Some boats kind of slip beneath the radar. There are around 10 Nimbus 305 Coupés already in the hands of satisfied Kiwi owners and importer Sports Marine has another five on order from the Sweden factory, but this one is the first we’ve had the opportunity to review.
- Available in soft top or hardtop
- CAD design and hydrostatic testing
- A pleasure to helm
- Excellent ride quality
- High quality commands a premium price.
- A blend of luxury and practicality
The 701 is the latest model release from Hamilton-based Tristram Marine, available in a soft top configuration as the Vanquish and in a hardtop, the 701 Offshore.
When a company like Tristram Marine announces a new model, trailer boat enthusiasts in New Zealand sit up and take notice. That’s because Tristram Marine has a reputation for building premium GRP trailer boats pitched at the quality end of market.
Kingsley Fink is the fresh young face of Tristram Marine, lightening the load for his father, Lance Fink. “We market and manufacture Tristram as the grand piano regarding quality, yet still retain affordability within the New Zealand trailer boat sector,” Kingsley says.
The 701 Vanquish is a completely new design. Kingsley has worked on the design with Lance, who founded the company. Kingsley looked after the CAD (computer aided design) side of the process and Lance used his experience designing and building some of New Zealand’s most respected trailer boats to get the hull dynamics and overall proportions just right.
Tristram Marine says it is the only production boat building company in New Zealand using CAD to create new models. It also uses hydrostatic testing, another industry leading innovation, to ensure the hull floats as it should and performs to expectation.
“Because this model will be fitted with engines ranging from 200hp to 300hp, we had to ensure it would balance properly given the differences in engine weight. Hydrostatic testing helped us to ensure an optimum hull attitude at rest and underway,” says Kingsley.
Because this hull has to accommodate soft top and hardtop configurations, Tristram Marine created a hull that’s stable at rest and underway. The 701 is quite a beamy boat and the chines received special attention, including coving to soften the chine flats. At 20.8° at the transom, the variable deadrise hull has slightly less vee than some boats in the Tristram range to carry the weight of the 701 Offshore’s hardtop, but seems to give away little in rough water performance. Trim tabs are standard and useful, even on the soft-top Vanquish.
Although this is a completely new boat, Kingsley says the 701 was inspired by the popular 741 from which the hull was developed. The cockpit and deck mouldings are mostly Kingsley’s work and bear a family resemblance to other boats in the Tristram range, but are unique to this model.
“We were getting quite a bit of enquiry for a smaller 741, perhaps with a soft top option for traditional family boating and water skiing,” says Kingsley. Perceiving a gap in the market, the father and son Fink team began work on the 701 in 2012 and the first production boats were revealed in September 2014 at their large showroom and factory in Hamilton. At time of writing Tristram Marine has accepted 11 orders for the new model.
The Tristram 701 Vanquish features a versatile family-friendly layout that will also please sportfishers and divers. In recent years Tristram boats have become considerably more fishing-diving oriented in their layout. The 701 Vanquish follows suit with two, transom step-through live bait tanks/wet lockers, ample under-gunwale rod storage, a large fibreglass bait station that drains overboard and a useful rocket launcher that clips onto the robust stainless steel frame of the canvas bimini top.
The cockpit is generous, but Tristram hasn’t optimised cockpit space at the expense of the rest of the boat: there’s a full complement of seating with masses of storage in the moulded GRP seat bases and plenty of space in the forward cabin, which incorporates full length bunks, a generous hatch in the foredeck and a chemical toilet between the vee-berths. Overall, the relative proportions between cockpit and cabin are excellent, which is why the boat looks and feels so well balanced.
The boat’s interior is a nice mix of luxury touches like teak coamings, teak footrest treads and bold but classy orange-and-black upholstery with practical features like the removable cockpit carpet, padded gunwales and a well built soft top that folds away easily for trailering or storage. If desired, owners can specify removable carpet in the helm area as well, since the GRP floor mouldings are non-slip. The upholstery’s orange piping, embroidery and orange ‘701’ in the steering wheel boss are complemented by orange pin-striping on the engine cowling and under the belting, good examples of Tristram Marine’s superb attention to detail.
The bait station is a good size, as is the moulded, curved transom locker which houses the 701 Vanquish’s twin batteries, isolation switches and the bilge pump with plenty of space left over. There are additional lockers across the transom at floor level and under the helm and passenger seat footrests. The hatch in the floor between the seats provides access to the 250-litre stainless steel fuel tank and fittings.
Tristram has dispensed with transom corner seating, maximising usable cockpit space, something fishers and divers will appreciate. There’s comfortable seating for at least four in two, forward-facing bucket seats and extra-wide rear facing upholstered loungers. The helm seat is adjustable for distance from the wheel and Tallon receptacles in the cockpit accept cup holders for rear seat passengers; built-in stainless steel cup holders service front seat passengers.
The volume inside the seat bases is vast. Tristram offers a refrigerator under the helm seat and a gas cooker under the passenger seat as options. The upper section of the seat base mouldings hinge forward for unimpeded access to the lined and carpeted stowage space beneath. The carpet is removable for washing.
At the helm
The helm position of the Vanquish is excellent with the screen offering good protection from the slipstream and clears keeping out rain or spray if the weather cuts up. The helm seat slides forward and aft, and Kingsley has raised the wheel slightly in comparison with other Tristram boats, which works well. Slide the seat back if you like to drive standing up or slide it forward to drive sitting down: the bucket seat provides good lateral support and the moulded footrest is well placed.
The 701 Vanquish is a pleasure to helm. It feels rock solid, because it is, and this solidity translates to a reassuring ride with the handling to match. Yamaha’s digital throttle and shift is effortless to use and clunk-free, while hydraulic steering is light but provides enough weight and feedback for an involving driving experience. The dashboard has enough space to accommodate flush-mounted 14-inch displays with Yamaha digital instruments tucked up under the eyebrow console at eye level. A 9-inch Simrad NSS EVO 2 GPS-sounder display occupied the dash of the review boat, factory fitted to an exacting standard like all the boat’s equipment, with the VHF radio and Fusion head unit recessed into the cockpit liner under the throttle control. Automatic rope/chain capstan is standard, operated from the helm.
For a relatively big boat the 701 Vanquish is a blast to throw around, its integral keel with full-length, half-round brass keel strip gripping the water and providing some respectable G-forces when you throw the helm hard over. The hull runs straight and responds admirably to engine trim inputs. We couldn’t catch a chine or induce a slide no matter how hard we turned. Lentrotab trim tabs were useful in the windy, choppy conditions we experienced, allowing us to lift one bow or another for a smooth, dry ride. Ride quality in general is excellent.
The Vanquish’s soft top configuration has some advantages over a hardtop, not least that it’s a slightly cheaper option, but it also offers the ‘wind in your face’ boating I enjoy, as well as superior all-round vision, which is handy for tow sports. The bimini top, windscreen and clears still offer pretty good weather protection when required, though the comfort of a hardtop is hard to beat when conditions turn unpleasant. Which 701 option you choose rather depends on your sort of boating.
Fast and frugal
The Tristram 701 Vanquish is designed for V6 engines of between 200 and 300hp. The 4.2-litre 225hp Yamaha fitted to the review boat gives the Vanquish peppy performance and a good turn of speed. It’s a grunty engine, so hole shots are impressive, with an authoritative engine note that is quite pleasant, though it’s slightly more intrusive at around 3700-4000rpm when it seems to resonate.
The 701 Vanquish is a comfortable traveller. We maintained close to 30 knots at 4200rpm with the wind against the tide pushing up short, steep seas in the channels between the islands. At around 3900rpm the boat lifted up on top of the chop, letting the chines do their work to keep us dry despite the crosswind. No complaints about the way the boat rides: it’s smooth, comfortable, quiet and assured.
The boat-engine combination is a happy one. Some Tristram 701 examples have been sold with the 300hp Yamaha V6 on the transom, which I expect would turn a sharp performer into an excitement machine, but for most purposes 200hp, 3.3-litre or 225hp, 4.2-litre are more than adequate, offering a nice blend of performance and fuel economy. At 26 knots the Yamaha gauges showed a fuel throughput of 37 litres per hour, climbing to around 48lph at 32 knots on test day. Top speed was just over 43 knots at 5600rpm burning fuel an indicated 82.9lph.
The Vanquish 701 continues a long line of fine trailer boats from Tristram Marine. The company pays exceptional attention to detail and finish, and it shows in how well the boats present in the showroom and perform on the water. The latest CAD technology and hydrostatic testing ensure Tristram is a leader in trailer boat manufacturing in New Zealand: its boats might command a premium price, but the 701 Vanquish proves that you get what you pay for.