By: Norman Holtzhausen

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Some boating concepts are so simple you wonder why no one has thought of them before. And such simplicity usually works well. The Zego's a classic example – offering great performance and functionality.

Two asymmetrical hulls of moulded polyethylene are fitted to a centre cockpit of the same material. An alloy front deck provides additional rigidity as well as a very useable deck area, while the recommended 30hp outboard engine is controlled by a sports steering wheel and hand throttle.

Alloy bow-rails provide additional safety when on the deck, while the backrest has four rod holders strategically positioned along it. The hulls each have an additional polyethylene planing strake attached to the rear of the hulls which come into play when carrying heavier loads.

This radical boat burst on the market in 2005, and has sold over a hundred units since then. Designed and built in Waipu, the brightly-coloured hulls can now be seen not only all over New Zealand but also around the world thanks to considerable export success.

The Auckland agent for Zego, Silverdale Marine, recently held an open day in conjunction with the Brown's Bay Festival. This was an ideal opportunity for prospective buyers to experience the boats in one of their best roles – a fun, beach-launched family water toy.

Launching the boat from the supplied trailer is very easy, and can be tackled single-handedly, even on a sandy beach. The whole package, including engine, only weighs around 175kg, enabling the trailer to be wheeled down into the water over sand that is too soft for a conventional vehicle.

Once in the water the 30hp Tohastu, fitted with Zego's own design hydrofoil, tilts down and locks into place. Coming back into the beach is very simple: with the engine lock released, the boat is driven at full speed out the water and up on to the sand. The boat is then winched back onto the trailer.

Despite riding just a few inches off the water, the boat remains very dry. Neither wake-jumping nor heading into or away from the wind produced any significant spray. Of course, in any open boat the occupants should always be prepared to get wet, and there is a dry compartment under the helm seat where delicate gear can be safely stowed.

This is a boat that is as much fun as a PWC, but is probably much more economical to operate. The asymmetrical shape of the hulls enables it to turn on the proverbial dime, even at high speed. The catamaran layout gives it stability, while the hulls, made from 8mm polyethylene, are virtually indestructible. The whole package is unsinkable and forgiving of almost any sort of handling.

Despite its 'fun' appearance, this boat has everything for convenient use. The short-shaft Tohatsu (standard for this model) has electric start. It’s also supplied with an upgraded 10" stainless steel surf propeller, to prevent problems when the boat is run up onto the beach. The motorcycle-style helm seat is well padded and comfortable, and the small steering wheel provides quick and positive steering.

The cockpit is self-draining, and there is seating for a pillion passenger. Steering is similar to a boat, although for very tight turns it helps to lean into the turn (as per a motorcycle). Thanks to its light weight, the 30hp engine makes the boat very zippy, and acceleration is excellent. Pulling a water toy behind it is also effortless.

The boat is also perfectly set up for another popular past time – a one-man fishing platform. The backrest contains four rod holders, angled out to keep lines clear of the engine. Additional holders can be fitted to the bow rail, and there is space to lash a big chilly bin onto the front deck. The Zego is unsinkable and can handle any conditions, making it a considerably safer (and more comfortable) option than the common 'tinny' or even a kayak.

The price of the entire Zego package, including trailer and all the extras as per test, is $15,995. For more details contact Nick of Silverdale Marine on (09) 426 5087 or visit www.zego.biz

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