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Comfortable and capable, the poly SmartWave 4800 turns the slogan "plastic fantastic" into a water-borne reality, reports Andrew Norton.

The SmartWave 4800: mix super-tough poly boats material and combine that with a very stable and smooth ride.

The SmartWave 4800 is so much bigger than its 3500 counterpart that the other boats in my back-to-nature yard would feel overshadowed if I owned one - and that would be unfair to them. But seeing as how the 4800 can be used offshore in the right conditions, perhaps a couple of my lake-only tinnies would have to find a new home.

Long gone is my first polyethylene boat, a Nylex Pioneer 8 that was used as a yacht tender way back in 1987. It was replaced by a lightweight 'glass hull, because Nylex forgot that water could reach the air space between the hull and cockpit moldings, resulting in a very heavy boat after a rainstorm. Fortunately, polyethylene boats have come a long way since the wavy moldings of the Nylex hulls, not to mention the strange Oz range of hulls, which looked like plastic tinnies because the manufacturer wasn't brave enough to fully utilise the flexibility of design of a rotomoulded hull.


Polyethylene has an ability to absorb knocks and bangs that would chip the gelcoat of a 'glass hull or dent a tinnie.

On the SmartWave 4800, the polyethylene is 11mm thick with high-density foam sandwiched between the hull and cockpit mouldings, so there are none of the issues that afflicted Nylex hulls.

The only drawback is that a purpose-built trailer with bilge skids and keel rollers must be used, as multi-roller trailers could impose localised stress on the outer polyethylene skin and compact the foam filling, potentially resulting in hollows that definitely won't help planing performance.


Like the 3500, the 4800 has an alloy double towing eye at the stem with an adequate bowroller at the stem head. Aft of this is a drained anchorwell, followed by a cushioned seat with stowage underneath and a walkway for access to the anchorwell. Low siderails help inspire confidence when an overzealous helmsperson is driving the hull hard over a chop.

Long cockpit sidepockets handle fishing tackle and PFDs, and there's a large well between these. This is topped by an unusual, non-slip, rubber-coated alloy hatch that's hinged to easily access the aft end.

The aft seating is unusual in that it has a storage bin either side of the centre cut-out designed to accommodate a 25lt plastic remote fuel tank. Unfortunately, when the seating module is locked in place it blocks the aft underfloor storage compartment, again topped by a rubber-coated alloy hatch. At least the low aft siderails are within easy reach of the helm.

A plastic rodholder is set into each transom quarter, but the metal-capped transom is quite strange. Either side of the outboard mounting is a ridge with holes to help tie down the hull on a trailer. However, I felt these are too close to the outboard transom bracket, preventing the trim pin rod from being removed when the engine is bolted on. The demo outboard was set on the second position so we had to live with it, whereas with the hull's transom rake I would have preferred the third position (of six) on the fitted Mercury 40LW.


Unlike the 3500, you tend to sit in this hull instead of on it, and that inspires confidence in rough water. The higher freeboard makes the 4800 dry in a stiff chop, and when throttling back quickly there's no fear of stern wash flooding over the transom and giving you a wet bum, as was the case in the 3500.

The Mercury 40LW was a perfect match for the 4800, which can be driven hard in rough water with the thick hull skin absorbing any slamming. It's almost as good as a deep-vee fibreglass hull, and way better than any tinnie of this length I've ever driven. The hull holds its course well across a chop, and when cornering has a modest bank with reasonable G-forces.

At rest the 4800 easily handled two adults (200kg) sitting on one sidedeck, and when casting from the bow it felt like a rock at half tide.


For anglers who prefer fishing to babying their boats, the 4800 is a logical choice. Its large, open cockpit with effective drains makes for a great, dry platform for up to three anglers at a time.

The towing weight is around 700kg, which includes the single-axle trailer, the Mercury 40LW, inshore safety gear and a full fuel tank. That makes this boat a pretty attractive proposition, handled easily by any four-cylinder ute or family car.

On the plane...
* Excellent handling and ride
* Large and uncluttered cockpit
* Tough hull construction
* Good value

Dragging the chain...
* Can't adjust outboard trim
* No access to aft compartment



Price as tested: $15,990
Priced from: $15,990

Type: Monohull open
Material: Rotomoulded polyethylene
Length: 4.8m
Beam: 2m
Weight: 340kg
Deadrise: 17°

People: 4
Rec. HP: 40
Max HP: 60
Fuel: 25lt plastic tank

Make/model: Mercury 40LW
Type: Premix two-cylinder two-stroke
Weight: 71kg
Displacement: 697cc
Propeller: 11in alloy

SmartWave Boats
18 Newnham St
Rangiora, New Zealand
Tel: (+64) 3 313 5750

Lifestyle Marine
1 Wharf Street
Toronto, NSW, 2283
Tel: (02) 49 591 444

Source: TrailerBoat #285, August 2012.

Find Smartwave boats for sale.


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