By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

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The 21S sterndrive is a totally new boat from Force. We sent John Ford up the river for a quick spin in this finger lickin’ fast machine.




Every imaginable bit of new technology on the road these days is designed to stop you speeding. Radar, mobile cameras, point-to-point detectors, fixed cameras and even planes are pointed at you, emptying your wallet and making the world a safer place. It's pretty obvious that the government doesn't want you to go fast, yet there's no denying the need for speed. In most states the fastest you can go on the road is 110kmh. On the water there are speed zones but many of our waterways are unrestricted.

This was brought home very obviously in a run along the Hawkesbury River in the new Force 21S, where the willows slipped by us at 70kts (130kmh) and everyone onboard had a grin wider than Mitch Johnson's bowling.

TrailerBoat has long been a fan of
Force Boats, and the company's credentials are evident in its long list of race wins around the world (recent success in the iconic Bridge To Bridge event saw the competition race right past the Force factory at Lower Portland in Sydney's west).

Anyway, Rod Bickerton is the force behind Force and he and wife Kelly turn out more than 25 race and social skiboats every year to a discerning worldwide audience. Recent developments in the sport have seen competitors moving from V-drive to sterndrive for safety reasons; and with the new 21S, there are further new developments.

• The 21S is a variation of the well respected 21 model. It's a dedicated sterndrive with totally new moulds for hull and topsides.

• The new boat has more volume to take the extra weight of the sterndrive/motor combo.

• There's a deeper rear end and
better freeboard as well, for improved bow lift and spray deflection for offshore work.

• Smoother lines and a bigger windscreen are found above deck.

• New vents are moulded in for increased motor ventilation.

• Inside are new mouldings for a full fibreglass floor, which is set higher in the hull, providing more floor width than previous models.

• Sidepockets have been raised, giving a feeling of more space in the cockpit.

• The bulkhead has been set further forward and the section below the foredeck is now fully enclosed.

All this means the 21S is visually appealing and delivers the Force guarantee of being built by craftsmen with passion.




The test boat was finished in white gelcoat with silver detail. In a world of loud graphics and bright colours it might sound a bit drab, and when editor Bazz heard it was "another bloody white boat" he despaired. But he needn't have. All fears were dissolved when we saw the boat, sitting near the river bank on a drop-dead gorgeous trailer. It looked sensational, with just the right blend of silver trim to offset the white.

The 21 is complemented by quality pewter Rex Marine fittings and colour-coded seats. The driver gets a sliding seat and the observer's seat swivels. The new dash layout is a minimalist flat panel with engine information covered by the central Mercury digital readout.

Steering is through an IMCO hydraulic system with a silver Italian wheel. It's very classy, and like the rest of this magnificent boat, it's understated but effective. The bow section is fully carpeted and is accessed through a passenger side-hatch. The higher floor height seems to make access a bit more difficult than on previous models but kids will still love the cubby-hole space when they've had enough sun.

The stern area also got a complete makeover. There's a full-width sunpad with Force graphics and wide swim platforms. Under the sunpad sits the big-block MerCruiser, sending 425hp to the prop and a rev head's musical masterpiece through the straight-through exhaust.




The upper reaches of the Hawkesbury are a skiboat heaven and several ski parks have sprung up over the years. On summer weekends there's the continuous roar of thumping V8s and the howl of well-tuned two-strokes, but on the test day we had the river to ourselves.

Underway on a wide ripple-free river, this boat is pure enjoyment and excitement. The well-sorted hull goes and handles superbly as it turns with confidence and sits solidly on the water, giving a feeling of confidence to driver and passengers.

The driver's seat is firm and well contoured to hold you in place in the sharpest high-speed turns. The driving position is adjustable for most people and the Digital Throttle and Shift Mercury (DTS) controls are effortless and smooth. The foot throttle is set at just the right pressure to allow smooth increases in speed, although - trust me - you'll want to plant your foot and leave it there.

The 21S gets moving briskly and on the plane at 16.4kts (30.6kmh) burning 20lt/h. A slow cruise at 2500rpm is 32.9kts (60.8kmh) burning 35lt/h - at this rate a full tank would take you nearly 500km! We topped out at 4800rpm doing 68.8kts (125.4kmh) but Rod said he's achieved 70kts (130kmh) on his own. Right through its range, steering is fingertip light and balanced.

At its top speed of 130kmh the driver has to finesse the trim and steering to get the last few clicks of speed out of it, but at anything up to 60.7kts (112.4kmh) it just surges forward when you plant your foot. It'll happily cruise at anything you dial in. There's no denying the fact that things happen fast at these speeds and even an experienced driver and observer need to be vigilant.




It's hard not to be impressed by this new Force - families looking for an up-market social skiboat or skirace-boat will find it appealing. It will fit into 70mph-class racing or as a social boat with rough-water ability. At over $120,000 it's not for everyone but, skipping along the river at nearly 43kts (80kmh) with the fuel usage reading 50lt/h, I was thinking, "That's money well spent". It's pure, unadulterated fun.



On the plane...

Looks great

Great performance

Plenty of X-Factor



Dragging the chain...

Bow access a bit tight




16.4kts (30.4kmh) @ 1600rpm (20lt/h)

24.2kts (44.7kmh) @ 2000rpm (25lt/h)

32.9kts (60.8kmh) @ 2500rpm (35lt/h)

41.6kts (76.9kmh) @ 3000rpm (50lt/h)

49.4kts (91.5kmh) @ 3500rpm (65lt/h)

56.5kts (104.5kmh) @ 4000rpm (82lt/h)

58.9kts (109.7kmh) @ 4500rpm (120lt/h)

67.8kts (125.6kmh) @ 4800rpm (135lt/h)






Specifications: Forces 21S




Price as tested: $123,250

Options fitted: Force custom-trailer, steering upgrade, DTS package, sunpad electric ram, seat upgrade and more

Priced from: $103,548




Type: Monohull skiboat

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 6.5m

Beam: 2.1m

Deadrise: 21°

Weight (hull): 800kg

Approx. towing weight: 1900kg




Fuel: 300lt

People: 6




Make/model: MerCruiser 496 HO with Bravo One X

Type: V8 petrol direct injection

Rated HP: 425hp

Displacement: 8.1lt

Weight: 544kg




Force Boats

608 River Rd,

Lower Portland, NSW, 2756

Tel: (02) 4575 4038





Originally published in TrailerBoat 266.


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