TESTED: BLUEFIN DRIFTER TOURNAMENT PRO

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Turning up to a test to find a 4.55m aluminium boat with a goliath of a Mercury 75hp four-stroke strapped on the back, Kevin Smith knew he was in for something a bit different.

TESTED: BLUEFIN DRIFTER TOURNAMENT PRO
Bluefin Boats makes some tough tinnies: the Drifter Tournament Pro with massive 75hp Mercury donk on the back is no exception.

The latest release from Bluefin Boats, the Drifter Tournament Pro, has been designed to suit the serious tournament and lure-chucking brigade. First impressions are always important, and since this was actually the 10,000th boat Bluefin had produced it was appropriately tricked up and looked fantastic. A hot-looking wrap, nice lines and a mean mother of an engine made it one of those boats that deserves a closer look.

Designed as a mini-tournament rig, this Drifter featured more as standard and had been souped up for a specific client.



IDEAL FOR TWO

Like most tournament boats, this Drifter incorporates a full cast platform in the bow, as well as a small one in the rear, which all works sufficiently when fishing two up. There is also a range of different storage compartments below the platforms, with a large tackle box hatch, split plumbed livewell and even dedicated rod-locker along the port side. As an added bonus, the carpet used throughout not only feels good on the feet, but saves valuable rods and reels from any unnecessary abuse.

The skipper’s console setup is recessed lower than the cast platforms and has a simple dash with space for gauges and switch panels, plus a small screen, and is finished off with a touch of carbon fibre and a sports steering wheel. The Humminbird sounder / GPS and Fusion stereo are mounted to the side, which works well enough but does protrude slightly into the walkway. This is not a major issue, but I prefer these things mounted into the consoles, or at least on top of the dash.

The adjustable swivel seats keep you comfortable while travelling, and having alternate base mounts to move seating as required is a nice feature. So if the less energetic route is the order of the day, just pop a seat out of its base and place it up on the cast deck.



WETTING THAT LINE

The Drifter works exceptionally well as a dedicated fishing boat, especially for recreational or tournament lure chucking. With a length of 4.55m, beam of 2.04m and moderate vee on the hull, you can safely expect good stability.

Up front, the open cast deck is a breeze to fish from, and the latest Minn Kota i-Pilot RT55 electric motor you can be operated via either the handy remote control or the foot pedal. The small cast deck in the stern is obviously not as big as the one at the front, but it has ample space to work with.

I must admit, I was initially somewhat concerned about the extra weight added to the stern by the 75hp Mercury four-stroke, but my fears were thankfully unfounded. As it turns out, buoyancy is very good considering the weight, and the buoyant pod system helped the boat handle the motor and a person in the stern without a problem.

Fishing two up is easily done without getting in each other’s hair, or getting a sharp treble hook anywhere it shouldn’t go. Fishing with more than two is also possible, but it’s not really my forte.



FAST AND NOT SO FURIOUS

As mentioned earlier, the 75hp Mercury four-stroke looks like a real monster sitting on the transom and even appears a little out of proportion, in my opinion. Regardless, it’s within the rated range and I was going to give it flat stick to see what it could handle. As expected, the rig was quite potent out of the hole, but nothing that would make you reach for the nearest grab handle.

The top end, however, was another story, and this little 4.55m boat has a set of legs that wind up to 35kts (64.8kmh) WOT. That might not sound that fast, but I can assure you it’s more than enough for the Drifter. I found cruising at around 4500rpm at a speed between 23-28kts to be ideal throughout the rev range, and is probably a good economy on the four-stroke.

The Drifter Tournament Pro’s 3mm pressed hull (4mm optional) and 3mm plate sides not only look good, but also produce a pleasant ride in the calm and moderate chop. In addition, full decks and carpeting make for a very comfortable cruise when compared to many standard ally boats.

If I were being completely honest, two sessions in the Drifter have brought me to the conclusion that you could get away with less horsepower, and I think a lighter weight 60hp or 70hp would be the go. This would not only lighten the stern, but also give the boat a bit more flexibility on setting trims and speeds to get the perfect ride. Plus, it would likely reduce the overall price and even help with economy.



THE WRAP

Compared to more standard, "off the rack", tinnies, the Bluefin Drifter Tournament Pro is something quite different indeed.

The boat has a wad of accessories and a serious motor package which, as expected, will cost a bit more. But, as they say, you get what you pay for and given the Drifter’s top finish and build quality, as well as its fishing-friendly layout, I don’t think there is a lot of room to complain.



PERFORMANCE

4.1kts (7.6kmh) @ 1500rpm

6.3kts (11.6kmh) @ 2500rpm

14kts (25.9kmh) @ 3100rpm — on the plane

16kts (29.6kmh) @ 3500rpm

23kts (42.6kmh) @ 4500rpm

29kts (53.7kmh) @ 4900rpm

35kts (64.8kmh) @ 5500rpm — wide open throttle



ON THE PLANE...

  • Quality build and finishes throughout
  • Ergonomic layout
  • Plenty of accessories and extras fitted



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • I would personally prefer a smaller motor
  • Sounders and electronics could be mounted on the dash



SPECIFICATIONS: BLUEFIN DRIFTER TOURNAMENT PRO

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: Confirm w/dealer

Options fitted: Custom wrap; Humminbird 798 sounder; Minn Kota i-Pilot RT55; Fusion 600 audio system

Priced from: Confirm w/dealer



GENERAL

Type: Tournament style

Material: Aluminium

Length: 4.55m

Beam: 2.04m

Weight: 375kg

Deadrise: Not supplied



CAPACITIES

People: 5

Rec. HP: 80

Max. HP: 90

Fuel: 60L



ENGINE

Make/model: Mercury 75

Type: DOHC FourStroke

Weight: 181kg

Displacement: 1732cc

Gear ratio: 2.33:1



MANUFACTURED BY

Bluefin Boats

9A Production Avenue

Molendinar

Queensland 4214

Tel: (07) 5571 5277

Web: www.bluefinboats.com.au

 

SUPPLIED BY

Coorparoo Marine

57 Cavendish Road

Coorparoo, QLD 4151

info@coorparoomarine.com.au

Web: www.coorparoomarine.com.au

Tel: (07) 3397 4141


Originally published in TrailerBoat #295, May/June 2013.

 

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