Sailfish Reef Master

Sailfish catamarans are well known in Australian fishing circles. These alloy craft originate from Ballina in northern NSW and have for many years enjoyed a loyal following from serious bluewater anglers. Sailfish devotees no doubt appreciate the different attributes twin hull ownership provides.

This year sees Sailfish chalk up 20 years in the local boating industry. Along the way, the brand has been well represented at various boating awards. This isn’t surprising, considering the quality workmanship these Aussie built sportfishers tend to display.

As Ashley Faraj of long-term Sailfish distributor Webbe Marine tells it, the Reef Master is more of the same, but different. According to Faraj, Sailfish head honcho Darren Foster had long “wanted to have a crack at making a single-engined Sailfish”. It seems that while some prospective customers loved the look of his boats, they baulked at the extra costs inherent to a twin motor rig. Sailfish entered the single outboard market last year with the Reef Fisher. This latest model, the Reef Master, is the result of months of extensive R&D at Sailfish HQ, Faraj says.

All in the detail

The Reef Master, apart from its single Honda 135hp outboard, looks very similar to other models in Sailfish’s range. Over the years Boat Fishing has reviewed most of Sailfish’s models. As expected, the Reef Master is first class across the board. Where it really excels, however, is thanks to the finer details that make it a contender in a very popular trailer boat class. Serious fishos are sure to appreciate the thought that has gone into this build.

The attention to detail becomes clearer once you get past the glossy oven-baked paint job. The first thing fishos will note is the cockpit space. Cats tend to be very roomy compared to mono hulls, as their beam carries all the way forward. This boat could, in my view, safely accommodate four active fishos spinning or jig fishing.

If you tend to fish with only a mate or two, you’ll love this deck space. The gunwales are nice and high and being rolled they are comfortable enough to lean against when fishing. There’s loads of toe room under the full length sidepockets too. The flooring material is interesting and a factory design that took some time to perfect. It’s a soft rubbery material that offers plenty of grip and has a pleasing granite-like finish. It’s low maintenance and is a lot more practical for fishing than the carpet which many manufacturers still persist on fitting.

The deck is self-draining via generous sized scuppers. On the starboard side there’s a large self flooding kill tank that can also be stoppered and filled with ice. A plumbed live well resides on the transom rear quarter. Another neat feature below the transom is the metal tube that protects the engine cables and controls.

The fuel primer bulb, water separator and fuel filters have been made readily accessible.

At the stern there’s a boarding platform either side with a well designed transom door that doubles as a ladder for in-water use.

It’s good to see solid metal rod holders on a fishing boat and the Reef Runner has plenty of them. Fourteen in total, with three aside in the gunwales, two welded to the super solid (metre long!) bait board and six on the overhead rocket launcher.

Other details of note include dual maintenance free batteries with isolating switch handily placed behind the skipper’s seat – with metal plate protection atop – and quality swivelling/locking bucket seats with bolster support. The dash has plenty of room for electronic screens of up to 12 inches. The review boat was fitted with a Garmin Map 750S unit connected via NMEA to the Honda to display engine data.

Up at the bow there’s loads of storage space either side – in my view a more user friendly alternative to a cabin that sees little practical use – and good access to the deep anchor well and bow roller.

Clears and bimini are a standard fit, which leaves little for a serious bluewater fisho to install apart from outriggers and/or a downrigger. Fishing sorted.

On the water

Being familiar with single-engined catamarans – I’ve owned a Webster Bassmaster since 2000 – I quickly felt at home on the Reef Master. The stability was typically first class. The test boat felt surefooted and rock solid thanks to a beamy hull with 4mm bottom and transom. The quiet running Honda got her up on the plane without fuss. Once underway, the boat seemed to prefer cruising at around or above the 4000RPM mark. Having only hit the water for the first time a week earlier, Faraj says the boat’s current 17” prop might yet undergo cupping for improved performance.

Typical for a cat, this boat doesn’t feel overly fast but 135hp seems more than ample and provides reasonable performance. The Reef Master is more about comfort and roominess than wind-in-the-hair thrills. The well protected cabin space offers plenty of comfort out of the elements and is sure to be welcome on those rougher days offshore.
Fast turns aren’t the forte of cats as they tend to lean out rather than in as a mono hull does. The Reef Master was no exception in this regard, while the steering was light and precise thanks to Baystar hydraulics.

Out to the entrance of Sydney’s Botany Bay we met some slow rolling swell head on. This let the single-engined Sailfish do what cats do best as its foam-filled sponsons sliced through the waves without fuss. The ride into the sea at around 20 knots was impressively soft and dry. Not being too familiar with the boat I found it tricky to find the happy medium in a following sea but applying more positive trim soon had things about right.

All up, the Reef Master is a worthy addition to the Sailfish range. I reckon anyone shopping around for a capable sub-6m offshore sportfisher should take a serious look at one.

Mick Fletoridis

Sailfish Reef Master Fact Box

Length: 5.7m
Beam: 2.3m
Hull: 4mm bottom, transom; topsides; 3mm
FULL: 130 litres
Power: As tested, single Honda 135hp four-stroke
Price: $75,000 as tested
Contacts: Webbe Marine (02) 9521 7944;

Speed Figures

RPM              LPH             Knots
800           1.2            2.7
1500         3.6            5
3000         11.5          13
3500         15.7          14.7
4000         21             20
4500         24             21.6
5000         26.5          37.2

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