The top 10 boats of 2008

Tackling around four or five boat reviews a month, Trade a Boat’s journos are very privileged to experience a broad slice of locally manufactured and imported vessels over the course of a year

The top 10 boats of 2008
The top 10 boats of 2008

Some of us prefer trailer boats – others have a natural affinity for yachts. The dreamers yearn to ease behind the plush helms of the big-ticket cruisers, complete with a bevy of hot-and-cold running women. Readers’ preferences – we have no doubt – are similarly skewed.

Deciding which of the vessels (in the three categories) is best was always going to be a difficult, subjective exercise. So our team sat down over a few beers and after much heated discussion, pontificating and emotional compromises, set aside personal biases and came up with 10 finalists.

You can have your say here, and win a prize!

KEY: 1-2 stars = Average, 3-4 stars = Good, 5 stars = Outstanding

Weekend Escape - Bavaria 31

The vanguard of the new line of Bavaria Cruisers, the 31 has more contemporary or rounded deck mouldings, a higher coach house for more interior volume, more opening portlights than the models before it and, to my eye at least, it looks finer in the bow as per the recent trend in hull shapes.

For the cruising set there are even more surprises in store. Who would have expected an electric opening transom? Press a button and you get an inviting stern-to entrance into a decent cockpit with 2.2-metre long cockpit seats. Add the barbie on the rail and you can eat and swim – the ladder is an integral part of the extending transom-come-dive board – while anchored just beyond the beach. Oh, yeah, a windlass is provided to make that a snap and the hot-cold transom shower comes gratis from the German yachtbuilder.

Accommodation, meanwhile, spans two double cabins at either end of the boat. Of course, you’re wondering about headroom – about 180cm by my reckoning.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance .5 Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 23.5

Ticket to ride - Surtees 730

The Surtees brand is synonymous with innovation and quality, and the Surtees 730 Sport Fisher is no exception, winning a ‘best-in-class’ award at the 2008 National Boat Show.

Available in a variety of enclosed and open hard-top configurations, the boat has been tooled for general production. While it is an open hard-top model with a central lockable cabin door, the same boat is available with a fully enclosed hard-top (the 7.3m Game Fisher). An entry-level option is also available with an open hard-top but without the cabin door.

All three models are built from marine-grade aluminium and specified with 5mm plate hull, 4mm topsides and a 4mm checker plate floor. The hull is strengthened with six full-length stringers from the transom to the bow. Welded gussets are placed every 400mm and capped with a solid checker-plate floor, forming two pressure-tested under-floor buoyancy chambers with a central under-floor fuel tank.

The 730 design incorporates Surtees’ "quickflow" water ballast system and "waveslicer" hull form.

She’s a good-looking boat, with an angled, three-pane toughened-glass windscreen, relatively low profile hard-top and external styling. The hull’s finished in a quality two-pot black marine coating, with colour-matched graphics and sheer stripes on the hull and cabin superstructure.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 22

Lighter, faster and more agile - Riviera 4400

As you’d expect from Riviera, the 4400 (LOA 15.12m) is a gleaming, streamlined package. Like its sisters (the award-winning 3600 SY and 4700 SY), it continues the indoor-outdoor design and the sense of light and space.

Riviera’s decision to adopt vacuum infusion moulding and fit Volvo’s IPS drives, are both are firsts for the company. Vacuum infusion moulding delivers a lighter, stronger hull (the 4400 has a dry weight of 12,500kg).

This strategy shift – and the adoption of IPS – offers many benefits, but two key ones are performance and manoeuvrability. Better acceleration, hotter top-end speed, sharper fuel efficiency, longer range – and with IPS joystick control, much greater agility and precision for easing the boat into awkward berths.

The boat’s quick (around 30 knots at WOT – 3260rpm) and at cruise speed (25-knots) the twin 435hp, turbo-charged Volvos are each consuming around 57 litres per hour. The electro-hydraulic steering has got to be the lightest I’ve experienced on a boat this size (literally finger-tip stuff), and that joystick works a treat, spinning the boat on its axis, crabbing sideways – responding smoothly to every subtle twist.

To read the full review, click here.

Features .5 Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 26.5

Agile, stable and affordable - Extreme Boats 570

Winner of its class at the 2007 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show, the 570 Sport Fisher from Whakatane’s Extreme Boats raises the ante in capable-yet-affordable entry-level trailer boats.

Based on the larger, off-shore-capable Extreme 650 Sports Fisher/Game King, the Scott Robson-penned 570 features the same hull scantlings. While essentially a day boat with no provision or facility for overnighting, the 570’s 5mm plate hull and fully-welded box construction makes it a capable all-seasons performer.

In standard trim the 570 Sport Fisher on trailer fitted with a 90hp Johnson retails for a shade under $40,000. Add stylish painted topsides, Nyalic protective coatings, electric capstan, lockable cabin door, bimini and rocket launcher and a new generation Evinrude E-TEC 90 and the 570 still comes in at under $51,000.

The 570 Sport Fisher is typically Scott Robson, with a long, fine bow entry and a variable deadrise culminating at 20 degrees at the transom. Like her Extreme Boats stablemates, the 570 has an exceptionally wide and turned down single chine rail that measures 120mm at the transom and narrows to 80mm amidships before tapering off at the stem.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor .5

Total: 22.5

One of a kind - Altec 10.25 RS

Big, powerful and capable, the Altec 10.25 RS from Lyttelton’s Altec Engineering is a purposeful and stylish custom hard-top design that falls within a niche but growing market for large, multi-purpose aluminium boats.

Of course, the 10.25 is not a trailer boat. At 3.1m in beam and weighing about five tonne dry, she must either be permanently moored or launched and retrieved on a low-rise trailer, possibly with a beach tractor.

So its designers have had the luxury of building a bulletproof boat without having to pay too much attention to its end weight. This has allowed the use of 6mm alloy plate on the hull and 5mm topsides, reducing to 4mm plate for the superstructure and deck. This has been matched with serious 1200-litre long-range fuel tanks and a single 400-litre water tank.

Bulletproof is an apt description. The hull is built on three full 6061 T6 alloy bearers and stiffened with a total of 12 bow-to-stern stringers. The boat’s hull strakes are also fully welded and the topsides are further protected with a full-length alloy rub rail. Again, an external keel bar has been added to increase impact resistance and provide additional hull strength and stiffness if beach launching.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish .5 Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor .5

Total: 25

Oystercatcher or eyecatcher? - Conraad 1051

Built for leisure but capable of battling rough seas, the Conraad 1051 Sport Fisher (LOA 10.75m) successfully combines style and functionality.

The flagship of Tauranga’s Metal Works Innovation Ltd, the boat is designed by Scott Robson, and its fine entry, 20 degree deadrise at the transom and wide reverse chine gives the Conraad 1051 good sea handling characteristics. She was put through her first serious test on a voyage across Cook Strait to her new home at Waikawa Bay, Picton.

"It was pretty rough," says owner, Ken Small. "The weather turned southerly and rough about half way across. At times we couldn’t see the South Island and the seas were quite steep. The boat handled it really well though and our slowest speed was about 13 knots."

And the finish on the boat is impressive – it needs a bang on the hull to be able to pick this boat for aluminium – no sign of welds anywhere. The hull’s constructed from 6mm 5083 marine alloy; topsides are 5mm and the top 4mm plate – all faired and coved to a high standard.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance .5 Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 23.5

Finess by Genesis - Genesis 52V

Curvaceous, bold and stylish, Genesis’ new 52V Cruise mirrors European styling and chic sophistication. The boat’s evolution has flowed from a Genesis survey of its 1300-strong database to determine exactly what owners were seeking in terms of accommodation, styling, layout and performance.

Equipped with twin Volvo IPS 600 engines delivering 435 horses a side (which equate to 600hp a side on conventional shafts) the 52V Cruise lives up to a promise of blistering performance and crisp, sports cruiser, handling.

Volvo’s revolutionary IPS pod-drive systems lifts the bar inexorably in terms of low-speed vessel manoeuvrability and puts control firmly in the hands of the skipper and not the crew with the biggest fenders.

At a shade over 15,000kg light, the 52V Cruise is still lighter than some other 50-footers thanks largely to composite construction techniques. The decks are foam core GRP with solid GRP topsides and glass-encapsulated timber engine bearers and foam stringers. All interior bulkheads are glassed in for additional stiffness and rigidity. The hull and decks construction is covered with Genesis’ comprehensive five-year structural warranty.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 27

Typhoon by the tail - Senator Typhoon 670

At first glance, the Typhoon appears to be a radical break from the company’s traditional pontoon boat range, but a closer look reveals quite a few familial similarities with both the pontoon Senators and the company’s deluxe Offshore series.

The boat has a 17 degree vee at the stern for non-slip cornering and better seakeeping abilities in the rough. There are no spray rails underwater, but a wide chine bar tapers gracefully from the stern all the way to the bow. The full length chine also adds considerable strength to the hull structure.

The Typhoon has 5mm thick bottom plating with 5mm on the sides and 3mm for the hardtop. Under the 5mm alloy tread plate cockpit floor, it has the same hefty structure as its pontooned stablemates.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 20

Big, bold and beautiful - White Pointer 9m

On the back of an enviable success in the 7m and 8m Custom Cruiser range of aluminium trailer boats, White Pointer’s Rex Briant continues to push the design-and-build envelope with larger, heavier and more sophisticated boats.

The latest is the 9m Custom Cruiser Nimue, the fourth boat in the 9m class to be launched and it marks several significant design changes to further enhance its cruiser function. Most notable is the addition of a fully enclosed head and shower unit in the cockpit and twin, stern-boarding gates, each fitted with its own twin-action boarding ladders.

The boat also benefits from professional custom joinery in the galley, leather trim at the helm and high-quality furnishings and coverings. Expansive Flexi-teak decking and mirror finish two-pot coatings combine to create an aesthetically pleasing and stylish rig. To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance .5 Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 21.5

Pace, colour and comfort - Hanse 350

All of Hanse’s eight models, from the natty 320 through to the flagship 630, are designed by Bremerhaven-based Judel/Vrolijk Yacht Design and Engineering (best known for rapid race boats and for engineering maximum structural strength into hull forms with minimal weight penalties).

The 350 has a purposeful, modern hull form with an almost plumb stem and minimal overhangs. She carries the 3.55m beam well aft for buoyancy and maximum accommodation below decks.

"This is the first boat we’ve owned," says David Davies-Payne, owner of Wandering Hanse. "We’re still learning but this is a very generous boat – she’s utterly dependable. I think she makes us look like a lot better sailors than we really are."

For the new 350’s interior, the couple chose a restful and hard-wearing dark grey corded fabric on all squabs in her roomy saloon, designed to complement the rich, red mahogany veneer joinery and the wood-finish cabin sole.

David and Marianne chose the two-cabin 350 option, with a spacious vee-berth forward, ensuite access to the toilet and an equally roomy double quarter-berth cabin to starboard.

To read the full review, click here.

Features Finish Performance Value for money Aesthetics Unique factor

Total: 27


What do you think is the best boat of 2008? And why? Let us know your thoughts here, and the top 5 answers will be published and will win a copy of the fantastic book, Ken Ring's Predict Weather 2009, which includes fishing guides for every day of the year.

Enter here.

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