By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

_V2R5770-opener.jpg _V2R5770-opener.jpg
_MG_9163-layout.jpg _MG_9163-layout.jpg
_MG_9169-interior.jpg _MG_9169-interior.jpg
_MG_9171-helm.jpg _MG_9171-helm.jpg
_MG_9172-interior.jpg _MG_9172-interior.jpg
_MG_9173-trailer.jpg _MG_9173-trailer.jpg
_V2R5804-turning.jpg _V2R5804-turning.jpg
_V2R5864.jpg _V2R5864.jpg
_V2R5881.jpg _V2R5881.jpg
_V2R5925.jpg _V2R5925.jpg
_MG_9178-engine.jpg _MG_9178-engine.jpg

We weren’t picking on him, but we just couldn’t resist sending John Ford out into a rough sea (again), this time in Formosa’s Tomahawk 620 Half Cab. He came back impressed. And dry.

The weather was truly awful on the day, but the Formosa Tomahawk 620 Half Cab took things in its stride.



One thing we don't lack in Australia is a good range of alloy boats - or a good number of people who love them. The travel documentaries of characters like the late Malcolm Douglas brought faraway fishing playgrounds into our loungerooms, and consequently the tough tinnies favoured by him, and others like him, have engendered a respect for aluminium boats in us all.


Formosa has been producing aluminium boats at its Brisbane factory since 1998, and in that time it's carved out a reputation for rugged and well-equipped products. Its latest Tomahawk 620 Half Cab is no exception, coming with a range of standard features that will appeal to anglers and families alike. Fishos will benefit from its deep freeboard and selfdraining deck, while mum and dad will appreciate the extra safety afforded by its foam-filled hull.


The day of our test gave us plenty of opportunity to sample the boat in a range of conditions, as we toured sheltered waters to Sydney's south before being faced with a howling southerly, the gale kicking up a 3m swell and some very nasty seas off Port Hacking.




On the trailer the boat looks the goods. It has a raised sheerline and colour-accentuated reversed chines leading back to a stylish fastback transom. The marlin graphics scream "bluewater fishing" and the size and dark colour of the boat matched the big black Ford F250 tow vehicle belonging to JD Boatshed's, the dealer supplying the boat. It all made for an impressive sight at the ramp, despite the brooding weather.


Onboard there's a feeling of space thanks to the tall hardtop, deep freeboard and 2.45m beam. The cabin has a vee-berth with wide bunks and lots of storage. There's seating for five and the cabin height will suit all but the tallest of crew. A lifting hatch gives good access to the bow and there's a solid rail around a lined anchorwell. Optional anchor tubes were fitted to each side of the bowrail.


Both driver and passenger get comfortable bucket seats on narrow storage boxes, which represent a practical use of the space - tackle trays have also been incorporated into the passenger side. The passenger also gets a glovebox (who stores gloves in there?) and a handy grabrail. The arrangement of the seats on small boxes leaves room for extra crew to stand forward when underway.


A flat panel runs across the width of the cabin bulkhead and supports a four-piece wraparound Perspex screen. The bulkhead forms two dash panels each side of a cut-out section for entry to the cabin, although the lower square edges of the walkway look like they might be a bit sharp for moving around in rough conditions.


The dash incorporates a raised brow, which allows clear vision to the Yamaha gauges. Lower down on the panel is a touchscreen Garmin 750S GPS / sounder. There's room for a larger screen but the dash is too narrow for flush-mounting more than one of the larger-sized models (although there is room for bracket-mounting multiple screens on top of the dash).


The big, open cockpit is a well-designed fishing area with a carpeted floor. Below deck is a 230lt fuel tank. You can get right up to the gunwale for fishing but a padded coaming might be a good option. Raised sidepockets have room for rods and poles. Each of the wide sidedecks has two rodholders and a grabrail. There's a big in-floor killtank and a folding rear lounge with a well-padded backrest. The seat is easily removable if you want it out of the way for fishing but it doesn't encroach on space - nor does it hinder access to the transom-mounted storage boxes for batteries, filters and switches.


A very sturdy-looking hardtop houses an overhead panel for electronics and to the rear there are six rocket launchers. The hardtop is fully welded so that it forms an integral part of the hull, meaning it won't fold down for storage.


Up the back, the transom is fitted with a plumbed livebait tank. The transom door leads to a swim platform and boarding ladder.


James Souvleris, manager of JD's Boatshed, had fitted our test boat with a 200hp Yamaha four-stroke. He said the next step down in the Yamaha range
was a 150 and he wanted more grunt than the 150 could provide. The additional 46kg over the weight of the 150 doesn't seem to have affected the ride and it certainly doesn't drag the bum down at rest.




The big Yamaha accelerated quickly to a top speed of 34kts (63kmh) in the flat water around Bundeena and Jibbon, while the wind howled overhead. There was some cavitation in sharp turns, which could be eliminated by adjusting the motor by a notch. At a mid-range 3500rpm cruise speed the Formosa pulled 17kts (31.5kmh) with a fuel use of 24lt/h. Pushing it up to 4000rpm showed 21kts (38.8kmh) where fuel use was 34lt/h. I'm told JD's Boatshed has performed further prop testing on this model, resulting in an improvement in speed, revs and acceleration.


Lively handling and good acceleration made the boat fun to drive. Even sharp turns can be taken with reasonable lean angles and everything happens in a predictable manner. I liked the driving position from the comfortable helm seat and the controls were easy to reach. Standing room was a bit tight for me (I'm reasonably tall) and shorter drivers might like to fit a platform to better see through the screen. The Yamaha fly-by-wire control is well positioned and very smooth.


I spent quite a bit of time playing around in the sheltered waters and got a good feel of how the boat performed. The truth is, however, I was delaying the inevitable. The sea was big and the open-decked camera boat I was getting into for the photoshoot looked very small. Eventually I compromised on the side of sanity and headed out a short way into Bate Bay to get some good action shots before swapping back to the Formosa for a trip out wide for a better idea of how it handled the wilder stuff.




I headed seaward and my confidence grew the further we went. I was able to maintain a decent planing speed of 17kts (31.5kmh) in the adverse conditions and the ride was soft and stable. Landing over some of the bigger waves was met with no complaints or rattles from the hull or superstructure. Nothing fell out or broke off or got bent and nobody got thrown around or hurt. I hove to and let the boat settle to see how it would be at rest, and even with three of us on one side in the sharp swell the hull settled quickly and felt very stable. Heading back, it handled well in the following sea with no hint of broaching.


Conditions like this can really show up a boat's weaknesses and they go a long way to establishing an overall impression. A lot can be forgiven if the driver is confident about the boat's ability and, in the case of the 620 Formosa, there is nothing to forgive - it instils confidence at every turn.




We are spoilt for choice in plate-boats in this country, even as the global economy continues to stall. If it's true that Australians look after their mates when times are tough then we should be looking after our mates in the local boat industry, because the ones who have survived the economic storm are producing world-class products. The crew at Formosa should be justifiably proud of their brand. These boats are built to last, they are well finished and they're eminently seaworthy. That's an unbeatable combination.




Wind: Bloody awful!

Sea: 2.5m


On the plane...

  • Foam-filled hull
  • Selfdraining deck
  • Solid, safe feel
  • Good stability
  • Great ride

Dragging the chain...

  • No steering wheel knob (optional)
  • Sharp edge at cabin entry




10.7kts (20kmh) @ 2900rpm (plane) - 15.1lt/h


12.4kts (23kmh) @ 3000rpm - 21.1lt/h


17.2kts (32kmh) @ 3500rpm - 24.2lt/h


21.0kts (39kmh) @ 4000rpm - 34.4lt/h


25.9kts (48kmh) @ 4500rpm - 37.1lt/h


29.1kts (54kmh) @ 5000rpm - 48.1lt/h







Price as tested: $79,990


Options fitted: Dual batteries, hardtop, clears, deckwash, killtank, Fusion stereo, VHF, Garmin 750, premium paint and more


Priced from: $59,990 (with 150hp Yamaha two-stroke)




Type: Aluminium monohull


Material: Aluminium, 5mm bottom / 4mm sides


Length (overall): 6.35m


Beam: 2.45m


Weight: 820kg


Deadrise: 17°




People: 7


Rec. HP: 150


Max. HP: 200 (with upgraded transom)


Fuel: 225lt




Make/model: F200 Yamaha


Type: Four-stroke V6


Weight: 272kg


Displacement: 3352cc


Gear ratio: 2.00:1


Prop: 17in stainless




Formosa Marine


3/1424 New Cleveland Rd


Capalaba West, Qld, 4157


Tel: (07) 3245 2950






JD's Boatshed


27-29 Captain Cook Drive


Caringbah, NSW, 2229


Tel: (02) 9525 3166




First published in TrailerBoat # 273, September 2011.

Find Formosa Tomahawk boats for sale.


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.