Champion of Campions
WORDS + PHOTOS: ANDREW RICHARDSON
About 10 years ago, a range of small Campion boats were brought over and sold by a car importer, but the good looking vessels quietly faded from the scene after a short time. Now Blakes Marine – with years of experience in the boat business – plans to keep the Canadian Campions alive and well on our shores. Getting behind a new brand is a big commitment, but after Allan and Anne Blake took a Campion Allante 825 on a classic Pittwater to Sydney trial, ending with a night at Cockle Bay, they were both very excited about what this vessel delivers for its price point. For around $120,000 the petrol powered Allante 825 has good on-water performance, a vast outdoor entertaining cockpit and top notch overnight accommodation for two couples or more.
The vessel’s high topsides and no side-walkways mean its internal volume is closer to a 30-footer, defining it as a family overnighter. There are pros and cons with this type of design: the absence of walkways can make it tricky to come alongside and dock her at a wharf. But you do get more interior space for your money.
The Campion’s generous steps and through-windscreen bow access negate some of these shortcoming. As does its well-designed swim platform, large built-in ropes storage locker and centre stern door access. It’s worth noting that the test vessel has an electric windlass, which makes its management even simpler.
VALUE FOR MONEY
You know a boat is good value when its list of inclusions exceeds what is usual for its price point. This list is quite long for the Campion 825i! For example, the vessel features a hot-water shower, deck shower, swim platform with ladder and integrated halogen docking lights. Its design incorporates generous use of stainless steel fittings from the bow roller, rails and fuel cap to the aforementioned windlass. The value-for-money theme continues throughout the vessel with its well-equipped galley and good quality finishes below decks. Stand-out features include the three opening portholes and three opening deck hatches that add a sense of airiness to the saloon. The price point has been achieved by avoiding things like generators, air-conditioning, expensive navigation electronics and the overuse of LCD TVs.
The saloon has a practical layout with a portside galley featuring solid bench tops, microwave and electric/alcohol cooker and 12V fridge. The sink has a built-in soap dispenser – nifty, eh! The adjacent head is an electric toilet. It has its own porthole and the tap doubles as a showerhead. Accommodation includes the convertible V-berth/settee and an aft berth, both serviced by clothes lockers.
CLEVER DEEP DOWN
The Campion designers had some good ideas down below! All lights are mounted on removable plates, so if there’s a problem with a fitting it’s easy to access and fix the fitting. The back of the helm is also easily accessed
Another good feature is the under cushion stowage area for the cockpit table. So often, the table finds itself dumped in the aft berth where it slides around. Here, it’s safely out of the way. Quality upholstery, well-finished lockers and a very useful rubbish bin set in the stairs are just some of this boat’s useful features.
The cockpit boasts circular seating behind a helm that’s serviced by a wetbar and cooler. Must be party time. When the party hots up, the crowds can cool down out on the swim platform. And for those wishing to remain ensconced in the clarion surround sound seating area, the drink holders will cater for the ales and the Bimini cover will keep the midday sun away.
The helm has good all-round visibility from the twin bench seat and features enough instruments to keep the skipper happily in control. The helm glovebox is simple but stores an iPod Jack, digital camera and mobile phone and is designed to double as a mounting plate for a GPS/fishfinder if required.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The test vessel is powered by a single Volvo 5.7lt GXi Duo Prop engine. This engine is fresh water cooled, which helps increase engine life. The four-tonne vessel eased gently onto the plane and then wound out to a respectable top speed of 33.5 knots. There is no doubt that she would spend most of her time at cruise speeds in the mid 20-knot range where the engine noise is lower, and so is the fuel bill.
The single engine vessel didn’t leap out of the hole, but once up, she was fun and easy to steer, holding well in the turns and having the grace and charm of a classy midsized express cruiser. The trim tabs required little attention to keep her balanced and I suspect they would only need more attention when load and wind had to be compensated for.
The Campion is a very good package that delivers in the areas that are important, for a price that will keep everyone happy. The single engine will also ensure long term running costs will not take the pleasure out of the many weekends that will be spent aboard this family friendly express cruiser.
“There’s a lot of comfortable seating, but it was still very easy to get about the boat’s cockpit and saloon because of the central walkways. I also liked the way two people could be at the helm seat at one time. I would love to spend a weekend on the boat but the 80lt of freshwater might run out pretty quickly if the family was staying onboard.”