Challenger 720 SD Diesel Hardtop

By: Gary Lovell


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Challenger Boat’s trusty 720 has been given a revamp following new investment in the company, including the addition of an inboard diesel. The final package is versatile, easy-riding vessel, equally at ease with a fishing gang or the family.

Challenger 720 SD Diesel Hardtop
Challenger 720 SD Diesel Hardtop
  • Set up for serious fishing, the 720 can also be configured for family boating
  • There is plenty of space on the dash for a chartplotter of your choice
  • Excellent access to the diesel engine
  • Anglers are well catered for with 15 rod holders
  • Out on the water there is little bounce, cornering is steady, and there is a feeling of control

The Challenger 720 has been remodeled, adding a sleeker top line and larger covered area while retaining the fundamental hull design.

The 720’s hull has always been noted for its soft ride in choppy seas – a result of the slightly convex hull shape and lack of strakes. In addition to changes to the bow area, the redesign has seen the pilothouse extended backwards about 300mm, providing more covered area in the cockpit. The sleeker lines are enhanced by the new windscreen – it’s now curved, toughened glass, supported by sliding side windows on both sides.

Other modifications include an enlarged anchor locker, new hatches and a slightly larger diameter stainless steel bow rail.

Diesel power

Buyers of the 720 Hard Top have a choice of a diesel or petrol-powered inboard, or the more conventional outboard engine.

The test boat was fitted with a four-cylinder Cummins Mercruiser QSD2.8 diesel, with an integrated Bravo 3 stern drive unit. While the standard engine produces 210hp, this one was upgraded to 220hp by the manufacturer.

Mercruiser’s Seacore technology gives both engine and sterndrive improved corrosion protection – they come with a four-year limited manufacturer’s warranty against corrosion.

Despite the horses, the engine is remarkably compact, and takes up little space in the cockpit. It’s also easy to access. The 215-litre fuel tank occupies most of the available space under the carpeted cockpit floor, but there is a small hatch for bilge storage between the engine and the fuel tank.

Fishing-friendly

The covered inboard creates a cleaner, freer fishing platform – no outboard to snag lines and rods.

Access to the cockpit is via a step through on the port side of the transom (the other side carries the battery locker). A large bait board with a five-rod rocket launcher sits on the top of the transom. The entire unit is mounted on a stainless pole, which is easily swapped for a ski pole.

Anglers are well catered for, with a total of 15 rod holders on the boat. Full-length shelves along both sides of the cockpit provide stowing space for items such as rods, lifejackets and fishing tackle.

The open pilothouse ends well aft of the Softrider pedestal seats and it offers excellent protection and a sense of roominess.

The new windscreen curves around the corners of the pilothouse, eliminating the need for corner pillars. This enhances the helmsman’s view.

The forward cabin is open to the rest of the boat and boasts a full-width V berth. A centre insert pulls out to improve the seating area or to accommodate a portable toilet.

A stainless steel hand rail surrounds the large opening to the forward cabin, and a large Weaver hatch provides plenty of light into the cabin and alternative access to the bow.

The Challenger 720 is fitted with a Freedom winch, operated from the helm station, and the large anchor locker will accommodate plenty of chain and warp for deep anchoring.

Performance

Launching the boat from the tandem-axle Prescott trailer was easy, although we found retrieving it with the manual winch hard work. I’d lean towards the optional power winch.

The diesel was quiet, unobtrusive and provided a strong sense of confidence.

Out on the water in a nasty little chop, the Challenger hull cut through the waves with very little bounce and the wide reverse chine turned the top of the bow wave out and away from the boat efficiently.

Straight line running in the building waves was spot on, with the boat holding her course in all but the biggest cross waves.

Cornering was steady and, even at near to top speed, the boat felt totally under control, with just the right amount of lean into the corner and no discernable sideways slippage.

Top speed was just under 40mph at 3800rpm, with the most economical cruising speed (20mph) burning up about 16 litres per hour. At 25mph (3000rpm) fuel consumption rises to 22 litres per hour.

To read in-depth boat reviews, see the latest issue of Trade-A-Boat magazine, on sale now.

Specifications

LOA 7.20m
Beam 2.45m
Draft 0.38m
Deadrise 18.5o
Tow weight 2600kg
Engine 220hp Cummins



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