Reviewed: Sailfish 2400 Game Fisher
Big catamarans continue to have many fans amongst the bluewater fishing brigade. As Mick Fletoridis reports, the latest Sailfish aims to attract even more enthusiasts.
AUSSIE boat builders have turned out several variations of powered catamarans over the years. Some brands have enjoyed popularity and longevity; others have fallen by the wayside. The better catamarans have ensured twin-hulled boats still enjoy a loyal following amongst serious offshore fishos right around the coast.
Sailfish Catamarans is one company that has earned a valued reputation for its product in a fairly short time. Since starting as a small concern in the early 1990s on the northern NSW coast, initially turning out a few boats a year, Sailfish now builds about 30 boats annually, ranging from 22 to 40 feet. The Sailfish brand nowadays enjoys prominence at popular fishing ports right around the country. Sydney’s specialist power catamaran dealer and national Sailfish agent, Webbe Marine, had a great deal of input into the design of the new-for-2009 2400 Game Fisher. While it has much in common with existing models within Sailfish’s Platinum and Weekender ranges, the 2400 GF’s design appears aimed more directly at buyers of hardcore bluewater fishing boats than those of family friendly fishing/cruisers. So is that aim on target?
On the water
To prove the point that cats are highly regarded as offshore rigs, Webbe Marine’s Gavan Daly and I recently pointed a 2400 Game Fisher out of the Botany Bay heads. Once past flanking land, no rods on board unfortunately meant there wasn’t much point going any further. Outside the bay on about a metre of rolling swell, Daly handed over the controls for my stint at the wheel. Rather cautiously I brought the big cat – it felt big in comparison to my little 4.3m Webster – about and turned back to face the entrance of the historic bay.
It took a little time to come to grips with synching the independent Honda throttles with one hand. To be honest I wasn’t a fan of this set up; to prevent potential operator fatigue a linked binnacle arrangement would be much better.
Despite this small hiccup we were soon motoring along at what turned out to be quite a deceptive pace. The big catamaran made short work of wind swell and any passing boat wake, its sponsons slicing water cleanly like knives. Daly told me the Sailfish featured a new Hydro-Flow hull with 75mm wider sponsons than previously; the sponsons’ cavities are also foam filled.
It was an impressive ride. Powering through Botany Bay’s entrance at over 30 knots proved a surprise as the cat felt to be literally purring (excuse the pun) at what felt closer to 20 knots. Uncharacteristically fast for a powered cat – with two hulls in the water to provide more drag than a mono hull – the ease at which this Sailfish covered the water at speed was highlighted even further when pushed to 40 knots.
The Honda 135s were fitted with 17” Solas props and were impressive performers. Good response was available from low down in the rev range to around 5000rpm – where they delivered an impressive kick in the pants – and beyond. What was surprising was the fact that the 135s – being under 150hp – don’t get this punch from Honda’s variable valve timing system, VTEC.
Walking around the deck at rest highlighted a high level of stability. I would have loved to have headed for Browns Mountain in the thing, dual transom bait tanks loaded with livies and the seven outfit rocket launcher loaded. Unfortunately the boat’s Reelax outrigger poles – a standard feature of this boat – were just deployed for decoration on this run, but looked impressive all the same.
Where the Game Fisher 2400 differs from others in Sailfish’s Platimum series lies with the fit-out that suggests it’s all about the fishing and a layout that provides maximum deck space. The 2400 has plenty of the latter thanks to a bigger cockpit achieved by removing the raised bridge of the Platinum series and provide a one level deck, and moving the cabin further forward. Seating up front is taken care of by a familiar seat–on-storage-box arrangement, with handy tackle tray storage below, on both.
The cabin is reasonably small and likely to be used by serious fishos for storing gear, accessing the anchor, or for the odd overnighter; swapping a bigger cabin for more deck space seems the better option from a fishing perspective. Swags thrown on the big rear deck would be the go for overnight trips here.
The deck itself is self–draining, amply tested by reversing the boat hard into swell to flood the transom door – the water drained away in no time.
The sides of the Game Fisher are substantially high (and padded) and would offer good security when offshore fishing and fighting a decent fish, or struggling to stay on your feet in messy seas. The boat’s 2.44m beam also means it’s legally towable on its factory-built Sailfish trailer without restriction.
The fishing features are where the Game Fisher really excels. Highlighted amongst these standard features is an impressive electronics package including: Furuno 585L sounder and 1Kw transducer, Furuno GP7000 GPS plotter and GME VHF radio and stereo system. Prominent on the rear deck is a large centre-mount bait station. This impressive facility has a padded seat/ice box that faces astern and is complete with rod gimbal to turn the seat into a style of game chair for extended bluewater battles. The prep station has a plumbed sink and cutting board, knife holder and an ingenious berley tube system that deposits fish cubes or berley under the boat instead of on the surface where birds get easy meals – ideal for cubing for yellowfin. There’s also a transom mount berley bucket with extended handle fitted on the muncher.
There are also side pockets on both sides, which feature rod racks and storage for tag poles and gaffs. The gunwales and transom carry eight solid alloy rod holders. A dive platform that extends out between the two Hondas is sure to come in handy while fishing. As far as complete packages go Sailfish and Webbe Marine deserve high praise for the 2400 Game Fisher. Thanks to smart design, quality construction and impressive attention to detail it’s one cat that’s definitely ready to fish.
Hull: 5mm bottoms; 3mm sides
POWER: As reviewed 2 x 135hp Honda four-stroke
FUEL: 2 x 180 litre
Price: As reviewed $149,990
Contacts: Webbe Marine (02) 9521 7944 www.webbemarine.com.au