White Pointer 850
The East Cape region provides awesome fishing potential but it generally requires an ocean capable craft to capitalise on the opportunities. Geoff Green experienced a trailer boat with this bluewater capability when he went to Napier and Gisborne to trial the White Pointer 850.
Reviewing boats is subjective and to help keep perspective I maintain a mental list of benchmark boats. They are craft that have set a class standard under headings such as build quality, styling, layout, ride, stability, room, features, value for money and trailerability.
My benchmarks evolve with the industry - and my familiarity with it - and every so often I come across a boat that makes me revise my points of reference. The White Pointer 850 is such a boat.
White Pointer began building alloy jet boat hulls about 10 years ago. They have recently gained exposure in America where Rex's brother, Peter, won the World Jet Sprint Championships driving a White Pointer hull.
With many requests from local Gisbornites for a strong seaworthy hull to work the exposed East Cape, White Pointer diversified into serious fishing boats about eight years ago. The company has gone from strength to strength and, with around 200 White Pointer hulls on the water, the brand has built a respectful following among the sportfishing and gamefishing fraternity.
The White Pointer range includes seven production models that a buyer can have customised and detailed to any level they wish. The 8.8m White Pointer 850 is the biggest in the trailerable range and it was this model that enticed me to Napier.
Boat owner, Brent Hoare fishes for tuna and marlin in summer and the 850 is big enough to run by sea to the Ranfurly Bank and further north into Waihau Bay. He also values the ability to relocate Grey Ghost anywhere in New Zealand - Houhora, Raglan or the lakes - as the fishing seasons wax and wane.
My first impressions were of generous size, good build quality and nice styling, and these perceptions were reinforced as my two-day association with the boat developed.
I initially thought the size and weight of the 850 would cause some difficulty when towing and launching, but nothing could have been further from the truth. It is a very big boat to tow and has a 3300kg trailerable weight when fuelled, but it was launched in less than two minutes and retrieved it in half the time it took a fellow ramp-user to recover his 4.4m Fyran. Rex simply drove Grey Ghost on until it was snug against the winch post and Brent drove away once the safety chain was attached.
The aluminium White Pointer trailer under the boat showed some jet boating influence and there was not a single roller to be seen. The boat sits in a cradle of nylon wear strips that enable the boat to self-centre and be driven on from almost any angle.
Grey Ghost ran really well in a light cross chop and moderate ocean swell. It covered the ground so well it generated a change in mindset - it was easy to think I was aboard a small launch. This was especially so when I turned to face aft and saw the expansive cockpit stretching back behind the double sliding cabin doors.
Grey Ghost is powered by a Yanmar six-cylinder diesel coupled to a Mercruiser Bravo 2 stern leg. We cruised at 2800rpm and the GPS registered 24 knots and the fuel flow gauge read 26 litres per hour. The GPS confirmed a top speed of 35.2 knots at 3900rpm and maximum fuel consumption was 64 litres per hour.
Cruising at 24 knots, Grey Ghost has a range of around 460nm on the 500l fuel tank built-in beneath the cabin sole (the standard fuel tank size is 300l).
The boat provides the sea keeping to fully use this range and one of its many positive points is an ability to maintain a relatively fast cruising speed. Even in the rough seas we encountered off Gisborne two days after the Napier trial, Grey Ghost maintained an easy 18 knots. Its long hull length and relatively fine bow delivered a comfortable ride and the boat provides an excellent environment for extended operation.
The deadrise progressively increases from 18 degrees at the transom and no strakes are fitted because Rex believes they harden up the ride.
With over 20 operational 8m and 850 models, and over 200 boats on the water, White Pointer has not received a single hull warranty claim. Rex freely admits he was forced to adopt the 6mm bottom because other manufactures promote 6mm plate as a necessity. "The market perceives 6mm is the required standard but with the supporting structure we build into our hulls a 5mm bottom is plenty strong enough. The result is an indestructible over-kill and a boat that is slightly heavier than it needs to be."
Brent says the build process was enjoyable and he got exactly what he wanted. "The White Pointer is a boutique boat but it represents excellent value for money."
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