REVIEW: WHITTLEY SL 28HT

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: JOE PRESS


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Behold the Whittley SL 28HT. Hands up those of you who thought Whittley was just about cruising?

When West Australian vintner – that’s winemaker to you and I – Ian Yurisich decided it was time to replace his much used Whittley SL 26, he contacted the factory to discuss his options. Purchased new in 2005, Ian’s Whittley SL 26 had served him and his crew well over the past eight years but the bug had bitten hard and his desire for a more substantial rig wouldn’t abate. This set in a motion a chain of events which culminated in the boat you see here.

 

WHITTLEY SL 28HT

WHITTLEY SL 28HT BOAT

The SL 28HT draws its inspiration from the SL 26 and utilises some of the same mouldings forward of the cabin bulkhead. The proven hull has been substantially modified resulting in a significantly increased wetted length, loads of additional buoyancy and numerous underfloor storage options. All the creature comforts Ian enjoyed on his SL 26 are here: plumbed concealed head, lockable cabin door, full length bunks and more – everything including the kitchen sink.

The cockpit is generous and will comfortably accommodate four anglers despite the projection of the engine box into the main workspace. An upholstered cushion takes residence on the box turning it into a generous perch while waiting for a bite. Facing the transom, a generous livewell is positioned to port and features a clear Perspex window so the baitfish can see you coming. Non-skid rubberised decking covers the entire cockpit floor, which is bordered on each side by long and deep carpeted side pockets. Stainless deck drains sit in moulded mini-sumps and can be opened to jettison water when underway. A large killtank resides in the centre of the cockpit, with another smaller one complementing it. Going forward, there is a pair of large storage boxes moulded as part of the deck liner, the tops of which hinge upwards to reveal cavernous storage below. Compact helm seats now sit on raised pedestals to allow plenty of movement aft.

 

ELECTRONICS

In keeping with the boat’s bespoke nature, the electronics suite spares no expense. A Raymarine e125 Hybrid touch display is complemented by a 1kw throughhull transducer, ev200 autopilot with p70R interface and a Raymarine RD424HD Radome antenna, all networked to provide seamless integration of the input devices. A Volvo Penta multifunction gauge that resides with the autopilot controller on the moulded brow above the e125 displays the engine’s vital statistics and is flanked by an analogue speedo and tacho as back-up. To accommodate all this, the original SL 26 dash was extensively modified, which also improved helm ergonomics.

WHITTLEY SL 28HT ELECTRONICS

 

ENGINE

WHITTLEY SL 28HT ENGINE

From the boat’s inception there was intensive collaboration with Volvo Penta distributor Aqua Power Marine. Managing director Simon Teitge and his band of merry techno boffins supply Whittley’s sterndrives and ensure each engine is suited to its intended application. Simon was charged with determining the perfect solution for this new rig and the decision to go diesel was made early to maximise the boat’s potential. Volvo’s D4-260 was chosen for its low weight and prodigious torque courtesy of a supercharger for instant low speed torque and a turbocharger for mid-range kick.  Volvo’s Duoprop was mated to the D-4 providing bite, grip and minimising vibration.

Now I must confess when I first lifted the engine bay lid I was surprised by the physical size of the D4-260. It is a substantial engine and imposing when you’re confronted by it, particularly considering it’s only a 3.7lt 4-cylinder. Now in its eighth year of production, the D4-260 is far from a technological dinosaur. The engine is loaded with standard features such as power steering, cruise control, tow mode, keyless start, QL Nutra-salt flushing kit and EVC-D Vessel Control as part of the standard diesel package. Four Optima Blue Top spiral cell batteries power the boat’s onboard electrics.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

WHITTLEY SL 28HT UNDERWAY

Breathing life into the SL 28 requires you to engage the e-Key keyless system. Simply tap the plectrum sized e-Key on the control panel, push the start button and it’s all systems go. Engage the digital throttle, nudge it forward and hang on. I must admit I was somewhat dubious as to how the rig would perform given its size and the payload – we had 350lt of fuel and around 50lt of water on board. Simon from Aqua Power Marine had joined in, as had the new owners … and I’d just eaten a pie.

Out of respect, I invited Ian to take the helm for its maiden voyage. He declined, suggesting I was the expert and would able to show him what it could do. I giggled at the foolish man’s blind faith and asked for a signed copy of his insurance before I proceeded to try to break his $250,000-plus investment. Response was instant as the big rig raised its bow and climbed onto the plane. Another nudge settled it nicely as we obliterated some of Port Phillip Bay’s best chop, the ride feeling similarly to an SL 26 with its slightly bow up attitude. Vision through the windscreen was panoramic although I did find the high-set sidescreens a little hard to see over when turning.

The boat was driven hard at the owner’s insistence – top speed at 3600 revs was 36kts , while burning 54lph. Settling back to its 3000rpm sweetspot saw the fuel consumption drop to 32lph and the hull sat level and true.

 The SL 28 has a slight tendency to lean into a turn – not unusual considering its 23˚ deadrise, but what was impressive was how it could be driven on the throttle, with additional speed flattening the boat’s attitude even mid-turn. Settling back to 2500rpm and running down sea, the boat performed like a steam roller smoothing out our watery road, the already quiet diesel engine muted by the giggles of those on board. Pulling back further to trolling speeds saw the fuel consumption reduce to barely a trickle and the hull felt sure-footed and well planted. Similar speeds back at the St Kilda boat ramp allowed us to easily drive the SL 28 back onto its custom fitted Mackay tandem trailer.

 

THE VERDICT

WHITTLEY SL 28HT LAUNCHING

The Whittley SL 28 is one of, if not the largest legally trailerable offshore sportfisher on the market without resorting to towing permits and over-dimensional signs. A natural match would be large tow vehicles such as Ford’s F-truck or a big Chev, but at around 3300kg it’s still within the capacity of a Land Cruiser, Rangie or even the nuggety Jeep Grand Cherokee. Manoeuvring it within the confines of your local petrol station will always be entertaining and taking it through the Macca’s drive-through would definitely be frowned upon. Take it for granted that everyone will think you’re overcompensating for something, but most will still wish they were you. For those averse to towing something with a footprint larger than my house, consider mooring it or utilise the services of a rack and stack facility and have someone else deal with launching and retrieving it.

What impressed more than the size and ability of Whittley’s biggest SL was the sheer versatility of the package. Equally at home cruising with a crowd as it is chewing up the miles while chasing big fish on the horizon, it’s also going to attract owners of permanently moored cruisers and flybridge sportfishers due to its ability to be comfortably towed to wherever the next adventure awaits.

 

HIGHS

  • Great fishing platform
  • Economical offshore rig
  • Sure footed handling
  • Duoprop just grips and goes
  • Soft and dry ride

 

LOWS

  • Your Mini won’t tow it
  • Optional LED gauge for trim tabs

 

WHITTLEY SL 28HT SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

Custom-built to owner’s spec

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Fully customised to owner’s requirements

 

PRICED FROM

$198,000 BMT package w/200hp sterndrive

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull Hardtop

LENGTH 8.74m LOA

BEAM 2.46m

WEIGHT 3300kg BMT(light load)

DEADRISE 23˚

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 8

FUEL 400lt

WATER 100lt

MIN HP 200

MAX HP 380 (sterndrive)

MAX HP 350 (outboard)

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D4-260DP

TYPE  D4-260 A

DRIVE DPH Duoprop

WEIGHT 660kg (incl. drive and  prop)

GEAR RATIO 1.85:1

PROP g6

 

SUPPLIED AND MANUFACTURED BY

Whittley Marine Group

101 Freight Drive

Somerton, Vic 3062

Phone (03) 8339 1810

Web whittleymarinegroup.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #451, April / May 2014. Why not subscribe today?

Find Whittley boats for sale.

 


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