Review: Surtees 700 Game Fisher HT

By: John Willis, Photography by: John Willis


The Surtees 700 Game Fisher HT would have to rate as one of the quietest hulls ever - aluminium or fibreglass.

"Anglers, let’s go fishing!" That triggered a wild dash to start the Tuna Club of Tasmania’s 26th Australian Bluefin competition, at beautiful Eaglehawk Neck in the island’s rugged south east. Seventy boats eagerly awaited the chequered flag – yet these weren’t race boats; instead, myriad sportsfishing weapons, from 4.5-metre tiller-steer tinnies through to floating gin palaces, were in the hunt. We lined up in the new Surtees 700 Game Fisher with a gutsy Evinrude E-TEC 250HO power plant off the back.

Surtees 700 Game Fisher Hardtop

The latest trend in sportsfishing muscle is high-speed offshore-capable hulls that are comfortable with big horsepower. Evinrude’s modern engineering combines enormous power to weight ratios with frugal fuel consumption, making long offshore dashes an everyday event.

There were trailerboats of every size, material and make in contention but we were well-prepared. Tasmanian Surtees dealer Hadley Deegan is a second-generation boating guru and he took the wheel and arranged the load. We were not only carrying the gear of a fully equipped gamefishing outfit but also the five large heffalumps (me included) that formed his crew — or ballast.

 

 

The new Evinrude RX4 prop bit hard and the big V6 E-TEC roared from the exhilarating start through to the flying finish as Hadley expertly negotiated the head-on swell. We spent as much time flying out of the water as in it, and the new seven-metre deep-V hull really exceeded expectations. Not once did we hit hard; not once did the hull moan or creak as is common for many rival alloy offerings.

In 2013, I said that was the year when premium aluminium hulls finally performed as well as — if not better than — their heavier fibreglass counterparts. Well, I’m delighted to say the 700 Surtees Game Fisher is even better still. This boat is a weapon!

Layout of Surtees 700 Game Fisher Hardtop

Our Surtees 700 Game Fisher HT probably resembled the Flying Nun with its big Simrad Halo radar aerial prone atop the welcome hardtop enclosure as we leapt from peak to peak out front of the 70-strong competition. The large safety glass windows gave exceptional vision but in this case the wiper had very little to do as the hull flew over most of the slop and when gravity did intervene the hull pushed the deluge aside like Moses parting the Red Sea.

There’s plenty of room at the dash for three big blokes to hang on with confidence and the Simrad NSS12 multi-function screen on its dash-top mount was within clear sight for all.

I’m a ‘flat-space person’ and found my cameras, lures, phones and grid charts, while scattered around the dash, were secure throughout the day. The dash and helm are laid out simply, with everything exactly where it should be, so the rig’s comfortable to drive and supplies instant control and vision of all of the instruments and switch gear.

Hardtop on Surtees 700 Gamefisher

The hardtop is a beauty. Two sliding windows give ventilation when required – which isn’t often in a Tassie winter! It also offers plenty of headroom and must be solid, as it carried the 23kg Halo aerial without a worry. There are strong handholds under the rocket launcher and an improved drain at the rear to minimise slop off the back – it always used to end up down a passenger’s shirt. It’s a terrific mount for communications aerials and I would fit rooftop riggers instead of the coaming mounts used in the demo unit.

It’s taken many years, but it seems we’ve finally perfected the bow areas, particularly with an electric anchor winch, SARCA anchor and bow fitting. Should you ever need to go out front there’s a large cabin hatch and you have the security of a strong bow rail.

The cabin layout is neat and comfortable – especially when warmed up with the welcome pie oven option in our fishing boat. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard V-berth, with good long side pockets, storage under the bunks and a canvas privacy screen if you wish to camp out for the night. The lined side walls and roof add to the comfort and overall presentation.

The seating layout works very well, featuring an upright driver’s pedestal plus a stepped seat box with padded rear seat and storage for the passengers. I’d prefer seat boxes both sides, but most fishos would argue that. The moulded plastic seats are quite comfortable and feature removable cushions for easy cleaning or replacement.

It’s not only the ride, hardtop, accommodation, and bow design that have been perfected – the workspaces are perfectly tuned to all forms of fishing and diving. The big, wide side decks give plenty of room to park your posterior and support an array of rod holders and are trimmed in non-skid material for secure footing.

Surtees 700 Game Fisher Hardtop on the water

I got into trouble for calling the plastic cups mounted in the side decks ‘stubby holders’. While they will coincidentally fit a stubby or can, they’re supposed to be called ‘sinker holders’ – a great idea for moving around with heavy sinkers on your rods when bottom bouncing. Still look like stubby holders to me though.

New to the Surtees options list are top-load bait containers with waterproof hinged lids inserted into either side of the coamings. They are a terrific idea and serve as a very handy spot to store lures and traces, especially amidst the commotion of a strike by a jumbo tuna. They keep the deck neat, tidy and safe.

Surtees boats come with chequer plate alloy floors as standard, but Hadley covered it with tube matting that increases comfort underfoot but still allows easy cleaning.

The gunwale height is comfortable in the rough and there are full-length side pockets with optional sliding coaming racks. The transom work station is ideal – there’s a long cutting board with trolling rod holders on top and a removable cutting service. Underneath is an electrics and plumbing container for the twin batteries, isolators, pumps etc, keeping all the vital components out of harm’s way. It comes complete with a swing-down door that can double as a rear seat, though the baitboard overlaps the coaming so there’s a slight risk you’ll end up with it in the back of your head and shoulders.

The 700 Game Fisher features a walk-through from the transom, complete with a fully plumbed livebait tank under the step as well as a fin-friendly dive ladder off the back.

The full-width transom platform is ideal and the boat features the famous Surtees Stabilizing (flooding) Hull as well as the shut-off gate that certainly aids stability at rest and can help the ride when travelling with a light load – that wasn’t a problem this trip, with me, Team Penn/Simrad’s Mozza and Hooch, plus two others as ballast.

Deck layout on Surtees 700

Deegan Marine had fitted the two 1kW Simrad transducers into the bilge, a really inventive idea that keeps them secure and unobstructed.

We spent a number of long days hacking out to the continental shelf and trolling in close under magnificent Tasman Island in conditions including 20kt slop and a few metres of swell. The boat performed beautifully – hull, hardtop, engine, electronics, the lot – even with five blokes on board. It never felt unsafe, always felt comfortable and we never felt cramped – other than when we were trampled by Hooch when the hot pies were ready.

Other than the hootin’ and hollerin’ from the crew, the Surtees would have to rate as one of the quietest hulls on the water – aluminium or fibreglass.

Tasmania’s south-east coast is fishing’s final frontier. The fishing is unbelievable with deep dropping for swordfish and tuna, as well as more traditional species like blue eye and trumpeter. The coastal scenery will leave you speechless too.

The new Surtees 700 Game Fisher Hard Top is a perfect boat to explore all the majestic possibilities of this aquatic heaven.

Fishing in Tasmania

I’ll never forget this visit, or winning the Race to the Rock; we left all the other challengers trailing and never backed off. We crossed the finish line as we neared the Hippolytes amid breathless celebration like a bunch of teenagers recounting our first sexual experiences. It was Hadley’s third consecutive win and a proud moment for us all. There were surprisingly few bruises and no breakages, though the sheer thrill may have taken a few years off our lives. The Surtees 700  was simply outstanding, the 250 E-TEC was thrilling, the surroundings enthralling and the companionship heartwarming.

 

HIGHS

· Soft, quiet ride.

· Easily towed.

· Overall layout.

· Fishability.

 

LOWS

· It’s cold in Tasmania!

· I’d have seat boxes on both sides.

 

Surtees 700 Game Fisher HT specs

Surtees 700 Game Fisher HT price: $99,400

Priced from, with 200hp HO G2 and trailer

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Simrad electronics package incl 12in touchscreen; auto pilot; BSM3 chirp sounder with twin 1kW through-hull transducers; Halo radar; outriggers; electric anchor winch; plumbed livebait tank; deck wash; trim tabs; windscreen wiper; lighting and more

 

PRICE AS TESTED

A$147,000

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Plate aluminium

TYPE Deep-vee monohull aluminium fishing boat with ballast

LENGTH 7.0m

BEAM 2.39m

WEIGHT 1260kg (hull only, dry)

RECOMMENDED HP 140-250

DEADRISE 20°

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE (NIGHT) 2 (DAY) 7

FUEL 280L

WATER 380L

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Evinrude E-TEC G2 250HO outboard motor

TYPE Loop-charged V6 90° E-TEC direct-injection two-stroke outboard motor

RATED HP 250

DISPLACEMENT 3441cc

WEIGHT 230kg

GEAR RATIO 1.85:1

PROPELLER 18in RX stainless steel

 

SUPPLIED BY

Deegan Marine

102 Eastland Dr, Ulverstone, Tas 7315

Phone 03 6425 2238

Web deeganmarine.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #482, on sale September 8, 2016. Why not subscribe today?

 


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