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Shaping Up

Reviewed:

Stabicraft 2150

Function and beauty are longtime adversaries. Stabicraft’s cracked the code with its Generation 111 design, offering its sleekest, yet safest hull to date. Scott Thomas reports.

Stabicraft came up with positive buoyancy boats back in the 1980s to cope with the harsh seas surrounding its Invercargill home, at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. Nearby Foveux Strait is a notorious waterway bridging Stewart Island and New Zealand’s Southernmost town, Bluff. It’s a rugged testing ground – the seas are big and the water, icy cold. There’s no place for inadequate boats in these parts. 

A lot has changed in the 25 odd years since Stabicraft first came up with the concept. While the air-tight pontoons remain, the company’s clever research and development has refined the overall design. Today’s Generation 111 (G111) boats are slicker in design and built for dryer, smoother riding. Fishing World editor Jim Harnwell’s Stabicraft, which he owned for four years, was the generation 11 design and featured a few variations in design to this tested model. The Fisho Stabi was also labelled a 659 SC. Many models in the current line-up have shifted to the ABYC standard of boat lengths. Hence this model’s 2150 SC labeling. The new rule, according to Stabicraft, is a straight-line measurement from the front to the back of the boat that includes all welded components – but doesn’t include any bolt on attachments.  

A major discerning feature of the 2150 Super Cab is the G111 buoyancy tube design. This new profile offers an overall slimmer profile, which in turn, allows an extra five-inches of internal beam. The profile of the buoyancy tube has evolved considerably since its inception in 1987. The original design was very rounded – more like an RIB hull. In the ensuing years Stabicraft’s R&D team have redesigned the profile while keeping that crucial balance between safety and performance.  The result is a sleeker looking hull. While a few dared to call the old Fishing World Stabicraft “ugly”, the new 2150’s trimmed down buoyancy tube makes for a more “normal” looking boat, while keeping its rugged “safe looking” characteristics. 

But a facelift should come with practical features too, and the redesigned chamber comes complete with a freshly designed chine for smoother and drier riding. At the time of writing (June 2010) Stabicraft’s G111 design is available on the 759, 2150, and 2250, with more to roll out shortly. 

Another major redesign feature on the 2150 is its continuous coaming which runs for the entire length of the boat. The previous model’s coaming butted directly up against the cabin. As a result of this change the 2150 has even more space in an already expansive cabin. The cabin now sits directly on the gunwale which runs the boat’s entire length and can double as a walk-around platform. 

At the transom the 2150’s Multipod suits both single and twin engines. It’s a neat idea for buyers who might decide, down the track, to re-power with twin engines, or vice-versa. Stockists also love the idea with only one configuration needed in stock. 

The test model featured Stabicraft’s Superfish Transom. This rather large multi-purpose bait station takes up considerable floor space in front of the transom. Features on this transom include a cutting board, shelves for terminal tackle, knives, etc, clear window livewell and storage for batteries and other bits and pieces. It’s an optional accessory and, in my opinion, would only suit those predominantly bait fishing rather than trolling. If you’re accustomed to fighting fish directly off the transom, this could prove awkward. Alternatively, the standard configuration can be ordered with the same useful clear window livewell in the transom with the option of a more basic cutting board.

Positioned directly forward of the Superfish Transom was a large plumbed kill tank. The 200 litre fuel tank is positioned forward of the kill tank for better weight distribution. There’s also another kill tank in between the bunks in the cabin with an optional bilge. It’s a pretty versatile storage area for either safety equipment, or if your main kill tank is full, more fish. There are bungs which allow flow to the main kill tank. The test boat was decked out with Vynalite rubber tube floor matting, from midway along the boat towards the front, allowing access to the rear kill tank. It’s a great optional product for potentially slippery floors and can be customised to suit all or just some of the boat’s floor. The roomy side parcel shelves also featured the product to stop things moving around. 

You’ll notice from the photos that this test boat featured a cabin curtain. A great product on the chilly waters of New Zealand, but probably an option most Aussie fishermen could do without. Stabicraft can even fit an optional heater for really cold conditions.

The cabin is as roomy as ever. It’s one of the great features of this boat, and with the aforementioned G111 design, even more room is made available. It’s a very open cabin. And there are grab rails everywhere, which I really appreciate when the going gets rough. Up front the bunks are long enough for the average person to sleep on and you shouldn’t whack your head entering this area; it’s open all the way forward. Both helm and passenger seats are the handy bolster style, allowing for standing or lean positioning. The helm itself is basic and not too big, which allows for a greater cabin area. The test boat was fitted with an optional 8-inch Lowrance HDS and Fusion stereo. There’s sufficient space on the dash for a 12-inch display and further room overhead where an optional marine radio was fitted. On top of the cabin, the fresh configuration allows for a standard seven rod rocket launcher. 

Another really handy feature, now standard on all Stabicraft boats are Tallon fittings. These simple, yet ingenious, flush fittings are dotted in convenient areas around the boat. Simply choose one of Tallon’s many accessories and clip in. Some of the fittings include: drink holders, rod holders, bait boards, RAM mounts and more. There’s even a powered mount for attaching lights and other accessories.  

On the water

Test conditions were calm, too calm in fact, which was an exception to the rule in these parts. While the calm conditions were welcomed for our stint at blue cod fishing, a swell and some chop was handy for running the big Stabi through its paces. Luckily, a modest swell and early breeze  provided enough slop to test the boat early before glassing out for the trip home. I was onboard the 2150SC, while ahead of us, cameraman Stu McCormick and Ken from Stabicraft were onboard the new 1720 Centre Console (stay tuned for the full Centre Console review in an upcoming issue). 

Bluff Harbour is a small sheltered inlet home to a rustic fleet of old commercial fishing boats. Beyond this, the small harbour opens up to the strait, to the right, a line of bommies created a series of threatening waves. The five kilometre run to Dog Island was covered in little time with a cruising speed of about 26 knots. In rougher water a cruising speed of about 20 knots at 3700rpm would be ideal. WOT was achieved at around 40 knots and 6100rpm. The test boat featured twin 100hp four-stroke Yamahas – 200hp is the maximum rating. 

Overall it’s a fun, safe boat to drive. A major advancement in the G111 pontoon design is the apparent “grippiness” with the water. There’s very little slapping when the pontoons make contact with the water. Tight turns at speed are no problem whatsoever. The 2150 ate up any rough water we were dealt; after all these boats are exported worldwide and sold for rescue and commercial applications. They’re built to handle bad conditions.

The fishing wasn’t much chop. We spent all day working plastics, and in the end, strips of bait for two blue cod, a few barracouta, a couple of sharks and a lone octopus, which found it’s way into the bilge of the Centre Console…

All up the 2150 SC is a great boat for fishing. Stability is a key feature at rest and the higher than average gunwales are handy in bigger seas. It’s a serious fishing boat out back with the comfort of a hardtop and spacious cabin up front. A good compromise for fishing or family.

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