Issue: March 2001
Quintrex caused a none-too-quiet revolution on the fishing scene with its Hornet series, especially the stretch-formed “Millennium” generation, as they narrowed the gap in ride quality between bluff-bowed “barra punt” type hulls and the vee-hulled dinghy. Having created history in the “better” department, the Hornets are now extending into bigger.
Enter the 5 metre long Hornet Eclipse. My first experience of the big Hornet was at a Quintrex press day where they had a basic prototype available for comment. This particular boat was destined for renowned fisho Rod “Harro” Harrison who had specified an offbeat layout unsuited to mainstream customers. The ultimate internal configuration was yet to be decided upon.
Nonetheless, I was able to put the hull well and truly through its paces. Hornets are really enclosed water boats, a fact lost on many owners who have found the ride qualities of the Millennium hull so good it is feasible to use their boats for fly fishing for inshore tuna. I have witnessed the inherent seaworthiness myself in a smaller Hornet Wildfish model.
With one of the Quintrex crew I took the boat surfing in a break peeling along one of the breakwalls inside the (Gold Coast) Southport Seaway. Clearly, and in all seriousness, this was an instance of “don’t try this at home folks” But with the standard set, the new 5 metre Hornet can only be better again.
The test hull proved to be very forgiving of weight distribution and clearly not afraid of heavy loads. It also has a wide power tolerance. All of which are factors in favour of the largest Hornet hull if only because of the variety of situations it is going to find itself being used in.
In looks, the Hornet Eclipse departs from the smaller Hornets that precede it by having a “pointy” bow rather than a squared design. The bow is still very full by comparison with a dinghy style hull. Viewed from the bow, the chine line has been carved away where the concave underbody meets the outside curve of the topsides. This provides a trihull effect at speed, directing aerated water into the tunnel created at the hull’s shoulder.
In terms of ride quality this is all good news. My experiences on and outside the Southport Seaway leave no doubt about what sort of ride a Hornet Eclipse passenger can expect. This hull sets an entirely new standard for barra/bass boats. The boat tested here was owned by professional fishing guide and tournament angler Harry Watson and presents the latest development in enclosed-water sportsfishers. The forward casting deck is carried high, right under the gunwale caps. The aft deck is lower and smaller, although still big enough to stand there and cast without worrying about inadvertently stepping off it. Along the port side is a full-length rod locker easily able to swallow rods over 2 metres long.
I wouldn’t be at all happy about consigning a bunch of my favourite Loomis rods inside here without some extra padding though. The bottom was carpeted but with no means of restraining the outfits from banging together as the boat bounces across any chop, there’d be plenty of cosmetic damage. A low set console sits to starboard. This has an aero screen to deflect slipstream and a moulded fibreglass dashboard. Harry had a Lowrance LMS 160 Map GPS/sounder mounted on the port side of the console. Being low set, tall drivers might struggle getting their legs tucked underneath the console but apart from this the helm position was quite comfortable for my 170cm frame. Under the aft casting deck there are twin compartments, one of which held the motor’s starting battery. The other had a rotomoulded liner, enabling it to serve as a live bait well.
The forward casting deck is nearly long enough to stretch out on. It has no less than five hatches accessing (in turn) divided twin anchor wells right in the bow; access into the main bow underfloor storage area; and a long hatch across the boat accessing the livewell used to transport fish during tournaments. This livewell is fairly central in the boat – that’s how long that big foredeck is. The livewell lining and the anchor well are also rotomoulded. Harry had three pedestal-mounted bucket seats for the obvious purpose of transporting clients in comfort. There were other pedestal mounts on the foredeck and in the cockpit floor behind it.
Moving around inside the boat was much easier when only two passenger seats were in place from the row of three. About the only thing I’d consider changing, apart from two seats instead of three, would be raising the rear casting deck to the same height as the front one. Height is always an advantage when casting and storage space would be increased at the same time. But this may not be an option if the bigger motor is fitted because the deck is set lower to cater for the shallow splash well under the powerplant. Quintrex offer to customise boats as customers request and the layout Harry had chosen had its own purposes.
Words by Warren Steptoe