BOAT TEST: FORMOSA 5.2 CENTRE CONSOLE


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While not one of Australia's most high-profile brands, Formosa's sturdy 5.2m centre console is quietly building a solid fan base among river and coastal anglers in its home state of Queensland.

BOAT TEST: FORMOSA 5.2 CENTRE CONSOLE
Back in 2004, the Formosa 5.2 Centre Console wasn't from a well known manufacturer. Times have certainly changed.

There appears to be a concerted effort from a number of alloy boat manufacturers to target the entry-level market by offering starter packages.

And why not? There are even more manufacturers out there making boats to suit the well-heeled boatie, optioned up with every conceivable item and capable of adding a sizeable second mortgage on the average home.

Formosa Boats is based in Capalaba - a Brisbane suburb not far from Moreton Bay. Established for around six years, it concentrates on the 4.5 to 5.5m range, with the 5.2m model tested here being most popular.

With so many rigs in this class in the marketplace, one has to ask: what can be different with this one? Well, it is pretty hard to reinvent the wheel, but it is the finer points on a hull that edge it across the line ahead of its competitors. Those points will suit some and not others, so it's really a case of "suck it and see". In other words, test drive for as long as you can in the waters you intend to visit most often.

I GOTTA BE ME

The Formosa's distinctive hull shape was the first thing that caught my eye. It is very deep (900mm) from the gunwales to the chines, and its beam of 2.3m at the forequarters tapers slightly as it runs toward the stern. This gives the hull a huge work area forward of the console.

The angle of the coamings on the forequarters is a lot sharper, and the deadrise down to the keel line in that part of the boat is dramatic. The result is a flared forward section that we found had some benefits in the choppy conditions on Jumpinpin Bar.

The anchor well has no hatch, but the bulkhead beneath it has an aperture giving access to a dry storage area. The wiring for the port and starboard light is installed in a convoluted tube and is zip-tied to the ribs on the way to the light itself. Its positioning will lend itself to damage from being kicked; a few centimetres more wire could have had it coming up inside of the forward stowage area and across to the light.

The deck is carpeted marine ply, and short sidepockets run about one third of the length of the cockpit forward from the aft corners. Four rodholders are recessed in the coaming of the transom bulkhead, and coamings all round are very wide and suitable for installing all manner of fishing gear like downriggers, rodholders and bait boards.

The tray across the transom bulkhead holds a single battery, but there's room for another - plus there's foot-under access
too. The floor of the tray is aluminium chequerplate and it is a single sheet that goes through the back of the bulkhead and makes up the top of the full floating pod.

There has been no skimping on the size of the gussets on the transom engine-mount plate either, and this combination will hold the aft end in good stead over years of heavy use.

PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING

Out on the river and heading toward the 'Pin, the 75hp two-stroke Mercury pushed the rig out to 60kmh. The manual steering was torque-prone when the engine was trimmed in for tight turns. This is nothing unusual, and something that would disappear if you could afford to install a hydraulic helm.

Trimmed out for cruising, the helm was fine. The boat holds a very flat attitude when hard cornering, digging in with no sideslip or cavitation.

Out in the open water behind the bar, this boat responded better to positive trim rather than buttoning the bow down into the chop. A softer ride could be achieved by throttling up past 30kmh and lifting up the flared bow a bit and dancing right over the rough water. Interesting behaviour, but it seems to work well, and there was no spray coming aboard - instead, it was deflected down and away by the hull's forequarter design.

With two aboard trolling and drifting, stability was typical of a 15° deadrise in that it was prone to a little side-to-side movement as two big blokes moved around the deck.

But flatten the deadrise further and you'll lose the soft ride.

As tested, this rig is in the $23,500 price bracket - great value for a handy river, bay and coastal fishing boat. Queensland Powerboat Centre is not tied to an outboard franchise, and can therefore supply any brand of motor requested. The test engine on this rig was supplied and fitted by On Shore Marine at Horizon Waters.

You will have plenty of room to move to set this one up for open-water fishing, and there is enough space in the cockpit to fish three anglers comfortably.

The Formosa's ability to cut through big chop at high speed makes it well suited to the sort of water that South Australia's two Gulfs can dish up, which is similar to Hervey, Moreton and Port Phillip Bays.

Short, sharp chop is a pain in anyone's book (and backs) but this rig will eat it up no problems at all. Just keep that hammer down!

HIGHS
Big, beamy forward section
High gunwales all round
Dry ride
Easily handles chop at high speed

LOWS
Slow speed through chop produces a slightly firmer ride
Wiring for navigation lights requires repositioning

 

Specifications: Formosa 5.2 Centre Console

Price as tested (BMT): $23,500

Options fitted: Nil

Standard features: Dunbier braked
galvanised trailer, fold-down windscreen, 90lt padded icebox/seat, bilge pump, navigation lights, paint, grabrails, battery and battery box, optional depthsounder

Priced from: As above, depending on outboard fitted

GENERAL
Material: Sheet aluminium, 3mm bottom, 2mm sides
Length (overall): 5.4m
Beam: 2.3m
Deadrise: 15°
Rec/max hp: 75/90

CAPACITIES
Fuel: 70lt
Water: n/a
Passengers: Four

ENGINE
Make: Mercury
Type: Carburetted two-stroke
Rated hp: 75
Displacement: 1386cc
Weight: 138kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.30:1
Propeller: 18in alloy

SUPPLIED BY
Queensland Powerboat Centre, 3920 Pacific Highway, Loganholme, Qld

Originally published in TrailerBoat #183, Sep 2004

Find Formosa boats for sale.

 


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