White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser

By: Steve Raea, Photography by: Steve Raea

White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser
White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser
White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser
White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser
White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser

With All Black legend Dan Carter waiting for us at Napier Airport and the ocean liner Sea Princess holding station off Napier Harbour, news of Trade-A-Boat’s pending review of Mark Sinton’s new White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser Fred had spread farther than first thought.

White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser
White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser

But come they might because in the world of offshore trailer boats, Fred has a star quality that's blinding to even the most short-sighted. Glistening like a sapphire in the morning sun, Sinton's White Pointer 850 CC is nothing short of stunning.

For Sinton, Fred is the closest thing to perfection in an imperfect world and a panacea for a job that requires him to spend his days working deep within the earth's crust managing gold mining operations on the African continent.

Napier born and bred, Sinton is a bloke's bloke and lives for his time at sea. Home only sporadically, Sinton can't get out of his suit fast enough and back out onto the Hawke's Bay waters that have been his hunting ground since he was a child.

When home in Napier, every day is golden and Sinton is often up before the dawn, steaming towards the offshore banks and deepsea ridges of the eastern Bay of Plenty while the rest of the town is still sleeping.

He thinks nothing of traveling 60, 80 or even 100-miles offshore chasing game and trophy fish so having a capable and seaworthy boat that will get him home again safely has always been Sinton's top priority.

Having owned a White Pointer 750 Custom Cruiser for the last three-years, Sinton says there was never any question that his next boat would be a White Pointer.

"Absolutely not…I put more than 400-hours on my 750 and I've been caught out in some ugly stuff but I've always made it home. I don't go looking for trouble but when you're three, four or even five-hours offshore, trouble can find you.

"When it does you have to have faith in your boat and yourself. My 750 never let me down. There has never any doubt in my mind over whose door I would bang on when the time came to upgrade."

That upgrade is Fred, a no-expense-spared, iridescent blue White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser optimised to accommodate Sinton's passion for deepsea fishing and diving.

Quality first

In many respects Sinton and White Pointer managing director Rex Briant are birds of a feather. Both were brought up on the east coast where boating and fishing are as much a part of family life as milking the house cow.

Both spent time abroad as young men — Briant learning his sheet metal trade in Canada and Sinton driving trucks in Australia. Both are successful in their own right and they speak the same language which can be seen in their easy manner. More importantly, it's reflected in Briant's ability to interpret Sinton's idea of the perfect offshore trailer boat and visualise and accommodate the many little touches that could be lost on a builder that fails to connect with his client.

Fred is foremost a standard 850 Custom Cruiser and engineered exactly the same as the stock product but Sinton's extensive range of options have been carefully considered and integrated in a way that doesn't compromise the boat's integrity or the good looks of the exterior.

This is no small achievement because there's a lot going on — life raft, outriggers, radar, craypot hauler and electric winch, cockpit freezer and multiple aerials and antenna. Add in the boat's large diesel engine cockpit cover and the potential for clutter is real.

An aspect often overlooked in assessing boats like Fred is the finer detail of build quality and it's here the Whiter Pointer team go the extra mile. The devil is in the detail and at a glance, the detail isn't always obvious.

But study weld continuity, crisp press brake folds and the fairness of the hull, cabin sides and superstructure and the picture that emerges is one of perfection. Look closely too at the exacting tolerances around window frames, deck and cabin top-hatches and you'll see a boat built with care and attention. It reflects sound experience and knowledge of the sea.

Design and construction

The heart of any boat lies in its construction and White Pointer hulls are built using the traditional methods includning shaping the hull over a predetermined honeycomb-like, interlocking frame.

Using a structured welding sequence, the hull emerges with a rounded (compound) curve that is most predominate at the shoulder where the chine rail begins to widen. The compound shape of the hull eliminates much of the harshness of landing when the boat becomes airborne. It is also an extremely strong way to fabricate a hull.

While White Pointer's moderate 18-degree transom deadrise is a compromise between stability and fast, stable planing. The Custom Cruiser series all share a deep forefoot that further reduces pounding and helps ward off any tendency to steer by the bow when running hard into a following sea.

Briant says that while construction techniques have been refined with experience and feedback, it is essentially unchanged since the company's formation more than two-decades ago.

"They're as proven as a hull can be so as long as the seas don't change, neither will our hull shapes nor our construction methods. Our build time is longer than some but that's the trade-off for getting a handcrafted boat."

One factor that sets it apart from other Kiwi-made trailer boats is White Pointer's use of naval architects. The adage 'what looks right probably is' works to a certain extent, says Briant, but there is no substitute for a qualified understanding of hydrodynamics.

"Hull shapes are a calculation rather than a guess.Teaching yourself CAD is no substitute for trained and qualified boat design."

Utilising marine-grade alloy for the entire build, the 850 CC has a full-length internal keel bar and box frame stringers and frames onto which 6mm plate is welded to form the hull and transom. The topsides and cockpit are fabricated from 4mm plate and the superstructure from 3mm plate.

Briant says his boats are welded internally and externally which allows external visible welds in areas like the transom, gunnel and rubbing strake to be ground back for aesthetics and painting, without compromising strength.

Step by step

On a build project like Fred, the many extras are dry-fitted and removed prior to the boat progressing through to the paint shop. This ensures items are not only placed to owner requirements but prevents any further drilling.

This ensures that every fastening hole is adequately sealed and coated before fittings are attached, reducing the likelihood of premature corrosion or paint flake. It takes time, says Briant, but the end result is worth the extra effort.

Similar attention is paid to electronics and wiring with pre-designed, custom-made wiring looms assembled offsite by professional loom builders. Every loom is colour coded, labelled, fused and switched in keeping with marine industry best-practice.

This level of detail extends to White Pointer's LPG installations, all of which are tested to, and meet, New Zealand standards and are certified accordingly.

Engine installation is a major part of the build process and particular care has to be taken with inboard stern drives like that of Fred's.

Keeping sea water out of the engine box is the key to longevity but engine boxes need to deliver adequate ventilation. Having fitted more than 200 diesel inboards, White Pointer Boats has learnt what works and what doesn't.

The interior of White Pointer's Custom Cruiser series boast professional custom joinery in the galley, leather trim at the helm and high-quality upholstery, all set off with mirror-finish epoxy coatings for a pleasing and stylish rig.

Born to the sea

Safety is paramount when voyaging offshore and between Briant and Sinton nothing has been left to chance. The boat's solid aluminium transom rails and twin platform gates effectively enclose the boarding platform allowing the entire aft end to be fished safely, even in difficult conditions.

The full-length transom platform is generous in width with a raised mid-section over the central duo-prop well. Every inch of space aft has been used to good effect with twin tuna tubes recessed into the aft combings.

Accessing the cockpit from the transom is secure and surefooted with a half-height bridge deck on both the port and starboard sides under which is the boat's live-bait tank with glass front — colloquially referred to as 'fish TV'.

The aft cockpit is necessarily dominated by the central engine cover which hinges inboard for easy and complete engine access. The engine box serves many functions, but is optimised for fishing with a clever bi-fold bait board that is large and practical.

The bait board assembly is such that it provides space beneath for four 20-litre plastic bins held in place on aluminium extruded runners fitted to the underside. The unit caters for four rods and has twin recessed sinker/cup holders. But this is just for starters.

Like all Custom Cruisers, there's a further three capped rod holders recessed into each gunnel and a pair of solid welded bollards well aft we're they're needed. The combings are relatively high and wide and covered with non-skid rubber matting.

The single deep parcel shelf running the full length of the cockpit is solidly constructed with gussets to cope with the weight of crew using the shelf as a step up to the combings. Captive rod holders, fixed under the shelves, provide secure rod storage when underway.

Dedicated dive tank storage is provided in a large underfloor cockpit bin with a heavy checker-plate lid. The lid is not captive and, while unlikely to move in flight, it is a bit awkward when retrieving or stowing items. All unpainted metalwork within the cockpit has been treated with an anti-corrosive coating.

Moving forward, a sink serviced with hot water from a gas califont is set against the cabin bulkhead. The boat's gas bottle is remote mounted and vented as required under NZS safety regulations. A small convenience shelf is welded above the sink for cleaning products.

The wheelhouse is enclosed by an offset rear bi-fold aluminium door that folds inboard and is secured by a positive latch. The aft port corner houses the boat's large cockpit freezer built into a fabricated storage locker with an upholstered cover that provides cockpit seating for two. Additional clever touches include a pair of tackle boxes built into the boat's gunnels.

A feature of the Cruiser series is the hardtop design which extends well over the cockpit providing an excellent shelter. This is a Godsend in tough offshore conditions, effectively channelling water well aft of the wheelhouse. It also negates any requirement for a canvas bimini which has no place on an offshore boat.

White Pointer's large cavity-slider cockpit window is a winner, bringing the outdoors within. It is just one of many original innovations developed by White Pointer which have subsequently found their way onto other boats.

Game-rigged, Fred's spec' includes a heavy duty, foot-operated electric craypot winch on the starboard cockpit combing with a simple davit that is lifted, turned and dropped into a locked position when lifting pots. A smart touch is a heavy vinyl curtain that rolls out and over the combing to protect the topside paint.


Fred's interior is standard to the Cruiser design with a raised saloon and galley table to port with a small galley opposite. Fitted with a hob, a small stainless sink with a 150-litre underfloor fresh water tank and a fridge tucked in under the bench, cooking at sea is a realistic proposition. Prep space is limited but the saloon table can be pressed into service should the need arise.

The helm station is centred on a quarter bulkhead on the starboard side. This creates an open and easy passage to the forward cabin. With an embossed leather helm seat and stitched leather dash the bridge is stylish and functional with ample room for a large screen plotter.

Fred bristles with the latest Raymarine electronics, including a C120 12-inch CHIRP wide-screen combination plotter/sounder and latest 18-inch 4kW HD radar. Radio gear is recessed into a separate overhead module and includes a VHF and Fusion stereo head deck. An impressive cluster of proprietary Volvo engine and fuel management instruments are flush-mounted at the helm along with automatic trim tab switches, dual opposing wiper switches, an autopilot head unit and a double gang of BEP switches.

Fitted with tinted side-opening safety glass windows and a toughened glass curved windscreen, Fred is as good to look through as it is to look at.

In standard trim the boat will sleep two couples or three singles but this can be increased to four singles with the addition of a pipe-cot berth fitted above the forward Vee berth. The interior finish is stylish with full interior lining and an electric toilet fitted between the cabin bunk fronts. A courtesy curtain provides privacy from the saloon.

A cabin deck hatch and twin overhead saloon hatches ensure there is ample lighting and ventilation and White Pointer's signature cavity slider cockpit window makes for an airy yet cosy retreat.

Let it rip

Sinton initially wanted to fit a Volvo Penta D6 350hp diesel engine but was persuaded by Briant to go for the smaller 300hp common rail D4 with duo prop leg which gives up little in performance but is considerably more frugal and requires less space.

It was the right choice, says Sinton. The D4's reliability is now well-proven and, while not scintillating, it pushes Fred along easily and is well matched to the boat given Sinton's preference for offshore fishing. With an optional 500L underfloor tank, range should never be an issue.

With little wind and a relatively flat sea, this wasn't the ideal day to gauge the boat's rough water handling but it provided an opportunity to test Fred's on-board systems and check Sinton's crayfish pots 20-miles up the Napier coast.

With a beam of just 2.5m, Fred's minimum width is a trade-off between cockpit volume and ease of towing. Briant says the Cruiser can be optioned with a beam of up to 2.9m but says he wouldn't necessarily recommend this unless the boat's permanently moored or beach launched.

"Sure, you get extra cockpit volume and a bit more stability at rest but there's no discernible on-the-water performance edge and towing restrictions apply. It is horses-for-courses but the standard 2.5m beam works well.

"I liken the 850 to the sport car of the Custom Cruiser range. It's fast, nimble, compact and easily managed."

D-series Volvos have a reputation for their quiet and responsive running and the 300hp did not disappoint, being barely audible at idle through Fred's superior, fire-proof, engine box insulation.

The fly-by-wire electronic gearbox and hydraulic steering are silky smooth and responsive and with the aid of automatic self-levelling trim tabs you can't help but feel a little redundant once the autopilot is engaged.

From trolling speeds to WOT, Fred is stable and predictable in every way with a clean, well-defined wake tossed well clear by the boat's gull-wing chine. The duo prop works effectively with only the slightest hint of cavitation in fast, tight cornering. Noise intrusion is further dampened through the 6mm hull plate and insulating properties of built-in foam buoyancy and linings. Even with the rear door open, conversation is easy. Close the cockpit door and you feel invincible.

This is a smart package from stem to stern and, as is usual with Briant's boats, it's a challenge to take in everything in one sitting. The harder you look, the more you see. The standard of engineering and finish is first-class and well worthy of its custom-build status.

As for Sinton; he's over the moon.

"It's twice the boat of my 750 and that's saying something because I loved that boat. I wouldn't have dreamed that an extra metre could have such a marked difference on performance and feel. But it does."

Sinton says keeping the boat at its standard beam means driving on and off the trailer and towing is no more challenging than it was with his 750.

"In some respects, it's even easier," he says.

"With the torque of the diesel, getting the boat up onto the trailer doesn't require a fist full of throttle. It feels easier, more comfortable and Rex's self-catching trailer hook works a treat.

"Even when I'm by myself I don't have to get my feet wet – and that's something." h

For more information contact White Pointer Boats Ltd, 189 Stanley Road, Gisborne, ph 06 868 6519, email tony@whitepointerboats.co.nz or visit whitepointerboats.co.nz.

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