Issue: March 2002
The Countess Oddessy 190 is a sturdy runabout that can handle a bit of chop when required and really enjoys being pushed. The first thing you notice about this speedster is its sleek lines and low centre of gravity. She’s a ski boat by design and sits low in the water and has an appearance of stealth. Reaching a cruising speed of 34mph in a few short seconds seems effortless. Acceleration is almost instantaneous, yet noise levels are bearable and a conversation can be maintained over the sound of the 140hp Mariner outboard we had on test.
With reverse chines and modified V the hull feels very secure with no additional noise coming from chop on the hull. Hitting tight turns at near full throttle, the G forces want to throw you overboard but the boat will go wherever you steer it.
Steering is accurate and firm with much more bite than its little brother, the Sensation, despite a wider steering circle. But despite the steering being slightly stiff it creates a feeling of stability and enables you to negotiate tight turns confidently.
From the drivers seat you could be in a racing car and the excitement and revs perpetuates that feeling once the throttle is down and this fun machine is pulled in and out of tight turns. The full wraparound windscreen and water dispersal design of the hull makes the Oddessy an extremely dry craft at high speed, when cornering or negotiating wake or chop.
The sensible L-shaped seating arrangement around the driver, plus additional seating up front, accessible by way of the walkthrough windscreen, increases room and comfort for each passenger and it makes a more social layout. Ski locker storage, built-in fuel tank with deck filler plus additional storage up front allows for stowage of all the unnecessary equipment giving passengers full access to the deck space and seating. Concealed storage also maximises legroom making the design surprisingly easy in which to stretch out.
A marine grade stainless steel ski pole and a ski ladder comes as standard equipment, as well as stainless steel grab rails, which combine for easy boat access from the water. Striping in the resilient side gelcoat stands up to the rigours of a hard day’s water skiing or wakeboarding and is resistant to scratching, peel or fade.
Full instrumentation, including speedo, tacho, fuel, trim, hour and volt gauges, is well placed and visible through the steering wheel and well protected from water spray by the windscreen. Due to the low driver seating arrangement visibility is slightly impaired. In some instances seeing oncoming boats is a challenge but is solved simply by standing or leaning out to the side. Apart from this small issue the overall passenger comfort and accessibility to facilities is more than satisfactory.
The finish is tidy with quality gelcoat and accessories, including enough conveniently placed drink holders to cater for a party. When hitting chop or boat wake, there are very few rattles or shakes, indicating an attention to detail overall. The bilge pump, Brooker galvanised trailer plus canopy and bow covers are sensible inclusions in the overall package and there is a storage cover as an optional extra.
With additional bodies onboard she hardly missed a beat and it was difficult to notice the difference in revs and steering weight between two and four people.
Easily trailable, the Oddessy is an ideal craft for weekend adventures, water skiing, wakeboarding, freeboarding or fishing and can handle the odd trip outside in calm conditions. Designed for unrestricted waterways, it is in its element when the throttle is opened up and the windscreen used for its intention of shielding the passengers from the rush of wind as the Mariner Outboard reaches its cruising speed and teases the speedo needle upward.
Fun is the name of the game and the Countess Oddessy 190 is just the boat to deliver.
The price for a Countess Oddessy 190 with a 140hp Mariner outboard as tested is $39,990. The optional canopy costs $600.
Heading out to Pittwater, on Sydney’s beautiful northern beaches, is not what we call a tough assignment. The Modern Boating team’s mission is to meet up with Steven Arenson from Viking Boats before taking two of his new range of fun boats for a spin.
We are greeted with clear blue skies and glassy water, ideal conditions under which to put the Sensation Wake 1450 and Countess Oddessy 190, newcomers to the Aussie market, through their paces.
These boats represent the versatility of this relatively new importer/retailer to Australia and highlight the advantage of strong family ties with a reputable manufacturer.
In 1974, Viking Boats established retail, wholesale and manufacturing facilities in South Africa. According to Steve it is now the largest boat dealership outside America.
The company has a distribution network throughout South Africa, Europe, Israel and now right here in Australia.
Viking Boats has 50 models in its range that use mostly American designs and componentry to manufacture mainly bowriders up to 25′.
Steve opened the Sydney Powerboat Centre four years ago and with similarities to the Australian market the South African-produced boats were easily adapted to suit our waters. Having fine-tuned the range, Steve now imports five from the extensive Viking range and the Breeze 21′ bowrider is the largest. Steve has priced the current range to establish his brand and develop the market within Australia.
As we launched from the trailers at the ramp, greeted by blue water and smooth surface conditions, Steve filled us in about the family business history and his Sydney venture. But Steve and Chris, one of the guys from Sydney Powerboat Centre, were more interested in getting out of the 8 knot zone and onto unrestricted water to open up the throttle and put these little speedsters through their paces. Who wouldn’t ?
SENSATION WAKE 1450
With a 75hp outboard and a length of 4.35m the fibreglass Sensation Wake 1450 feels surprisingly steady on the water especially when cornering. This jet boat-styled vessel cruises at 34mph and climbs onto the plane in less than two seconds. But this little speedster is almost impossible to flip and the only time it feels slightly sketchy is at full throttle negotiating the wake from a cruiser. It’s not hard to get air between the boat and water but recovery is quick and steering firm. Let’s face it, with a boat of this nature getting air is all part of the fun. Hitting turns flat out is more a sliding affair, similar to a jet boat. It’s this aspect of its performance that gives the Sensation the feeling of safety and fun. Directional changes are no problem at short notice and the modified V-hull with reverse chines gives the steering a solid and defined feel during high-speed turns and direction changes.
The Sensation is a new model designed specifically for the Australian market after two years in development. Adapted from a jet boat hull design, and with a choice of 50hp, 60hp or 75hp outboards, it’s marketed to compete directly with jet boats and is priced accordingly to establish them in the market. The Sensation has also been adapted for the tourist market and fitted with 9hp outboards, waterfront hotel chains use them as tenders. The hull is designed in America, manufactured at Viking Boats in South Africa and comes with a five-year warranty.
The interior layout is designed with the comfort and interaction of the passengers in mind. The driver sits next to two passenger seats in one row forward of the outboard and rear storage. A separate reverse seat up front makes the seating very social with more legroom than you’d expect from a boat this size. All seats are well finished and have extra padding on the bolsters, similar to a racing car seat, to prevent getting knocked about when the driver succumbs to the inevitable urge to engage in high speed turns and jumps.
The Sensation 1450 is likely to bring out the hoon in you because the temptation is always there to go full throttle into jumps and tight turns.
The removable, stainless steel ski pole caters for the skier or wakeboarder in the party and the ample storage areas in the floor and rear are ideally suited for ropes, equipment or dry clothes. Not that it is particularly wet onboard. Even though there’s no windscreen to speak of, only a small binnacle the instruments, keeping dry is no problem even at top speed. Apart from hitting a wake on the slide or bashing into exceptionally big waves at speed the Sensation is a surprisingly dry craft. The optional canopy will keep light rain off but seems more suited to act as shade on those hot summer days.
With a 75hp outboard fitted it’s tempting to keep the throttle down and the fun level up. And, except for the odd obstacle, it’s hard to find a good reason to slow down.
The full instrumentation including speedometer, tacho, hour and trim gauges are well appointed and easy to read. Marine grade, stainless steel grab rails provide easy access from the water after a dip.
Easily trailable, the selling price includes a multi roller, galvanised Booker trailer.
A special introductory price, including the trailer and your choice of a Mercury or Mariner outboard, starts at $20,550 for the Sensation Wake 1450 with 50hp and $22,000 with a 75hp making this a very competitively priced package. The optional canopy costs an extra $695.
Story by Steve Cooney