Pursuit 260 Boat Test

The Pursuit 260 centre console is a hard core fishing machine built by one of the best US manufacturers. Now available in Australia, it offers surprising comfort and class, as John Ford discovered on a test run out off Lake Macquarie.

Pursuit 260 Boat Test

Boat Test Pursuit 260: HOT PURSUIT
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 103 of BlueWater magazine – MAY-JUNE 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Australian offshore fishing boats need to be capable of handling rough conditions and perhaps crossing dangerous river-mouth bars. For this reason front cabin or cuddy cabs have evolved into the quintessential Aussie boat for anglers heading wide and many local builders would risk their future without an example in their fleet.

In America it’s a different story. Just as they embraced oversized utes, the big centre console is for many US anglers the weapon of choice for ocean fishing. To be fair, their swooping bows, generous freeboard and self-draining walkaround decks mean they have a lot going for them; like lots of fishing room for one thing.

Pursuit is a builder of serious centre console fishing boats and while not yet known widely in Australia, the company has a strong following in the USA and claims to be the country’s biggest producer of cabin boats, boasting a range of 16 models up to 12m. Lifestyle Marine is the first well-established distributer to take the initiative to introduce them to the Australian market.

Based on the NSW Central Coast, Lifestyle Marine has been in business at the same location for 60 years, supplying Searay cruisers and bowriders, as well as a range of ski boats. Operating from the shores of Lake Macquarie in the vibrant township of Toronto, the business attracts clients from around the local area, as well as Newcastle to the north and down to Sydney.

Lifestyle Marine has been an agent for other serious fishing boats in the past, but owner Damien Hurt thought it was time to get hold of a brand they could market exclusively. He set about searching for a quality boat that was not represented in Australia. His research led him to Pursuit and the more he discovered, the more impressed he became. He visited the Fort Pierce factory in Florida and was so struck by what he saw that he signed up as the Australian distributer.

Built With Experience

Pursuit’s parent company was established some 60 years ago by Leon Slickers, who cut his teeth working at the famous Chris Craft yard before setting up his own Slickcraft brand of runabouts, which later grew into S2 yachts. Tiara pleasure boats followed and in 1977 he established the Pursuit range of dedicated fishing boats. The company is still privately owned and now in the hands of the third generation of the Slickers family. The company’s depth of experience and development drive, as well as their economies of scale, has ensured their products remain at the cutting edge in terms of boat construction and production techniques.

The first Pursuits to arrive were centre console models and we took the new C260 out for a test on what was a perfect windless day. Fitted with twin 200hp Mercury Verados, it promised to be a thrilling ride across Lake Macquarie and out to sea.

Comfort And Style

Aesthetically the boat is very pleasing. Astraight sheerline reflects the shape of the smooth hardtop that canter levers back from its forward mounts for a neat minimalist appearance. The deep hull has strakes and pronounced chines that can be seen running from the bow to meet the waterline amidships where they become deeper still. The look is a smooth and uncluttered display of gleaming white gelcoat, highlighting the contrasting blacks of the bootline and the engines on the extended transom.

Before heading out, Andrew showed me around the many features of the boat. Although it’s marketed purely as a fishing boat, there are elements of comfort and style that carry over from Pursuit’s sister companies which build refined cruising yachts.

At nearly 8m long, the 260 – which takes its name from its 26-foot length –isimposing, with loads of room onboard. A crew of six would comfortably fit, and there’s easily space for more in dayboat mode.

Throughout the boat are practical, neat design elements that make life onboard more pleasurable. I liked the electric anchoring system where the pick secretes itself out of sight in its own hold into the forepeak, leaving the bow as an uncluttered boarding platform.

Party In The Bow

The design of the bow seating area and the console itself are also clever examples of making the most of available space. Two lengthways seats, moulded into the bow, double as casting platforms and lift forward on gas struts for storage. Another locking hatch is set into the floor.

It’s worth noting that all storage bins around the boat have impeccable inner mouldings, while the hatches have rubber gaskets to keep things dry. All holds are insulated and are suitable for storing cold drinks and food on the way out to sea and then act as fishboxes on the return home.

On the forward face of the console is a door which includes a built-in seat that opens sideways to reveal a monster compartment. The side-opening door and wide steps provide easy access into the console. With 180cm of headroom and good lighting, it’s a comfortable space, even with the door closed. Inside you’ll find a stainless-steel sink, ceramic flushing head, Clarion MP3 sound system and a fire extinguisher. The console also provides storage for cushions, as well as a dedicated slot to store a bow table. Erect the table between the bow seats, add the cushions and the area converts from a fishing sector to a roomy dining space.

Angler-Friendly Cockpit

Ergonomics in the stern are different to the layout of most Australian boats. A starboard door leads out to a boarding/swim platform to the side of the wide engine well. Back inside, and set against the transom there’s a lounge for two which folds well out of the way for fishing. Over the transom there’s a 117L fishbox/cooler alongside another smaller drink cooler.

The livebait tank is built into the rear of the centre console. Its rounded blue-lined inner moulding comes standard with a light, recirculation pump and a clear lid to keep an eye on the bait. Aussies may find the layout a bit different to what they’re used to, but its practical design allows a number of people to work efficiently in the cockpit. It also brings the weight of all that water more central for better balance.

Pursuit has managed to keep the console compact enough to allow wide passageways either side and still retain a workable helm. I particularly liked the versatile twin-helm seat that also serves as a leaning post with a flip up bolster for good back support. Whether you’re sitting up on the seat or standing, the helm commands good all-round vision.

The non-reflective grey dash has a stainless-steel wheel set to port and its tilt mechanism allows different sized drivers to maintain a good hold. Twin-engine controls are dash mounted and their digital operation makes easy work of combining or separating power and trim as needed.

The long row of toggle switches are clearly marked with both name and a symbol, with their associated fuses adjacent. Controls for the Lenco trim tabs have their own separate panel and engine readouts are combined in the comprehensive VesselView screen.

No navigation equipment had yet been installed on our test boat, leaving room for either a 40cm screen or perhaps a pair of 30cm models.

The hardtop is very well finished in a vacuum bagged process, with a foam core centre for ultimate strength and lightness. The powder-coated aluminium frame neatly curves around an acrylic windscreen and there are sail tracks for optional clear infills to isolate the helm from the weather.

Mounted to the hardtop are Rupp Revolution telescopic aluminium outriggers, a deck light, storage locker and a 4-hole rocket launcher rod rack. There is more rod storage under the gunwales and two stainless-steel rodholders along each gunnel.

Power To Run Bars

The Pursuit gave me a good feel on the run across the smooth crystal clear waters of Lake Macquarie before heading under the Swansea Bridge and out across the bar.

The ride remained soft and secure through the gentle 1-metre swell around the bar, inspiring immediate confidence in the boat’s ability. Combined with willing power, it’s simply sensational to drive.

The thrust from the twin Verados had the hull out of the water very quickly and low down acceleration is brisk for a good feeling of safety if negotiating sets on bar crossings.

There’s hardly any sensation of transition as you rise up onto the plane, which we calculated at a very low 8kt. (But try telling that to maritime authorities when they see you planing in the go-slow zones!) By 3000rpm the speed doubles to 17kt as the hull starts to work even more efficiently. A slow cruise of 23kt saw fuel consumption from both motors of 35Lt/h, putting the continental shelf drop-off in range in no time.

In the slight conditions we experienced, the boat had no trouble holding 35kt and 5000rpm, retaining a safe, stable and predictable feel across all quarters. It also remained dry onboard, despite some of the bigger swells sending spray wide. By this stage the supercharged engines were in need of a bit more to drink, with their deep growl sounding like the highly sophisticated mechanical marvels that they are.

A combination of deep chines and the twin props in the water means surefooted handling. Back in the lake we executed some sharp power turns and couldn’t lose grip no matter how hard we tried.

Refined But Hard Core

Everything points to the 260 being a capable, hard core fishing boat, with the exception of its impeccable fitout. Although it covers ground fast and is capable of handling rough conditions, this refined and beautifully finished craft is no pared down platform for knockabout fishermen.

Lifestyle Marine have packaged the 260 with a number of sensible options, including engine upgrade, electric anchor, hardtop and rear lounge at $186,000– good value for such a well-equipped, high-end model.

Its open style is perfect for a big crew to troll or drift in comfort and to cast or battle fish from all corners of the boat. It would be fabulous for popper-casting to surface fish, or when fighting multiple hook-ups on small billfish or school tuna.

Although the hardtop provides limited protection from the weather, those who enjoy fresh air and sunshine are going to love it – whether fishing seriously or relaxing with friends and family.

Highlights

  • Smooth handling and soft ride.
  • Fibreglass and upholstery very well finished.
  • Big usable head.
  • Insulated storage for drinks and fish.
  • Lots of fishing room.
  • Bow converts to dining area.

Capacities

  • Rec. hp: 300-400
  • Fuel: 530L
  • Water: 70L

General

  • Type: Centre console monohull
  • Material: composite construction
  • Length: 7.87m
  • Beam: 2.67m
  • Weight: 3442kg (with twin 200hp engines)
  • Deadrise: 21°

Engines

  • Make/model: Mercury Verado
  • Type: Inline 4-cylinder supercharged 4-stroke
  • Fitted hp: Twin 200
  • Weight: 221kg
  • Displacement: 1700cc
  • Gear ratio: 2.08:1
  • Propeller: 19-inch revolution
Pursuit 260 Boat Test

Boat Test Pursuit 260: HOT PURSUIT
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: Lifestyle Marine

This boat test ran in ISSUE 103 of BlueWater magazine – MAY-JUNE 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here