STACER’S latest release, the Crossfire, caters for the serious estuary fisho who also wants a family-friendly boat without compromise. JAMES HILL Reports.
THERE was a time when the choice in new boats was limited to pretty much one of the three basic red, white and blue varieties – family, hardcore fisho or ski machine. Thankfully those days are gone and we can walk into a dealership and see a whole lot of trailer boats offering lots of variations on the standard theme. Call it the “50-shades of grey” phenomena but it makes it easier to find a boat that suits you.
A new range that perfectly illustrates my point is Stacer’s Crossfire. This is a new 2016 series from one of our biggest boat builders and essentially gives you fishing and family boating in a 80:20 ratio. Based on Stacer’s Nomad range the Crossfire looks like a pretty serious fishing craft but also something that is very family-friendly as well.
Recently I got the chance to hop aboard the 489 Crossfire, which is the smallest in the new series that covers 489, 509, 539 and 579. From first glance at the ramp I was taken by the smart, sporty styling of the 489 Crossfire. It’s a nice-looking craft and one that draws the eye with its two-tone light grey and white colour scheme and matching Evinrude E-TEC motor. Of course, there are lots of other colour options and fancy vinyl-wrap designs to individualise the craft.
Make no mistake this is a fishing machine and comes complete with a casting deck and rod holders. However, when you get up close and personal you’ll find the casting deck is actually a Vee-berth with a cushion in-fill so it can become a forward lounge or a sun-pad.
The console is also a low, sporty type that makes the 489 Crossfire look a bit jet-fighter-ish and great on the water. Add the cushions up front and presto – the 489 Crossfire becomes a family’s dream machine for cruising the waters, swimming, diving, or towing the kids on inflated tubes.
You also get a big raised stowage pocket (port-side) that suits general boating needs besides fishing hand reels, nets and the like. With two very comfortable pedestal seats you have a craft that’s fun to just go zooming around the bay and visiting that favourite beach for a swim. There is also slot forward so you can use one of the seats as a bow casting position.
The hull is essentially the same as the Nomad and measures 5.1m from transom to bowsprit roller. It features the unique Stacer speed-rail hollows and smooth topsides that look great from any angle. I might mention too it’s got a solid 4mm bottom and 3mm topsides. With a generous 2.2m beam and 110cm hull depth the Crossfire is a pretty roomy vessel and can comfortably accommodate its full-rated complement of five people. Mind you, I think that’s best split between two parents on the rear pedestal seats and three kids forward. This way the youngsters enjoy the “bowrider” lounge whilst the parents can keep an eye on them when underway.
Taking the Crossfire for a spin on a rather chilly 8-degree celcius winter’s morning was a pretty bracing experience but soon forgotten with the rush of speed. With the upgrade of a 90hp Evinrude E-TEC we had extra zoom and sizzling on water performance. I soon warmed with the excitement of driving this new Stacer with its comfy padded maritime helm seat and sports-car like response.
Top speed will be more like 36 knots as the motor wasn’t revving full out. A bit more fine-tune would see it go faster and deliver an excellent package for tournament event fishing where speed is critical to success. Overall, what we saw in a two hour run was very promising. The Crossfire rode nicely over the wind chop and had a nice way of slaloming through fast turns. The low helm console provides great all-round vision and surprisingly good wind protection from the low canopy windscreen.
The new dash is specifically designed for bigger size GPS Chartplotter/Fishfinders like the Lowrance Elite touch-screen unit fitted. So you get all the important information you need right in front of you. I also found the helm comfortable and the slim-line throttle box about the right hand height. The latter is a bit low if you were standing, however that’s not important if you are mostly fishing inshore waters.
The interior is nicely finished with a quality dark grey floor carpet over the plywood sub-structure. The carpet is comfortable for bare feet and provides reasonable non-slip for shoes. You also have attractive upholstery over the forward Vee bunks and padded backrests. The Crossfire has moulded stowage bins under the forward seats plus a dedicated anchor well and anchor roller/cleat arrangement.
You also get twin drink holders each side along with two rod holders. The wide side decks are also great for adding extra holders or keeper nets.Back aft is a raised carpeted bench for keeping the battery compartment neat and tidy. You also get a live-bait tank on the port stern quarter. The interior has a flow-coated finish and canopy (bimini) with envelope cover for sun protection on hot days.
I think you’ll agree this is a slick, well designed and finished product that’s a great credit to the Aussie boating industry. It proves we Aussies can be world-competitive in small craft manufacture! The fit and finish is top class and there’s good safety features like the low bow and stern rails plus sensibly-situated navigation lights well back from the bow.
At a trailing length of 6.6m on the Crossfire is a practical sized craft for parking at home, or apartment block garage. The 489 Crossfire will suit the tow capacity of medium sized SUVs and cars plus it’s a comfortable and safe size for coastal inshore waters.
The test boat was kindly supplied by Sydney north-side dealer, Huett Marine (02 9456 1444). Craig Huett can do a standard package of this model with the same Stacer trailer and 60hp E-TEC for just $30,490 drive away, or you can go for the fully-tricked version tested here for $35,990. That’s pretty good value too. That includes the optional transom swim ladder, front infill/ lounge cushions, 4 blade SST 17inch Rogue propeller, sealed cockpit floor and Elite I-touch Combo. About the only thing you might add on top of all that would be an electric bow-mount motor. Overall, this is a very appealing fishing/family craft that will be easy to tow, park and maintain. It’s easy to throw a travel cover over a low console craft like the Crossfire so it’s super easy to keep clean.
With the current buyer trend towards console craft the new Crossfire hits the right note for the coming summer. It’s priced competitively and suits boaties who are time poor, yet like to get on the water when they can afford the time.