Review: Surtees 575 Workmate

By: Steve Raea, Photography by: Steve Raea


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The Surtees 575 Workmate came about after aluminium plate boat manufacturer Surtees Boats gave one of its favourite models a little stretch.

The new Surtees 575 Workmate is an awesome little boat with a big-boat feel. The 575 Workmate emphasis has always centred on affordability without compromising performance and capability. The incremental changes over the Surtees 5.5 clearly add up to improved seakeeping and a more solid and robust feel underfoot.

 

REVAMPED SURTEES 575

Surtees 575 Workmate

Plate aluminium fishing boat manufacturer Surtees is having its biggest boat revamp in the company’s 22-year manufacturing history. In fact, before the end of 2015, all seven aluminium boat models in the current Surtees boats range will have been upsized and upgraded. It’s is no small undertaking and will require a great deal of re-engineering, with everything from box section stringers to transoms, cockpits and hardtops going under the knife.

Surtees Boats managing director Phil Sheaff confirms big plans are in place to not only upgrade existing models but to streamline production processes. Completing 375 boats in 2014, Sheaff and his team of 46 boatbuilders hope to increase this to a minimum 420 boats in the next 12 months.

"Our aim is to increase production to 450 boats (at the end of 2015) and reduce dealer lead times from five months down to three months," says Sheaff.

 

NEW DESIGN

Surtees 575 Workmate deck

The addition of a mere 130mm to the Surtees 5.5 Workmate hull length doesn’t sound like much, but narrow the internal coaming width 12mm each side for increased cockpit volume and add a millimetre of aluminium to the hull (5mm) and topsides (4mm) and that 130mm becomes something of a game-changer.

Design-wise everything else remains the same, but the 86kg increase in weight through thicker walls introduces a marked difference to the feel of the boat on the water. This is noticeable at rest too, where the extra length has allowed Surtees to increase the external keel ballast tank capacity from 200 to 240lt.

The Surtees 575 Workmate review boat was dressed in Surtees’ trademark gloss silver Nyalic with black decal banner. Without an existing Surtees 5.5m Workmate alongside it is difficult to compare or judge differences, but I can say the extra length has made a terrific difference to the boat’s aesthetics.

The 5.5 Workmate was not a particularly pretty boat due to the necessity of providing headroom under the hardtop. This lent a somewhat boxy look to it but easily overlooked given the 5.5’s practicality and superior hull design. Let’s not forget the Workmate has amassed no fewer than six design awards in its production run. 

The new model, however, presents differently with an element of proportion and style lacking in its smaller sibling. It’s somehow lost some of its hard-edge but none of its purpose.

 

LAYOUT

Surtees 575 Workmate floor

Grabrails fall to hand where you need them, the overhead rocket launcher is a comfortable easy reach and the side coamings are wide, comfortable and secure with generous use of non-skid adhesive rubber where you need it.

The starboard transom walkthrough is practical, the boarding ladder rigid and the Portofino transom serves up a generous boarding platform for divers. The cockpit is clutter-free yet carries options that lend it to its primary purpose as a capable and effective fishing platform. These include a fully plumbed livebait tank, optional second transom walkthrough and burley pot, and easy-mount baitboard with additional rodholders and overboard drain.

There’s ample storage in the full-length cockpit sidepockets and a recessed bilge well in the centre rear with a 50lt/min bilge pump fitted as standard. The batteries and switches are contained in the aft transom locker and are well off the sole, as you’d expect of a boat carrying the CE mark.

Sheaff says the additional 130mm has been added to the aft end of the cockpit where it’s most useful. This, in tandem with slightly reduced coaming widths (12mm each side), has had a big impact on usable cockpit volume.

From a general boating perspective the Surtees 575 Workmate cockpit is versatile and secure, while the enclosed hardtop provides excellent protection and visibility, a single wiper a worthy option. The helm station and hardtop engineering are unchanged. There are a number of seating options from the standard fold-up sliders to fully adjustable pedestal seats fitted to the test boat.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Surtees 575 Workmate on the water

On our review day, we encountered a 15kt westerly and a low one-metre swell generating enough lift to grab a little air and gauge the hull’s propensity to pound without breaking our knees.

Surtees owners aren’t slow to talk up the attributes of their boats’ moderate 18° deadrise and strakeless wave-slicing hull form, and they’re right to do so. The Surtees 575 Workmate’s deep forefoot is extremely effective, eliminating the bone-jarring crash that inevitably results when the downward force of the hull encounters the rise of a swell.

Weight is king in difficult conditions and I’m a proponent of running with the external ballast tank full and sealed off. The difference in the boat’s handling and sea manners is marked. Trim is important too on smaller boats to maximise efficiency and induce lift, and the 575 responds well to trim angle throughout the trim range, a hallmark of good design.

Previous reviews of the Surtees 5.5m Workmate have noted a tendency to be a little susceptible to crew weight and movement underway and this is to be expected. I didn’t feel this was so much of an issue on the heavier Surtees 575 Workmate. Notwithstanding, weight distribution is always an important consideration.

To this end the review boat’s small cuddy cabin layout has varied slightly with a single storage bunk on port, while the starboardside bunk has gone leaving this area open. A small raised false floor in the cuddy vee creates another secure stowage area for personal bags.

 

ENGINE

Surtees 575 Workmate with 100hp Honda

The 100hp Honda BF four-stroke outboard motor on the review boat was an ideal match to the heavier 575 hull and is at the upper end of the recommended power range.

The four-cylinder overhead cam fuel-injected engine is not the quietest in its class but its boosted low-speed torque provides excellent holeshot performance and smooth power delivery across the rev range. It’s also efficient and the standard 17in prop showed little sign of slip or cavitation.

 

THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT

Ride of Surtees 575 Workmate

The Surtees 575 Workmate performs and handles very well and is an easy boat to drive, delivering stress-free confidence. The mechanical steering is firm but positive and the boat tracks well. Hydraulic steering is an option.

While fuel calculations and speed trials have yet to be completed, the Honda delivers an estimated top speed of about 33kts at WOT which is any amount. Throttle back to 22kts and the 100lt underfloor fuel tank provides ample range for a day’s fishing.

In summary, the new Surtees 575 Workmate is an awesome little boat with a big-boat feel.

 

HIGHS

• Bulletproof construction

• Excellent aesthetics

• Great value

• Clever use of space in sub-six-metre class

• CE safety standards

 

LOWS

• Mechanical steering a touch too firm

 

SURTEES 575 WORKMATE SPECS

Surtees 575 Workmate price: $52,000 w/ Honda BF100 four-stroke outboard motor (priced from)

 

GENERAL

LENGTH 5.75m (6.38m on trailer)

BEAM 2.15m

WEIGHT 498kg hull, 998kg BMT DEADRISE 18 degrees

TRAILER Surtees braked single-axle multi-roller

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 5

REC. HP RANGE 70 to 115

FUEL 100lt

 

ENGINE               

MAKE/MODEL Honda BF 100 outboard motor

TYPE Inline four-cylinder four-stroke petrol outboard motor

RATED HP 100 at 5900rpm

WOT RANGE 5400 to 6400rpm

DISPLACEMENT 1496CC

WEIGHT 166kg (dry, L-type); 172kg (dry, X-type)

GEAR RATIO 2.33:1

 

MORE INFORMATION

Surtees Boats

2909 State Highway 30, RD2,

Whakatane, New Zealand

Phone + 64 7 322 8461

Email boats@surteesboats.com

Web surteesboats.com

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #463, March / April 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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