Review: Surtees 850 Game Fisher


We water test and rate the Surtees 850 Game Fisher, a contender in the aluminium fishing boats category at the 2016 Australia’s Greatest Boats awards.

Surtees 850 Gamefisher
Club Marine logo

When Australia’s Greatest Boats judge and Club Marine magazine’s managing editor Chris Beattie steps off a review boat and exclaims it "...would take anything up to a tsunami in its stride", you know it’s something special.

Off to battle the Surtees 850 Game Fisher rode, into Eden’s beautiful Twofold Bay, a waterway steeped with seagoing history. At the Australia’s Greatest Boats contest she set the pace, both in strength and style, with her long graceful looks presenting a formidable opponent to all entrants. The Surtees 850 Game Fisher is a plate aluminium fishing boat, built for those with premium tastes, to ensure long trips in the rough briny are as safe and comfortable as possible, yet at the same time providing the necessary economy to do it daily.

The Surtees 850 Game Fisher was originally reviewed by NZ reporter Matt Jones, which is how it got to find itself in the best Aluminium Fishing Boats category at Australia’s Greatest Boats. Matt is a hard man to impress, particularly given the array of Kiwi competitors available at his doorstep, yet he was clearly moved in his original test, saying: "Surtees Boats is one of a handful of NZ-based manufacturers to achieve the stringent CE tick of approval. The company has done so by instilling a devotion to quality and design excellence throughout its range. Furthermore, one man is tasked with overseeing the entire build process of each boat that rolls out of the factory, ensuring a sense of pride in workmanship. It all speaks volumes for the quality that Surtees prides itself on – and justifiably so."

Surtees 850 Gamefisher image gallery

And he went on: "The potent combination of Surtees’ armour-plated hull and Yamaha’s outstanding 350hp V8 four-stroke outboard motor offered an exhilarating drive of which I’ve experienced few equals in this class. Effectively, it’s built like a tank but rides like a thoroughbred."

The Surtees 850 Game Fisher is a bulletproof armour-plated offshore weapon. She has a 6mm plate alloy hull with 5mm sides and an impressive six-year hull warranty to back it up. The balance between accommodation and enclosed wheelhouse is managed beautifully, with a ton of internal facility backed up with a huge rear deck area to stage the fishing fun. The 2.8m beam and more than 3000kg tare weight also ensure the Surtees 850 Game Fisher is one heck of towing proposition, but that won’t stop serious offshore proponents.

The cabin is enclosed by strong, rattle-free barn doors at the rear, and provides an excellent level of vision right around the boat. There is plenty of accommodation for an extended sojourn, with a big V-berth, sink, stove, fridge and a convertible dinette all laid out with plenty of storage and loads of room to move.

Chris Beattie added: "The Surtees 850 Game Fisher has a sporty profile, with plenty of solid practical touches and features and a very high level of finish."

The deck is an angling masterpiece with good freeboard, walk-throughs to the rear platforms, excellent cutting board and wash-down facility, livebait tank, self-draining checkerplate deck,  rod and cup holders by the dozen, rocket launchers and much, much more. All of this is aided by a more than impressive ride and excellent stability via the flooding keel design.

Fishing space on Surtees 850 Gamefisher

Surtees 850 Game Fisher specs

Surtees 850 Game Fisher price: $289,000

Price as tested

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Bow thruster, power steering, dual burner cooker, hot water shower, fridge, Garmin electronics, electric toilet, upgraded fuel tank (550lt), solar panels, ballast close-off gate, satellite TV

 

MATERIAL Aluminium

TYPE Monohull fishing boat

LENGTH 8.65m

BEAM 2.8m

WEIGHT 2200kg (dry)

PEOPLE (day) 10

FUEL 450lt

ENGINE F350XCB Yamaha four-stroke outboard motor

 

MORE INFORMATION

Surtees Boats, NZ

Phone +64 (7) 322 8461

Email boats@surteesboats.com

Web surteesboats.com

 

More on Australia's greatest Boats 2016

Fibreglass fishing boat

Fibreglass fishing boats

 

Aluminium fishing boat

Aluminium fishing boats

 

 

 

 

 

Surtees 850 Game Fisher rating

Surtees 850 Game Fisher rating

 

What the judges said

Fishing suitability

Clearly intended for serious offshore fishing, including overnighting/short-term liveaboard use and fulfills this role exceptionally well.

All the bells, all the whistles make this more than just an off-shore fishing weapon. As an offshore/overnight-capable large trailerboat, it packs quite a punch. Big boy’s toy designed for long range in comfort and style. And the Surtees 850 Game Fisher sure does it well.

A big aluminium fishing boat that is sea-capable and with a good margin of safety for weather. As a trailerboat though, it fails the mobility test and why is there no killtank on a big fishing boat? Setup more for cruising in this case…

 

Innovation

Combines cruising and fishing. The Surtees 850 Game Fisher has a long range cruising setup with solar and batteries for cooking and sleeping. Folding seats in the cockpit are simple and strong. Surtees is the master of innovation.

Ballast system is clever and works well to stabilise the boat at rest. The folding cabin doors are a nice touch. Big beam steps up the trailerboat game again. I still don’t know why people are so scared of moving up to a 2.8m beam — just learn your local towing regulations and go for it!

Bigger IS better — larger cab set-up for comfort, overnighters and social aspect is appealing. From the controllable ballast to the storage setup, the S Surtees 850 Game Fisher exudes an aura of no-nonsense practicality. Function prevails over form, but form is never forgotten.

 

Design and layout

Spunky looks! Slimline roof keeps the Surtees 850 Game Fisher looking svelte. Angles of the cabin vs the smooth entry are great. Simple useful design features like clipouts on the sidepockets. Stylish without being elegant or beautiful! Seems like function prevails over form here, but the fishing boat ergonomics are good to very good.

Sleek and aggressive, ready to attack. It’s a boat that tells what it’s purpose is all about both on and off the water. Classic Surtees colours suit it well. Has a sporty profile. Overall, it’s a very user-friendly layout, with plenty of solid practical touches and features.

Great combination of serious fishing and weekender styled boating. Big fishability with big comfort.

 

Quality of finish

Typical of Surtees, a quality-looking and quality-built plate aluminium fishing boat. Sleek, military and modernised. A very high level of finish for an aluminium fishing boat.

To see a used aluminium alloy boat look this good after 18 months is testament to the quality of its build — felt like new. I appreciated the extra carpeting inside the cabin to reduce noise. This is one flash tinnie! Welds are neat, upholstery of a high standard, etc. Quality strong welds. Sturdy seats and good fold down design.

 

Handling and ride

Eats waves for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But a touch wet and too heavy in the bow to score more highly. Ride and handling are very good. Amazingly soft for an aluminium alloy hull and appears very dry, without also "sucking" mist into the vortex behind cabin.

The Surtees 850 Game Fisher is extremely capable as an offshore fishing boat that would take anything up to a tsunami in its stride. Soft riding and very dry. It’s like riding in an A380 versus 737 Economy.

Grunty performance throughout the rev ranges with the Yamaha F350 V8 four-stroke outboard motor being the absolute master on the Surtees 850 Game Fisher. Would like to review one with twin 200 outboard engines. Visibility slightly restricted in turns and plenty of water over screens — too much weight up front. Very bow-down attitude and pushes a lot of water. But, still has a soft ride and predictable handling.

 

Stability at rest

Considering the length and beam of the Surtees 850 Game Fisher, it’s far from tender out in the swell and maintains a comfortable and safe feel when locked into the gunwales.  A very stable hull. Excellent for a mono hull, probably the best. Stability at rest is excellent. Trim tabs help greatly in levelling the ride. Water ballast helps with stability.

 

Ergonomics

Decent walk-around a big plus. Well-designed helm with good fishing room. Helm layout is great and visibility from the cabin is excellent. Rod holders are adequate, but overhead rocket launcher is hard to access from amidships.

Good dash layout, size and positioning. Height of cabin good but could be a touch higher. Helm is very easy in terms of layout and accessibility. Social aspect built into the cabin layout while maintaining open space is appealing. Internal linings create quite a luxurious feel to the Surtees 850 Game Fisher.

 

Standard equipment

Very good to excellent. This vessel had a few non-standard items included like thruster, variable power steering, autopilot, etc. As tested, not much more to add or change for fishing and comfort beside extra personal bling. Overall visually appealing and a good quality feel. Lights, galley, LBT, bait station, berths, hot/cold water including fresh water at the bait station; it’s got it all! It’s all there and then some! But at a price…

 

Value for money

Might have quite a big price tag but the Surtees 850 Game Fisher is a big boat with big features and accessories. Expensive — for the upper end of the market who want a boat with the lot. Let’s face it - a VERY expensive boat and I have some concerns about the resale price with it being an alloy vessel.

If I had a quarter of a million bucks to spend would I buy it? Probably not… At around $290,000 it’s a lot of money for a trailerboat but then it’s also practically a powerboat. It is a dream boat and not for all.

The Surtees 850 Game Fisher is not a cheap boat, but given its specifications and serious offshore capability — plus the comfort level — the price makes sense.

 

X-Factor

This boat ticks just about every box for a serious sportsfishing full cabin outfit. High comfort level combines with great "fishability". Hard to beat in its class, but serious buyers only at this price!

It’s just an absolute weapon, as simple as that. Has the WOW factor of a mega-tinnie! My main reservations are in "bang for buck" — maybe not my choice if had those dollars to spend. A big, roomy, capable sea boat.

Lots of grunt, but it doesn’t feel well balanced to drive — you can’t get the bow up. 28kts is not scintillating! The best of Surtees boats on steroids, lots of steroids.

 

How the boats are rated 

Judges at Australia's Greatest Boats Boat judges  
Meet the judging panel

The rating criteria 
explained
 

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