BOAT TEST: VOYAGER V625 SPORTFISH

By: Kevin Smith


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Kevin Smith remembers why he became a cat convert after spending a day aboard the new Voyager V625 SportFish.

BOAT TEST: VOYAGER V625 SPORTFISH
Voyager V625 SportFish

Are two hulls better than one - or rather, is a cat hull better than a mono? The Raby Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue crew will tell you they are. Late last year they were on a rescue mission when their powered catamaran collided at speed with a whale - and despite a huge chunk coming off the starboard bow sponson, the boat did not sink. I imagine a monohull in the same situation would have gone down like a homesick mole (nobody seems to be addressing the elephant, or rather whale, in the room - how'd he come off? -Ed).

Even so, Australia doesn't seem to have many trailerable cats from 4-7m, which I suspect is due to the fact they cost more - both to buy and to run.

While I'm what you'd call a cat enthusiast, I must confess that there was once a time when I wasn't that keen on them. This was back in my homeland of South Africa, where I was always a bit fearful of having to launch these boats through serious East Coast surf. I'd load a 21ft cat with 12 SCUBA divers and all their gear, negotiate a narrow bar, then head into a huge surf zone that on some days took 20 minutes to get through. It was enough to leave you with quivering knees.

I then got into the boat testing game and ended up regularly driving and testing cats around South Africa. It was only then that I realised how amazing these hulls are on the water. Yes, you do get the odd dog riding ones - it's the same with monohulls - but in general they are good. Really good, in fact. There's only one problem: you can't just climb onto a cat and expect it to perform. Rather, there's a particular style to driving them which, if you can master it, will forever make a convert of you.

 

 

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?



So what's so good about cat hulls? Other than the previously mentioned safety aspect, two hulls also offer increased stability due to the fact that cats are wider and have two keels to rest on. Not only does this make the ride softer, but having two motors means you can still get home if one conks out.

On the down side, cost would have to top the list. You're running double the motors and batteries, and since cats are naturally wider and heavier, towing is also affected. As with monohulls there are many pros and cons to cats, so I suppose at the end of the day it comes down to individual preference.

I recently came across a decent looking trailerable cat, the Voyager V625 SportFish. Voyager Cats has been around for some time, concentrating mostly on larger boats from 30 to 40ft. The V625 SportFish, as I found out, is actually the company's first small model.

The test site for the day was off Jumpinpin Bar on the Gold Coast, and the conditions were super flat and perfect for fishing. The only problem was that days like this are not ideal for testing boats of this calibre. Nonetheless - and I'd like to think I've got a fair understanding of how cats ride - we'd come up with a plan to test how it performed in ore "realistic" conditions.

 

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS



At first glance the Voyager looks the business, with good flowing lines, big shoulders and an interesting hull design. The rear deck space stands out as a massive fishing platform, and the sizeable cab upfront is immediately impressive. The shape and general layout look just right for its intended purpose - serious offshore fishing - just with a bit more comfort.

Before I get into the layout I should mention that this boat was highly customised, planned and designed to suit the client's specific needs. It was a dedicated offshore fishing boat.

As I mentioned previously, space is abundant on this boat. In the stern there's a wide boarding platform between the motors that leads to an open, step-through section between the livewells. I did query why the open step-section was without a gate to close it off for safety, and the reason was a baitboard that clips in to close it off. It works, but my preference would be for a gate or door to make it safer for the kids, if you've got them.

There are also twin, fold-down seats in the stern with reasonable access to the plumbing below. The huge, non-slip, selfdraining deck has two large fish hatches while the gunwales have recessed handrails, long sidepockets with toe-locks, as well as bolstered padding to lean up against. The way the baitboard fitted into the port gunwale was also a nice touch.

Fishing space is not a problem, as you can imagine on such a highly customised rig. In fact, if you're into billfishing you could easily mount a marlin chair in this area without cluttering the stern.

Up front, the console area is protected by a full screen and stainless bimini-top with clears and rocket launchers. The seating is comfortable and there's space to mount Esky-type coolers below. I like this system as you can load fish into the coolers instead of the hatches, which means less cleaning on the boat when you get back.

Something else I liked was the helm design. It had a really nice, recessed control box-mounting on the side for binnacle mounts, as well as a recessed steering helm section. This design reduces the space normally taken up by protruding steering wheels and control boxes.

At the dash, you'll find a decent flat panel to flush-mount electronics, as well as a separate gauge panel at the top. Only one large GPS / fishfinder unit can be accommodated but that's not a problem as there is plenty of space on the side to put another on a bracket if necessary. What's also nice is that there is nothing on top of the dash that restricts your view while driving.

The passenger side has an open view through the screen with a full handrail in front to use if standing, but it could definitely do with another on the side of the seat.

The cabin section has an open-plan entrance which could be closed with a canvas and mozzie guard. Alternatively, you could go for an optional lock-up system. The cab has plush lining with plenty of light as well as access to the bow through the top hatch. Once again, there's loads of space here, and with the bunk in-fills in place you could comfortably sleep two adults. Beneath the bunk area is a huge storage section for gear, as well as something for the ladies and kids - a toilet.

 

 

COMFY LAYOUT



Aside from being the ideal fishing boat, the SportFish also serves as a comfortable over-nighter. If that was its main urpose you could easily add a few more accessories to up the comfort factor even more.

The cabin section does not convert to a seating area, which might be a problem for some (but not me). This is because the tunnel in the bow takes that space away, while the top of the cab is also designed low and in proportion to the rest of the boat. Having said that, this type of design is less expensive.

As previously mentioned, there is access to the bow through the cabin hatch lid. However, the only time I could imagine anyone using the bow area would be for work on the windlass anchor system.

It's actually a very comfortable layout. Space is evident on the fishing side while a touch of style and comfort will suit the family. As mentioned, this boat is a customised fishing boat - if leisure is more you forte then I'm quite sure it wouldn't take too many changes to suit.

 

 

SMALL ENGINES, BIG POWER



When I spotted the twin 90hp Honda four-strokes on the big V625 SportFish I naturally doubted if they'd be enough. Considering the size of the boat, I would have expected at least 115s on the back. Indeed, when I climbed onto the controls I was honestly expecting a lethargic performance out of the hole, but I was soon corrected. When Honda's marketing people say BLAST technology is incorporated into these motors, they're not talking bull… The V625 literally blasts out of the water with great holeshot and an impressive top-end considering the boat's size.

The decent hull design also contributes to this performance.

Up and running, the ride up front was gentle on the body, and in the flat conditions I could comfortably sit back on the chair while driving. A comfy and economical cruise was attained at 25kts (46.3kmh) with the revs sitting at 4500rpm. In the flat conditions offshore you could crank it right up to the maximum 6100rpm, with the speed hovering around 35kts (64.8kmh) - not bad considering the boat only had twin 90s.

The hull reacts well to trim on the motors and with little effort it was easy to fine tune things to suit the conditions. One very important thing to check on cats is their ability to turn out of the hole and at speed. In this case, the Voyager sat level in the turns rather than banking onto the outside sponson.

With such flat conditions on the day it was trickier to get a true sense of how the hull would ride in rough conditions. To simulate a rougher ride I purposely kept the boat within the swell of the Jumpinpin Bar below North Stradbroke Island. Without being abusive I wound it up over quite a few fair sized waves to check how it would react, which turned out to be as sweet as ever when landing. This is not what you would normally do, but it's nice to know that the hull didn't seem to want to smash or plough back into the water. That's a good indicator as it suggest there won't be any problems in rough conditions, which would make it a very suitable craft for long days offshore.

 

 

THE WRAP



I was more than happy with the performance and ride on the V625 SportFish. While there could be a few improvements when it comes to the finer finishing details, I'm going to give the manufacturer the benefit of the doubt, as this boat was the first V625 produced. That, and it was also customised to suit a client. Pricing isn't bad for a cat, with an entry-level package starting from $78,690. It's a superb fishing platform that the family can enjoy too, and at just 2100kg, it's a reasonable boat to tow.

 

 

On the plane...


Massive sleeping area in the cab
Good, compact and user friendly helm station
Impressive performance with relatively small motors
Great for offshore fishing

 



Dragging the chain...


Could do with a bit more care on small finishing touches
Full centre boarding platform with rails would be nice as standard
No transom door or gate as standard  
Stainless welds on bimini could be better

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS - VOYAGER V625 SPORTFISH

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $112,856
Options fitted: Leisure pack, fishing pack, engine upgrade (twin Honda BF90s), electric winch, electric toilet, fresh water storage tank, folding canopy, Lowrance electronics and more
Priced from: $78,690 (with twin 70hp two-stroke Tohatsu)

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Powered catamaran
Material: Fibreglass
Length: 6.1m hull; 7.0m LOA
Beam: 2.35m
Weight (hull): 1140kg
Total package weight (dry): 2100kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


People: 6 to 7
Rec. HP: Twin 90
Max. HP: Twin 115hp
Fuel: 2 x 180lt
Water: 60lt

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Honda BF90
Type: Four-cylinder SOHC four-stroke
Weight: 163kg
Displacement: 1496cc
Gear ratio: 2.33:1
Propeller: 13 1/4in x 17in three-blade Solas stainless steel

 

 

SUPPLIED & MANUFACTURED BY


Voyager Catamarans
PO Box 1109
Capalaba, Qld, 4157
Tel: (07) 3206 1732
Web: www.voyagercats.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #279.

Find Voyager boats for sale.

 


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