Tournament 2000 Bluewater Hardtop Boat Test

Tournament Pleasure Boats has freshened up its 2000 Bluewater model with a sturdy new fibreglass hardtop, new dash and helm design. Boasting a more angler-friendly transom and rear cockpit layout, the ‘Gen2’ 2000 Bluewater is an impressive, good value trailerable half-cabin with genuine offshore gamefishing capability.

Tournament 2000 Bluewater Hardtop Boat Test

Boat Test Tournament 2000 Bluewater HardtopIMPROVING THE BREED
Author and photography: Jeff Webster

This boat test ran in ISSUE 116 of BlueWater magazine – APRIL-MAY 2016

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

Tournament Pleasure Boats has been part of the Australian trailerboat landscape for many years. The range evolved from Mustang trailerboats, following a change of ownership back in 2009. Mustang was a prolific trailerboat manufacturer during the 1990s and early 2000s, and many of the current Tournament Pleasure Boat models were originally designed and launched as Mustangs.

Tournament Pleasure Boats is now owned by the Haines Group, the manufacturer of Signature and Seafarer boats and distributor of Suzuki outboard engines for Australia and New Zealand. The Tournament boat range is built in Wacol, Brisbane alongside the sister Haines Group boat brands.

Since purchasing Tournament Pleasure Boats the Haines Group has refined, added and upgraded a number of models. There are now 15 different models to choose from, ranging from the 1550 All rounder open boat through to the 2400 Clubsport cruiser.

Offshore fishing models include the 1900 Centre Console (tested in BlueWater Issue 112), the 2000 Bluewater, 2100 Centre Console and the 2250 Walkaround cabin.

The subject of this review is the Tournament 2000 Bluewater, one of the stalwarts of the Tournament boat range. Following a recent make-over, this classic half-cabin is sure to appeal to offshore fishermen.

Design

The 2000 Bluewater is a good-looking, low-profile half-cabin with a moderate 2.34m beam and 21-degree deep vee hull. Originally launched in the late 1990s as the Mustang 2000 Tournament, this model has been popular as a dual purpose family/fishing boat ever since. Weighing around 2200kg on a tandem axle Dunbier braked trailer, it is small and light enough to be easily stored at home and towed behind a 4WD vehicle.

Recognising the potential of the 2000 Bluewater, the Haines Group gave the boat a revamp towards the end of last year. The transom and rear cockpit layout were remodelled for better fishing access, while the helm and dash was upgraded to make it easier to install modern, flush-fitted electronics.

The addition of a remarkably strong, solid and rattle-free fibreglass hardtop completed the picture. The enclosed helm, with safety-glass windscreen and sliding side windows, also offers excellent weather protection for long-range offshore fishing.

The 6.29m hull (6.5m overall) under the 2000 Bluewater remains largely unchanged. It has a fine entry forward and the vee-shaped or stepped keel plank helps to improve economy and efficiency underway.

The hull weighs 960kg and is rated to carry six people – or up to 540kg. The extra-longshaft 63cm transom accepts single outboard engines between 130 and 200hp, with a maximum weight of 265kg.

Construction And Safety

The Haines Group are confident enough in the construction of the 2000 Bluewater to offer a 10-year structural warranty. The hull features a foam-filled fibreglass stringer grid for durability, with foam flotation also injected into all voids to add rigidity and minimise hull noise and rattle when underway. With no timber underfloor, there is also nothing to rot.

The underfloor foam floatation is a great safety feature, earning the boat a ‘Basic’ floatation standard, meaning that it will stay afloat when fully laden and filled with water. This is very reassuring if you’re crossing river-mouth bars, or ever caught in a wild storm offshore.

Unfortunately, the cockpit is not self-draining, a bit of disappointment in a craft designed to run offshore, although it does have a sump area under the transom with an automatic bilge pump.

Features And Options

One of the better-priced boats in its class, the 2000 Bluewater has a starting price of around $67,000 for the standard boat with no hardtop. It also includes a Dunbier tandem-axle galvanised steel trailer and a 140hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboard on the transom. Although the 140hp probably won’t provide enough power for a boat like this to shine, the package still represents excellent value even if you upgrade to a 150 or 175hp motor.

Standard equipment on the test model included the upgraded helm and dash with sliding, lockable cabin door, hard-wearing vinyl berth cushions in the cabin, a new anchor-well shape (with option to fit anchor windlass), two-tone colour hull and hydraulic steering. Among the other onboard features were bow and stern rails, stainless-steel deck hardware throughout, glove box, lighting throughout and deluxe bucket seats on pedestals with sliding bases.

Anglers will no doubt be pleased with the padded coaming bolsters in the rear of the boat, as well as the above-floor, full-length sidepockets for storage of the equipment you’ll need in the end-game with a big fish. The boat also features an uncluttered cockpit area with non-slip deck finish. To the rear there’s a large livebait tank in the starboard transom corner, a three-quarter-width folding rear lounge, recessed coaming rails and stern cleats, four stainless-steel rodholders, plus a transom door opening to a rear boarding platform with a telescopic stainless-steel ladder.

The test boat was also fitted with a number of options. They included the fibreglass hardtop with stainless-steel framework, safety-glass windscreen and side windows, ‘rocket-launcher’ overhead rod rack, and a helmsman windscreen wiper. The motor had been upgraded to a 200hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboard and there was also a removable rear cutting board, an extra pair of rodholders and storage boxes under the bucket chairs in place of the regular pedestals.

Better Manoeuvrability

Also fitted to the test boat was the latest high-tech steering system from Seastar called the Optimus EPS or electronic power steering system. The Optimus system provides truly effortless, fingertip-control steering and can be rigged to reduce or increase the lock-to-lock turns. While at low speed, when you want immediate steering response for close-quarter manoeuvring, the system is set to reduce steering lock and wheel effort. Conversely, as the rpm rises the system is set to increase the number of turns it takes to reach the steering lock, increasing stability and allowing the skipper to make more subtle changes to course and direction.

Optimus EPS can also be purchased with a joystick docking system for unbeatable low-speed control, although this would only be relevant to larger, less manoeuvrable craft.

The options listed lift the price of the test package to $97,000, including the $6700 Seastar steering system.

Interior Layout

Another key feature of the Tournament 2000 is the lockable sliding cabin entry door, which anglers will appreciate for the ability to stow rod/reel outfits with some degree of security.

The forward cabin area has more of a horseshoe-shaped berth set up than a vee berth. Individual berths are over two metres long, and if you purchase the optional infill boards and cushions you can create a fair-sized double bed.

There was no provision for a toilet in the test boat, although this is listed as an option on the company’s website. Where a toilet would normally be situated, the test rig had a small storage locker with two more lockers under the side berths.

Overhead a perspex hatch gives internal access to the foredeck and the large anchor well, which has been revamped so you can fit an optional anchor winch.

The interior of the cabin features a basic finish, with flow-coat to the cabin sides and ceiling and vinyl-covered berths and sidepockets. Carpet lining to the ceilings is an option, but one that few anglers would bother with.

The helm area is now equipped with a dash and fascia redesigned for flush-fitting 30cm multi-function displays, while retaining space for switch panels and engine instruments. The test rig came with a Garmin GPSmap 7407xsv display and a suite of Suzuki’s latest digital engine instruments, all of which could be viewed clearly from the helm.

The comfortable bucket helm chairs are fitted with fore and after sliders and front bolsters, which can be easily flipped up to make space for standing at the helm. The chairs were mounted above storage boxes in the test boat, although it’s worth noting that you can have them fitted over a stainless-steel frame with provision to fit ice boxes underneath.

While the steering wheel looks to be mounted a bit low at first glance, in practice it is ideal for the average 1.8m skipper. The side-mounted throttle is equally well positioned and easy to operate in smooth or rough water.

I found myself searching for a hand-hold during our on-water test, so the addition of a good, stainless-steel grab rail at the helm would be welcomed.

Hardtop Glare

There is a distracting amount of glare off the windscreen underneath the hardtop, although this problem is by no means unique to the 2000 Bluewater. All of the hardtop-equipped trailerboats I have tested recently have had glare and/or reflection issues in bright sunlight.

One possible solution to this problem is to paint the dash in a dark colour or fit dark-coloured matting. Ironically, several of the Haines Group’s mid-1990s fishing models – including the original Signature 575F – came standard with dark-coloured dash panels to reduce glare.

The helm area and overhead hardtop are otherwise excellent. There is 1.9m or more height under the hardtop to suit taller anglers, and the hardtop itself is good looking, well designed and structurally sound. We ran the boat in some fairly choppy water and there was no movement – lateral or otherwise –in the hardtop. It was absolutely rock-solid and is ideal as a base for a radar dome, rocket launcher rod rack or centre-rigger.

Glare issues aside, for offshore fishing I think the hardtop will prove a worthy investment. While it may not be as important if you fish northern Australia, I know that if I was chasing big bluefin tuna 65km off the Victorian coastline with a 20-knot southerly blowing I would welcome the shelter provided by the hardtop and fully enclosed helm area.

Fishing Features

Boasting a practical, uncluttered layout, there is no question the cockpit has been designed for and by fishermen. Everything is where it should be. The full-length, side storage pockets, for example, are elevated above the floor so you can brace your feet under them.

These padded sidepockets also feature step treads, allowing you to climb up on the coamings to walk around the hardtop to the foredeck, although there is also internal access through the cabin.

At 190mm, the side decks – or coamings – are wide enough to allow any extra rodholders, downrigger brackets or deck-mounted outriggers to be easily installed. There is full-height freeboard all the way around the cockpit, with the floor-to-coaming measurement ranging from 740mm to 780mm – which is about spot-on.

Four stainless-steel rodholders are standard and the coamings also have recessed stainless-steel hand rails and stern cleats so they won’t snag you or the leader while you’re tracing a big fish.

While there is a small, square, underfloor stowage locker between the helm chairs that can be used to stow the catch, the boat is missing a decent underfloor fishbox.

Beneath the transom, the batteries, water-separating filter, steering and bilge plumbing are well hidden and sheltered behind a series of So-Pac hatches, yet remain easily accessible.

A good-sized bait bin/livebait tank is built into the starboard-side transom coaming and will easily cater for 20 or more mackerel-sized livebaits. Plumbing and baitboards are optional. The test rig was fitted with a removable fibreglass baitboard with storage tray under the nylon cutting lid, although various other options are available.

The cockpit floor has a flow-coated fibreglass finish that provides some anti-slip benefits, but I would recommend putting down some rubber matting or painting over with a proper non-skid finish.

The cockpit as a whole is well designed for trailerboat gamefishing. You can fight a fish 180 degrees around the rear cockpit and not run the risk of snagging lines or bumping into anything. The toe rails under the side decks and the padded bolsters are very helpful.

Performance

The 2000 Bluewater test rig was powered by the latest Suzuki 200hp 4-stroke, the DF200ATX. This is an in-line, four-cylinder, 2867cc, EFI model with the extra-longshaft (63cm or 25”) configuration.

The DF200ATX is some 32kg lighter than Suzuki’s V6 DF200, making it ideal for hulls that are a bit sensitive to weight on the transom, although it should be stressed that the Tournament 2000 is not a boat with transom weight issues.

The new 200hp Suzuki features the ‘Lean Burn’ technology now utilised across many Suzuki models, which helps to reduce fuel consumption, while also providing plenty of grunt and power throughout the rpm range.

The test rig was certainly not short of power, with the DF200ATX Suzuki pushing the hull to a top speed of 40.1 knots while consuming 68.8L/ph.

The smooth-running Suzuki was most economical while spinning over at 3500rpm for a speed of 19.8 knots and a fuel burn of 16.9L/ph. While keeping a minimum of 5% of the standard 155-litre fuel tank in reserve, that gives you a range of 172.2 nautical miles. However, for fishing wide offshore you would need to upgrade to the larger 235-litre fuel tank.

The 200hp is by no means necessary for the Tournament 2000, and I would expect the boat to achieve a mid-30-knot top speed with a 150hp outboard, while still having sufficient low- and mid-range power for good, all-round performance.

Handling And Ride

Having tested the original 2000 Bluewater more than a decade ago, I expected good performance from the hull and I was not disappointed. While the addition of the hardtop with the centre of gravity pushed up higher did make the hull a little more sensitive to lateral trim underway, this is easily adjusted with a set of good trim tabs.

Trim tabs would be one of the first things I would fit to the Tournament 2000 as these would make it much easier to trim the boat for a strong cross-breeze, or to adjust for a huge fish in the cockpit or the crew standing off-centre.

At rest the 2000 Bluewater is stable enough to stand three crew members over one side to tag or land your catch.

Whether running into the sea or turned about and running before the waves, the 2000 Bluewater rides comfortably and feels safe and secure. It also handled well, with the hull performing slalom speed turns with no propeller ventilation, even with a mid-trim level.

While high-speed manoeuvrability may be of little concern to offshore anglers, it does mean the boat can double as a social ski boat and bay runabout for family day outings.

A Worthy Competitor

There is no shortage of 6m family fishing boats on the market, yet the Tournament 2000 should prove more than a match for most of its competitors. Although priced lower than some other premium brands –including the Haines Group’s own Signature brand – it performs very well on the water and features quality fittings.

Importantly, the rear cockpit and transom layout is also very conducive to trailerboat gamefishing. With these attributes and a competitive price tag, the 2000 Bluewater deserves to go on any short-list for a 6m fishing/family cross-over boat.

Highlights

  • Great family/fishing all-rounder.
  • Solid performance.
  • Brilliant but costly steering system.
  • Strong, well-braced hardtop.
  • Well-designed fishing cockpit.
  • Spacious cabin with lockable sliding door.
  • Competitive package price.

Capacities

  • Maximum power: 200hp
  • Maximum load: 805kg
  • Fuel capacity: 155 litres
  • Maximum engine weight: 265kg
  • People: 6 or 540kg

General

  • Type: Monohull half-cabin hardtop
  • Material: Fibreglass
  • Length overall: 6.5m
  • Hull length: 6.29m
  • Beam: 2.35m
  • Deadrise: 21 degrees
  • Hull weight: 960kg (dry)
  • Weight on trailer: 2200kg (approx)

Engines

  • Make/model: Suzuki DF200ATX
  • Type: in-line 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC EFI 4-stroke outboard
  • Rated hp: 200
  • Displacement: 2867cc
  • Bore x stroke: 97mm x 97mm
  • No. cylinders: 4
  • Weight: 231kg
  • Shaft length: 63cm (25”) extra-longshaft
  • Gearbox ratio: 2.5:1

SPECIFICATIONS: Tournament 2000 Bluewater Hardtop

STANDARD  PACKAGE  INCLUDES: Base  boat  with  hardtop,  toughened  glass  windscreen  and  side  windows;  Suzuki  DF140ATX  with  standard  hydraulic  steering;  Dunbier  SRW6.1M-14THE  trailer  with  break-away  brakes  and  analogue  gauges.  UPGRADES  INCLUDED:  Suzuki  DF200ATX  4-stroke  outboard,  Dunbier  tandem  axle  trailer  with  electric  hydraulic  break-away  brakes,  fibreglass  hardtop  with  rocket  launcher,  Seastar  Optimus  EPS  (electronic  power  steering)  system  ($6.7K  alone),  Garmin  GPSMap  7407xsv  7-inch  GPS/fish  finder,  Suzuki  multi-function  digital  gauges,  removable  bait  board,  two  extra  rodholders,  dual  batteries  and  storage  boxes  under  the  bucket  chairs  (in  place  of  pedestals). 

Tournament 2000 Bluewater Hardtop Boat Test

Boat Test Tournament 2000 Bluewater HardtopIMPROVING THE BREED
Author and photography: Jeff Webster
Manufactured by: The Haines Group

This boat test ran in ISSUE 116 of BlueWater magazine –  APRIL-MAY 2016

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