BOAT TEST: CRESTLINER 1850 SPORTFISH SST


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The Crestliner 1850 Sportfish SST fishing boat combines the best of American design perfection with the practicality of a good 'ol tinnie.

BOAT TEST: CRESTLINER 1850 SPORTFISH SST
Crestliner 1850 Sportfish SST. Did someone say American tinnie?

When Crestliner boats hit our shores last year, they came as a surprise to Australian boaties fed on a diet of knockabout tinnies. Quite simply, these American imports set a new benchmark in finish and features, and presented a real challenge for local manufacturers.

Just as surprised were the judges in TrailerBoat's 2012 Australia's Greatest Boat (myself included) mega test, where the little Crestliner 1650 Fish Hawk scored highly against the best the Australasian boatbuilders had to offer. Not only do Crestliner's boats look sensational, but their ride and handling is better than even some fibreglass designs.

With the 1850 Sportfish SST, Crestliner has taken elegance in metal construction to new heights. The smooth, flowing lines and faultless finish of the hull could be easily mistaken for something laid up in a mould, rather than something welded together on a jig.

For our test of the boat on Berowra Waters in northern Sydney we were accompanied by Crestliner president Ben Cast and product manager Christine Bush, a keen angler who quickly agreed to dangle a line for our pictures. Ben explained that our test boat came as sold in the 'States but changes are being made to the bow to incorporate a "proper" anchor well, to better suit local expectations.

Ben said the 1850 Sportfish SST will the company's flagship model in their Australian line-up with family-friendly features that make it popular as a general-purpose runabout with upmarket appeal. In that context, the name Sportfish suggests the boat has a dual fishing and fun role, and isn't oriented towards traditional bait and burley merchants - although they might be quite surprised at how well they too are accommodated.



DRESSED TO IMPRESS

Step aboard, and the first thing you notice is the stability of the boat at rest, achieved by the wide 2.44m beam and buoyancy built into the deep side sections underwater. Also obvious is the smart use of space, along with the dual role of many fittings. The finish of the boat is superb. From the rolled side deck to the vinyl-covered floor, the whole boat belies its metal construction. All aluminium surfaces are either painted in a thick gloss finish or covered in quality vinyl upholstery.

The vinyl can be easily hosed down after a fishing trip and the level of comfort and space is still there for family outings. This boat's good looks and easy ride will pass muster with the family but it can also convert to a mildly serious fishing platform that a few mates can enjoy.

The stern is unlike Crestliners previously seen here, as the Space Saving Transom (SST) is full width and high enough for bluewater expeditions. Up till now we've seen Crestliner transoms not much higher than deck level, more suited to inland waters and bays.



THE LAYOUT

Up front, the casting platform has sections that easily convert to a couple of side-facing seats, below which is a storage bin with a drain to starboard and a livebait well to port. Other features include a small anchor locker, an LED courtesy light, two cup holders and pull-up cleats.

At the helm are the most comfortable seats I've found on a trailerboat. The padding is thick enough to give the impression of the seats being air assisted, while armrests and reclining seat backs bring an extra degree of luxury to the small boat market. Ample fore and aft adjustment will satisfy a wide range of driver heights, and full rotation allows mingling with the crew at rest.

A tall Taylor Made toughened glass windscreen is split into three sections with the folding central panel allowing access to the bow. Its raked angle and sculptured, rounded lines soften its generally bulky look, but while the frame is solidly built some may prefer a sturdier grabrail at the top of the 'screen.

Driver and passenger each get a separate moulded plastic dash separated by the void in the bow walkthrough. A raised binnacle for the driver houses round Faria instruments for revs, speed, voltage, trim and fuel. Showing its family orientation, space is limited to smaller-sized navigation electronics to be mounted on the dash, but an upmarket Sony stereo is fitted to blast out music on the go.

It seems like an obvious inclusion, but the slide-out drawer below the dash on the passenger side is an unusual fitting on a trailerboat. It's deep and lockable, making for valuable storage in a space that is rarely put to such good use. For even more storage there is a dark timber-look glovebox. Passengers get the same style of chair as the captain, with a side-mounted grab handle to hang onto in sharp turns.

Between the seats is a floor-mounted locker that can hold five rods up to 7ft 2in in a rack that can be removed to make room for water toys and picnic hampers. Another four-rod rack is secured in a locking compartment located along the port side, while to starboard is an open storage pocket. Both side lockers are built well clear of the floor, providing good toeholds for fishing.

At the stern a full-width lounge folds out to create a rear casting platform that still allows easy access to the bilge and battery compartment. The SST transom has a well large enough to mount engines up to 175hp, although the 150 Mercury four-stroke was a willing performer capable of around 50kts (92.6kmh), so more seems unnecessary. The latest four-strokes are getting increasingly compact - the current 150 is only 11kg heavier than a two-stroke OptiMax.



PERFORMANCE

That big, comfortable helm chair begs you to drive while seated. On the move I found it even more accommodating, wrapping my generous posterior in its deep comfort, tucked behind the tall 'screen with the wind flowing way overhead. Controls fall easily to hand and mercifully the Mercury trim control is on the left (unlike in some boats from other manufacturers, where it's on the right - an awkward position for those of us not brought up on an exercise regime of ambidextrous phone texting!).

In the flat reaches of Berowra Waters there was ample opportunity to throw the boat around and have some fun, even with the big brass from Crestliner aboard and taking note. The 150hp Mercury - from a sister company to Crestliner in the giant Brunswick corporation - had plenty of torque to lift the nose well into the air momentarily when the throttle was planted, but it got us planing quickly at around 12kts (22kmh). The boat needs only a small amount of trim once it's moving and it soon settled into a comfortable cruise of 26kts (48kmh) at 3500rpm.

While the water in the estuary was mirror smooth, the wake behind some
of the bigger-displacement boats was high enough to get a feel for how the boat handled in a seaway, and it did
not disappoint.

At 30kts (55.6kmh) across the waves the hull lapped up the conditions, with no suggestion of banging from the hull and no noise whatsoever to give away its aluminium construction. Landings were soft and the SeaStar hydraulic steering was both light and direct.

Trimmed down into sharp turns the boat goes where it is pointed, only showing some cavitation in the most extreme full-throttle, full-lock manoeuvres - where it threatening more to eject passengers than to let go.

Full-throttle passes registered just on 50kts (92.6kmh) and that's certainly getting along in anyone's language.
At full noise it needs a bit more trim out and the steering starts to get a little light as the hull lifts higher in the water - while it still feels safe and predictable,
I doubt that more horsepower would be of much advantage, as it is probably close to terminal hull speed with the 150 on the back.



THE WRAP

For those not previously acquainted with the Crestliner range, the Sportfish will be a real eye-opener, as this boat is nothing like the tinnies we know and love. And those who are familiar with the brand will not be disappointed in this latest release. It takes Crestliner's signature design concepts and quality of finish to
a whole new level level.

The worrying thing for the local industry is that the boat represents the norm in American boatbuilding, but it is well ahead of anything produced here in terms of fit-out and innovation. Aussie boatbuilders need to be even more aware of what is happening on the world stage. While many produce extremely capable hulls, the gap in finish has widened even more. Crestliner's 1850 Sportfish SST is the new benchmark.



On the plane...

  • Innovative use of space
  • High quality of finish
  • Soft, rattle-free ride
  • A dual-purpose boat for the whole family
  • Superb seating



Dragging the chain...

  • "Australianised" anchor locker is on its way



PERFORMANCE

(Data taken from speedo)

12kts (22kmh) @ 2000rpm - on the plane

15kts (27kmh) @ 2500rpm

20kts (37kmh) @ 3000rpm

26kts (48kmh) @ 3500rpm

32kts (60kmh) @ 4000rpm

38kts (70kmh) @ 4500rpm

41kts (75kmh) @ 5000rpm

48kts (75kmh) @ 5500rpm

50kts (93kmh) @ 5800rpm - wide open throttle





Specifications: CRESTLINER 1850 SPORTFISH SST



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $63,790

Options fitted: As displayed



GENERAL

Type: Monohull

Material: Aluminium

Length: 5.8m

Beam: 2.44m

Weight: 689kg

Deadrise: 17°



CAPACITIES

People: 7

Rec. HP: 150

Max. HP: 175

Fuel: 125lt

Water: N/A



ENGINE

Make/model: Mercury 150hp four-stroke

Type: Fuel-injected, SOHC, in-line four-cylinder

Weight: 206kg

Displacement: 3000cc

Gear ratio: 1.92:1

Propeller: Inertia 18in

MANUFACTURED BY

Crestliner Aluminium Fishing Boats

Little Falls, Minnesota

United States

Web: www.crestliner.com





SUPPLIED BY

Avante Marine

210 Silverwater Road

Silverwater NSW 2128

Tel: 1300 282 638

Web: www.avantemarine.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #286,

Find Crestliner boats for sale.

 


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