Issue: April/May 2006
Rock solid performance and tough construction… what more could you ask for from a big tinnie?
I knew Trailcraft were expanding, but it wasn’t until I visited its operations, south of Perth, that I realised how big it’s become!
I was lucky enough to be given a close look at the way Trailcraft boats are put together and got to take several models out on the Indian Ocean for a spin. I drove more than a dozen different boats at Mandurah and was impressed, but the standout for me was the 640 Series Hard Top.
I really like a big, solid boat with a well constructed hardtop. There’s something about keeping the elements outside where they belong that makes me feel safe and secure – especially when it’s rough and foreboding off shore.
The Hard Top is a well-appointed version of the standard 640 hull and comes with practically everything needed for long range cruising and fishing. The 640 also comes in Sports Cab and Centre Cab configurations, as well as the ‘Malcolm Douglas’ version, designed for the needs of the well-known TV adventurer. If you have a few extra bucks to spend, it’s worth checking out.
Self-draining decks are standard with Trailcraft packages and enhance off shore security. Any hull with the ability to shed unwanted water in a hurry will offer obvious advantages in bluewater fishing situations.
The 640 Hard Top provides a high level of overnight vee-berth accommodation and a good-size cockpit. As you’d expect from most Trailcraft boats, it’s designed with the serious angler in mind and this model is a died-in-the-wool fisherman’s delight.
Starting at the blunt end, the Trailcraft 640 has a full width aft boarding platform and motor pod. The transom is built from 6mm aluminium, so it can cope with outboards to 225hp.There’s an integrated berley bucket on the starboard side of the platform and a boarding ladder and transom gate to port.
Inside aft , you’ll find a transom locker with an inbuilt recirculating live-bait tank, a cleverly designed cutting and bait preparation board and deck-wash system. This isn’t an electric deck wash – it works on a venturi system that picks up water while travelling and provides sufficient pressure for a thorough wash down.
The Trailcraft ‘s cockpit is big enough for up to five anglers. It has a sizeable, underfloor fish-holding tank with lid (that work on a pneumatic ram), plus twin side storage shelves about 1.5m long.
Both driver and passenger seats are mounted on storage lockers that easily accommodate life jackets, wet-weather clothing and fishing tackle. There’s further storage in the cabin, so keeping everything neat, dry and accessible is no problem.
An integrated aluminium rack provides enough overhead storage for half a dozen rods. There are grab rails everywhere in this boat and they are super-solid – as is the rest of the deck hardware, which is probably the strongest in the aluminium market place.
A 225hp Mercury four-stroke powered the test boat, which is right at the top of the manufacturer’s recommended horsepower range. The 640 has a heavy hull requiring plenty of grunt to perform and the big Merc certainly does that.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The day of our test was superb, but with less than a metre of sea outside the Mandurah Marina, it wasn’t ideal for testing a big, off shore boat. But there was enough chop and roll to assess ride, handling and general performance.
As anticipated, the big Merc four-stroke had us on the plane instantly. The Trailcraft hull is built tough – there wasn’t a hint of the crashing or bashing that occasionally makes aluminium boats uncomfortable.
This one rides softly and I was able to cruise at 35 knots or so before hitting the throttle for an instant burst up to the high 40s. The boat corners well at speed, losing little forward momentum when pulled into a tight turn. As is often the case with aluminium boats, particularly those with elevated, self-draining decks, the Trailcraft 640 Hard Top is a little ‘tender’ underfoot at rest. But this is off set by the substantial outer chines and significant beam and shouldn’t detract from its efficiency as a serious sportfishing rig. With more than 300lt of fuel under the floor and a four-stroke on the back, Trailcraft ‘s 640 Hard Top has a useful off shore range.
Trailcraft has been building top quality, aluminium-plate boats for more than 20 years. Based in Henderson, the maritime hub of Western Australia, the company employs more than 200 workers who produce 22 boats a week.
Trailcraft has 32 dealers around Australia supporting Trailcraft products. These include three company-owned ‘Trailcraft World’ retail stores at Laverton North in Victoria, Blair Athol in South Australia and Mandurah in Western Australia. All three stock the entire range of Trailcraft Boats.
The company started building boats in 1983, and today, is one of the nation’s fastest growing boat builders and trailer manufacturers, producing some 1500 trailers per year.
HULL WEIGHT: 995kg
REC HP: 175-225hp
CONTACT: 1300 550 321
+ Solid construction; Long-range tank
– Stability at rest
WORDS + PHOTOS SHANE MENSFORTH