Published: 16 October 2016, by David Lockwood. Photos by Rene Mitchell-Pitman
Read the full review online at Boatsales.com.au: Seafarer 600 Victory X-series: Fishing Boat Review
Watch the video: Seafarer 600 Victory X-series video review
The famous Seafarer brand is back with a vengeance via a range of hard-hitting muscle craft utilising time-proven hull designs. Here’s our take on the famous 600 Victory in the new optional beefed-up X-Series for serious fishing.
- Victory, the famous Seafarer six-metre model, is now even more enduring
Seafarer resonates with many Australian boaters and was an absolute powerhouse of fishing-and-family trailerboat building from the 1980s to mid-1990s. Of course, the brand goes back to the 1957 and will be celebrating 60 years next year, albeit with new owners.
Now under the Haines Group — where the Haines family owners recognise the brand’s goodwill — Seafarer is in the process of being relaunched. Among the big news is a new heavy-duty performance-driven X-Series using two evergreen models.
The 600 Victory and the 650 Vagabond X-Series are muscle craft designed to take on the Bass Straits, Cootacraft, Edencraft, and so on, that, ironically, often use the late John Haines’ hull moulds. The Seafarers spar in this offshore class, though they use 21-degree deadrise hulls with broader performance attributes including much improved stability at rest.
Arriving at the Patterson Lakes boat ramp, the new X-Series duo looked breathtakingly hot. Their black hulls with retro decals, coloured-matched Suzuki outboards, and sporty Mackay trailers with black-rimmed alloy wheels commanded attention. You will be the envy of onlookers wherever you launch these boats.
But their beauty runs more than just skin deep. Cast your eye over these new Seafarer X-Series and you will notice lots of fibreglass. Bang the hull sides, deck or cuddy cabin and you can feel it. There’s almost 100kg more resin and rovings in the build than the standard boat in order to create super stiff offshore performance boats.
The other key attributes for serous fishing include: minimalist finish with less upholstery and trim; an abundance of easy-clean flowcoat instead of carpet and upholstery; oodles of flat-uncluttered floor space; heavy-duty stainless steel deck fittings and rod holder; live bait tanks to Furuno 1kW sounder and outriggers on our test boat; and plenty of grunt.
With twin 140hp Suzuki four-stroke outboards, the Vagabond is the flagship of the new Seafarer muscle-craft range. We drove that boat, destined for a full near-future review, alongside the best-selling 600 Victory with a single 225hp Suzuki four-stroke. WE felt the smaller sister ship was actually the overall winner, hence the fact this test launches first.
Not that this was an awakening, mind you. I was among the original crew who awarded the Victory as Boat of the Year more than 20 years ago when the awards were based on what boats were best regardless of advertising budgets.
The Victory was always a terrific six-metre family and fishing boat, but it’s now being made even tougher and fishier for serious piscatorial pursuits. The resulting boat is among the best six-metre rides I’ve had in recent years.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
- From $79,990 but we tested the Full Monty hardcore fishing spec
The big challenge ahead for the Seafarer 600 Victory X-Series is the price point. Having said that, you can get aboard from $79,990 drive-away on water with a 175hp Suzuki four-stroke and Mackay tandem alloy trailer. But the boat we drove was about quality rather than price.
Tested through JV Marine, our test boat had pretty much everything to create a maxed out six-metre rig for targeting tuna, marlin and other offshore species. The test rig was priced at $104,990 with the maximum 225hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard on Mackay tandem alloy trailer with electric brakes and a huge spread of options. You need to judge this boat by way of what was fitted.
There were twin batteries with a VSR system, digital Suzuki gauges, electric drum-style anchor winch, 32mm bow rails and stainless steel rocket launcher, bimini top, bait board and snapper rack, impressive folding outrigger bases with 5.5m carbon-fibre poles, vertical cockpit rod racks, LED side pocket strip lighting, Furuno TZ12 MFD with Australian charts and 1kW transducer, offshore compass, VHF radio, EPIRB, launch and retrieve latch, spare wheel and bracket, and more.
Basically, you have everything including the Victory’s inbuilt twin deep 40ltr live bait tanks, sprawling cockpit and unbeatable ergonomics to go serious fishing. The only thing missing, due to the increased underfloor fuel and the foam-filled hull, is a fish box.
Our advice: pack one of those insulated zip-up fish bags sized for big barrels, bull dolphin, and 8kg snapper, for this is the calibre of fish you can expect to boat in your Victory X-Series. After all, the intention with this modest six-metre sportfisher is to fish harder, more often and further from shore.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
- A time-proven cuddy cabin with less frills and more fishability
The Victory is a terrific six-metre cuddy cabin with a great balance between crew shelter and dry storage up front and cockpit space from the helm back. It’s a low-profile boat that looks right and which doesn’t compromise its performance by adding a bloated cabin.
The low centre of gravity and the 21-degree hull combine to create a terrific platform on the water, whether you are driving in heavy seas, powering offshore through a bar, trimming up and running hard on the way home, trolling or on the anchor. It’s spacious and surefooted.
From the pointy end, the split bow rail and the internal cockpit rails are all extra thick 32mm stainless steel. There was a drum winch in the deep anchor well, while access through the cabin hatch for manual anchoring duties is good, though not as easy as boats with higher profile cabins.
The cuddy contains dry storage, padded backrests and seating for a couple of adults, say, one sick fisher, or a couple of kids, especially with the padded infill in place. The boat can also be fitted with a portable toilet to keep the family happy.
The low profile safety-glass windscreen is well supported, while the rocket launcher and bimini framework over the helm is fashioned from more of that beefed-up 32mm tubing. The rocket launch takes six outfits and it has a pair of LED spotlights for long fights. There were also side rod racks each for four more outfits, taking rod storage to 14 sticks. Side pockets clips can carry gaffs and tag poles.
For trolling, our test boat had excellent 5.5m-long carbon fibre poles, fitted to heavy-duty stainless steel foldout bases, which were through-bolted to the thick cabin sides so you could run at speed with them up and wobbling without stressing the fibreglass.
There were six heavy-duty gunwale-mounted rod-holders on the boat, which were self-tapered in place. The twin transom holders also hold the optional pullout bait-cutting board with snapper rack fitting to our test rig.
With full-length side pockets and a helm seat box with tackle storage trays, plus the cabin storage, there’s plenty of room to stash gear. The live bait tanks in the transom corners are especially deep on the Victory.
But you still need a portable esky/fishbox and/or some insulated fish bags. Maybe a seat frame for the passenger would be useful so you could slide an esky or fishbox underneath here. On the other hand, if you are into hardcore spearfishing, you might like the fact that the seat bases screw out altogether.
Pretty much what you see is what you get on the 600 Victory X-Series — that is, one big open uncluttered cockpit. The ergonomics, thigh-support and toe-under side space assist leaning outboard, fighting fish for long periods of time, and fishing on deck. Personally, I would add some of the Seadek foam flooring to make it even nicer under foot.
HULL AND ENGINEERING
- Built and engineered as tough as trailerboats come
With considerably more fibreglass in the layout, along with beefed-up 32mm gauge stainless steel bow rail and rocket launcher — all fabricated in house — the new Seafarer X-Series gains almost 100kg in weight over the standard boat.
There is also an increase in fuel capacity from 200lt to 270lt, while the rig happily wears the maximum 225hp outboard we had on test, which was spinning a three-blade 16in x 20in prop and bolted to the integrated half pod. The boat was propped for mid-range fishing rather than just high end.
The Suzuki DF225 has been around a while now. The large capacity 3.6lt V6 engine is a DOHC 24-valve design with electronic fuel injection. It weighs 263kg, revs out to 5000-6000rpm, so it’s not too hard working, but it has mechanical shift where others use fly-by-wire. It’s probably time for an update in this department.
The test boat had twin batteries, the main switch for which is in the transom corner, where a vinyl zip-off internal cover keeps the bilge and battery set-up neat and tidy while offering easy access when you need to reach the bilge and pump and the fuel/water-separating filter. The hull is foam-filled, but not self draining.
As trumpeted by the simplified internal finish, serious fishing is this boat’s game. However, at least one Vic buyer jumped aboard because there is a toilet in the cuddy and the ‘bunks’ would cater for his daughter. You don’t get that in some muscle craft. So there is a gentler side, too.
ON THE WATER
- One of the best performing six-metre hulls on the market
The stainless wheel with crank knob adds to the intent of the 600 Victory X-Series, while hydraulic steering is a given to lessen the steering load. The throttle and gear shaft is cable, which isn’t cutting edge, but we’re used to driving with that.
The dash had a 12in Furuno TZ12 MFD taking pride of place as its centrepiece, connected to a 1kW transducer for serious fish finding. There were also twin Suzuki electronic outboard engine data displays, anchor winch switch, Lenco trim tabs, and a 12V charging plug. With a waterproof switch panel and VHF on hand, it’s a simple and functional helm.
Offshore, with a low centre of gravity and 21 degrees of deadrise in the hull, plus foam filling that also helps deaden running noise, the 5.9m Seafarer hull excelled during rough-water tests. We weren’t 15nm east of Bermagui or south of Portland, but we were smashing into rubbish seas on the lee shore of Port Phillip Bay where, I will tell you, it was ordinary.
With a bimini top and no side curtains, we copped a fair bit of spray in the 20-knot winds. But this is to be expected in a six-metre boat and you could always add clear curtains. As it was, there wasn’t much windage on this low profile boat. For that reason, and the increased weight, the boat has a very low centre of gravity and just feels exceedingly well planted on the water.
Performance-wise, this 600 Victory X-Series was exceptional. It’s not one thing in particular, but the fact it ticks every box from stability to high-speed running and everything in between that makes it the complete package. It’s an all-round performer with efficient running and a very smooth ride. In my opinion, this 6.0m hull (formerly the 5.9m) is the best from the Seafarer stable.
The DF225 revs out to 6000rpm, where you can expect mid-40 knots on this boat, but on the at-times wild test day I found 26-27 knots was right, in the groove, and at the most economical setting of 4200rpm. With 270 litres of fuel, you just won’t need to worry over the course of day’s fishing and can weekend away without a fill. Cruise will burn about 30lt/hr for your 25 knots average and a 200nm range at least. At troll, well, you're looking at 700ml an hour!
Most of our test was spent punching hard with some trim down, before ripping the boat around and trimming up a touch to surf before the wind. We just couldn’t hit top speed in the conditions. But if you can maintain 25 knots offshore, as we did, you are covering plenty of distance and will hit The Shelf off the Eastern Seaboard in less than an hour.
All other speeds, all the way back down to eight knots and mock trolling, the Victory remains agreeable. It doesn't pitch, porpoise, dig in or teeter. As a dead boat, beam-on standing on deck, the Victory remained stable as ever. There’s also excellent freeboard at the transom around the 25in X-long Suzuki DF225, allowing three anglers to fish for snapper at least. Not risk of green water aboard.
- To the Victory, the spoils... a great all-round hardcore fishing boat
It only seems like yesterday that I owned a V-Sea, dreamt of a Viking, tested and awarded just about every model including the Victory, and marvelled at Seafarer boatbuilder and owner Lindsay Fry’s propensity to add more horsepower and go harder. He was one of the original muscle craft manufacturers in this country.
Now owned by the Haines Group, which has Haines Signature boats and Suzuki outboards, the Seafarer brand is being relaunched with 17 models from 4.85 to 6.8m in length. The X Series is built to order and it will take 12 weeks to complete. But we reckon the wait is worth it. Having owned, driven, fished and reviewed Seafarers for three decades, they get my vote.
In fact, this 600 Victory won Boat of the Year back when the awards had integrity and were judged in-house by four Modern Boating staffers, myself included, irrespective of supporting advertising campaigns. Dating back to the early 1990s as the 5.9 Victory, this has always been the brand’s best seller.
Now, with an even more enduring build in this X-Series, the 600 Victory has more muscle in the craft and skin in the game. It’s not the extreme machine but a great all-round offshore fisher. Top marks again.
Overall rating: 4.68/5.00
Packaging and practicality: 4.8/5.0
On the water performance: 4.9/5.0
Value for money: 4.2/5.0
>> Great all round offshore performance
>> Beefed-up muscle craft build with extended fuel capacity
>> Oodles of flat uncluttered floor space and fishing features
>> Tough deck fittings and low maintenance finish
>> Looks hot as an on-road rig set up by JV Marine
>> Famous Seafarer badge and resale value
NOT SO MUCH
>> No underfloor fish box due to extra fuel and full foam filling
>> Pared back finish mightn’t appeal to everyone
>> The Suzuki 225hp doesn’t have electronic gear shift
>> Big ticket for a 6.0m trailerboat
Specifications: Seafarer 600 Victory X-Series
Price as tested: $104,990 with the maximum 225hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard on Mackay tandem alloy trailer with electric brakes and a big spread of options including twin batteries with a VSR system, digital Suzuki gauges, electric drum-style anchor winch, 32mm bow rails and stainless steel rocket launcher, bimini top, bait board and snapper rack, impressive folding outrigger bases with 5.5m carbon-fibre poles, vertical rod racks, LED side pocket strip lighting, Furuno TZ12 MFD with Australian charts and 1kW transducer, offshore compass, VHF radio, EPIRB, launch and retrieve latch, spare wheel and bracket, and more.
Priced From: $79,990 drive-away on water with a 175hp Suzuki four-stroke and Mackay tandem alloy trailer.
Length: 6.30m overall with bowsprit
Hull Length: 6.00m without sprit
Hull weight: 1200kg
Towing Weight: About 2400kg (dry)
Deadrise: 21 degrees
Recommended Outboard Power: 140-225hp
Engine as tested: Suzuki DF225 four-stroke outboard, 25in shaft,
Fuel: 177 litres
Length on trailer: Approx. 7.25m
Height on trailer: Approx. 2.35
Maximum Persons: Seven
Builder: The Haines Group
JV Marine World
878 Springvale Road
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