BOAT REVIEW Tristram 821 Offshore

July 2020 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim. Photography by Roger Mills and Supplied.
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Tristram 821 Offshore
DESIGNER Tristram Marine
BUILDER Tristram Marine
PRICE AS TESTED $POA
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 8.77M
LENGTH (Waterline) 8.21M
BEAM 2.78M
DRAFT 0.6M
ENGINE 1 x Mercruiser 270hp, Bravo III / 2 x Mercury Verado V8 250hp
FUEL CAPACITY 400L
WATER CAPACITY 100L
Weight on Trailer 3500 kg
Max Horsepower 600hp
Passenger Capacity 6 people
DEADRISE Variable degrees
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Muscular looks
  • Sterndrive and outboard options
  • Well equipped as standard
OBSERVATIONS
  • Wide body hull gives a spacious cockpit and excellent stability
  • Long list of options
  • Excellent build quality

A new release from Tristram Marine is always significant, but the 821 Offshore is more so than most.


Almost three years in the making, the new model is the result of a painstaking development process and many, many hours of Computer Aided Design (CAD) work. Tristram Marine is somewhat unusual among New Zealand fibreglass trailer boat manufacturers in having fully embraced CAD.
The 821 Offshore is an important model for Tristram in many ways. With a completely new underwater profile, a wider beam, broader shoulders and a raised sheer, Tristram Marine is heralding it as a game changer for the trailer boat industry.

The team at Tristram took a risk deviating from a tried and true design philosophy, which has produced a range of variable deadrise trailer boat models up to the 881 Offshore, most of them boasting deep-vee hulls with excellent rough water performance.
With the 821, Tristram Marine has set out to build a large blue water trailer boat that pays serious attention to sport fishing: with its size, range, performance and layout, it is the most fishing-focussed Tristram yet.
It’s also the first Tristram with a beam wider than 2.5m. At 2.78m, the boat is not especially imposing on the road – there are only minor towing restrictions in New Zealand – but the extra beam makes a big difference inside the vessel and on the water. It was chosen, says GM Kingsley Fink, to be proportional with the vessel’s overall length of 8.77m.


Tristram Marine has released the new model in two versions: diesel sterndrive and twin outboard. Boating NZ experienced both at scenic Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, at the same time as the boats’ new owners.
The sterndrive model belongs to Graeme and Karen, who traded up from a Tristram 741 sterndrive, and the outboard version to Spencer and Patrice, who owned a Tristram 741 outboard.
Of the two versions, Kingsley suspects the sterndrive may be the more popular with the gamefishing market, but outboards certainly offer an edge when it comes to outright performance – with a pair of 250hp V8 Mercury Verado outboards on the transom, Spencer and Patrice’s 821 can touch 50 knots.


The 821 Offshore’s raised sheer makes a good first impression. Although modest, it gives the boat a more muscular look and certainly adds presence on the water.
Our dramatic introduction to the boats was as we rounded the point into Cathedral Cove. We’d been picked up from Whitianga in the Fink family 701 for the big reveal. Both 821s were waiting for us, looking resplendent bathed in the morning light.
The well-proportioned hardtop is unique to this model, wider and redesigned so there is less distance in the ceiling between the male and female moulds, but still room enough to run the wiring for the lights and radar dome.


While there’s plenty of headroom inside the hardtop, the boat doesn’t look overly tall. On the contrary, it’s very well-proportioned from any viewing angle. OceanBlue game poles and a nicely vertical, 11-position stainless steel rocket launcher send a strong signal that this is a sport fishing model.
The engine box takes up very little cockpit space, which is a generous size thanks to the extra beam. The cockpit sole is covered in SeaDek, as is the cabin. The platform is accessed via two walkthrough transom doors – the deck wash lives in the starboard step-through locker; the port side locker is storage. SeaDek, incised with a fish ruler, is also used on the engine box, which makes a good seat.


Tristram has taken great care to prevent water getting into the engine compartment. The cockpit drains into a separate sump forward of the engine box via stainless steel scuppers. Deep gutters moulded into the floor and around the top of the engine box trap any water, directing it to the sump where a bilge pump on a float switch pumps it overboard.
As expected, the engine installation is first rate and access to the front of the engine, the battery isolation switches and all the main service points is good. There’s plenty of sound deadening material, including Dynamat, which does a good job of hushing engine noise. This is a new powerplant for Mercruiser, a 270hp V6 single-scroll turbodiesel driving through a Bravo III leg.


Tristram invested in separate, dedicated deck moulds for the 821, ensuring both versions enjoy the same integrity and strength and avoiding sealer-filled ‘cut and tuck’ seams sometimes seen on sterndrives. Underwater lights, LED interior and flood lights, plus pelmet and cockpit strip-lighting feature on both boats.
Across the transom, there’s an 80-litre livebait tank with a curved front window, Tristram embossed on the inside, and a removable bait board. There’s a second bait table on a U-shaped stainless-steel bracket mounted on the platform. The transom also features rod holders, teak trim – as do the coamings – and two integrated tuna tubes (four are optional), which also serve as somewhere to sit while fishing from the platform.
Tristram has raised the cockpit sole for this model, making space for a pair of three-metre underfloor rod storage lockers big enough to accommodate several 50-Wide big game outfits per side. Rods and reels can be washed down with fresh water in situ since the boat’s underfloor lockers all drain to the sump. Alternatively, lockers can be used as a kill tank for larger fish.


The raised floor means the gunwales are lower than some of Tristram’s other models, but at 800mm tall they still offer fishers thigh-high support and security for families. Toe-room is excellent and optional electric handwashers are included on both sides. Wielding a jigging rod or fighting fish in a stand-up harness is easier over a lower gunwale. Stability at rest is excellent – another benefit of the 821’s wider beam.
Forward of the sump, a large, deep underfloor locker is suitable for storing bulky items or perhaps a catch bag filled with ice – a 72-litre pull-out ice box lives under the aft seat base on the port side.
Although the 821 Offshore is fishing oriented, it’s also a very comfortable cruiser, with versatile seating and good shelter from the elements. These boats feature a pullout cooker/sink unit above the ice box, a dedicated gas locker, a pair of tackle drawers, a cockpit shower and a refrigerator under the helm seat.
Two-tier seating on the port side makes clever use of space, reversible backrests allowing a range of seating options, from face-to-face (a small table is an option), all facing forward, all facing aft, or a combination. The seats are wide enough for two. Sliding side-windows and a pair of opening skylight hatches provide ventilation and light inside the hardtop.


On the starboard side, the aft seat lifts to reveal a cavernous storage locker inside the seat base and other storage options include shelves, bins and lockers. The custom 821 helm seat is positioned high enough to ensure excellent vision and there are lots of grabrails, including one running the length of the hardtop ceiling, recessed along the centreline.
The helm seat is new, designed and manufactured in house by Tristram Marine – the upholstery, hardtop headlining and covers are all crafted in-house. Instead of a swivelling seat, Tristram has developed armrests that fold completely out of the way. The seat base is wide enough to sit sideways.
The forward cabin benefits from the 821 Offshore’s raised sheer and broader shoulders, which mean a flatter foredeck, increased headroom and more storage. The foredeck is flat enough for casting or sunbathing; non-slip is optional.


The cabin’s sliding cavity door is lockable. It also provides privacy for anyone using the plumbed toilet, tucked in behind the bulkhead under one of the berths. A separate toilet compartment is an option, but so far, says Kingsley, no one has opted for it. An infill turns the vee-berths into a large double.
The Mercruiser works well with this hull. Power delivery via the Bravo III’s counter-rotating propellers is smooth and acceleration is strong. Top speed is around 34 knots.
Cruising at 24 knots, the diesel burns roughly 33 litres per hour, but it sips just 7lph trolling at eight knots. Integrated Lectrotab trim tabs are fitted to both boats, but we found little use for them on the sterndrive. Its hydraulic steering is smooth and the Simrad autopilot will get plenty of use as Graeme and Karen cruise from place to place.


The twin 250hp outboard version of the 821 is a different beast. Good for 51 knots, its hole shots are eye-wateringly quick, so it pays to hang on whenever the skipper applies a handful of throttle. Those extra horses need more feeding, but this boat has a 400-litre fuel tank to keep them satisfied. Cruising along at 24 knots, fuel consumption is a pretty decent 40lph, both engines combined.
Both boats ride smoothly and handle nicely, which inspires confidence, and they are dry runners, too. Both have high-spec electronic packages, including radar and through-hull transducers.


Spencer and Patrice enjoy offshore fishing for kingfish and hapuku, so they opted for Mercury’s impressive JPO joystick control system. This allows them to hold the boat in position over structure and/or fish indefinitely, as well as providing unmatched manoeuvrability at low speeds. Under joystick control, this boat can drive sideways. Steering is electric.
The 821 Offshore’s one-piece glass helm fascia is unique. A collaboration between Tristram Marine and Navico/Simrad, it features a pair of 12-inch Simrad MFDs embedded in the glass. A first for Australasia, it looks great, whether the displays are switched on or off. The autopilot is Simrad and both boats have Mercury’s VesselView digital display.


The boats weigh-in at around 3,500kg on premium, braked, tandem-axle Enduro trailers, one in steel and the other aluminium. The Tristram Custom aluminium version shaves a few kilos off the towing weight. Both trailers have fold-out overwidth flags.
Tristram Marine’s new 821 Offshore is an impressive vessel. Offering diesel or outboard options, the wide body design provides stability and volume without significant sacrifices in performance or ride, both of which are excellent.


With comfortable, versatile interiors, stylish looks and great build quality, the 821 Offshore is pitched at the premium end of the trailer boat sportfishing market. Judging by Tristram Marine’s healthy order book, the new model is pitched just right!/>

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