When I first reviewed the Alexcraft 4.9 back in February 1998, I made the analogy that if this boat was a motorcar, it could be compared to a BMW 750 I or perhaps a Jaguar XJR - both high performance sporting saloons. Four years on and having just experienced this latest rendition of the Alexcraft 4.9, I have to say the analogy is still appropriate today.
Adrian Owen, the designer and builder of the Alexcraft range of jet boats, recently sold Alexandra Marine to Dunedin based Seahouse Boats. Paul Rutter has been building aluminium pleasure boats for a number of years and saw the purchase of Alexandra Marine as a way to expand his range into the jet boat market.
South Canterbury Jetboat Services Ltd., based in Geraldine is a long established dealer and manufacturer of jet boats. Proprietors Brian and Konrad Scott have extended their business partnership to include the manufacture and marketing of jet units under the Scott Jet brand. After having secured complete domination of the jet sprint scene, Scott Jet are looking to extend their business in the commercial and pleasure boat sectors. The Alexcraft 4.5 and 4.9 metre alloy hulls have been South Canterbury Jets' staple offering to the competitive domestic pleasure boat market.
Brian Scott has recently completed construction of his new 4.9 metre Alexcraft which utilises the 'new' all alloy version of the 5.7 litre LS1 Chevrolet 'Corvette' V8 engine driving a two stage Scott Jet. The boat is strongly constructed with a 10mm thick delta centre section with 5mm outer bottoms and 3mm transom and topsides. Two full length alloy engine bearers provide rigidity. The boat was fitted with eight planing strakes - four per side, and features large turned down chines for a dry ride and precise handling. The GRP deck and perspex windscreen follow contemporary trends in this sector of the market.
A 120 litre alloy fuel tank is situated below the floor amidships, between the bearers and immediately in front of the engine. This combined with the comparatively light alloy engine assists in providing an even weight distribution.
The high sided 4.9 metre version provides for a spacious cockpit with plenty of leg room when seated. The extended double bucket rear seat allows access around the engine box to the transom for fishing or retrieving skiers. The front bucket seats are fully adjustable forward and backwards and are also spring loaded to give a smooth ride in rough water conditions. All the upholstery was nicely finished in black and embossed with the Scott Jet logo in contrasting green. The aluminium floors were covered in marine carpet while the interior hull sides were covered in frontrunner to further suppress noise. A full set of Autometer gauges complimented the dash.
Brian's boat was also fitted with a folding bimini cover for those hot days fishing on the Southern Lakes. Folding drink holders were also fitted around the cockpit.
As already stated, this boat is fitted with an all alloy 5.7 litre Chevrolet LS1 'Corvette' V8 engine. The Corvette engine is very similar to those fitted by General Motors Holden to their V8 Commodore range but differs in many minor details and has a slightly higher output of 360HP at 5200 rpm. It has been marinised using centre riser, alloy water jacketed exhaust manifolds manufactured locally by International Boats and Brian fabricated his own fresh water cooling system. The engine is controlled by a Christchurch designed and made Link Electronic Control Unit. The design of the inlet manifold and cylinder heads make for a wide but low profile engine.
The motor is coupled to a 206mm diameter two stage Scott Jet which has been fitted with a larger, commercial style reverse bucket. The forward and reverse system is electrically actuated by a toggle switch on the dash. Although it is a little slow in its operation at around 3 seconds from full ahead to full astern, it is smooth and easy to use once you become familiar with it.
The jet has been well matched to the power characteristics of the engine with maximum engine speed of 5000 rpm.
Performance & Handling
The lower reaches of the Waimakariri river had been chosen as the test venue, and river conditions were picture perfect with many small streams to test the shallow water capability of the boat. Immediate initial impressions are the abundance of effortless power and lightning quick response of the fuel injected engine to the throttle and the beautifully smooth and light steering from the Scott Jet. The boat responded instantly to the helm under constant throttle, and when the throttle and helm were used together, the manouervability of the boat was extremely impressive.
Even when pushed hard from shallow water into deep, there was no tendency for the boat to hop or skip in the turns. The lighter engine, centrally mounted fuel tank and prodigious grip offered by the two stage jet would assist greatly in this regard. This is certainly a combination which could be driven confidently in the extremes of white water adventure jet boating.
Under light throttle, the boat would hold plane at just 2200 rpm, planed cleanly at 2500 rpm, and cruised effortlessly at 3000 rpm. Unfortunately I had neglected to bring the GPS so boat speeds were not ascertained during our test. From experience however, I would estimate the boat speed at 3000 rpm to be close to 30 knots. At wide open throttle, the boat produced a good turn of speed estimated to be around 60 knots.
Where the boat is most impressive though is when the throttle is mashed open from 3000 rpm. the tacho instantly swings to 5000 rpm, and you are thrown back into the seats as the boat rockets away. Acceleration is exhilarating.
The performance of the reverse deserves mentioning also. With 3000 rpm on the tacho and the commercial size twin duct reverse bucket in the full astern position, the boat almost pulled itself on to the plane, such was the thrust available. It would certainly be comparable to the Hamilton 212 in this regard and makes retrieval off the trailer or shingle bars absolutely effortless.
The Scott Jet/Alexcraft 4.9 is aimed at the upper end of the recreational jet boat market and in my opinion, compares favourably with other offerings in this market segment. Pricing starts at $50,000 depending upon the specification desired which is also competitive.
Fit and finish is very good and overall standards of presentation are very high, just as you would expect. The boat sets the standard in the class in terms of performance and handling levels.
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