Boat test: ultra customised Edencraft 233 Formula

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith


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Every so often you come across a personalised fishing boat that makes you want to take a closer look and secretly wish it was yours. This unique Edencraft 233 Formula is not one of those boats. No, this one will just stop you dead in your tracks.

Boat test: ultra customised Edencraft 233 Formula
Wow, just wow. That's all we can say about this ultra-customised Edencraft 233 Formula.

We'd heard so much about this boat… an ultra-customised Edencraft 233 Formula lurking somewhere on the Gold Coast, owned by a damn serious fisherman. Twin 175hp Optis on the back. Teak floor. An electronics package to rival a surveillance drone. More rodholders than sense. Customised stainless everywhere. It sounded almost too good to be true, so naturally we had to contact the owner to find out for ourselves.

Dave McCallum is a self-made kinda guy who - and this is probably an understatement - absolutely loves his fishing. Luckily, Dave was only too happy to show us what his boat could do.

We promptly organised a day to test his boat. Then it rained. And rained some more. And kept raining. It was all getting a bit silly by the time we pushed it back a third time, but with a deadline looming we decided to get out one way or another - rain, hail or shine.

As it happened, a nasty 6m swell leading up to the test meant the offshore part was again cancelled - despite the legendary hull - as a safety precaution to protect our tens of thousands of dollars-worth of camera gear. Thankfully, Moreton Bay proper remained in fairly rough and choppy condition. Though not quite the washing machine found on the south passage bar, the day would nonetheless be one to test this boat's credentials.

TEAK, TEAK AND MORE TEAK

The first thing that struck me when I set foot aboard the Edencraft 233 Formula was that it had one of the most appealing layouts I've ever seen in a trailerboat. This fully-customised, blinged-up craft is a real show-stopper. The quality of craftsmanship is impeccable and, rather than settle for standard mouldings, Dave has gone for a true sportfishing look that includes beautiful teaks, anodised aluminium and stylish stainless steel. It simply reeks of hardcore gamefishing, which is Dave and his wife's first love.

The stern features flush-mounted rodholders perfectly positioned in the flat teak to suit the outriggers. There's a large livewell with a window to view the bait, with access to tackle stowage on the left and batteries on the right. For bottom fishing, a large baitboard slots into the teak top, while a custom Esky-style cooler can be used both for seating and as a killtank.

The boat has beautiful teak decks with a teak prep-station and rodholders in the centre, plus quality bolstered padding on the gunwales and a starboard gunwale door for easy boarding (or for hauling in a big fish). Everything has its place and everything works well.

Up front the chairs alone are a standout - they're polished stainless steel with white cushioning, and they too are finished in teak. Dave also went for a completely customised dash to suit his preferences. At the helm there's a flat panel with enough space to mount his large Raymarine chartplotter, plus the rest of today's essential electronics. Behind that is another flat panel with more electronics running at a slight angle towards the passenger side, but still within easy view of the driver.

On the passenger side there's a small glove compartment and an insulated cooler. This area is then protected by a beautifully-constructed bimini top in anodised aluminium plus clears and a full screen. However, access into the cabin is a bit restricted due to the design of the console / dash area. You need to crouch down to get in, but personally I'd be happy with it the way it is. Inside the cab the trim and finish is superb, with suede material and still more teak. There's also a toilet, LED lighting, a TV, hatch access to the bow, and a protected electronics switch panel.

HOW DOES IT GO?

The millimetric precision and customisation on this boat is such that you could devote half this magazine to its many qualities. There's really too much to mention. Even so, all the bling in the world won't help if the ride is no good. To that end we subjected this boat to Morteon Bay's notorious chop.

The first thing that really sets this boat apart from most similar 7m boats is the fact that it can attain 30kts (55.6kmh) or more in rough offshore conditions. That's not something that normally appeals to me as most trailerable boats up to 23ft either can't manage it, or if they can everyone aboard will be miserably uncomfortable. This Edencraft 233 Formula, however, is the exception. It's a serious speed machine that actually goes better the harder you push it.

While being able to comfortably cane it through the rough is particularly useful for emptying your wallet at the petrol bowser, it also has a major advantage if your fishing involves regular long-range offshore runs (these days we seem to be travelling further than ever to get to the fish). Namely, this boat will get you there (and back) in half the time.

Understandably I was itching to head wide and put this boat's legendary reputation for performance and handling to the test, but as usual the weather gods had other plans. As I mentioned before, a 6m swell had been pumping for a solid week leading up to the test, and even though it had slackened on the day to 3m, the south passage bar looked like a cross between Wet 'n' Wild and a flushing toilet. Not even this Edencraft with its legendary reputation was going to be much fun out there, so needless to say our offshore antics were cancelled. Still, with an outgoing tide and an extremely short chop, the waters inside the bar gave us some decent waves and a very good idea of the boat's capabilities.

A twin engine setup is ideal for launching over bars, as it not only provides more power, but an extra degree of safety should one motor fail. Not that we had any reliability issues here, and the twin 225hp Mercury OptiMax outboards afforded plenty of poke, both down low and at top speed.

I slammed the throttles down from a standing start and with a loud growl the boat gouged its way out of the water and onto the plane. Tight turns out of the hole were quite manageable, although I did find the boat felt a little heavy when banking into hard turns. With quite a steep deep-vee hull, a 24° deadrise and without wide chines, that wasn't such a surprise. This trait will raise a few hairs on the necks of inexperienced boaties, but for those with some hours under their belt - and who are prepared to give it a little time to acclimatise - it won't present any major problems.

I'm pretty familiar with boats that handle like this, and the key to solid performance is simply whacking on the throttle through the turns. It might sound weird, but it works.

The Formula 233 has a reputation for high-speed, roughwater performance, and after a day of testing I have no reason to refute that. With some negative trim on the 225s, getting up and onto the plane was a rapid process, although I did find the bow sat a bit proud, restricting my vision a touch. To address that the boat simply needed a little more speed, plus a bit of a tweak on the tabs.

In negotiating the messy chop around the bar I initially opted for a civil cruise speed of around 15-20kts (27.8-37.0kmh), but this wasn't ideal - the bow still sat a bit high and didn't punch through the waves. Knocking the speed up to 25-30kts (46.3-55.6kmh) was far better, the bow then slicing the chop and swell as it should to produce a far more comfortable ride.

I found the Formula delivered a fantastic ride at high speeds over the chop and swell, but it did lack a bit in the stability department. It all comes back to the eternal compromise on deep-vee performance versus stability. There's no questioning this boat's credentials for long-range, offshore trips at speed, and it would still be good for trolling, but as for bottom fishing in rough conditions, I'm less convinced - maybe in winter, when there tends to be less swell? As for catching marlin… well that's a no-brainer.

THE WRAP

Where do I even start? There's just so much to its layout that I could go on forever. It's been years since I've come across a trailerboat layout this good and its sheer beauty ranks among the very best I've ever seen. This is one of those boats that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

It goes without saying that a stunning work of art like this doesn't come about without many late nights and equivalent dollars. But that aside, this Edencraft 233 Formula combines gutsy performance with unbelievable luxury and elegance. It puts you in the spirit for chasing big fish from the moment you step aboard.

On the plane...
* Impeccable workmanship
* Intricate details in the layout
* Superbly refined finishes
* Hardcore gamefishing boat
* Unmatched high-speed performance in the rough

Dragging the chain...
* Compromised stability
* Heavy banking in turns takes some getting used to
* Restricted access to cabin due to custom dash layout

 

SPECIFICATIONS: Edencraft 233 Formula

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $200,000
Options fitted: It's got the lot
Priced from: $110,000

GENERAL
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Material: Fibreglass / composite carbonfibre
Length: 7.1m
Beam: 2.4m
Weight (dry): 1800kg
Weight (BMT towing): Approx. 3400kg
Deadrise: 24°

CAPACITIES
People: 8
Rec. HP: 175 x 2 or 1 x 350
Max. HP: 2 x 250
Fuel: 400lt or 600lt

ENGINE
Make/model: 2 x Mercury OptiMax 225
Type: Direct-injection
two-stroke
Weight: 2 x 225kg
Displacement: 3032cc
Gear ratio: 1.75:1
Propeller: 19in four-blade

MANUFACTURED BY
Edencraft
53 Riversdale Road
Geelong, Vic, 3220
Tel: (03) 5221 0444
Web: http://www.edencraft.com.au/

Source: TrailerBoat magazine#284, July 2012

Find Edencraft boats for sale.

 


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