Test: Mac Attack 360 High Side

By: Norman Holtzhausen, Photography by: Norman Holtzhausen

Mac Attack 360 High Side Mac Attack 360 High Side
mac attack 360 high side PWC-type performance with the stability and safety of a boat mac attack 360 high side
Mac Attack 360 High Side Mac Attack 360 High Side
mac attack 360 high side Tote tanks under front hatch help balance the boat mac attack 360 high side
Mac Attack 360 High Side Mac Attack 360 High Side
Mac Attack 360 High Side Mac Attack 360 High Side
mac attack 360 high side High Side version raises gunwales by about 200mm — ride drier, waves less likely to break over bow mac attack 360 high side

Looking for an indestructible, unsinkable, stable little runabout crossing the barrier between personal water craft and trailer fishing boat? This little bulletproof beauty is well worth considering.

Test: Mac Attack 360 High Side
Pretty much bulletproof

Plastic boats have been manufactured since 1986 and are renowned for their toughness and durability. Mac Boats was one of the pioneers of rotationally-moulded polyethylene. Its boats have achieved the highest standards of industrial certification and are a favourite with recreational and commercial customers.

Despite its early adoption of revolutionary technology, Mac's well-proven models have tended to feature continuous improvements. The Mac Attack 360 High Side is an innovative addition to the hull of an existing and extremely popular model.

The basic construction of all Mac boats is the same, with the inner and outer hulls bonded together into one unit. Additional rigidity is achieved by creating internal surfaces in the moulding where the inner and outer shells match up along each beam. These mating surfaces are then bonded together, a process known in the industry as kissing off, creating the effect of an integral skeleton for the boat.

The interior cavity is then completely filled with Endurathane, a closed-cell polyethylene foam. This creates a stiff and incredibly tough hull, virtually unsinkable even if the boat was to be cut in half. These boats meet or exceed just about every safety standard in New Zealand, the USA and Europe.


The polyethylene plastic used is UV-stabilised, and the colour continues right through the plastic. Thus the boats never need painting and colours do not fade. The technology used is well proven, and 30-year-old boats are still in daily use. The hulls are virtually indestructible, and do not fade, rust, rot, experience electrolysis or osmosis issues and are impervious to fuel and most corrosive substances. It is almost impossible to crack the plastic, and fire is about the only way to destroy a Mac boat. In the unlikely case damage does occur, or if minor changes to the layout are required, plastic welding techniques enable new pieces to be integrated into the hull. These are almost impossible to discern from the original moulding.

Mac's popular 360 comes in three different layouts: the tiller-steered model, a forward-steer model with a dash area facilitating conventional steering and a mini windscreen, and the Mac Attack version with a centre console. The tiller model is popular as a yacht tender or a rugged work boat, with more features than the iconic Kiwi tinny without the drawbacks. The forward-steer model has found favour with sports groups as safety boats, as well as being an ideal inshore fishing and diving platform.

The Mac Attack, on the other hand, is an out-and-out fun boat, providing PWC-type performance and manoeuvrability with the stability and safety of a boat. The motorcycle-type centre console seat keeps the weight centred and allows for tight turns and PWC responsiveness.

However, one of the design features that makes the Mac 360 such a popular model, the low gunwales, is not really conducive to a dry ride in bigger seas. Many prospective purchasers like the easy handling of the boat and did not want anything larger, but at the same time wanted something to handle rougher conditions without the occupants getting wet.

For larger seas

So the clever designers at Mac Boats went away and had a think, and instead of producing a completely new hull they designed a sealed pontoon, mounted onto the standard 360 hull. This new module then creates a high-side version, available for all Mac 360 models. As this module is welded to the original hull, it can also be retro-fitted to existing Mac Attack boats by the factory.

The modification raises the gunwale by about 200mm to create a boat able to handle considerably larger seas than most boats of this size. Although the high sides do not necessarily make the boat any safer (the hull was already unsinkable), the ride is drier and the design provides additional protection from the wind and chop.

The review boat had a couple of Railblaza accessory mounts fitted into the gunwales, and these had angled rod holders installed. Other options are possible, including flush-mounted rod holders. The review boat also had a large plastic zippered catch bag fitted to the starboard gunwale, allowing the boat to be kept tidy when fish are brought on board.

Ready runner

We set out from Half Moon Bay on the review day into fine weather with very little wind and almost no swell. These are the sorts of conditions in which one would normally operate a boat this size. The new Tohatsu proved a ready runner and had more than enough power for two occupants.

We headed up the river to have a play, and once clear of the speed restriction area we hit just over 28mph – this configuration will reach around 30mph with just one occupant. This size boat is seldom likely to be run at this speed anyway, unless conditions are near perfect.

The centre console layout proved to be great for manoeuvrability. With all the weight sitting dead centre, the boat could be thrown about at will, maintaining the correct angle and feeling completely safe no matter what we did.

There was a strong current running, and we were able to find a few pressure waves to power through, which proved comfortable. The relatively shallow deadrise angle of 10 degrees seemed to have little influence on the ride comfort since the plastic hull absorbs much of the energy and noise of hard landings. So the ride was smooth and considerably quieter than a similar sized alloy boat would have been.

The boat is also comfortable to drive while standing up, with the steering wheel and throttle at just the right height to be reachable. When manoeuvring close to a wharf or another boat the standing position gives good all-round view, but even when doing high-speed turns it proved comfortable and safe.

Stable comfort

This boat is rated for up to three occupants, and certainly seems more than stable enough for this. While at rest we both leaned over on the same side and although the pontoon settled onto the water, at no point did the boat lean over enough to cause alarm. This stability comes from both the shallow deadrise and the generous beam.

The newly-designed gunwales make them a more comfortable height to sit on than the original version, although it does make it impractical to climb back over the sides if the boat is used for swimming. However, the stern has a small boarding platform, more of a step, really.

Bob Adler is the new owner of the boat we were testing, and he absolutely raves about it. He says his free time is precious but he loves fishing, so needed a boat he can take out on his own without having to rely on anyone else. He also wanted a boat with minimal maintenance, and safety was an absolute given. He has decided to fit additional Railblaza accessories, including a bait board, and has had a cushion made to fit over the steering wheel. He says that when fishing he fits this, then faces the stern and can lean back like he's in an armchair.

The boat is provided on a Roadking single-axle trailer and the entire unit is light enough to be towed by a very modest vehicle. Although this is always going to be a fair-weather boat, it is robust and safe enough to handle adverse conditions.

For more details or to find a dealer, phone (09) 273 5666 or visit macboats.com.

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