Market differentiators in the burgeoning cruising catamaran market can be difficult to find, yet this is what industry leader Beneteau-Lagoon has achieved with its Excess models, which deliver a livelier and more responsive range.
- Strongly built
- Excellent sea boat
- Strong performance with Yamaha 300hp V6
- Beautifully-presented package
- Walkaround combines comfort with superior fishability
- Suitable for day fishing or longer expeditions
Whakatane’s Extreme Boats has joined a growing number of NZ boatbuilders producing walkaround models. Its new 795 Walkaround won the Best New Model and Specialist Fishing Boat up to 8m awards at the 2018 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show.
Walkaround and centre-console vessels seem to be on-trend with Kiwi trailer boat manufacturers. Extreme Boats has been one of the front-runners with its growing range of centre-console designs, but the 795 walkaround is a departure for the company.
A walkaround configuration offers most of the fishability of a centre-console design, but with the advantages of a good-size cabin and/or hardtop. The 795 offers a generously-proportioned hardtop, room to sleep in the forward cabin and walkaround side decks for easy access to a fisher-friendly foredeck.
The 795 Walkaround is an impressive vessel. This one went straight from the 2018 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show to Jonathan Barlow’s Northland Marine yard. Jonathan stocks a limited range of Extreme boats, all larger models, and specs them with high-end electronics and lots of optional gear. They are carried on high-quality, custom-built aluminium trailers he manufactures under the Custom Alloy Marine brand. Trailer componentry, including brake systems, is supplied by Trailequip.
An aluminium trailer shaves hundreds of kilos from the rig’s towing weight, keeping these bigger vessels safely inside the 3000kg legal towing limit, explains Jonathan. This particular rig, on a braked (electric over hydraulic) dual-axle trailer with alloy wheels, loaded with 50 percent fuel and some gear, should be well under the limit.
Extreme Boats has really got its styling and presentation sorted. From any angle the 795 Walkaround is a handsome beast. That’s not a given with centre-cab/walkaround designs, which can sometimes look a little awkward. Not this one. As is usual from Extreme Boats, the paint finish and overall build quality are exemplary. Indeed, it’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between aluminium and fibreglass in terms of presentation these days.
It was a sunny, but bitterly cold, morning in Tutukaka when we slipped the Extreme 795 into the tide. Outside the heads, a stiff-ish southerly breeze ensured we’d have a bit of lumpy stuff to contend with, but these are just the sort of conditions this boat relishes.
On such a cold morning it’s fair to say we welcomed the shelter of the open-backed centre-cab. This model is also available with an enclosed cabin, but the open back certainly enhances the feeling of space and effectively extends the cockpit under the hardtop overhang. Cockpit ‘weekender’ covers are available, turning the cabin into a realistic overnighting option for up to four people. There’s a toilet between the bunks and the roll-down aluminium door provides privacy and a lock-up facility for valuables as well.
The cockpit is a pretty decent place to spend time. The sole is covered in grey or black SeaDek, which provides secure footing that’s warm in winter and cool in summer. SeaDek also features on the gunwale tops, swim platforms, walkaround side decks, foredeck casting area and cabin top. Cleats, including amidships for springer lines, are recessed in the gunwales so there’s no chance of snagging fishing lines or body parts when grappling with big fish boat-side.
Designed to fish
This is a sport-fishing model first and foremost, which is reflected in the cockpit layout. It’s a wide, open cockpit with high sides. Step-throughs with drop-in transom doors afford access to boarding platforms either side of the engine and these are caged, making them great places to fish from. On the port side part of the cage drops down to become a boarding ladder; on the starboard side it hinges to one side.
The cockpit is not only spacious, like the hardtop it benefits from the model’s beamy nature. And with the 795’s generous freeboard, it also feels very secure. A flooding keel ensures good stability at rest, enhanced by this boat’s optional 8mm hull plates, a near-full 400-litre underfloor fuel tank, and a 70-litre freshwater tank forward.
Fresh and saltwater washdowns keep the cockpit clean and there are outboard freshwater handwashers either side of the cockpit: push one of the buttons with your knee or thigh and the pump operates for eight seconds. Or hold it down for continuous operation.
The bait station is well-designed with a reversible bait board, knife slots, a couple of drawers and extra rod holders. It extends aft over the outboard well rather than into the cockpit, so access to the transom is excellent. The live well is under the step-through on the port side, tuna tubes are built into the transom wall and outriggers are roof-mounted so as not to restrict walkaround access to the foredeck.
As you’d expect in a fishing boat there is ample rod storage. Through-gunwale rodholders are configured for trolling and there’s plenty of places for long items like gaffs, including two-tier cockpit shelves and brackets under the hardtop ceiling and inside the cabin. The drop-down pipe berth is a good place to stow spare fishing outfits as well, while an underfloor locker between the front seats easily swallows a couple of dive bottles, plus gear.
The beauty of a walkaround design is that it opens up the foredeck for fishing. On the 795, the side decks become wider towards the bow, providing enough flat deck area for comfortable casting. Bow rails provide security while SeaDek on the foredeck offers comfortable seating. A couple of flush rod holders are useful to store casting gear.
Lots of equipment
This boat is extremely well-equipped, including a 36V Minn Kota Riptide iPilot electric motor on the bow. Three separate deep-cycle batteries for the Minn Kota, isolation switches and a plug-in shore power charging system are housed under one of the bunks in the cabin.
The Extreme factory mounts electric trolling motors right on the bow of its vessels, as close to the centreline as possible, for optimum performance. This one is right beside the 795’s dual fairlead, one of carrying a Rocna anchor leaving the other available to deploy a grapnel anchor. A Maxell RC8 capstan takes care of anchor duties.
This boat has an extensive Hella Marine lighting package, including Sea Hawk floodlights for the cockpit and foredeck, LED lighting in the hardtop and cabin, under-gunwale LED strip lighting, underwater lights and lights set into the boat’s sides just under the belting. These are designed to illuminate the dock or another vessel when coming alongside at night.
Controlling all the boat’s electrical functions is a CZone digital switching system. On the test boat, Jonathan at Northland Marine had already configured the system with useful modes, including the day-fishing mode we used. CZone is monitored and controlled from either the dedicated panel inside the hardtop, or from the Simrad multi-function display (MFD).
The impressive electronics package includes a flush-mounted 16-inch Simrad NSS EVO3 display with wireless connectivity, the latest CHIRP sonar, Structure-scan 3D imaging, forward scan sonar, autopilot and Halo pulse compression radar. The vessel features two 1kW through-hull transducers, one low frequency and the other hifh frequency. A Fusion multi-speaker stereo system and a GME VHF radio are mounted above the curved glass Sea-thru windscreen.
The house battery is separate from the starting battery but both benefit from the extra charging the solar panel on the hardtop roof provides.
Loves the rough
As expected with 15 knots of wind from the south, sea conditions outside Tutukaka Harbour were sloppy. Nevertheless, we cruised quite comfortably at 25 knots, the 795’s soft-riding hull taking the 1.5m waves in its stride and landing softly whenever we became airborne while performing for the photographer.
The Yamaha 300hp V6 outboard delivered excellent performance, along with decent fuel economy. At trolling speed (8 knots) the Yamaha was burning 13 litres per hour, which equates to 1.2 kilometres per litre. Top speed was in excess of 40 knots.
As already alluded to, this is quite a wide boat, which is why it works so well as a walkaround, but Extreme has also made changes to the chines. The underwater configuration definitely works because the 795 feels eminently competent and handles very nicely. And while this is a dry boat, we still needed the windscreen wiper later in the day after the breeze got up some more for the return run to Tutukaka into wind and sea.
This boat inspires confidence: it behaved very well, no matter which way I pointed it or how hard I swung on the wheel. Even though it was reasonably choppy, most of the time I was happy to helm sitting down in the comfortable bucket seat. Ultraflex hydraulic steering is effortless and the helm position feels just right.
We didn’t need extra ventilation on such a cold morning but on a warm day sliding side windows and an opening overhead skylight should keep things comfortable under the hardtop. It is surprisingly roomy inside the centre cabin. The seating arrangement works well, including a reversible backrest for lure watching. There’s decent storage in the seat bases, which also house a cooker, gas bottle, plumbed sink, drawers and a 12V refrigerator, and the hardtop offers plenty of handholds, whether you’re standing up or sitting down.
Best of both worlds
The Extreme 795 Walkaround combines the comfort and shelter of a conventional hardtop or cabin boat with the enhanced fishability of walkaround side decks and fishing foredeck. It also combines class-leading build quality and presentation with excellent performance, handling and ride characteristics.
The model carries enough fuel for serious offshore fishing, as well as long-range stay-away trips, made possible by the convenience of cooking facilities, a toilet and decent sleeping berths. Able to be trailered to wherever the fish are biting, the Extreme 795 Walkaround is a fishing weapon – a fast, comfortable and good looking one./>