Issue: June 2002
Over the years, aluminium boatbuilders have regularly announced that they’ve built the softest-riding tinnie ever. But unfortunately, while many have claimed to have ‘cracked’ it, most of the cracking has occurred in the vertebrae of poor unfortunates riding in them. Quintrex, with their stretched formed ‘Millennium’ hulls, have progressed a long way across the traditional gap between ‘glass and pressed aluminium boats. Plate aluminium hulls are another matter. Generally larger and more heavily built, plate boats use comparatively thicker sheet metal, which in practical terms defies forming into the complex shapes achieved in the Millennium hulls and in GRP hulls of course.
Therefore, plate aluminium boats have traditionally been cursed with simple hull shapes, and the bangs and bumps that go with them. If you prioritised a soft ride and could be content with a standard interior, you bought ‘glass; those who felt strongly about having the layout customised chose plate aluminiums and tolerated the ride. The inspiration for Pacific Sportfish’s new ‘Super Vee’ hull apparently came from the success of rigid inflatables, which manage to combine the inherent at-rest stability of the proverbial rubber duck with the chop slicing ways of a deep vee.
How it works is simple. At rest those big fat sponsons sit on the water and by their very nature, doggedly resist being pushed any further into the water by someone moving around inside the boat. On the move though, while the hull is planing, those same sponsons are lifted clear by a hull riding on a central section with a steep ‘chop-slicing’ deadrise. This concept worked so well that the soft inflatable sponson was soon replaced by metal. The scope is awesome. Indeed a Brisbane company seized on the concept to build military craft for an Asian country, whose specifications included the ability to carry a squad of armed troops plus mounted armaments … and to be able to maintain 60 knots in any sea conditions!
A few fishing-friendly rigid inflatables have been built but the problem is those big cylindrical sponson/chines tend to waste considerable amounts of interior space. It took Sportfish, a company never short on innovative thinking, to make the next remarkable step forward. They recently threaded their way between all the pitfalls and presented us with the ‘Super Vee’ hull. As you will see in the accompanying pics, the hull has gained an unusual double stepped chine arrangement. This is very visible at the bows, but the chine sweeps back to become exceptionally wide towards the transom. From where the chine steps end to the keel line, the Super Vee hull features a central ‘deep vee’ section with a deadrise angle of 24′.
Many ‘glass deep vees are only around 22’. A metal hull with such a steep deadrise should, by rights, heel dramatically from side to side when crew move around the cockpit at rest. It’s called ‘chine flop’, among several less printable monikers, and is even found in certain brands of fibreglass deep vee hulls. Sportfish manufacturers avoid this phenomenon by having those wide doublestepped chines sitting in or on the water at rest in much the same way as the sponsons of a rigid inflatable. It’s also worth noting the hull’s vertical sides. Unlike most monohulls, a Sportfish Super Vee carries virtually its full beam from the outer edge of the gunwale down to the chine.
The benefits are immediately apparent as floor space in a Super Vee cockpit. It is also noticeable when you inspect the centre cabin’s bunks where again it translates into an inordinate amount of space. Being able to sleep two aboard in some comfort is unusual in fishing hulls of this size. A broken night’s sleep grabbed on a short narrow bunk is the norm. But the bunks in this boat are (albeit tapered into the bows) a full two metres long and set wide enough apart for adequate sleeping room. Modern Boating has featured so many Sportfish centre cabs in the past that many readers would be familiar with the layout, where the bunk space extends under the raised foredeck and right to the sides of the boat.
As for the fishing excellence, with Sportfish centre cabs it is a fait accompli. On the day of our test Moreton Bay was in a kindly mood, offering little to sample the rough water virtues of the new Super Vee. So Sportfish distributor Bill Hull (Northside Marine) and I went wandering around Moreton Island’s Comboyouro Point into the open sea. Across the top of Moreton Island at North Point we found what we were looking for; some nice swell wrapping around the rocky outcrop. Bill proceeded to launch the boat off a series of breakers, which brought only soft landings. I was still keen to experience Moreton Bay’s afternoon wind chop, so to fill in time we were forced to do a spot of fishing.
Finally, with the sun sinking slowly, a brisk afternoon sea breeze had managed to generate a half metre chop. If Bill’s surfing exploits near North Point made a statement about the soft-riding character of this innovative new hull, the trip back across the bay provided the full stop. Flat strap all the way with nary a bump or bang, and the boat tracking like an arrow. I’ve had worse trips home in far better conditions and have to say that the Super Vee rode softer and tracked better than a vast majority of similarly sized ‘glass variable deadrise hulls I’ve ridden in. In a word not offered lightly, the ride was THAT good!
Scarcely a spot of spray showed on the centre cab’s screen all day. In fact we’d removed the set of clears fitted between screen and hardtop early in the day to help us spot birds and never thought about replacing them. Despite some frantic endeavors to land our lures among finicky tuna the hull sat solidly in the water. Maybe once or twice while running you’d feel it catch a lump of water where the chine starts to widen out at the hull’s shoulder. But this was perceived as merely a gentle pause and could no way be described as an impact.
Technically it’s a reasonable assumption that the double-stepped chine design of the Sportfish Super Vee manages several things while combining a perceived ‘deep vee’ soft ride with monolithic static stability the way it does. At speed it feels somewhat like a trihedralstyle hull and even steps into the realm of multihulls at times, which may be due to the aerated water emulsion held in those stepped chines.
Our test boat was fitted with power trim tabs and potential buyers should note that these were more than handy to trim the boat laterally at speed in much the same way as the many other deep vees I’ve ridden in over the years. Indeed I suggest that the use of power trim tabs are essential in order to maximise the substantial benefits this new hull design represents. What a pleasure to report that Pacific Sportfish’s new Super Vee more than delivered its promise. The days of plate boats coming complete with standard fitment bang and crash are over at last!
Words by Warren Steptoe