by Dom Wiseman

You may not yet have heard of Australian manufacturer, Northbank. The brand has thus far, yet to be discovered on the East Coast. Luckily though, this is expected to change, as Northbank establish some quality dealers and a larger distribution. Back home in South Australia, it’s a completely different story, where the company are revered for their performance.

We last tested the Northbank 750 Hard Top back in December 2015 and to be honest, not much has changed for this flagship model. It’s the same hull and largely a similar layout. The 2015 model was powered by a Volvo Penta sterndrive and tested from home base in South Australia. Our test boat today was supplied by GRE Marine out of Sydney and was rigged with a 200 horsepower Honda BF200.

The brand was established in the mid 1990s. Since then, Northbank have steadily added models to their collection and now have offerings from 5 metres, all the way through to this 7.5 metre model. They’ve won some fans too including myself for their no fuss builds and exemplary performance. In fact, it’s hard to think of another hull that felt so safe and impressed on me as quickly as this one.

This 750 Hard Top, supplied by GRE Marine, are based at Prospect in Sydney, and I dare anyone to find a cleaner or better run dealership. While also specialising in the Malibu wakeboarding brand, they also work on all manner of boats and engines from their Northbank in-house workshop.

WHAT YOU GET

This boat is, well, big. The Northbank 750 Hard Top is an imposing craft on trailer and on water. While it’s not as sleek looking as a speed boat, it does look the part, with all the angles in the right places. Once aboard, the space is the thing you immediately notice.

Northbank 750HT Review

The test boat was a ‘bare bones’ set up. This allows you to choose exactly what you need and leave what you don’t. I know, I know, fishermen like having everything thrown in but the kitchen sink. However, I much prefer personalising a vessel and selecting my immediate needs and having additional options to choose from later. As it stands, the Northbank 750 Hard Top is a usable craft with nothing but an engine and multi function display added.

Fishing fans and those with children will be mightily impressed with the massive depth of the cockpit. It is more than I can recall on any like-sized competitor. It comes up to my hip and ensures there is little chance of falling out, and effective to brace against when fighting fish. Another important design aspect, the shelves running either side are not mounted to the floor. The shelves are lifted, allowing feet to slip underneath, and an opportunity for you to get up close at a comfortable angle to the gunwale.

There is a swing away door moulded into the starboard side which will allow easy access or a place to haul a large fish aboard. There is a kill tank located between the helm and passenger seats for your catch.

Northbank750HT-2The hard top is a generous design with plenty of headroom. There is a three-window windscreen arrangement across the front with port and starboard wiper. The side windows slide open to allow airflow and the only disappointment for me personally is a very small hatch in the roof.

The dash layout is simple with everything within reach. The switch panel is located close to the right hand bulkhead, so when you’re running, can be a bit tough to repeatedly access. GRE Marine have mounted a large Garmin screen in the dash. If you would like a second, you can mount it on the left hand side of the dash. Another Garmin unit is located at the top of the dash to display the engine data. While the radio was mounted in the dash on the left, I would elect to utilise the top of the carpeted hard top.

At the rear of the Northbank 750 Hard Top is a six rod rack. Coupled with the four standard rod holders in the gunwale, you can carry ten rods total on a trip. Cleverly, Northbank mould in grab rails along the gunwales; another handy feature for offshore cruising.

The cabin has storage underneath the seats and optional bunk infills make this the perfect place to lie down. At a pinch, you could overnight here but not for long I expect. You could also install an optional porta-loo in the void under the infill.

Northbank offers a decent catalogue of optional extras to make the 750HT even more angler friendly, with a pair of 14-foot Top Shot outriggers, a handy inclusion for serious blue water fishing. These can be added or removed in the blink of an eye, and really do add to the boat’s sport fishing versatility.

POWER

Northbank750HT-22The Northbank 750 Hard Top was powered by a single 250 horsepower Honda BF250 engine. You can rig twins as an option but to me with modern reliable engines like the Hondas, that seems like overkill. You can fit up to 400 horsepower on the hull but with the performance we experienced with a 250, I doubt you’d often have a need for it.

The BF250 pushes the hull up to a maximum of 37 knots with a comfortable cruising speed of 17 knots. The boat trolls well with the torque of the engine being more than enough to get this rig moving.

ON THE WATER

We tested the boat on a windy day out of Sydney Harbour. With a forecast of 15 knots on the back of four days 20 knot Sou’ Easters, it was looking like a difficult day on the water. It also rained and looked mighty dark above at 6am on the way to meet the team. I was tempted to call it off. I’m glad I didn’t.

The conditions really allowed the hull the shine. Heading out through the heads into the slop and chop, I could immediately feel how sure footed and comfortable it was. At slow speeds, the 750 HT really sliced through the waves which I could barely feel behind the helm. That makes it an excellent trolling platform where other boats can sometimes be pushed around.

Northbank 750HT Running Shot

Further offshore, the bumpy conditions made me hesitant to really go for it. Not to mention I had Graham from GRE Marine onboard and his industry nickname is Grumpy. With a little encouragement, I bumped up the throttle till I was reading around 15 knots on the gps. At these speeds some boats would be banged to pieces given the conditions, but not the Northbank. It hardly put a foot wrong, slicing through oncoming waves, dancing over the chop and landing smoothly once airborne with hardly a bang or bump.

The Northbank 750 Hard Top also enjoys being thrown into a turn hard and at speed. For a large boat it is surprisingly nimble and really enjoys being driven like you stole it. It holds through turns and leans over at an angle that ensures you aren’t fighting G Forces and clinging onto the nearest bar for support.

As expected of a large beamy boat like this, stability at rest is excellent, even with a sharp deadrise. Sure, you sacrifice a little stability with that angle, but I’d rather get where I’m going comfortably without the prospect of being 2 inches shorter.

ON THE TRAILER

The 750 Hard Top will need either a dual or triple axle trailer. GRE Marine can supply either. The reality is, that this is a large boat and will weigh over 3 tonnes, and therefore you’re going to require a large four wheel drive to tow it. We’d suggest a Landcruiser, Patrol, F250 or RAM would be safe and big enough to tow with.

 OVERVIEW

This boat is impressive. It’s hard to think of another 7.5 metre boat that has impressed me so quickly. The Northbank 750 Hard Top may have a basic set up, but it allows you to really think about what you would like onboard. You could set it up for game fishing and it would be an excellent hull for that. Or you could add some luxuries and go cruising with the family.

The openness of the cockpit is the real wow factor and serious anglers would have no trouble finding mates willing to jump aboard with more than enough space to fit them.

Boat Supplied By

GRE Marine Prospect NSW

POSITIVES
Dry Hard Top
Huge Space in the Cockpit
Excellent Hull

NEGATIVES
Built tough but finish isn’t as nice as some other production boats

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (as tested) $155,000
Construction: GRP
Length: 7.37m
Beam: 2.45m
Height on trailer: 3.20m
Dry weight: 1650kg
Maximum HP: 400
Fuel capacity: 350 litres
Deadrise: 21 degrees