Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab Boat Test

Stabicraft’s latest model was developed in collaboration with New Zealand fishing personality Matt Watson, who infused years of gamefishing experience into the layout and design. BlueWater was offered the first drive of the new 2750 to hit Australia and we found lots to like in this very desirable, 8.4m gamefishing trailerboat.

Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab Boat Test

Boat Test Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab: TO THE NEW FRONTIER
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 123 of BlueWater magazine – APRIL-MAY 2017

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

I sometimes wonder what drives the push for bigger and bigger trailerboats. Certainly, as our economy grows, the boating public can now afford more expensive and larger vessels. So, are the builders producing these boats to tempt the buying public or is there really a growing demand from anglers wanting to push the boundaries? I’m inclined to think the boundaries are changing and these larger models offer the ability to press further past the continental shelf in search of new fisheries that would not be feasible in a smaller boat.

New construction techniques and lighter engines deliver combinations that fit Australian design rules without oversize restrictions. At the same time, more efficient vehicle engines mean that a carrying capacity of up to 3.5 tonne can be easily achieved over long distances. These big boats can now be transported relatively easily along the coast to where the fishing action takes place.

Of course, there have always been those willing to tackle long distances in outfits like 7m Shark Cats and flybridge Bertrams, with dozens of these making the autumn migration from Melbourne to Bermagui towed by mid-range, fuel-guzzling trucks. However, the majority of these combinations didn’t venture far from home, and running costs were often prohibitive.

The 2750 Stabicraft Centrecab on test pushes our expectations of a trailerboat’s space and workability but is still capable of being towed by a Landcruiser or one of the many new 4×4 utes. To me, this is important because it’s quite a daunting prospect to drag an over-width trailer down busy main road, let alone the narrow streets leading to launching ramps in major cities.

Inspired Design

The history of Stabicraft goes back to 1987 when Paul Adams and Bruce Dickens built their first 3.5m dinghy based on the inherent stability of a rigid inflatable design but using aluminium instead of Hypalon. The location of their factory in Invercargill, on the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand, is renowned for frightening seas that can be whipped up by winds unrestricted by landfall between Africa and South America.

While it might look small on a map, New Zealanders are blessed with 14,000km of coastline not far from their doorstep, much of it replete with world-class game- and sportfishing. All this fishy action has encouraged Kiwi boat designers to embrace innovation and step out of the square to achieve a workable result.

Over time, Stabicraft models have emerged from their ugly duckling industrial look into a brand with much more mainstream, if rugged, appeal. The prominent pontoons of the early versions might have been practical and safe, but they had little visual appeal. While the latest models sport a more conventional look, there is no denying they are still purposeful and individual. Finished in a gleaming black paint, the 2750 on test has the brutal appearance of an All Black rugby forward.

Fun In The Rough

The 2750 might emit a serious boating vibe, but as we launched into a 45kph nor-easterly and a wild-looking Morton Bay chop, Billy Hull from Northside Marine joked that we were going to have some fun. “The rougher it is, the better this boat performs,” he told us.

Before venturing into the rough stuff, we rested at anchor in sheltered waters inside the breakwater. As the wind continued around us, the enclosed centrecab really felt like luxury. It is not only anglers fishing the frigid waters of southern Australia who appreciate being able to get out of the wind and cold. This big, comfortable cabin ensures you are protected on long runs to the fishing grounds, whether that be in chilly Port Philip Bay or in tropical rain squalls off the Whitsunday Islands.

This latest generation of Stabicraft Arrow pontoon presents a narrower, more hydrodynamic bow, while still boasting plenty of buoyancy for an easy transition up onto the plane. The foam-filled pontoons are pressure tested and have four sections per side for an unsinkable rating. The full beam and enhanced floatation on the sides gave remarkable stability at rest, as well as when drifting abeam in the wilder conditions in the bay, while high sides and handy grabrails enhanced the feeling of safety in fishing situations.

Practical Layout

With an 8.4m length overall and a 2.49m beam, there is a generous amount of room on the 2750. The cockpit provides plenty of scope for a gamefishing crew to operate. While the centrecab is substantial, walkways either side to the raised bow section permit uncluttered all-round access. Lines are well balanced, and the finish is neat, even if elements of Stabicraft’s commercial beginnings are evident in the heavy-duty fittings and an industrial-looking but highly practical bowrail.

A beefy plough anchor lives under the bow overhang and connects to a Stressfree drum winch housed discreetly in a hatch in the floor, leaving the bow as a workable fishing platform. In a first for Stabicraft, there’s even a padded double seat over the cabin for elevated searching or a quiet place to relax when you need to get away from the crew for a while.

The heavy-duty bowrail provides an enveloping safe brace just at the right height and angle for fighting fish from the bow without leaning too far overboard.

Deep drains in the walkways flush away any water that comes over the bow before it has a chance to reach aft. Access along the sides is safe and secure, with plenty of handholds and an easy step down to the cockpit.

Safe, Secure Cockpit

With high sides and measuring in at 2.04m wide by 2.2m long, the cockpit is a very workmanlike and uncluttered area. It also features long side pockets raised above the deck for toe holds, although the rugged checkerplate floor cries out for a softer, more forgiving covering.

There was little to fault at the transom though, as the set up is as good as it comes on a standard spec boat. Centre stage is a new design baitstation at a sensible height, featuring a large, replaceable plastic cutting board, with a drain around the edges to remove gunk overboard. I also liked the idea of the cutting board being raised above the metal sides to allow a better angle for filleting fish.

The set up also includes four welded-in rodholders, cup and sinker holders, as well as a locking and waterproof tackle drawer big enough for loads of leaders, tools and hooks. Two start batteries plus a house battery are neatly housed in a hatch lower down, but well clear of the floor.

A 70L livebait tank to port has a viewing window and sits ahead of a pair of the most robust, if not the biggest, tuna tubes you are likely to find at 140mm by 500mm. It was impressive to see the taps for tank and tubes are clearly marked and well placed just below the battery box.

Over to starboard, a removable gate leads to a step and swim ladder for ease of access from the trailer or water. Although it’s a bit busy as a boarding platform with the ladder in place, this doesn’t make a significant difference as you would generally embark over the gunwales from a dock.

Most underfloor space is taken up by the 500L fuel tank, but there is still a large central fishbox just aft of the cabin that would accommodate most of the biggest sportfish you’re likely to take home.

Welcome Shelter

Learning that the cabin was appropriated from the 2050 Supercab gave me a new appreciation for the size of this new boat. In the original guise, the cab extends to the transom edges, but the big brother has beam enough to permit the walkarounds.

While cabin width might be compromised, the extra versatility of being able to fish all around the boat is worth it and there’s still adequate room for a crew of six or more to shelter inside.

The solid bi-fold doors are close to the cabin, but wide enough for a good open feel, while still providing instant security from the elements. Extra airflow comes through a large Maxwell roof hatch and sliding glass-in-glass windows on the sides.

Nicely upholstered Elite bolster seats on Softrider pedestals are provided for the skipper and mate, while two side-mounted jump seats each side are included for the crew.

A small cuddy cabin comes standard with a full berth infill and, like the main cabin, is neatly lined in a grey carpet for a more finished look and better sound suppression.

At the helm, a simple flat panel houses a pair of 7410xsv touchscreen displays and the necessary switches, while a higher panel is home to the Fusion sound system and a single Yamaha 6YC display showing all necessary information for both engines.

Settling in behind the wheel, I noted visibility is almost unrestricted all round. The controls are well within reach and the seating is surprisingly comfortable and supportive. Whether you’re sitting or standing, there is ample room and bracing from the bolster seat and footrests.

Yamaha Power

While in sheltered water in behind the breakwall, we ran some speed and fuel usage trials. The Yamahas still ran mechanical shifts but coupled with the Shift Dampening prop (SDS) the engines were in gear without fuss.

At around half trim and 2000rpm we were quickly on the plane at a tad under 16kph. New strakes forward in the hull have been included for better lift, so these results indicate success.

A slow-range cruise of 27kph was achieved at 3000rpm where fuel consumption from both engines came in at 30L/ph for a range of 405km, with 10% reserve from the 500L tank.

Optimum range was at 4000rpm for 47kph and a theoretical distance of 440km, but from 2500 to 5000rpm it stayed relatively constant throughout, only dipping to 90L/ph at 5500rpm and 68kph. Even with that usage, I reckon it would still be a tempting speed for a run to or from the grounds on a good day.

Performance at a 6100rpm wide-open throttle was a credible 75kph, or just over 40 knots, which is plenty to keep most pretenders in your wake.

It was remarkably peaceful in the cabin even at full engine noise. Of course, much of this has to do with the quietness of the 4-stroke Yamahas, although foam-filling of the pontoons also helps to eliminate the drumming and echoes often associated with an alloy build.

Smooth Through Chop

The narrow entry and 21.5-degree deadrise let the boat carve its way through short chop with ease, especially with a fair amount of trim to get the nose up. Into turns, the boat moved where it was directed without undue lean and with no lurching or cavitation.

Out in the bay, a close 1.5m chop was enough to get a feel for the big Stabi in some rougher water. Nothing beats waterline length in these conditions and the 2750 thrived with speeds of 45kph, easily achievable into the sea without shaking us around.

Across the breeze, we had some spray over the screen, but the wiper soon cleared that away and the boat held course without difficulty. In the following sea, safe speeds climbed to around 55kph. The ride was soft and stable over the back of the swells, without digging in too deep at the bottom. And there was never any hint of broaching.

Tow To The Fish

The new Stabicraft is a big, bold statement about what a trailerboat can be, even if you might push the boundaries of a 3.5-tonne weight limit if not carefully loaded. Like Australian boatbuilders, the Kiwis have stayed within the norms for towing by keeping the beam under 2.5m. At the same time, there has been no compromise to the potential this long-range, spacious and safe fishing weapon has to offer.

As tested, the rig’s price comes in at $222,137, including a comprehensive suite of electronics. Given the safe, soft ride, the economic performance and the unsinkable hull, that price represents good value for what is essentially a turnkey proposition for catching big fish a long way from home.

Highlights

  • Built strongly for a long life in tough conditions.
  • Safe handling and soft ride.
  • Inherent safety from chambered and foam-filled hull.
  • Enclosed cabin offers weather protection.
  • Long range from economical engines and large fuel tank.
  • Huge cockpit and well-ordered transom layout.

Capacities

  • People: 9
  • Recommended HP: 300
  • Max. HP: 500
  • Fuel: 500L

General

  • Type: Pontoon monohull
  • Material: Aluminium
  • Length: 8.4m
  • Beam: 2.49m
  • Weight: 1990kg (hull)
  • Deadrise: 21.5 degrees

Engines

  • Make/model: Yamaha F150 outboard x 2
  • Type: In-line four, fuel-injected 4-stroke
  • Weight: 223kg
  • Displacement: 2670cc
  • Gear ratio: 2:1
  • Propeller: 17-inch (43cm) Reliance

SPECIFICATIONS: Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab
Options fitted: Garmin GPSMAP 7414xsv displays with GT51 transducer and shield, G2 Vision Chart, External GPS aerial and network cable, two-tone metallic paint, rear boarding ladder, Maxwell roof hatch, injected foam in pontoons, safety gear, Garmin 24 HD radar, Sarca anchor and tackle, third battery, plus more.  

Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab Boat Test

Boat Test Stabicraft 2750 Centrecab: TO THE NEW FRONTIER
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: Northside Marine

This boat test ran in ISSUE 123 of BlueWater magazine – APRIL-MAY 2017

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