BOAT TEST: FORMOSA TOMAHAWK 620 HALF CAB

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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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.

BOAT TEST: FORMOSA TOMAHAWK 620 HALF CAB
The weather was truly awful on the day, but the Formosa Tomahawk 620 Half Cab took things in its stride.

FORMOSA TOMAHAWK 620 HALF CAB

 

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.

 

WHAT'S IT LIKE?

 

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.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

 

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.

 

WILD BLUE YONDER

 

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.

 

THE WRAP

 

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.

 

WEATHER CONDITIONS

 

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

 

PERFORMANCE

 

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

 

 

Specifications: FORMOSA TOMAHAWK 620 HALF CAB

 

HOW MUCH?

 

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)

 

GENERAL

 

Type: Aluminium monohull

 

Material: Aluminium, 5mm bottom / 4mm sides

 

Length (overall): 6.35m

 

Beam: 2.45m

 

Weight: 820kg

 

Deadrise: 17°


 

CAPACITIES

 

People: 7

 

Rec. HP: 150

 

Max. HP: 200 (with upgraded transom)

 

Fuel: 225lt

 


ENGINE

 

Make/model: F200 Yamaha

 

Type: Four-stroke V6

 

Weight: 272kg

 

Displacement: 3352cc

 

Gear ratio: 2.00:1

 

Prop: 17in stainless

 


MANUFACTURED BY

 

Formosa Marine

 

3/1424 New Cleveland Rd

 

Capalaba West, Qld, 4157

 

Tel: (07) 3245 2950

 

Web: www.formosamarineboats.com.au

 


SUPPLIED BY

 

JD's Boatshed

 

27-29 Captain Cook Drive

 

Caringbah, NSW, 2229

 

Tel: (02) 9525 3166

 

Web: www.jdsboatshed.com.au

 

First published in TrailerBoat # 273, September 2011.

Find Formosa Tomahawk boats for sale.

 


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