks, he made a firm commitment to redesign and revitalise the entire range. So far, the 1750 Bowrider and the 2000 Bluewater have new hulls, which are beamier and have more aggressive chines than the original models. He also released two new models, the 1900 Centre Console and the 1900 Bluewater. That’s not bad going for a company that’s less than two-and-a-half years old.

BLUEWATER TAMER
The designers of the 1900 Bluewater started with the tried and proven 2000 Bluewater hull and trimmed it down by 310mm. They gave it 190mm downturned chines and a 21-degree deadrise. They also did away with the almost useless vee plank on the keel near the transom. This plank was a so-called feature on the original 2000 Bluewater boats, but in reality it did little to enhance the hull’s performance. The new hull also has a totally wood-free stringer system, which is built from foam encapsulated by fibreglass. This means that not only will the hull never rot, but it’s actually stiffer and quieter and there’s even been a weight reduction.
The resultant hull slices effortlessly through chop and swells, rides smoothly and quietly over chop and has aggressive chines that keep spray and water outside where it should be. The chines’ design and the way they are carried well forward, is the secret of this hull’s superb ride, handling and stability at rest.
Her bow entry is extremely sharp, so it slices through the water cleanly. As the boat moves forward, air is trapped between the outer edges of the chines and the keel, which generates lift and softens the ride. This boat actually rides on a cushion of air.
An Evinrude 130hp outboard — a magnificent engine with a baffle in its manifold that shortens the exhaust system to increase thrust — powers the 1900. It kicked-in like a turbocharger and rocketed the 1900 out of the hole and onto the plane. Max hp-rating for this boat is 150 and minimum is 115, but the 130hp proved to be the most economical power-to-weight ratio combination.
We put the hammer down and the hull popped out quickly and accelerated up to a top speed of 69kmh (37kts) at 6000rpm within seconds. Pulled back to a fuel-efficient 3800rpm and she cruised around happily all day at 51.5kmh (27.8kts). However, it would have to be a calm day offshore to travel at those speeds.
The hull has two strakes on either side of the keel, which ensured it tracked straight even in a following sea, but after throwing her into full-lock turn, even at WOT, she came around like a rocket sled on rails. The G-forces were strong, but the hull leaned perfectly into the turn and pushed you down, not out, as is the case in some competitors’ vessels.
One hiccup I noticed was the throttle setting. The lever was stiff, which made it difficult to power on and off smoothly. However, it’s only a small thing, easily rectified by adjusting the tensioning screw in the control-box binnacle. Non-feedback hydraulic steering also makes driving this boat a skipper’s delight.
However, while I understand these boats are built to a price — and what I am about to mention is an optional extra — I feel that all the boats that leave the factory should be fitted with a grabrail around the windscreen, or at least a grabrail in front of the navigator’s seat. There was a small handle to the left of the navigator’s seat, but it wouldn’t stop a person being thrown forward if the boat came off a wave in a big sea. Most passengers would spend their travelling time standing up and hanging onto the windscreen frame. I know it’s strong but…
The location of the skipper’s seat made driving in the standing position quite comfortable and there was enough room on the dash for flush-mounting a 6in GPS display and 6in sounder side-by-side. Another fitout placement I wasn’t keen on was the positioning of the GPS antenna; centrally on top of the dash, right where a sighting compass should go. Again that’s easily rectified and should be specified at the time of purchase. Also, remember when you’re fitting out your boat that even though you may have a GPS to navigate by, what happens if it goes down? The ability to read a chart and use a compass are skills all boaters should master.
The cockpit is uncluttered, the coamings are padded and the sidepockets are deep. A cockpit liner isn’t an optional extra; the hull walls are only flow coated, but they can be carpeted like the floor on request.
The rear lounge folds flat against the transom for fishing, there’s a livebait tank on the starboard side and a boarding ladder and transom door to port.
The gunwales are wide enough to fit rodholders, which come as standard fitments, as do the bimini and rocket launcher rodholder rack above the helm. The lined cabin has sidepockets, the vee-bunks have storage underneath and can be converted into a double bed, and a portable loo can be fitted too. But more importantly, the cabin has good height, so you can sit up straight without banging your head.

In standard fitout the 1900 Bluewater has nearly all the bells and whistles and sits on an excellent dual axle, multi-roller Sea Link trailer. All that a buyer really needs to decide on is the choice of electronics. There’s another accessory I consider a must on a boat this size and that’s an anchor winch. If you’re like me, long gone are the
days pulling in 50m of anchor rode by hand.

AMAZING VALUE
So, how much does she cost? You can park a 1900 Bluewater on your front lawn from $47,000, but the testboat, fitted with the 130hp E-TEC, came in at $53,500, which is still excellent value for money considering what you get for your buck.
So, why are these boats so well priced? The secret to that lies in Tournament’s manufacturing system. In the old days these boats were assembled in three factories during the various stages of their manufacture. Now all the work is done in just one purpose-built factory, which saves plenty in transportation cost.
Secondly, the company doesn’t stockpile large amounts of spares. It builds five boats per week, so the fixtures and fitting kits for each boat arrive at the start of the week and all come from the one company.At week’s end the completed boats go out the door. There’s no wastage, no money tied up in spares and all accounts are paid within seven days. It’s a slick operation that cuts costs and overheads and allows Tournament to sell boats through its 17 Australian and international dealers at extremely competitive prices.
There’s no denying Tournament Pleasure Boats have come of age. Their ride and handling characteristics are superb, the finish is first class, and their pricing represents excellent value for money. After this test, the 1900 Bluewater gets a tick in all the right boxes.

WHAT WE LIKED
Spacious cockpit
Soft ride
Folding rear lounge

NOT SO MUCH
No passenger grabrail
GPS antenna positioning


Specifications: Tournament 1900 Bluewater

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $53,500 w/ 130hp E-TEC outboard and Sea Link trailer
Priced from: $47,000

GENERAL
LOA: 6.05m
Length: 5.8m
Beam: 2.34m
Deadrise: 21°
Rec. max. engine weight: 239kg
Transom height: 25in
Cockpit depth: 0.78m

CAPACITIES
Min. HP: 115hp
Max. HP: 150hp
Rec. HP: 130hp
People: six
Max load: 750kg
Fuel: 160lt

ENGINE
Model/Make: Evinrude
Type: Two-stroke
Rated HP: 130hp

SUPPLIED BY
Tournament Pleasure Boats,
2/13 Octal Street,
Yatala, Qld, 4207
Phone: (07) 3807 6999
Web: www.tournamentpleasureboats.com.au

 


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