BOAT REVIEW Dreadnort D7500

March 2022 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim, photography and video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Dreadnort D7500
DESIGNER Blair Lewis/Transformarine Naval Architects
BUILDER Dreadnort Boats/Altech Marine
CONSTRUCTION 6mm bottom, chine, transom, stiffening; 5/6mm frames; 5mm sides; 4mm decks, superstructure
PRICE AS TESTED $340,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 7.9M
LENGTH (Waterline) 7.5M
BEAM 2.575M
DRAFT 0.52M
DISPLACEMENT 3520kg
ENGINE 1 x Yamaha F300 U, EX Helm Master
FUEL CAPACITY 360L
WATER CAPACITY 42L
Max Horsepower 350hp
Passenger Capacity 6 people
HIGHLIGHTS
  • An abundance of interior space
  • Ride and handling of a much bigger boat
OBSERVATIONS
  • High-quality construction – strong and well finished
  • Distinctive looks set it apart from the pack

It takes considerable courage to design and then build a trailer boat as radically different as the Dreadnort D7500.


With its extreme dreadnought-style inverted bow, steeply-raked windscreen and aggressive chine profile, the Dreadnort D7500 is quite a departure from the norm – at least for New Zealand boat builders. In Europe, similar designs are relatively common and becoming more so.
Dreadnort Boats is a collaboration between Naval Architect Blair Lewis of Transformarine Naval Architects and master boatbuilder Stuart Dawe, Altech Marine. Together they boast years of experience in boat building, design and engineering, both here and overseas, including commercial fishing and passenger vessels, jet boats, superyachts, amphibious vessels, tugs and workboats, floating mining equipment and more.
The striking-looking, vinyl-wrapped Dreadnort D7500 is a demonstrator, but the team has several other models up to 8.5m on their books, with the ability to offer completely custom designs at any size. All models can be built to survey with either Dreadnought (D) or vertical (V) bows. Custom options are almost unlimited.

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Carried on a dual-axle Aakron 795 trailer, the D7500 rig weighs in easily at under 3.5-tonnes. The boat was designed around a Cox 300hp diesel outboard but is instead fitted with Yamaha 300hp petrol V6 four-stroke. The Yamaha is considerably lighter (and cheaper) than the diesel, so lead ballast and a flooding outboard pod has been added at the stern to trim the boat correctly.
Most of the time the Dreadnort lives on an Air Berth in Westhaven Marina where its easily accessible to Lewis and his family, as well as to prospective clients. This boat is optimised for the Lewis family, with a focus on family boating, but from the deck up, any sort of custom layout is possible.
An enclosed hardtop with an extended roof overhang over the cockpit, the D7500 has a spacious interior with a separate head compartment set down into the hull just inside the rear door, handy to the cockpit as well as the cabin. There’s open space between the head compartment and the lined hardtop ceiling, leaving a good sightline aft over the compartment from the helm. To use the head, you take two steps down so there is sufficient headroom.


The rear bulkhead opens to the cockpit through custom Sea Mac bifold rear doors and a large bi-fold window to port. Both hardtop and cockpit have U-Dek flooring.
As the first D7500 built – the boat was launched late last year – there are a few things Lewis and Dawe will change on subsequent versions. In the saloon the clever seating arrangement features a composite table which becomes the base for a generous berth in the lower position. The comfortable seats are generous in size, but Lewis reckons he’ll raise them up a few centimetres on the next boat so it’s easier to see out through the hardtop windows.


Under the floor inside the hardtop is a 42-litre freshwater tank and a large storage locker along the keel line. The seat bases provide additional storage, including for a 40-litre Engel electric fridge, and while there is no galley – the Lewis family uses a small cannister cooker on the transom – a fitted galley is an option.
Another change Lewis is contemplating is the windscreen’s rake, which is fairly extreme. The rake works very well stylistically, but the hardtop roof is tricky to fabricate, says Dawe, who also wants to reduce the thickness of the mullions to improve vision from the helm. On this boat the helm is well forward, but it can be positioned further aft if desired.
With a minimal bulkhead and a super-wide cabin opening, the hardtop morphs seamlessly into the forward cabin with its generous full-length bunks. The benefits of the vessel’s long waterline length and reverse bow configuration are particularly apparent in the vast forward cabin, which would easily sleep three. It’s so spacious you can lie crossways.


The cabin is fully lined and brightly lit with Hella LEDs. The two-tier side shelves are also structural elements. Forward there’s hatch access through the collision bulkhead to the chain locker, which has great fall, thanks to the bow shape, and to the foredeck via a cabin-top hatch. There’s an extra bow roller to accommodate a mooring.
Hella also provides the lighting for the hardtop and cockpit, including cockpit floodlights; underwater lights are Piranha P3s. Once again, the Dreadnort’s unique design translates into lots of interior volume, so while cabin space is already more than generous for a boat of this length, the cockpit feels roomy as well, though the extended hardtop overhang wouldn’t be ideal for a dedicated sportfishing vessel. It does, however, provide shade and shelter to almost half the cockpit, with convenient grabrails to hold onto underway.
360 litres of fuel (340 litres useable) are housed under the cockpit sole, accessible through a hatch with deep gutters draining aft over the transom. The hatch must be opened to re-fuel the tank – no external filler. Dreadnort decided on this to ensure owners check the bilge each time they fill up, which is good practice. The bilges are protected by chromate paint. Opening the hatch also reveals some of the boat’s structure, including the solid keel bar and frames at 700mm spacings.


On the port side there’s storage in a deck locker/seat, and in full-length cockpit side shelves. Two 12V outlets are provided for electric reels, there are plenty of rod holders, a rocket launcher across the back of the hardtop overhang, twin transom doors (step-through transom doors are an option for sport fishers), a washdown hose and a fully featured transom bait station with functional bait board, freshwater sink, rod holders, 60-litre live well and a locker to house batteries, pumps and switches.
The cockpit is raised above the waterline to be self-draining while the boat’s high sides offer security, good thigh support and plenty of freeboard. Toe-room is good. The swim platforms either side of the outboard pod are wide enough to be useful. The cleverly designed boarding/dive ladder is removable and can be fitted to either side.


So, what’s it like on the water? Well, like a much bigger boat. We had a windy day to contend with and sloppy sea conditions in the channels, but the Dreadnort was completely unfazed. The unusual dreadnought bow and super-steep deadrise forward slices through head seas, the spray peeling away from the chines to either side. Progress was remarkably serene, especially since you don’t get a true impression of the speed from the helm because there’s very little pitching and minimal banging.
Lewis played around a bit with the hull shape to balance sufficient lift to ensure the boat handles well in a following sea (it does – without bow-steering or overly wet running characteristics) but with a soft, quiet ride into a head sea. He says he’ll take the transition zone slightly further aft in the next boat to further reduce (already minimal) pounding. As it stands, the boat rides best with the engine trimmed in – in a following sea you can trim up a bit, but mostly the strakes do their job of keeping the bow up.


As with the other planing hulls with a long waterline I’ve reviewed, the Dreadnort transitions almost imperceptibly onto the plane (10-12 knots). The boat’s attitude remains level throughout and the only real indication you are planing is the changing engine note and the SOG numbers on the GPS.
Also apparent is a lack of squeaks and rattles from the interior. Booming is also notably absent, thanks to the vessel’s comprehensive structure – “It’s designed to survey standards,” says Lewis, which means he hasn’t skimped anywhere. He reckons cheap is not the right answer – he wants the boats to not only perform well, but also to be durable.
The helm position works fine, although the tall, fixed helm seat (with bolster) seems a long way from the wheel at first. In reality it turned out to be a comfortable perch, the tube footrest on the bulkhead providing bracing and support for my feet. The white wheel looks smart, the console has sufficient space for a 12-inch Raymarine MFD, Autopilot, VHF (with Vesper AIS), the Zipwake trim tabs , Maxwell capstan controls and Yamaha’s digital display.


This boat has Yamaha’s Helmaster EX system with joystick control for low speeds and a whole range of clever functions and features for fishing and general utility. It came in handy getting the boat back on the Air Dock in the confined spaces of the marina with a strong cross wind.
During our run we cruised happily at between 22 and 28 knots – 4200rpm at 28 knots – but the boat holds the plane right down to 12 knots, which would be useful in rough conditions. With the Yamaha 300hp, top speed is around 37 knots, but outright speed is not what the Dreadnort is all about. What it is about is an abundance of interior space, a remarkably composed and comfortable ride – and the ability to cover water quickly and efficiently. The D7500 might be only 7.5m long (7.15m waterline), but from the inside it feels at least a metre longer, with seakeeping to match.
The Dreadnort D7500 could be too radical for some – and its internal layout is still being tweaked – but with its clear advantages over many other boats of this size, could it be a harbinger of our boating future? Perhaps…

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