Boating New Zealand Magazine
The bowrider version of Tristram Marine’s capable ‘fishing’ hull, made popular by the 691 Millennium M2, is a superb example of an all-round family day boat.
Grey Sikaflex. That’s what Tristram Marine has used to seal along the trailing edge of the 690 Cabriolet’s grey aluminium windscreen. Not white or black – grey. It’s a simple detail, but one of dozens of little things that illustrate an attention to detail and uncompromising commitment to quality that sets Tristram’s boats apart. It can also be seen in the perfect coving around the instrument panels, the way all the sharp edges on the windscreen frame have been filed smooth, and even in the laminated timber battens Tristram uses to support the bow cover. The boat’s presentation can’t be faulted.
BREAKING THE MOULD
Bowrider designs – runabouts with open bows and wrap-around seating instead of an enclosed foredeck – have never been super-popular in New Zealand. I’ve often wondered why because they are wonderful family boats. Perhaps they have suffered (as have centre-consoles) from the common misconception that ‘open’ boats are more vulnerable to waves entering over the bows, but that depends more on specific hull design than a boat’s configuration.
This model uses the Millennium 691 M2’s hull, developed for blue-water boating. It has plenty of height and fullness in the bow, so not only is it a dry ride, it’s also very safe. I guess it comes down to how you use your boat.
The Tristram 690 Cabriolet is a handsome, well-proportioned design. The review boat, Just Gazing, is fitted with an Indy polished aluminium wakeboard tower, a new idea to create an ultimate sports crossover package, explains Tristram Marine’s Kingsley Fink. It is also equipped with rod holders and wakeboard/waterski racks, and that pricked the interest of an Auckland family who enjoy a range of water sports. This is their second Tristram.
Just Gazing’s bowrider configuration has sufficient space, plus 250hp of four-stroke Yamaha power, to transport all six family members in comfort and style.
CRISP AND CLEAN
The Tristram 690 Cabriolet’s LED-lit interior is all smooth curves, easy-clean white gelcoat and vinyl upholstery. Teak and carbon highlights, removable marine carpets (great for fishing) and the black canvas bimini add contrast.
The interior feels spacious and has an easy walk-through to the bows and simple back-to-back seats. Four anodised aluminium rod holders on the tower supplement two through-gunwale stainless steel rod holders, and there’s push-through stowage for three rods under each gunwale.
The amount of available storage is surprising. It includes an underfloor ski locker between the dash consoles, under-seat stowage in the bow, a small transom locker, space inside the cockpit seat bases, plus heaps of room inside the twin consoles themselves.
The 690 Cabriolet is smooth and fast. The hull feels wonderfully balanced, instantly responding to the hydraulic helm and any alterations to engine trim. The 690 easily coped with a succession of launch and ferry wakes – the most a glassy-calm Waitemata had to offer – the hull re-entering softly. It appears to be a dry runner, throwing spray well back and away from the bow.
It is certainly a lively performer, reaching almost 48 knots during a short burst at full revs and exhibiting exceptional throttle response; performance with a 200hp would be more than adequate. With so much instant performance on tap, I had to take care not to inadvertently nudge the lever.
Although the 690 Cabriolet is to all intents and purposes an open boat, passengers are still well protected from the elements. The moulded lip around the bow completely excludes water once the cover is secured and also helps direct airflow over the windscreen and over the heads of the front seat passengers.
Generous-sized back-to-back seats are comfortable and moulded footrests offer useful bracing while underway. A Fusion stereo system provides the soundtrack. Driving perched on the helm seat back gives you protection from the wind. The bimini gives excellent sun protection, and clears are an option if the weather packs up.
The Tristram 690 Cabriolet is a large, superbly-finished, high-performance family runabout. The bowrider configuration is versatile and ideally suited to family day trips encompassing multiple activities. A 200-litre underfloor fuel tank means plenty of boating between fills and a good quality braked Enduro tandem trailer makes the 1950kg rig safe to tow behind a suitable vehicle.