Tested: Smartliner 21 Cuddy

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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How does the Smartliner boat range rate? Stefan Boating World has made quite a splash in Queensland’s marine market, so Kevin Smith went to see if the Smartliner 21 Cuddy passes muster.

Tested: Smartliner 21 Cuddy
The Smartliner 21 Cuddy makes boating more accessible.

Imported boats, particularly the Smartliner range from Stefan Boating World on the Gold Coast, have created quite a stir in the Australian marine scene. I’d heard of Stefan’s boats some time back, and even seen some photos and caught a few whispers of their inexpensive pricing, but was left wondering why someone would get into such an extreme trailerboating business venture with the marine market far from at its peak.

To give you an idea on the business, Stefan Boating World has one huge showroom, as well as a colossal warehouse and fitment facility, and is home to a huge range of Smartliners, including tinnies, plus RIBs, stylish Karnics, Razar Cat PWCs, engines and more. It’s an admittedly impressive operation, but it remains a multi-million dollar setup in the middle of a relatively quiet marine industry. A brave move, in my opinion.

Owner Stefan Ackerie’s philosophy, or aim, is to provide a quality product at an affordable price to both the lower and higher ends of the trailerboat market. To be fair, the prices did sound exceptionally good across the entire range, but would the boats cut it in terms of quality, or would it be more of a you-get-what-you-pay-for scenario?



BEHIND THE CURTAIN

It was time for a closer look at the boats, specifically the Smartliner 21 Cuddy. When I caught my first glimpse of this vessel I thought it was, well, interesting. To be honest, I wasn’t initially blown away with the external design or lines, possibly due to the fact the 21 Cuddy doesn’t look like your typical Australian-made trailerboat. It actually looks more European in its styling.

The next thing to intrigue me was the hull design, which is quite different. Externally, the finish looked appealing, with soft round edges in the stern and sharper lines in the bow. My attention was then drawn down below by the boat’s fairly wide and reversed outer chines, with a few strakes leading to one mother of a keel extending from the bow approximately to the centre line, and then with a wide flat-plank running though to the stern.

Considering the substantial keel I expected a soft ride, along with quick planing from the plank section. But I did think such a serious keel would make turning something of a concern. At least that was my theory, but we will get into the practice a little later.



GOING UNDERCOVER

Our test boat actually belonged to a client so I concentrated on the standard items fitted rather than extras. The first thing to catch my attention was the mini cuddy, which I again initially thought odd. But when I took a closer look I realised it is actually cracker of an idea because it creates good shelter when seated and driving, and its height means you can comfortably drive while standing. And the fact it’s not moulded into the deck means this mini cuddy could be removed, transforming the boat into a side-console-cum-bowrider of sorts. What a win — leave it on for family outings or night fishing, or take it off for those lure-throwing days.

The cuddy might not be large enough to be classified as a sleeping area, but with the moulded storage and seating it still works very well as protection. It even has a small chemical toilet.

The compact cuddy also opens up the cockpit space, where the layout is relatively simple but has more usable deck space than normally found on 6m boats. This Smartliner’s owner had optioned up with a full T-top / bimini configuration, which covers virtually the entire deck.

In addition, a double seat and fishing station has been added, with livewell and a few rod-racks in the gunwales as standard.

Overall, this is a simple and clean layout that can handle the boat’s maximum capacity of seven people without a problem.

I liked the placement of grab handles throughout the boat, as well as the non-slip deck with centre draining point, adequate seating for the boat’s carrying capacity and potential to include many accessories to suit.

What wasn’t so great, on the other hand, was the deck joins, which I would prefer to see as a moulded unit rather than separate. Nor did I like the rod-rack system in the gunwales, which works well as a step to get out of the boat, but protrudes out from the gunwale. As a dedicated angler this would not work with my gear, but it’s hardly the end of the world and could likely be easily taken care of.



UP TO SCRATCH

As previously mentioned, the console is situated on the starboard side just within the cuddy. You can see clearly through the cuddy screens while driving seated and easily manage the controls while peering over the top of the cab when standing. So although this is a somewhat different design, it actually works really well.

In terms of power, the 90hp Mercury Optimax provides sufficient grunt, especially when you consider it’s pushing a 6m boat around. It’s not exactly dynamite out of the hole, but the hull planes easily and it’s quick enough in getting up to speed. It must be something to do with that interesting design.

Although it wasn’t a rough day during our test, there was enough chop to get a good indication on the hull’s ride and it actually exceeded my expectations. It was comfortable at all speeds with superb, and very surprising, stability at rest and when underway.

I expected some form of bite when cutting into hard turns due to that serious keel, but I was again surprised. The boat did not hook in turns but rather carved its way with a slight inwards lean. I wouldn’t say it’s a rocket ship, or is even meant to be one, but rather a very nice cruiser.

The boat was close to getting onto the plane at a mere 7kts (13kmh) and 2500rpm, and when cranking it up you can sit quite comfortably at 20-25kts (37-46kmh) without straining to drive. It gets to around the 30kts (55.5kmh) mark at WOT, which is not bad considering it only has a 90 horses on the back.



THE WRAP

Over time, the Smartliner’s style and look really start to grow on you. At least they have with me.

These boats are simple and spacious yet functional, and come with several welcome accessories included.

The boat’s build feels a lot more solid than so many of the sub-standard imports that seem to come and go so often, and they are a very good overall package, especially when you consider the size of boat and reasonable price tag.

So if you’re shopping in the 6m fibreglass aisle, the Smartliner 21 Cuddy is well worth taking a look. I reckon you’ll be pleasantly surprised.



PERFORMANCE

4.4kts (8.1kmh) @ 1500rpm

7kts (13kmh) @ 2500rpm

14kts (26kmh) @ 3500rpm

22kts (40.7kmh) @ 4500rpm

28kts (51.8kmh) @ 5500rpm

30kts (55.5kmh) @ 5700rpm WOT



On the plane...

  • Great handling and soft ride
  • Huge fun factor
  • Very good water access for swimming and diving
  • Easy to dock



Dragging the chain...

  • Close to the elements



SPECIFICATIONS: SMARTLINER 21 CUDDY

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $38,999

Options fitted: Fusion stereo; Humminbird GPS / sounder; cutting table; stainless steel bimini; switchboard; 90hp Mercury Optimax engine

Priced from: $34,279 (75hp Mercury); $35,299 (90hp Mercury)



GENERAL

Type: Family cruiser / fisher

Material: GRP

Length: 6.15m

Beam: 2.25m

Weight: 760kg

Deadrise: 15 °



CAPACITIES

People: 7

Rec. HP: 75

Max. HP: 90

Fuel: 77L



ENGINE

Make/model: Mercury 90hp OptiMax

Type: Three-cylinder DFI

Weight: 170kg

Displacement: 1526cc

Gear ratio: 2.33: 1

Propeller: 18in Vengeance

 

SUPPLIED BY

Stefan Boating World

27 Waterway Drive

Coomera

Queensland 4209

Tel: (07) 5665 8400

Web: www.stefanboatingworld.com

Originally published in TrailerBoat #297, June/July 2013

 

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