Boating New Zealand Magazine
Tristram Marine released two versions of its new 701 hull: the 701 Vanquish and the 701 Offshore. They share similar layout and power, but they are chasing different kinds of adventures.
The 701 Offshore is for game fishing – it’s set up to head out wide, carry the gear and come home in boisterous seas if necessary. The boat reviewed here is based at Waihau Bay in the eastern Bay of Plenty. The area provides some of the best game fishing in New Zealand but it can put up some challenging conditions. To power through them, the 701 Offshore has a 3.3-litre 200hp outboard engine.
The 701 Vanquish is a soft top model for family cruising – see Boating NZ for a Vanquish powered by 4.2-litre 225hp Yamaha outboard.
The 701 hull is designed for V6 outboard engines of between 200 and 350hp, so I knew the Offshore would go well with the smaller engine but, having sea-trialled the Vanquish, I was interested to compare the lower-powered Offshore.
Tristram Marine is the only production boat building company in New Zealand using CAD to create new models. The company also undertakes hydrostatic testing, another industry first, to ensure new designs float and perform as they should. Cockpit, deck and hardtop mouldings, while clearly part of the Tristram boating lineage, are peculiar to the 701 range, but the hull was developed from the popular Tristram 741.
The 701 in either version is a completely new design. Kingsley Fink of Tristram Marine looked after the CAD (computer aided design) side of the design process and his father Lance Fink, managing director of Tristram Marine, designed the hull dynamics and overall proportions.
Like the Vanquish, the 701 Offshore is a handsome boat with a nicely balanced hardtop that carries over the styling and proportions of larger models in the Tristram range. The lined hardtop has been engineered for lightness but not at the expense of stiffness or strength.
The hardtop configuration offers real protection when offshore fishing and the comfortable seats should ensure the long hours of trolling are a pleasure. It’s equipped for serious game fishing with Ocean Blue game poles, tidy drop-in tuna tubes, six properly angled and positioned through-gunwale rod holders, a rocket launcher and a powerful 1kW shoot-throughhull transducer to sound the depths of the bay. The in-dash multi-function display is a 12-inch touchscreen.
With a deadrise of 21° at the transom, the 701’s hull has slightly less vee aft than some Tristram models, to better carry the extra weight of the hardtop, which amounts to around 150kg.
Trim tabs integrated into the hull are standard equipment. In keeping with its serious fishing intent, there is no carpet in the cockpit and there’s an auxiliary bracket fitted to cater to the owners’ other passion: lake fishing for trout. A removable platform in the forward cabin provides welcome elevation when standing up in the front hatch to fly-fish. The hardtop upholstery is a little more utilitarian than the Vanquish’s, in keeping with the boat’s intended duties, but padded gunwales and comfortable seats are just as comfortable.
Tristram’s nicely engineered rod racks store rods and reels under the coamings and the rocket launcher offers additional rod storage and somewhere to safely stow the gear when a gamefish is hooked. Gaffs, tail ropes, gloves and other game fishing gear can be stowed in the side pockets or under the seats. Like the Vanquish, there is generous volume inside the seat bases. The upper section of the seat base mouldings hinge forward for unimpeded access to the lined, carpeted stowage beneath.
The carpet can be removed for washing. Tristram Marine offers a refrigerator under the helm seat and a gas cooker under the passenger seat as options.
Overall the relative proportions between cockpit and hardtop/cabin are excellent, which is why the boat looks and feels so well balanced.
The bait station is a good size, as is the moulded, curved transom locker which houses the 701 Offshore’s twin batteries, isolation switches and the bilge pump with plenty of space left over. There are additional lockers across the transom at floor level and under the helm and passenger seat footrests. The hatch in the floor between the seats provides access to the 250-litre aluminium fuel tank and fittings.
Tristram has dispensed with transom corner seating to maximise usable cockpit space. There’s LED strip-lighting under the coamings and pelmet strip lighting inside the lined hardtop is a factory option.
The drop-in tuna tubes are works of art. They fit snugly inside the plumbed transom locker, both use the same pump.
We joined the Tristram 701 Offshore at Kawau Island in the aftermath of a big blow so there was quite a bit of swell rolling in from the east. In the conditions the Tristram seemed in its element, cleanly breasting the wave crests and blasting into the troughs. The 200hp Yamaha was fitted with an 18-inch propeller. At full throttle we managed 5200rpm, which gave us 37.3 knots with two people onboard, but the 4.2-litre, six-cylinder should top out at 5500-6000rpm, so a 17-inch pitch propeller would produce another knot or two in boatspeed.
The hardtop 701 is more affected by crosswinds than the softtop Vanquish, but it wasn’t particularly noticeable. Judicious use of the trim tabs keeps the 701 on an even keel and allows the helmsman to achieve the driest, most comfortable ride.
Like the Vanquish, the 701 Offshore provides an exemplary ride that cossets its passengers. The advantage of the hardtop is excellent weather protection, but the interior could become hot on a sunny day, though sliding side windows and an overhead hatch provide good ventilation.
Visibility from the helm is good. It’s a comfortable driving position with a supportive seat and well placed moulded foot rest. The seat slides back for a stand-up driving position and swivels as an option so the helmsman can turn side-on to keep an eye on the lures.
The main console has enough space to accommodate large, flush-mounted displays, in this case a 12-inch Raymarine Hybrid Touch. Yamaha digital instruments are arrayed under the eyebrow console at eye level, with the Raymarine VHF radio and Fusion head unit recessed into the driver’s side pocket under the throttle control. An automatic rope/chain capstan is standard, operated from the helm. The boat reviewed here had one windscreen wiper, but two are an option.
Yamaha’s cable throttle and shift requires little effort and there’s no harsh mechanical clunking as the engine is slipped in and out of gear. Hydraulic steering provides good feedback without heaviness.
The Offshore is just as much fun to throw around as its soft-top sibling. The integrated keel has a brass rubbing strip to protect the gel coat if you pull up on a beach. The keel grips the water in tight turns so the boat tracks well. As with the Vanquish, the Offshore’s hull responds admirably to engine trim inputs. We couldn’t catch a chine or get the hull to slip no matter how hard we turned.
The 701 Offshore cruised comfortably and economically at anywhere between 20 knots and 30 knots. Compared to the larger V6 outboard engine tested on the Vanquish, the six-cylinder 200hp Yamaha on the 701 Offshore burns slightly less fuel throughout the rev range, but there’s not much in it. The 250-litre tank under the floor between the seats should provide a useful range for trolling out wide, or several day trips between visits to the petrol station.
The 701 Offshore is another superbly built and impeccably finished offering with the ride and handling to confidently venture out wide. A more fishing oriented model than the Vanquish, it is a stylish GRP alternative to the 7m-plus aluminium sport fishers.