Trophy 2902 Walk Around – Cairns Review
WARREN STEPTOE is impressed by a reef fishing rig with a great ride, creature comforts and fishing practicality.
Keith Graham has worked his whole life for this boat. Keith owns the famous Bransford’s Tackle Store at Clifton Beach, north of Cairns. If we ignore that he was once a Pom, he’s a man who’s worked bloody hard in the best Aussie battler tradition to own a boat good enough to cope with North Queensland’s constant strong winds and fish the reef regardless.
Keith’s done well in choosing Trophy Hunter, a Trophy 2902 WA. The boat is actually 30 old fashioned feet and past experience such as having the crap beaten out of me during many boat rides to and from the reef tells me that’s on the small side to realise ambitions about fishing regardless of typical North Queensland weather. However, our test on the Trophy 2902 broke the mould in many ways. For starters, we actually spent a whole day fishing, something all fishing boat tests should entail! As expected, “beautiful” North Queensland turned on the usual 20-25 knot winds for our 70km round trip from Yorkeys Knob to the reef and back.
The Trophy produced one of the best such reef rides I’ve ever had. And I’m remembering some genuine black and blue beatings in boats much bigger than this one. The Trophy’s ride across that sloppy crap they call ‘chop’ around Cairns was truly outstanding and our day’s fishing was one of the more enjoyable boat rides of my considerable experience in North Queensland. I once decked a couple of heavy tackle seasons on a 39-footer, so there’s ample ground for comparison here… What a lovely little boat!
Keith chose a pair of 225hp Mercury Verados to power Trophy Hunter and in a run that seems headed towards being as much testimonial as test, the one thing you have to live with is a pair of whopping great outboards mounted right where you do most of your fishing. It’s a long reach over those motors! I must emphasise though that this sentiment applies to all outboard powered boats around Trophy Hunter’s size. When the only alternative is an even more intrusive engine box containing the inboard motor of sterndrive power, the reach over those outboards is easy to live with.
From here the Trophy 2902 is all good. As the ‘WA’ designation suggests, it’s a centre-cab walkaround, with a bridge deck configuration setting the helm high enough for good vision into the water from the wheel, and allowing a second bunk underneath. Down in the cabin, that puts the second bunk ‘behind the stairs’ with the usual convertible dinette in the bows, a galley to port and bathroom to starboard. In a ‘no apologies’ fishing boat, the cabin is at least as good as the rough water ride.
For couples, the Trophy 2902 WA seamlessly morphs into a nice, comfortable cruiser. Keith’s specification meant his boat needs to be connected to shore power for the microwave and cook top to function, but some attention to the options list can change that.
An 825L fuel capacity is commensurate with a couple of days away from port and for a couple at least you’re looking at genuine comfort. The shower and ‘loo are sensibly proportioned with 115L of freshwater available (and a same size holding tank). The galley is sensibly appointed, and most importantly, despite this being only a 30-footer with a walkaround deck each side of the cabin, there’s room to actually live aboard in some comfort. And there’s stowage everywhere you look. We fished with five adults aboard for the day and that was comfortable enough. Although four would have been better.
We were well sheltered by the clears fitted around the helm and the cockpit proved entirely workable and easy to clean at the end of the day. The aft bulkhead contains a 135L livewell and, in a second compartment beside that, there’s an icebox (for bait), both with Starboard working surfaces as lids. There’s a transom door in the bulkhead’s portside.
Below decks in the cockpit, there’s a pair of 225L drained-overboard fish wells long enough to contain a whopper Spaniard or wahoo. And along each side are gaff/rod racks. Upholstered coamings ensure the essential leg support.
At the cockpit’s forward end, behind the helm seating, there’s a sink with pressurised water supplied for hand washing to starboard and another icebox (for food) to port. A pair of flip-down aft facing seats completes an all round excellent arrangement of the Trophy 2902 WA’s aft end. Rarely does a boat test result in such glowing comment as this. But that’s only because it’s rare to find a boat with as many good things to say about it as this one.
Thanks to Mercury’s excellent Smartcraft instrumentation, we were able to trial performance and fuel consumption. The good news is better left to studying the figures. The twin installation Keith Graham chose is an obvious choice for the reef’s isolation, but beyond that, both high and low speed performance from the pair of counter rotating 225hp Verados was as outstanding as every other aspect of this boat.