BOAT TEST: NEMESIS V-DRIVE

By: Phil Kaberry


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It's a tough ask to come up with a towboat hull design that can satisfy both wakeboarders and skiers, seat a large of group of friends in style and handle turbulent water. But Jacana Marine has had a bloody good stab at it, as Phil Kaberry discovers.

BOAT TEST: NEMESIS V-DRIVE
Nemesis V-Drive

Go-fast skiboats with about six inches of freeboard are fair-weather friends. If you only go boating on those rare, magical mirror-calm days and don't carry more than three people at a time, those low-slung skiboats with thirsty V8s shoehorned inside should suit you fine.

But what if the wind blows up? You could be in for a very uncomfortable, wet trip back to the ramp. Or say four or five of your mates decide they'd like to tag along on your skiing weekend away to Eildon or the Hawkesbury. Sorry fellas, but someone's gonna have to stay behind - no room at the inn.

And with wakeboarding seemingly outgrowing skiing in the popularity stakes, you really need a boat that can cause a stir wake-wise to satisfy your kids or your mates.

So, it seems our little 16ft speed machine leaves something to be desired in terms of practicality. What's the solution? One is to opt for a boat that's substantially longer, deeper and wider, and something with a bowrider layout to boost seating capacity (and of course the pizzazz factor).

There's no shortage of boats that fit the bill on the market - both local and imported - but one particular Australian-made rig is earning an enviable reputation among hardcore watersports enthusiasts.

The 19ft (sans swim platform) Nemesis V-Drive is an incarnation of versatility. Its wake has been described as world class by professional boarders, and the hull enjoys world towboat accreditation.

But this rig is not just a wakeboarder's dream machine: the hull can accommodate up to 12 adults and has the dimensions and rough-water form to take on wind-blown harbours and dams without a murmur of complaint. Add a lengthy list of top-shelf fittings, standard features, a nice flat wake at skiing speeds and an impressive finish, and you've got an awesome family watersports boat for just shy of 60 grand.

HULL CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN

The Nemesis V-Drive was developed, designed and built by Barry Drury - a boatbuilding industry stalwart based in northern NSW who's been involved in producing pleasureboats with pricetags on the wrong side of a million bucks.

A keen watersports enthusiast himself, Barry also sought the opinion of some of Australia's top skiers and wakeboarders before revealing his prototype Nemesis boat. It got the thumbs up, and Barry went into full-scale production under the name Jacana Marine.

The hull is constructed using some modern technology and methods. No timber is used in the hull at all, so you can stop worrying about rot. Running surfaces and floor have a honeycomb core with hand-laid bias coremat, which are vacuum-bagged for additional strength.

The interior mould is through-bolted to the hull with aluminium fastenings, and the void is foam filled for buoyancy and to dampen wave noise. Testament to the strength of the build, the boat feels stiff while underway and is certainly quiet.

With 28° of deadrise at the bow flattening to 8° at the stern, and nice high sides, this boat handled slight chop laughably easily. I see no reason why it couldn't handle the often washing-machine-like conditions of Sydney Harbour on a sunny Saturday arvo - with sensible use of the throttle, naturally.

The test rig was powered by the standard 315hp MerCruiser powerplant mated with an F/N/R gearbox and Walter V-Drive unit with 23 per cent reduction. To regain the required thrust, the boat was fitted with a substantial 13 x 18 Lundberg Big Shot bronze prop. This setup was selected for its ability to pull boarders out of the hole quickly when the boat is fully loaded.

Under test conditions - about a quarter loaded - the motor and hull delivered a flat transition to the plane, slingshot acceleration and ran out to about 86kmh with the hammer down. It was an exhilarating and surprisingly quiet drive.

INTERIOR & FITOUT

The Nemesis interior layout is social, comfortable and flexible. Quality vinyls and high-density foams are used throughout, and you'll find plenty of dry storage under most of the lounges.

I found the bowrider section roomy and comfortable, with grabs and drinkholders in the right places. You walk through the quality five-piece safetyglass windscreen to the cockpit area, and crews out early or late in the season will appreciate the optional clear Perspex divider that slips into the companionway to cut the wind.

The V-Drive format allows the engine to be mounted towards the stern of the boat under a big, flat and deeply-padded sunbed, leaving the centre of the boat open. The Club Lounge format wraps around from the stern and up the port side before curving again into a rear-facing observer's lounge.

Even with six people aboard, the layout is such that everyone can enjoy the party atmosphere without stepping on each other's toes. And with most of the weight centred, the boat feels stable and balanced.

The helm seat is generously padded, features lumbar support, and slides fore and aft on rails. It was also mounted for clear, unobstructed vision forward through the screen.

Driving position felt car-like and sophisticated with the throttle falling easily to hand, a comprehensive spread of Faria gauges directly in front on a carbon-fibre panel and a soft-touch sportswheel offering remarkably direct control of the boat.

Things like keyless ignition and a smart-looking switch panel add a touch of class, while an additional speedo is available if you need a second opinion.

A tasty four-speaker 100W Clarion sound system was installed on the test boat and the smick-looking stainless tow tower is also an option: it collapses in just 30 seconds for easy storage.

Wet storage space is exceptional on the Nemesis V-Drive with a deep sub-floor ski locker and a huge boot under the sunpad. A 150lt insulated bin is also installed to keep your chicken drumsticks and chardonnay cool.

The interior design flows very well and creates a comfortable, cohesive and well-thought-out entertainment area. I couldn't spot any warped moulds, daggy end joins or general rattiness at all.

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

This is not a small boat, but it drove like something with far more modest dimensions. Responsive and nimble on the water, the sharp entry and hull strakes worked to smooth out chop and grip hard in tight turns.

As mentioned, pulling power was excellent. Vision was also good, and the boat felt safe and predictable at all speeds. Of course, this thing wasn't designed for rough-water work but I'd feel much more confident driving the Nemesis home during a blow than I would something smaller.

While I don't profess to be a wakeboarding expert, I could appreciate the smooth, steep swell this thing generates at lower speeds. Right down to 26kmh, wakeboaders can enjoy a nice, steep ramp minus the curling lip. But at higher speeds the wake flattens noticeably - so dust off your slalom ski.

Probably the biggest selling points for a boat like this are its innovative interior layout and exterior styling, good overall quality, its ability to race back home in the teeth of a southerly buster in relative comfort, and its spry handling. When it was first released back in 2002, the boat took out the prestigious AMIF Boat of the Year Awards in the performance-boat category, so the company is evidently doing something right.

At about $58,000 rolling on an Easy Tow custom trailer, it represents competitive buying. And Dick Smith would be proud you're supporting an Aussie-owned company.

NEMESIS V-DRIVE

Price as tested: $61,956
Options fitted: Tow tower,  ballast tank pump, CD player and speakers, keyless engine ignition
Priced from (BMT): $58,620

GENERAL
Material: Triactual hand-laid fibreglass, divinycell and coremat-enhanced deck
Length (sans boarding platform): 6.3m
Beam: 2.36m
Deadrise: 28°/8°
Rec/max hp: 315/350
Weight: 1260kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel: 120lt
Passengers: 12

ENGINE
Make/model: MerCruiser 315hp
Type: Carburetted four-stroke inboard
Displacement: 5.7lt (350ci)
Weight: About 370kg
Drive: Walter V-Drive
w/ 23 per cent reduction
Prop: 13 x 18 four-blade
Lundberg Big Shot

SUPPLIED BY
SkiWake Boats, Melbourne.
Contact Peter Stevens for a test drive, tel (03) 9455 3386, email ski-pj@bigpond.com for more information.

HIGHS
Attractive styling
Innovative, practical interior layout
Direct handling
Good wake for boarding or skiing

LOWS
No water ballast system as standard
Transom shower optional only
Larger rig harder to store

Story & Photos: Phil Kaberry
First published in TrailerBoat #177

Find Nemesis boats for sale.

 


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