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+ Soft riding hull – Overall finish


+ Soft riding hull – Overall finish

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									       SMALL BOAT TEST                          POLYCRAFT 455 FRONT RUNNER

     THE POLYCRAFT 455 Front Runner’s hull is
     roto-moulded in polyethylene, a not often
     used boat construction material, which the
     Modern Boating team found to be amazingly
     resilient and robust.
        Steptoe’s canoe is polyethylene and has
     endured more than five years of abuse.
     Countless downriver touring “Ks” and of
     course heaps of fishing trips are etched,
     scored, scratched, scraped, banged and
     bumped into its bottom.
        Perhaps a polyethylene boat doesn’t have
     a nice shiny finish like fibreglass and you’d
     be silly to paint it to make it look better like
     they do with aluminium hulls, because the
     colour is impregnated through the material.
     So, although a polyethylene boat may not
     be quite as pretty to begin with, basically no
     matter how much you knock it around, it
     always looks the same.
        Not that we’re saying that a Polycraft 455
     Front Runner isn’t as pretty as its fibreglass,
     or (painted) tin competitors, because to do so
     would be a bit unkind. However, by its nature,
     polyethylene is not as smooth and shiny as
     fibreglass, so it’s a fairly
     valid point.                                                                                                                              that it’s true, this hull is not
                                                                                        ENGINE ROOM                                            as rigid as an equivalent glass
        See for yourself, when                                                          The Polycraft 455 Front Runner was
     you look at the Polycraft                                                                                                                 or metal one, even though the
                                                                                        powered by a super quiet, super smooth
     455 Front Runner it                                                                50hp Honda outboard. This engine                       moulding is some 10mm thick.
     teases with familiarity for                                                        delivered silky smooth performance                        But flexibility is not
     a few moments before                                                               throughout its entire rev range.                       necessarily a bad thing. By the
     the eye perceives that it’s                                                        Crawling along at idle in gear the boat                time our test was concluded,
     different. This is partly                                                          did 2.3 knots which is an excellent slow-              the Brisbane River where this
                                                                                        troll speed in lakes and rivers.                       all happened, was showing the
     because of its “normal”
                                                                                        A 70lt under-floor fuel tank is an option.             effects of a fresh “sea breeze”
     styling and partly because
     being roto-moulded, you                                                                                                                   working against a fast run-out
                                                                                        ENGINE ROOM
     don’t have to look too                                                             SPEED......................................... RPM     tide. Half a metre, or so, of
     closely to see it’s not a glass or tin boat.       CLOCKWISE FROM BELOW:           2.3 .......................... 700 (in gear idle)      steep chop soon demonstrated
        With the benefit of hindsight after testing a   Smallish bowrider converts      8.2 .............. 3000 (min planing speed)            that having a slightly flexible
     455, “different” actually sums up this unusual     to a top casting platform.      15.8 .......................................... 4000   hull and deck significantly
     boat fairly well. To begin with there’s what the   Uncluttered decks are the       21.6 .......................................... 5000   softened the ride.
                                                                                        28.2 ........................................... WOT      So much so that we were
     eye has already told you, it’s roto-moulded from   go for fishing. Flexible hull
     that incredibly tough material polyethylene.       delivers a super smooth ride.                                                          able to treat the chop with
        Without elaborating                                                                                                                    much more aggression than
                                                                                        LENGTH:................................... 4.55m
     too much, roto-moulding                                                            BEAM: ...................................... 1.99m     would be sane in an equivalent
     is unique in boat                                                                  WEIGHT: .....................320kg (hull only)         tinnie and let the boat soak
     construction in that it                                                            FUEL CAPACITY:.............................70lt        up the bumps. By the time the
     forms both the inside and                                                          ENGINE: ............ 0hp Honda four-stroke             hull flexed a little and the deck
     outside of the hull at the                                                         PROPELLER: ..........................12” Pitch         flexed a little, occupants don’t
                                                                                        CONTACT:.. Xtreme Marine, Springwood                   feel much of any bumps and
     same time with an empty
                                                                                        (07) 3808 2222                                         bangs at all.
     space between. (Unlike
                                                                                        PRICE START AT: ................... .$15,000              But her rough water handling
     a fibreglass hull, which                                                           WEBSITE:
     is formed of inner and                                                                                                                    wasn’t all good. With only
     outer hull moulds, these                                                           PERFORMANCE                                            Steptoe’s scrawny 60kg
     are joined together later                                                          The test was carried out on the Brisbane               onboard, the Front Runner
     — that’s different.                                                                River. There were strong side winds,                   (albeit naturally enough for a
        Yet another of                                                                  some surface chop. With two adults                     boat this size with all the weight
     polyethylene’s “different”                                                         and safety gear onboard the Polycraft                  sitting to one side) leaned to
     characteristics is that                                                            produced the following speed-to-rpm                    the helm side. This was also
                                                                                        readings:                                              exacerbated by the wind hitting
     when formed into a boat
     hull, it is not as rigid as                                                                                                               on the starboard quarter.
     a similar fibreglass, or                                                           +         Soft riding hull
                                                                                                  Front bowrider cockpit
                                                                                                                                                  Aft of where the hull has
                                                                                                                                               swelled to nearly its full beam,
     metal hull. And it doesn’t
     take long riding in the 455
     Front Runner to discover
                                                                                        –         Overall finish                               the chine is sculpted to form a
                                                                                                                                               rail that continues the rest of


MB03 04 070-074.indd 72                                                                                                                                                    20/1/04 11:23:00 AM
          the way to the transom. This may contribute
          to a tendency for the inside chine to “grab”
          during tight turns.
             With the motor trimmed well in, which it
          has to be much of the time on choppy water,
          either to soften the ride or to reduce propeller
          ventilation in tight turns, the ride upwind
          was quite soft. Plus, the thick polyethylene
          forming the hull and deck kept noise levels
          pleasantly low.
             However, having no flare in the bow,
          quartering the wind chop did put some spray
          in your face. Interestingly, this could be
          minimised by going faster, or raising the bow

                 Poylcraft’s latest 455 hull is available as a runabout, side console, centre
                 console and the Front Runner seen here, which is a type of small bowrider
          with the trim button, which ordinarily would       estuaries and moderate sized bays, which,          upholstered pad, which perhaps lacks the
          cause more bangs and bumps in a boat of this       with the aforementioned prudence, offers           luxurious comfort of a larger bowrider’s
          size and configuration.                            considerable benefit in at least two significant   forward lounge, but nonetheless it’s certainly
             But the Polycraft being above average for       areas over the standard “tinnie” hulls so          a place to “lounge.”
          a hull its size and shape in that department,      popular in these places.                             With the upholstery removed, I can be used
          and due to its flexibility, a reasonable             Polycraft’s latest 455 hull is available in      as a casting deck. There’s a large storage space
          compromise became possible, although               runabout, side console, centre console and         beneath and the Front Runner, already a handy
          prudence concerning the application of             the Front Runner seen here, which is a type of     knockabout family runabout, comes into its
          steering lock always had to be kept in mind.       small bowrider.                                    own as a fishing boat. Behind the windscreen
             This is a hull well suited to lakes, rivers,      The front bowrider area is covered in an         bulkhead there’s a pair of bucket seats and the

                                                                                                                              MODERN BOATING March 2004 73

MB03 04 070-074.indd 73                                                                                                                                22/1/04 6:00:28 PM
        SMALL BOAT TEST                             POLYCRAFT 455 FRONT RUNNER

                                                                                                                boat is built very tough.
                                                                                                                   Each side of the outboard, the transom is
                                                                                                                extended back into a buoyancy chamber formed
                                                                                                                as an integral part of the hull. An anchor well is
                                                                                                                roto-moulded into the foredeck part of the bow.
                                                                                                                   Overall, the layout is a simple one with
                                                                                                                few frills and fancy bits making it an entirely
                                                                                                                workable and practical boat for fishing and
                                                                                                                any other kind of boating fun.
                                                                                                                   The 50hp Honda four-stroke outboard
                                                                                                                powering our test boat produced a top speed
       The 50hp Honda four-stroke outboard powering the                                                         of just over 28 knots. Power delivery through
                                                                                                                the rev range was smooth and as quiet as
       test boat produced a top speed of just over 28 knots                                                     Hondas are expected to be without being
                                                                                                                snappy or sporty at all. 50hp is the rated
      cockpit is all open space back to the transom.         boat. However, given the kind of water it’s        maximum for this hull in all its configurations.
         Here an upholstered pad sits atop a moulded         eminently suited to, that’s hardly a problem.         In gear at idle, the hull crept along at 2.3
      raised section that fills in each corner. In the          Storage is good. The compartment under          knots doing 700rpm, which adds trolling to its
      centre directly under the motor, there’s no            the front deck holds a hundred litres of space.    already comprehensive job description. The
      engine well and the wiring loom and fuel filter        There’s also a locker under the passenger          Front Runner/50 Honda combination planed
      intrude into cockpit space.                            seat (the battery resides underneath the           at 8.2 knots and 3000rpm, which in itself
         Being fully moulded, the sides of the boat          helm seat) and two more in the windscreen          contributed to comfortable rough water travel.
      don’t overhang so the so-called “toes in               bulkhead, plus a lockable glovebox in front        A 70lt under-floor fuel tank is optional.
      under” leg support necessary for rough open            of the passenger. A pair of waterproof hatches        To get behind the wheel of a Polycraft
      water, isn’t on the menu anywhere inside the           outside on the transom give access to the          455 Front Runner will set you back around
                                                             space inside the aft corners.                      $15,000 with the 50hp Honda four-stroke.
      ABOVE: Rear quarter seats do steal some fishing room      All the rails and the fairlead are stainless       For further information about Polycraft boats
      at the transom, but the wide open cockpit combats      steel; in fact, aside from the durability of the   call 1800 336 603. The test boat was supplied
      this. Anchoring system is basic, but effective.        material the hull is constructed from, the whole   by Xtreme Marine, Springwood (07) 3808 2222.

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