Four Winns 230 Horizon Bowrider Review

Issue: January 2004

Four Winns is a relatively new name on the Australian market, but if the 230 Horizon is an indication of what they have to offer, they should gain immediate acceptance from Aussie boat buyers. The standard of workmanship and quality of the components that have gone into this boat are second to none, while the innovation in design it displays is outstanding. Every centimetre of the Four Winns cockpit has been artfully designed and meticulously crafted from premiumgrade material. But what about the hull ? From flotation foam through 10 layers of fibreglass to the vinylester barrier and gleaming gelcoat, the layers of this boat have been carefully engineered for maximum strength, durability and outstanding looks. 

Weighing-in at almost 2000kg the 230 is a solid boat. You don’t get any drumming through the hull when this girl gets up and running. So, what’s the Four Winn’s story ? Michael Joyce from the Sydney dealership 7Seas Motor Cruisers, said originally they brought in a few Four Winn’s models for the Sydney International Boat Show, after travelling to the States to view the Four Winn’s operation. And within six months the demand had grown to such an extent that they were ordering boats literally straight out of the catalogue.

Now a dealer network has been established, 7Seas Motor Cruisers in Sydney; Gold Coast Boatarama on the Gold Coast; and Fleet Marine in Melbourne, and its catch cry is service, service, service. Michael said, that they were not just trying to flog boats, they were trying to sell boats to buyers and make them part of the family of Four Winn’s owners. “If the American and European experience is any indication, once a person has owned a Four Winns, they remain a Four Winn’s owner for life,” he explained. 

So why do people stay with Four Winns ? Because, Four Winn’s build quality is superb, it only uses top-of-the-line components, it makes its own seats ‘ with patented shockabsorbing system and bolster ‘ and makes its own state-of-the-art custom trailers. Then, there are the little things you normally wouldn’t think about at the time of purchase like polycarbonate gauge lenses. These actually permit more air to circulate inside the gauge than glass. This helps prevent fogging and condensation.

Even the marine-grade clip-in carpet is special. It’s so impervious to wear, this carpet would probably out last your living room carpet. The transom set-up is also special above and below the water. There’s an integrated or available extended swim platform, a locker on either side that are big enough to even house wakeboards, a further two lockers for ropes and the likes inside the ski lockers and a padded walk-through transom. The backrest in the middle of the huge U-shaped rear lounge lifts out, so you can step straight onto the swim platform. 

Under the water there are ‘after pods’ hull extensions that help the hull rocket onto the plane, these act a bit like trim tabs. In front of the after pods the hull is stepped to reduce friction and drag when underway. Then there are the large down-turned chines, which create tunnels on each side of the deep-vee keel. These trap air under the hull to cushion the ride, iron out the bumps and eliminate bangs. Being 24′ long, the rear cockpit is large enough to hold a removable table; it even boasts a sink unit on the starboard side. Storage has also been well catered for.

There’s a removable Esky and two large bins under the rear lounge cushions. Between the custom-built helm and observer’s seats is a deep ski locker that extends well forward under the deck. The high wraparound windscreen protects everyone in the aft cockpit from the slipstream and there’s an optional windscreen wiper for the driver. 

Also for the driver is a beautiful wood-grain dash featuring full instrumentation and a tilt sport steering wheel. In front of the passenger’s seat is a small cubical for the portable toilet. However, because of its size it would probably be an ’emergency use only’ arrangement. The split screen gives access to the forward bowrider cockpit where two people can stretch out in luxury. As you would expect being an American boat there are drink holders everywhere, there’s plenty of storage under the bowrider bunk cushions, pop-up cleats don’t get in the way and there’s a cleverly designed anchor locker and bow ladder, which make alighting onto a beach a breeze.

Powered by a 350 MPI Magnum 300hp MerCruiser, the after pods did their work well and the Four Winns 230 Horizon shot out of the hole like a scalded cat. A quick adjustment of the trim button had the boat cruising along effortlessly doing 40 knots at 3800rpm. Putting the hammer down to wide open throttle the boat rocketed to 50 knots. The hull sliced through other boat’s wakes easily without banging and crashing and handled flat out turns like a full blown ski boat. 

Not bad for a harbour day boat. I mentioned the trailer earlier and it bears further comment. This custom tandem trailer is designed to take the hard work out of launching and retrieving the boat. To launch, simply back the low-profile trailer down, release the strap, and float the boat off. To retrieve, drive straight on guided by self- aligning padded rails and the padding on the back of each mudguard. Do up the strap and drive away slowly; the boat settles back down onto the trailer. Other features are standard disc brakes, submersible lights and a swing away or removable tongue if you are short of space where you park your boat. The Four Winns 230 Horizon bowrider really is the complete boating package. 

The pricing of these boats is also quite surprising considering they are a fully imported boat. You can get behind the wheel of a 24′ Four Winns 230 Horizon bowrider from $71,200, which represents pretty good values for money. Like many Aussies, I first sighted Four Winns boats at the 2003 Sydney International Boat Show. My first impression was one of obvious quality, but I was also impressed by the way the Four Winns designers have crammed so many features into the boat without reducing the feel of interior roominess.

If you’re in the market for a top harbour day-boat, have a closer look at the Four Winns 230, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The camera boat we used on the day of the test was a Four Winns 194 Funship and this boat really lived up to its name. The interior gets the full treatment just like the 230 and even though it’s a smaller boat had many of the same features. But it’s the boat’s radical hull design that make this small boat big. It utilises its full beam right up to the bow. This gives the bow a squarish look, but it creates plenty of usable interior space. This wide bow also allowed the designers to fashion massive chines starting right at the bow and extending all the way back to the transom. These create even greater tunnels with the keel than on the 230. She performed very much like a tri-hull, riding on a cushion of air, smooth, stable and quiet. 

The 194 had other similarities to the 230, such as ‘after pods’, a stepped hull and a deepvee. The ride was brilliant once the boat was on the plane and we could really throw the boat around safely. The only drawback was because most of the boat’s weight is set aft, it takes a bit longer to climb out of the hole. But as I said once it was out of the hole it was full-on fun. To get yourself one of these play things, which are also great day-boats, will set you back around $67,800 as tested.

Words: Ian Macrae