BOAT TEST: RAIDER 1800 CENTREMOUNT

By: RICK HUCKSTEPP, Photography by: RICK HUCKSTEPP


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The Raider 1800 Centremount performance boat packs a wallop not unlike Bundaberg's other famous export, and the ride is just as intoxicating. Rick Huckstepp reports.

BOAT TEST: RAIDER 1800 CENTREMOUNT
The Raider 1800 Centremount. The other excitement-inducing Bundaberg export.

First published in TrailerBoat magazine #174, Nov 2003

Queensland is well known for icons such as theme parks, the glitzy Gold Coast, XXXX beer, and of course bending bananas. But it's also a significant centre for industry: the marine technology estate at Coomera, home to Quintrex and Riviera, is a thriving hub of development and an industrial township in its own right.

A few hours drive further north, the rural city of Bundaberg has its own claims to fame. Bundy Rum is an obvious one, but it's also home to a sizeable segment of the Queensland boatbuilding industry. Sea Jay aluminium boats has a plant there, as does the rapidly-expanding "plastic" boat manufacturer Poly Craft.

Bundaberg is also home to Raider skiboats - a company that builds, in my opinion, one of the best value-for-money performance boats on the market today.

HEART OF GOLD

The heart of one of Raider's best-selling models, the 1800 Centremount, is its 350 Chevrolet V8 that sits mid-cockpit under a smooth, moulded engine box. Interestingly, no soundproofing is installed in this box - and none is required either. The bowtie engine throbs away nicely, and what noise is transmitted through the box and floor is lost in the burble of the exhaust dumping via the transom.

The Chevy is fitted with a hand-operated sump pump for ease of servicing, and pulleys and belts are within easy reach above deck level. High-grade Gates hosing is used on these motors, which also feature a four-barrel Holley carburettor with vacuum secondaries. The use of this powerplant plays a big part in the pricing of this boat. To fit a purpose-built marine engine to do the same job would add another $10,000 to the pricetag. Savings are also made when it comes time to rebuild, with a complete overhaul maxing out at around $1500. Try matching that price with a dedicated marine engine! The downside, of course, is that this boat is really only suited to use on freshwater rivers and dams, but that's where the best skiing is - so who's complaining?

SOCIAL SCIENCE

The low-slung, aggressive profile of this 5.6m hull feels even lower when seated at the helm in the comfortable bucket seat, which is mounted on a forward and rear slide. This adjustment lets the helm seat slide back quite a way, allowing a long-legged person to climb in and out easily (and also reach the foot throttle without tearing a muscle).

The double observer's lounge is mounted at the same height, but at an angle, so that the observer is facing slightly inwards toward the skipper. This helps create a social atmosphere while still maintaining great vision out the back. For long days on the water, this feature is a welcome one.

The lever for the dog clutch is mounted unobtrusively between the two seats.

Forward of the short bulkhead supporting the foot throttle is a bare fibreglass void, although the portside void is lined with carpet and makes a good place to store skis and wakeboards. I think carpeting both sides would help dampen water noise, and more padded storage space would also come in handy. But again, this boat is built to a price.

The observer seat has a cushion that lifts out to reveal a secret storage module for wallets and other personal effects. The seat base is hinged, and when lifted up you'll find the battery planted firmly flush with the deck. This is smart, practical and typical of this boat in general - simple and neat. The backrest for the observer seat is also hinged and allows access to the carpeted storage space mentioned earlier.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

The helm layout is a wraparound affair with a mechanical steering system operating the rudder. A flat-top dash behind the observer seat has another rebated tray for storage incidentals, and the two drinkholders are large enough for a can and stubby holder. Other boat manufactures would do well to note this. This is the most basic requirement for a beverage holder, yet the majority fail to address the issue when building their moulds.

The wind deflector on this boat is solid, painted 'glass rather than a clear screen for a mean, businesslike look. The boat's attitude during holeshot is such that you would have to be a child not to see over the top of the deflector. The 1800 is an extremely level performer, whether taking off at speed or during hard cornering. Visibility forward is never blocked by the bow, which makes driving this boat a whole lot safer.

With trademark Raider practicality, those left on the bank to observe the skiing are catered for with a lift-out rear lounge that
has a reinforced base with storage and a hinged cushion top. This can be put on the bank to seat three people in comfort. The bases for all cushions are manufactured from nylon board to keep mildew at bay.

The rear lounge backrest hinges down to allow access to the 80lt stainless-steel fuel tank. A rebate in the deck beneath it accommodates the bilge pump.

FAST & FURIOUS

Climbing in and out of this boat is a cinch thanks to the full-width swim platform complete with carpet inserts. The boarding platform sits near enough to water level to make life easier for skiers. The ski-rope bollard is short, neat and unobtrusive in a rebate on the transom. Our camera boat on the test day was another Raider fitted with an optional skipole installed forward of the engine box. It protrudes out through the canopy, which is stretched taught so it won't flap at speed, but it does collapse easily when the straps are released. The forward section of the canopy is nice and low to minimise wind resistance.

The skipole is ideal for the boardies who are going to like the wake this hull can pump up. A nice curling lip forms at around 24kmh.

Put the pedal to the floor and the Raider launches across the surface with no fuss. It's full-on, neck-snapping stuff to 4800rpm, at which stage my GPS was nudging 85kmh. No matter how hard you throw this boat into a turn, it grips without complaint, sitting flat and low without suffering prop ventilation or bogging down. Take your foot off the gas and the little hull pulls up like you've tossed a 20lb anchor over the side.

John Burke of Boats Galore reckons the 1800 uses about 80lt of fuel over a normal day's skiing. We were unable to confirm this, but it seems reasonable, representing an economical day out on the water for your family and friends.

The Raider 1800 Centremount was missing only three things: bells, whistles and a scary price tag. At an affordable $26,500, the
Raider is a hell of a lot of boat for not a lot of money. Whether you are looking for your first skiboat or your fifth, it'll be worth your while checking out this little number from Rum Country.

 

SPECIFICATIONS: RAIDER 1800 CENTREMOUNT

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $26,500
Options fitted: Metalflake finish, bimini top, swim platform, tandem trailer upgrade
Priced from: $25,500

GENERAL
Material: Fibreglass hull, wooden stringers
Length (overall): 5.8m
Beam: 2.1m
Deadrise: 16°
Rec/max hp: 270/300
Weight (dry, hull only): 360kg

CAPACITY
Fuel: 80lt
Passengers: Six

ENGINE
Make/model: Chevrolet
Type: Carburetted petrol V8
Rated hp: 270
Displacement: 350ci
Weight: N/A
Drive: 1:1 dog clutch, shaft drive
Propeller: Lundberg
Supaflow 12/15in

SUPPLIED BY
Boats Galore, West Bundaberg
Web: www.boatsgalore.com.au

First published in TrailerBoat magazine #174, Nov 2003

Find Raider boats for sale.

 


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