TEST REVIEW: Ocean Master Challenger 640P


om12.jpg om12.jpg
om13.jpg om13.jpg
om05.jpg om05.jpg
om01.jpg om01.jpg
om02.jpg om02.jpg
om03.jpg om03.jpg
om04.jpg om04.jpg
om06.jpg om06.jpg
om07.jpg om07.jpg
om08.jpg om08.jpg
om09.jpg om09.jpg
om10.jpg om10.jpg
om11.jpg om11.jpg

Good boats take time to build; great boats are built with care and passion... that’s the Ocean Master Boats approach.

TEST REVIEW: Ocean Master Challenger 640P
TEST REVIEW: Ocean Master Challenger 640P
It’s not often we do a boat test and find our seasoned camera crew opting to stay on the pier… but in this case, I don’t blame ’em.

Southern Port Phillip Bay can be a really ugly place for boating in the middle of winter, especially only one week after the solstice. It was cold, damn cold, with a 25 to 30-knot nor’westerly heralding the imminent approach of a series of cold fronts swirling up from the Antarctic. At 9.30am it was only 7°C, but the wind-chill factor would have reduced this to a minus score. Personally, I would rather contend with a big offshore swell than the steep, sharp and dangerous "washing machine" wave action on a freezing windswept day such as this. But, as the saying goes, "the show must go on!" The team at the Geelong Boating Centre told us that the all-new Ocean Master Challenger 640 was built as a serious bluewater contender and that a rough-water boat test was the go. Well, they certainly got that right! The forecast was atrocious, with the bleak conditions worsening by the minute.

The boys launched the boat at Queenscliff on the western side of the Bay and powered across to our meeting point at Portsea Pier. Frankly, I was surprised to see them arrive on time under the conditions. As they approached the pier, the attractive boat trailed a long, high veil of white wind-spray in its wake. Her arrival turned the heads of all on the pier.

HEY GOOD LOOKIN’

This Ocean Master looks terrific on the water, proudly combining a sleek, modern design with the traditional seaworthiness of a 21° deep-vee hull. The hull has two running strakes with modest reverse chines, a steep entry, and conventional sheer line. Her stylish mouldings are accentuated by the gunwales that slope toward the stern, the deep ebony hull and the white, low-profile cuddy cabin.

Boarding required a death-defying leap onto the pitching craft from the lower pier landing, although once onboard, I immediately had a feeling of solid security and confidence in the boat’s abilities. I believe you can identify a boat’s general handling characteristics within a very short period and taking the helm of the Challenger 640 felt like getting behind the wheel of an old and trusted friend.

The interior layout incorporates all of the features of a serious offshore fishing platform. While the exterior is a real eye turner, the interior is practical, topped off with some suitable operator comfort and security. The designers have delivered an enormous cockpit with extremely high gunwales and toeholds all round for safe and secure boating.

Offshore anglers often experience adverse weather conditions as they push the boundaries by travelling farther and farther to sea in search of prey. This is made possible thanks to the fuel efficiency of modern outboards, advances in electronic technology, and the excellent seagoing capabilities of boats like this Ocean Master, with its 300lt underfloor fuel tank.

Other "old friends" were the Yamaha 225hp four-stroke outboard and Hi-Tide hydraulic steering. It’s taken me quite some time to get used to the nearly silent power supplied by these big Yamaha outboards and in the windy conditions, you could barely hear the engine at all. But a quick tap on the throttle had the heavy hull rocketing out of the hole and onto the plane in one swift, easy motion.

Because of the conditions it was impossible to do a full range of speed tests, but the dealer claims a pleasing 44kts at wide open throttle (6100rpm). The boat rose onto the plane quickly and sat beautifully with a nose-up attitude even when pushed ‘downhill’ in the sharp following sea.

COP THIS

I gave the hull a hiding! White knuckles were the order of the day for the crew, and not just because of the cold. Pleasingly, the Challenger’s performance equalled some of the biggest names in offshore fishing boats.

The heavy laminate construction ensured a smooth ride with absolutely no spine splintering or banging. Many boats like this generate a deep and annoying harmonic hum through the hull, but not this Ocean Master, even with the big Yamaha at maximum torque levels.

It didn’t matter whether I hammered head-on into the almost vertical face of oncoming waves, crossed at obtuse angles, or lifted the nose for a downhill run in the following sea — the Ocean Master Challenger 640 took it all in her stride and excelled in the torrid conditions.

The interior is simple and functional, with a few frills. The cuddy has short bunks with storage and large sidepockets. The cabin also features a convenient step for easy access through the large deck hatch. Anchoring is easy with a well-proportioned bowsprit housing the SARCA anchor. The test boat was also fitted with a Muir drum winch in the forward anchor locker. At the bow is a strong and attractive split bowrail.

SKIPPER’S KIT

Helm layout is also simple and practical with all instruments and controls, including the Lowrance HDS7 High Definition combination unit, mounted in comfortable and easy-to-see operational positions.

As well as providing plenty of room for the instruments and electronics, the dashboard has a large moulded recess for all of those inevitable accessories and personal items that always make their way onto the dash. A small watertight glovebox is ideal for phones, wallets and the like.

Operator comfort is also well catered for with flush-mount controls, a stainless steel footrest and professional quality, adjustable, thickly-upholstered seating. The seats are mounted on strong fibreglass boxes and feature tackle boxes and enclosed storage.

The helm area is finished with a strong stainless steel steering wheel with a welcome forklift-style control knob.

I found myself looking over the top of the windscreen grabrail to steer, but this wasn’t a problem because visibility through the clears was excellent.

While we took a lot of water over the top of the boat in the rough conditions we remained warm and dry as a bone under the Quality Craft bimini canopies, while the stainless steel rocket launcher became a welcome grabrail for our third passenger.

A speckled flow-coat interior provides a hard-wearing and easily cleaned cockpit. Our test boat had free-draining rubber mats that allow the whole work area to be pressure-washed after use. If your trip concludes with that large trophy fish, the dive door simply slides out for easy boating. Divers will also appreciate this dedicated offshore boat.

The fitout includes EPIRB and extinguisher recesses, plumbed livebait tank, baitbox, a removable quality fibreglass baitboard, stainless steel rodholders, pop-up mooring cleats,
padded rear combing, pull-out deckwash and a large underfloor catchtank.

Access to the twin batteries, isolator switches and all the plumbing, like washdown and bilgepumps, was excellent, thanks to three large hatches in the transom.

Freeboard is "knacker" height at the transom, which makes the work area feel secure and functional. The transom layout is well designed and appealing, allowing a high mounting point for the fuel filler and the option of twin engines — just in case you want that added security for serious offshore expeditions.

GETS MY TICK

I really enjoyed the Ocean Master Challenger 640 Platinum boat test. She looks great, her construction quality is first class, the ride and sea-keeping ability is comfortable and reassuring, and the fitout caters for the serious offshore customer. I can see the Ocean Master being a regular contender in the offshore tournament scene and, with a bit of luck, I will get another chance to put the new Challenger into some exciting offshore action!

A quote from the Ocean Master website epitomises what I found on my first exposure to the Challenger 640 Platinum: "Good boats take time to build; great boats are built with care and passion...

that’s the Ocean Master Boats approach."

WHAT WE LIKED
Serious bluewater package
Quality fittings
Solid hull
No frills
Attractive
Great freeboard and deck area
Clutter-free with plenty of storage

NOT SO MUCH
Low-line windscreen
Clears need night-vision zips
Anchor step in cabin needs non-skid

SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $102,881
Options fitted: Cabin cushions, baitboard, cockpit tube mat, side dive door w/ storage, seat box w/ tackle drawers, seat slides, slab colour side (black), anchor drum winch, concealed controls, bimini and clears, stainless steel rocket launcher, VSR dual battery system, LED cockpit lights, dock lights, livebait tank, deckwash, marine and VHF radios, Deluxe helm seats, Lowrance HDS7 GPS/sounder, and Easytow trailer
Priced from: $79,805 (w/ Yamaha 200hp EFI four-stroke and Dunbier Glider trailer)

GENERAL
Type: Monohull
Material: GRP hull
Length overall: 6.4m
Beam: 2.5m
Deadrise: 21°
Towing weight: Approx 2650kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel: 300lt
People: Seven
Rec. max. HP: 250
Max. engine weight: 400kg
Weight: Approx 1200kg (hull)

ENGINE
Make/model: Yamaha F225
Type: Four-stroke V6 outboard

Rated HP: 225
Displacement: 3352cc
Weight: 284kg
Gearbox ratio: 15:30 (2.0)
Propeller: 18in stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
Geelong Boating Centre,
88 Barwon Heads Road,

Geelong, Vic, 3220
Phone: (03) 5241 6966
Web: www.geelongboats.com.au; www.oceanmaster.com.au

First published in TrailerBoat #248

Want more boat reviews? Click here for hundreds more!

 


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