Issue: January 2005
The Razerline brand has been around for a good many years under its various owners and has maintained a deserved reputation for structural quality and finishes that are a cut above the ruck. Current owners of the brand are Seaquest, who have been making a big national push under their own name. They are probably number two in the WA plate-aluminium league, which makes them close to number two nationally. But instead of making it hard for interstate buyers, in the traditional Sandgroper way, they have established dealers in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Territory as well as the home state.
Although Razerlines count for small numbers alongside Seaquests, the company is passionate about them in the same way Ford are about their Aston Martins. There seems to be a genuine satisfaction in Seaquest’s employees at creating something that exactly suits the client. The Modern Boating team tested a 6.5m Razerline Hardtop and was lucky enough for it to be a boat that had been delivered to its owners three months before. Long enough for the blinkers of new ownership to give way to clear sight. Ian and Adam Dowell reckon they annoyed Seaquest’s Stuart Maugham for six years before they finally put in an order.
An understandable part of the time lag was collecting the necessary money, but they also got into the ears of every boat owner they met. They heard what was good and bad about every boat on the market and went out in a fair selection of them. They also heard a thousand opinions on how boats could be better made, or made better. And now they are pretty happy with what they ordered and got. The hull is a standard Razerline 6.6m, different designs and finish specifications to the Seaquest range, with a lot of detail changes within it. Hull length is 6.5m with another 0.9m for bowsprit and platform. Beam is a smidge over the average at 2.5m.
These Razerlines are built with solid underdeck frames, floors, really, in shipwright-speak. Basically, bulkheads between bottom and deck pierced only by limber holes. Nine stringers are laid over these and a 5mm bottom plate over that. It’s a rigid structure with minimum flex and so with minimal, by aluminium standards, noise underway. The hull’s tough enough for Seaquest to give her a seven-year warranty. Naturally, the deck self-drains, one of the big attractions of plate boats, and the layout the Dowells chose emphasises deck room. The fore-cabin takes up only a modest share of the length, despite containing sleeping length bunks.
The owners are keen anglers and divers and, though they are as keen on shelter as anyone, plenty of elbow room was a prime ask. For shelter they got a hardtop, but only partly for its weather-tightness. Ian has had soft tops and remembers the hazardous move forward along the side decks with the top up. No problems here, there’s wide side decks and grab rails all the way. Actually, pretty well anywhere you look there are rails. The bowrails are within the deck perimeter, so they are not auxiliary fenders. The real fendering bit, the gunwale half-round extrusion, has been left unpainted.
A pretty obvious exclusion, but there are any number of boats around with fendering strips as vulnerable as the hull. A useful gadget up front is a bow ladder. So handy for boarding from the beach (when the unpainted bottom is also a blessing) and a sight safer and drier than taking the transom ladder if the motor is running. Perhaps another reason for Ian’s wife’s seal of approval. The hardtop’s side windows slide, giving vital ventilation. The windscreen segments themselves are flush, stick-on panels of armour glass in the current style of ferries and buses. As well as looking slick, they are just about immune to leaking and to consequent corrosion of the window frames.
The power windlass has just about negated one of the reasons for the foredeck access. At the owners’ special demand, Seaquest worked hard on the bowsprit to achieve a flush effect with the stowed anchor. Then, for good measure they offset the windlass and bitts to get a dead straight cable run. This is a pretty purposeful kind of boat, yet Ian made the interesting remark that “Even my wife likes it”. This required following up and it did not just apply to the provision of a toilet. Actually there is no toilet, although Ian is on a promise to install one. No, Ian says it is mostly down to a dry, soft ride.
Dry is easy to believe, with virtually a backless wheelhouse and that big-section climbing chine to throw whatever works its way across the bottom, but a 15-degree deadrise at the transom does not sound excitingly steep. Which just goes to show that results are what count, not statistics. The owners are rapt and Adam is a professional cray fisherman, so not only knows what real rough conditions are, but is also more used to powering through them in something closer to 18m. This one, he says, lands better than any cray boat he has ever been on. The quietness of the hull helps with the sensation overall and so probably does the driving position being set aft by the cabin.
But there is no denying this boat rides well, particularly for aluminium. It has a certain measured quality about its movements, as though it were a longer and heftier boat. Coming off a head sea at speed feels gentler than it has any right to, the particularly sharp forefoot handles the deceleration nicely. Our review boat had a 200hp OptiMax Mercury outboard, up near the top end of recommended, and was able to change the boat’s trim with the merest whiff of trim button. It set the Razerline up for dead straight-tracking downwind runs and held constant speed without the need for numerous throttle adjustments.
The available speed is blistering. With a 19″ pitch propeller it hit 48 knots at 5200rpm. The owners decided to drop to 17″ to unload the motor a bit and maximise the trim ability. With a self-imposed rev limit of the same 5200, maximum is now 41 knots. More practically, 25 knots at 3400 feels absolutely right as an effortless cruising speed. So far, the Dowells have not found any weather to make them consider dropping below that speed. On our test day, with a well-developed 20-knot sea breeze in the teeth, the hull encouraged five or six more.
Most people would probably opt for 175hp motor. But a 150hp would almost certainly bring an edge of disappointment at the response, while the top end 225hp would mean power paid for, but hardly ever used. Nowadays you see a lot more sizeable boats being trailed serious distances in WA, where before the standard deal was a caravan on the back and a tinny on the roof. People are treating their boats as caravans and that’s how this Razerline will be used. Big fishing and diving trips to Shark Bay and the Montebellos, and living onboard afloat and ashore. The cabin will be used mainly as a security lock-up and swags in the cockpit will be the real accommodation.
You need good fuel capacity for that sort of travel and the Razerline’s 250lt should let the OptiMax take it a long way. There are no built-in water tanks and here is the source of endless debate. A big built-in tank can mean the water is terrible when you actually get around to drinking it (not to mention extra weight to tow), so the Dowells prefer the extra labour of filling portable tanks every trip. Despite the wife’s approving nod, this is clearly a boat built for two. Not even a removable aft lounge, although Seaquest will fit rows of seats if you ask. So, where do passengers sit ?
On the floor and think themselves luck to get that. No, this boat is about two blokes having fun with rods and scuba gear. They have the goodies to go with it, starting with a dash specially built to fit the chosen electronics while the radios sit in an overhead console. The big underfloor kill tank-ballast tankice box, whatever, also has clips in it for scuba tanks. The ladder off the port rear platform has super broad treads to make it easy to get back aboard with tanks on. The starboard platform has fiddle rails round it to hold odds and ends of gear. All the things anglers get misty-eyed about are here: cunningly angled rod sockets in the cap rails and a phalanx of them in the hardtop’s rocket launchers. There’s a livebait tank in the transom, bait board and all the rest.
Plenty of grab rails too. The down side to a roomy cockpit is the range of opportunities for falling over. On the other hand this one makes a more than adequately steady platform at rest, sea allowing. But it’s the getting there and back rather than standing still that the Razerline excels at. In those excellent seats with matching footrests (not that common to get both) there is pure joy in just throwing things around. It corners on rails, seldom seems to land flatfooted from jumps in those turns and it feels so darn solid. Just as well those passengers are on the floor.
She’s not a cheap boat, though you can make it cheaper with deletions, smaller motor and so on. But the long list of standard fittings is all part with the class fabrication and finish. Have a look at one you won’t be disappointed.
Words by Mike Brown