BOAT REVIEW White Pointer 970 Pro Sportsman Dipudo Patrol

March 2019 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by Jogn Eichelsheim. Photography by Lawrence Schaffler and supplied.
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL White Pointer 970 Pro Sportsman
DESIGNER White Pointer Boats
BUILDER White Pointer Boats
CONSTRUCTION 8mm plate bottom
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 9.7M
LENGTH (Waterline) 9.3M
BEAM 2.9M
DRAFT 0.96M
ENGINE Volvo Penta D6 400
FUEL CAPACITY 950L
WATER CAPACITY 150L
Weight on Trailer 5000 kg
Passenger Capacity 6 people
DEADRISE 18 degrees
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Highly specc'd
  • Nicely finished
  • Excellent seakeeeping and ride
OBSERVATIONS
  • Fully kitted out for bluewater sport fishing
  • Strong performance from 400hp D6 Volvo Penta

Dipudo Patrol has already left these shores for the northern Philippines, where she’ll join a small fleet of sport fishing boats running out of Stephen Jarvis’ boutique resort on the private island of Dipudo.


Stephen wanted to make sure Dipudo Patrol was properly kitted-out to tackle the superb sport fishing around the resort. This includes fishing for a wide variety of tropical species, with yellowfin tuna and sailfish the main targets. In addition, the boat will undertake long runs to the Philippine Shelf to fish for various big game species, so the ability to operate well offshore in sometimes rough conditions is important.

With Stephen based in the Philippines, his nephew Tom van Praagh was tasked to project-manage the vessel’s build, fit-out and commissioning. Drawing on his experience in marine design, as superyacht crew and working in his current role as Service Manager at Orakei Marine, not to mention a lifetime of sportfishing, at the risk of losing his girlfriend, Tom immersed himself in the project, spending hundreds of hours researching and procuring equipment for the boat.

Tom and Stephen settled on White Pointer as the boatbuilder of choice, based on the Gisborne company’s enviable reputation for build quality and excellent seakeeping ability. With a generous budget to work with, they chose White Pointer’s 970 Pro Sportsman as the starting point.

Tapping into the White Pointer team’s experience in building sport fishers, Tom added “a few tweaks” based on the best features of other boats he and Stephen had considered, to create the sort of sportfishing vessel Tom had always wanted and knew Stephen needed. Even the two-tone paint is bespoke, matched exactly to Stephen’s Mercedes 500.

Working with Rex Briant and the team at White Pointer was great, says Stephen: “Tom and Rex were a great combination and, like happens with so many other White Pointer owners, Rex and I became good friends.”

The result of their collaboration is a sport fisher that lacks for nothing.

At 9.7m it’s a big boat, but Tom has shipped it to the Philippines with a White Pointer trailer so it can be hauled out to the safety of dry land. Tom reckons White Pointer builds some of the best engineered aluminium road trailers around, though this one won’t spend much time on the road. The boat also shipped with a load of engine parts and general spares, which may be difficult to procure in such a remote location.

Working cockpit

With sport fishing absolutely the focus, White Pointer went all-out in the cockpit. This is a working space, as indicated by the rigging table fixed to the engine box lid. With plenty of rod holders and racks for dive bottles on the lower level, it features a large PVC cutting board for rigging baits and a deep tackle drawer to house all the necessary rigging gear.

Aft of the rigging table there’s a two-person bench seat atop an insulated ice box. The whole unit detaches to accommodate the game chair. There’s sufficient room around the engine box to move around easily when playing fish and the cockpit can fish up to six anglers at once.

Cork composite Marinedeck 2000 is used on the cockpit sole, atop the gunwales and inside the wheelhouse. It looks smart, is hardwearing and durable even in a tropical climate, and above all else is cool on the feet. The wet deck cockpit is self-draining with bilge pumps in sumps in the cockpit corners to quickly dump excess water.

Enclosed side lockers either side of the cockpit house washdowns and provide protection for a variety of items. There’s a removable bait table on the transom, with a decent cutting board suitable for filleting, additional rod holders, drink holders and knife slots; transom lockers for the batteries; additional side lockers for the pumps supplying the washdowns and tuna tubes in the rear corners, a glass-fronted live bait tank in the transom amidships and Ocean LED multi-colour underwater lights to attract bait fish.

The rest of the lighting, including cockpit floodlights, strip-lighting under the gunwales and concealed wheelhouse and cabin lighting (red for night travel) is Hella Marine while the remote-controlled spotlight on the hardtop roof is by Marinco.

Dipudo Patrol’s transom door is a heavy-duty affair hinged at the bottom. With steps on the inside, plus a pullout ladder, it opens outwards to drop down to the water. The opening is wide enough to drag large fish through it into the cockpit. Because the boat will back down on hard fighting fish, there’s no swim platform; water pressure keeps the transom door tightly closed.

Other notable features of the cockpit include handwashers on either side, a pull-out rubbish bin, four 12V outlets for electric reels, six heavy-duty rod holders for trolling, a set of Ocean Blue outriggers, an up-rigger pole and a rocket launcher with a double row of rod holders, bringing the total number of exterior rod holders to 35 (racks to store big game outfits grace the ceiling of the forward cabin). A large freezer against the wheelhouse bulkhead supplements the cockpit icebox and a generous wet locker under the cockpit sole also serves as a reserve diesel tank.

The fishing cockpit works well. As well as several ‘testing’ trips around the North Island, the boat had a decent shakedown cruise before it was shipped, taking part in the annual White Pointer Tournament held out of Waihau Bay. Owner Stephen joined Tom and another two crew aboard Dipudo Patrol for the 190nm run from Auckland to Waihau Bay, which they covered non-stop in eleven hours.

From Waihau Bay, the boat fished Cape Runaway and East Cape, also steaming down to Ranfurly Banks to catch kingfish, hapuku, trumpeter and king tarakihi, along with a decent tagged and released striped marlin on a trolled lure.

Comfortable cabin

During their Waihau Bay adventure the crew used a borrowed trailer to pull the boat ashore and camped inside most nights. Occasional overnight forays are likely in the Philippines as well, so Dipudo Patrol has all the creature comforts. There’s a toilet under the bunk in the forward cabin, with a privacy curtain, two wide v-berths with an infill, a single pipe berth and provision to drop the wheelhouse table to create another double berth.

The galley is modest in size, but well-equipped with a two-burner spirit stove, a spirit oven, a 12V Isotherm under-bench refrigerator and reasonable drawer stowage. There’s plenty of space for stores under the seat bases, some of it in drawers, and in underfloor lockers. An additional freezer under the seat on the port side forward supplements the cockpit bulkhead freezer while a sink just outside the wheelhouse door offers hot and cold fresh water and cockpit shower facilities. Water heating is electric.

Inside the wheelhouse, custom leather-upolstered seats address a solid timber table and the front seat has a reversible backrest. The helm seat features a suspension base. Tom insisted on a full-length pedestal rather than a shorter one mounted on top of the seat base, to ensure enough suspension travel, though the pedestal does impact locker space in the seat base.

Tom also had considerable input into the helm console, insisting on a curved profile and stitched leather upholstery for aesthetic reasons, specifying the positions of various controls, gauges and switches based on his experience with a range of other boats.

Electronics are by Furuno, including radar, a GPS satellite compass and autopilot. The satellite compass gives super-accurate GPS fixes even in sloppy seas and the vessel is equipped with a remote control for the touch-screen MFD, which is handy in rough weather. By all accounts the autopilot works a treat, having maintained an accurate heading at 27 knots in a confused sea while crossing the Bay of Plenty. Ditto the Zipwake automatic trim tabs.

The dashboard looks uncrowded, partly because of the smaller than usual custom wheel made by Manta to Tom’s design, and there’s plenty of area for digital gauges, control panels, banks of switches and controls for the Stress-free drum anchor winch, Lewmar bow thruster and Zipwake trim tabs. The digital throttle mounted alongside the MFD remote control falls readily to hand, whether sitting or standing to drive.

The VHF radio and the Fusion Apollo stereo head unit (speakers inside and outside with the sub-woofer under the berth) are housed overhead and the wheelhouse is well-furnished with USB/12V outlets to keep mobile devices fully-charged.

Lots of grunt

A big D6 Volvo Penta under the floor pumps out 400hp and a great wedge of torque, which is transferred to the water via a Volvo duo-prop leg. This is the most powerful sternleg combination Volvo makes. As you would expect from White Pointer, the engine installation and engineering are immaculate, service points are easy to reach and sound insulation is effective.

There’s nothing like a large diesel in the belly to give a boat presence on the water and Dipudo Patrol certainly has that in spades. The boat also features optional 8mm hull plates. It feels rock-solid and Tom reports its handling is excellent. He and his crew experienced some big seas crossing the Bay of Plenty en route to Waihau Bay, but other than dialling back the speed from 27 knots to 16 knots, they simply got on with the voyage. He also reports that the fuel-burn curve is flat from 10 knots to 30 knots.

Top speed is a respectable 36 knots, but the torque through the mid-range impresses the most. With 1000Nm of torque on tap, throttle response is urgent anywhere in the rev range and performance is barely affected by loading. The vessel also responds predictably to the helm, turning with precision, its deep vee hull heeling over as it carves the tightest of turns. In power-turns, with the leg trimmed correctly, ventilation and/or cavitation are non-issues and the duo-prop never loses its grip.

Shelf explorer

Dipudo Patrol is largely for Stephen’s own use, but he may occasionally take out guests, to supplement the services of the resort’s two 6m Extreme sport fishers. Unsurprisingly, considering its role, the boat carries plenty of fuel – 950 litres under the floor, plus 350l in a removable reserve tank – along with 150 litres of freshwater.

Stephen reckons there’s a largely undiscovered sport fishery on his doorstep and he’s itching to use his new boat to explore the distant seamounts and ridges of the Philippine Shelf. He can’t wait for Dipudo Patrol to arrive.

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