Tristram Millennium 691

Tristram Marine's Millennium 691 was introduced at the 1997 Auckland Boat Show, where it won the Trailerboat of the Show award.

Tristram Millennium 691
Tristram Millennium 691
Its market-leading design and nothing-short-of-superb production detailing was reaffirmed when it won the same award two years later. Not surprisingly, it has been one of Tristram Marine's biggest sellers through 2000-01. After more than four years on the market, it still competes strongly in its field - and possibly leads it - and even today, many manufacturers would be pleased to capture its style and refinement.

Tristram Marine has nine models in their line-up, with the 10th - an 8.5m hardtop - due for release about the middle of 2002. It will lift the company into a new market and Lance is preparing preliminary drawings for an additional 3000sq m building next to the current factory and showroom. Although Tristram Marine is expanding, the Millennium 691 will not be displaced from the company line up for many years.

"I don't see how I can improve on it and achieve anything worthwhile. I could improve the speed of construction by not having 22 separate moulds to produce the boat, but in so doing, we would lose some lovely detail. We are set up to produce it now and it will remain as it is for some time."

Lance says the 691 was designed as a multi-purpose model and doesn't have one identity or focus.

"It was always intended as a very comfortable day boat that could extend to staying away for a weekend, but still be used for fishing, diving and skiing."

Many of Tristram's boats have been sold into the North and South Island lake districts, and Lance himself promotes the 691 as a great Taupo boat. He has a preference for conducting boat reviews on lakes Taupo or Karapiro, but leaves himself open for competing salesmen to use the "lake boat" description disparagingly.

The chance to try a second-hand 691 on a rough Auckland harbour appeared out of the blue, although it was only a brief encounter. I was invited to transfer from a similar-sized boat, one competing in a similar market as the Tristram 691, and make a direct comparison at sea. The Tristram was more sedate, softer riding and with good buoyancy forward, did not dip the bow in a following sea. I warmed to it immediately and felt very relaxed in it.

The hull is 22 degrees at the transom and with a belting-to-belting beam of 2.48m, it can be considered a big-volume and wide-beam boat (maximum road legal size is 2.5m). Lance describes the hull as "having some nice performance features, but not moving too far from the norm" and points out the engine is not on a bracket or extension.

"I believe an engine pod loads up the gearbox from a steering point of view, and the weight is in the wrong place. With the engine on the transom, the weight is where the hull can best support it. I think transom-mounted engines generate less spray as well.

"The hull has radius-curved bow sections and a fine entry, but it's full enough that it lifts and doesn't bury in a following sea. It has a full-length keel, capped with brass to provide grounding protection, but primarily there to make the boat track well."

The Millennium 691 is rated to 275hp (outboard only) and recommended power is between 200-225hp. The review boat - Lance and Bronwyn's beloved demonstrator - was powered by a 200hp HPDI Yamaha. Lance describes it as a nice power plant that's well suited to the boat.

"It will do 48mph top speed, has plenty of grunt and is economical."

The 691's layout is standard in that it has a cuddy cabin, two back-to-back helm seats, a rear cockpit seat and access to the platform through a cutaway in the aft port coaming. But it is easy to look at the 691, and overlook the design balance and detailing that serves it so well. The layout is gently biased one way - the starboard dash and back-to-back seat module are wider than those on the port side. As a result, the cuddy entrance is offset and the foot well between the bunks is not symmetrical. Lance says having the elements offset produces a more interesting and functional layout.

The layout works well and it lives up to Tristram's multi-purpose billing. Lance, Bronwyn and their sons - Tristram and Kingsley - holiday aboard the Millennium 691 when the opportunity arises. Lance says there is plenty of accommodation space, general storage volume and specialised storage for dive gear and fishing rods.

"Bronwyn and I sleep in the cuddy, and the boys sleep in the cockpit on self-inflating mattresses."

The underfloor locker, between the helm and the passenger seats, takes five dive bottles or a large chilly bin, and like many other lockers in the boat, has a moulded fibreglass liner. In this case, the liner is actually part of the deck mould, but regardless of construction detail, the result is the same. It provides a very nicely presented storage bin with a high-quality moulded gelcoat finish that is easy to clean. Lance says he wanted to provide generous underfloor dive-bottle storage.

"A total of seven tanks, plus other gear, can be carried if all three underfloor lockers are utilised."

The seat modules are also large enough to accept dive tanks, if the underfloor lockers are otherwise employed. The seats are individually moulded and toe spaces are provided around them, increasing floor space and allowing more comfortable movement about the boat. Other seating choices include pedestal seats, a swingarm seat like that fitted to the Tristram Avant Garde 641, soft rider seats or any combination of the options.

Both dash units are produced in separate split moulds to incorporate return flanges (to ensure rigid construction and a snug, durable fit) and detailing like a little eyebrow above the instruments. The instrument panel is curved in two planes so it is really easy on the eye and no problem to view the gauges. The lockers below the steering wheel and in front of the passenger seats are trimmed in teak as standard.

The entry into the cuddy progressively steps down and access is really easy. Everything is nicely moulded and balanced flowing curves are part of the detailing.

The bunks are long enough that each is a berth in its own right, so two people can comfortably sleep in the cuddy without the insert. An insert converts the bunks into a sizable double and the fibreglass support for the filler squab also doubles as a cockpit table. It's purpose-designed for its dual role, and comes complete with hinging stainless steel legs so it can be located against the starboard coaming between the rear-facing passenger seat and the front-facing cockpit seat.

An electric toilet is fitted in the front of the cuddy and pumps directly overboard. If holding-tank facilities are required, a portable toilet can be fitted instead. Other standard detailing includes a curtain to close off the companionway, two chart pockets, an interior light and a 12v auxiliary plug to charge cell phones.

The Weaver low-profile hatch, which provides light and ventilation to the cabin, and access to the foredeck, is manufactured to Tristram's individual specification to maximise size and retain sharp styling. It sits in a central recess in the cabin top so only the very top of it is seen from the side. In keeping with the crisp, low-profile theme, a remote-operated Freedom 500 low-profile Maxwell rope and chain winch is fitted on the bow. The anchor is self-launching from the bowsprit, which is moulded into the hull and finished with a stainless steel insert carrying two articulated rollers.

"The roller set up allows the anchor to travel through an arc, so when retrieved, it doesn't violently turn a corner, but fairs gently into its landing position."

It's easy to see the anchor from the helm position, which is very comfortable and well laid out. So, too, is the back of the boat. The 691 is a plush boat, but it can be optimised for fishing, and much of the upholstery and carpet can be removed or covered during a fishing expedition.

The cockpit has moulded recesses for the carpets (it's a neat visual feature, the carpet and fibreglass levels are flush and there are no exposed carpet edges to catch) and although the carpet in the helm area is fixed, the cockpit carpet can be removed to expose the non-skid fibreglass floor. The rear-seat upholstery can also be removed and the side pockets covered with dome-on, custom-made PVC covers Lance describes as fish liners. They protect the cockpit side and everything stored in the side pockets.

The side pockets are moulded fibreglass inserts and the starboard one incorporates storage for three rods and a deck-wash, cum shower nozzle. The port-side pocket also accommodates three rods and is longer than the starboard unit.

Each side pocket has a cockpit light fitted 30 degrees off vertical, so the cockpit has a good spread of light, but nothing shining directly in your eyes.

The cockpit is big enough to fish or sleep in, and Lance has developed a deluxe soft-targa canopy to optimise it for both. The canopy on his 691 was the best-thought-out, best-engineered and most practical I have seen on any trailerboat. It's available off the options list and I didn't dare ask the price, but there was no doubting its quality, precision or function.

One person can quickly raise the canopy or fold it down so the road cover can be clipped on for fast, trouble-free garaging or towing with the minimum of dirt and grit in the boat.

A separate extension extends the soft top back to the outboard well, and clears clip on the outside of the stainless steel structure to weather proof the helm and cockpit. Lance says it makes the boat ideal for overnighting. "Our cooker sits up on the bait board [or ski pole] mount, so we can enjoy hot drinks or food. The backdrop is fitted with an access door and bug screen for insect-free ventilation.

The rear half of the canopy is quickly removed and replaced with a stainless steel rocket launcher - it's only a matter of making the selection before you leave the ramp or beach. A trolling motor is an optional extra and if required, an 8hp Yamaha on a fixed bracket attached to the starboard boarding platform is recommended. The fuel line for the trolling motor is connected to a second outlet from the main 250-litre fuel tank (standard equipment) and is stored in the wet locker above the platform ready to attach to the engine.

The 691 is towed on a Voyager multi-roller galvanised trailer that comes standard with moulded fibreglass mudguards over the tandem wheels. Galvanised leaf springs, submersible lights and a manual winch are standard equipment, and stainless steel brake callipers will be available from Christmas onwards. Lance says the towing weight totals about 1950kg.

While the Millennium 691 design and tooling is over four years old, the time span is nothing considering the features, detailing and styling it offers. If this boat wasn't ahead of its time when first released, it was close to it and has not aged since. Lance Fink is a perfectionist and the high-quality result he demands of himself and his staff is endowed in this boat. The detailing is superb and the finer points are too numerous to mention. Of course, one must pay for high-quality goods, but in terms of value for money, ease of resale and sheer ownership enjoyment, the Millennium 691 balances the books.

Millennium 691
LOA: 6.9m
Beam: 2.48m
Deadrise: 22 degree at transom
Fuel capacity: 250 litres
Bunk length: 2.1m
Cabin headroom: 920mm above bunk, 1420mm above floor
Recommended power: Twin 175-275hp
Price: Packages from $71,600 incl GST (200hp Saltwater Series Yamaha, Voyager multi-roller tandem, braked trailer)
Boat supplied by: Tristram Marine
Phone: (07) 849 5225

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