by Dom Wiseman

Sailfish started as a two-person business more than 20 years ago and has today developed into one of Australia’s best plate aluminium power catamaran brands. While it is still regarded as a boutique company it now has a staff of over 20 full time tradesman and apprentices who produce around 30 custom-built boats each year. These tough, smooth-riding catamarans have become a favourite among serious off-shore fisherman.
We are testing one of the smaller boats in the range, the Sailfish Reefrunner which has an overall length of 6.03m and a beam of 2.45m and was primarily designed as a fishing boat with cockpit space that has to be seen to be believed. There is no way any other type of hull design would be able to provide this much room in the end package. Almost the full width is available with enough space to literally set up a two-man tent and sleep aboard if you are so inclined.
The gunwale is a perfect height to brace yourself against when fighting large offshore beasts and the cockpit design allows you to tuck your toes under the full length shelf running along either side of the boat. The height offered by the gunwale also offers peace of mind when you have younger children aboard.
Sailfish Shelfrunner 8

Sailfish Shelfrunner 6Carpet is used throughout and is sturdy enough to handle heavy traffic and regular use by serious fishermen with the side pockets spacious and capable of accommodating a veritable feast of gear. Sailfish can break this long pocket up with separators if you like to keep different gear in their own designated spaces. In fact the Sailfish team are all ears when it comes to small adjustments you would like to make to your boat and they prefer to do this themselves knowing it has been done correctly the first time saving new owners hassles down the track.

WHAT YOU GET
The twin Honda outboards are separated by a walkway that ends with a transom door, perfect to bring aboard sizable captures. The only thing I felt was perhaps missing, for a boat designed primarily for fishing, was a kill tank.  The cockpit is self draining and a deck wash, hose and pump are all fitted standard as is the live bait tank under the passenger seat.

The LED lights in the cockpit are a neat touch under the gunwale and will suffice for any night fishing expeditions.
Sailfish Shelfrunner 10
Sailfish Shelfrunner12Up front is a large storage area protected by a lockable sliding door. Life jackets, fishing gear and anything you want to keep dry would be at home here and you could add a portable toilet in this area to add some comfort on extended days out at sea. There is enough room to grab a quick nap but you need to lie across the width of the cab because it is not specifically set up for this purpose.

The glass windscreen offers good clear vision and the bimini which connects to the top of the windscreen via clear panels is a must have, offering security and safety from the elements and very occasional spray.

Anchoring the boat with this set-up means a walk out and around the sides, which are covered with ample grip, to get to the bow.

There is also an option for a walk-through design which offers access to the anchor from inside the boat. The anchor well on either option is large, drained and would accommodate enough rope for some pretty deep anchoring but remember it is a long haul back up again.
Sliding into the helm seat you are immediately comfortable and feel completely safe. The internal design of the sides and windscreen cocoon you in a comfortable environment and there is no way you will fall over or struggle to hold onto the wheel in any conditions. The steering is responsive and light as are the throttles powering the two 75hp Honda four-stroke engines. These are serviced by twin 140-litre fuel tanks running either side of the hull. The engines coupled with the hull offer excellent fuel consumption and this is a trademark of the cat hull design, contrary to popular perception.

Sailfish Shelfrunner 5
Sailfish Shelfrunner 4Engines these days are mostly reliable but offshore fishermen will also appreciate the safety offered by a twin rig set-up.
The dash layout is complimented by a Garmin GPS750S Colour Touchscreen sounder/plotter and GPS. It is a handy unit and is only let down by the size of the screen. A serious fisherman may want to add an additional sounder with a larger screen and there is ample dash space to do this. The Garmin unit does have NMEA connectivity, capable of providing full engine readouts across a variety of inputs and on that basis alone I would probably have one fitted.

ON THE WATER
Being an aluminium cat hull, the Sailfish Shelfrunner has some unique characteristics not available in other hull types. Most notable is the stability this boat offers. The Shelfrunner has impeccable stability at rest. Once offshore we managed four people on one side without any dangerous tipping or sudden movements that would see passengers on mono hulled craft scurrying for the other side of the boat. For passengers, the grab rails are well positioned and one is always within reach no matter where you are on the boat.
The twin hulls slice through the water efficiently and when confronted by large waves the harder you push, the more comfortable the boat becomes. Standing or sitting there is no banging or lurching about and due to the quietness of the engines a conversation is easy to hold. Approaching larger waves, the Shelfrunner rises and falls almost like it is being lowered back down carefully such is the smooth cushioned landing the twin hulls provide as air is forced between the hulls and the water below. The performance in all conditions is exemplary and despite only having 75hp engines fitted acceleration is more than adequate.

Sailfish Shelfrunner 7The water leaves the hull quite a way down the hull and a built in chine running along the length keeps spray down and away from the wind which can bring it back into any boat.
Cornering in a cat hull is a small learning curve but once dialed in there would be no situation you would not be comfortable in. The boat leans out slightly but tight turns are still well within capabilities of the hull design. Construction is of heavy 5mm bottom with 3mm sides and it feels solid to the touch. Welds and powder coating are impressive delivering a lovely finish which will stand the test of time.

ON THE TRAILER
Coming home or launching is made simple by the aluminium Sailfish trailer, made on site by Sailfish themselves.

Sailfish Shelfrunner1There are no rollers on the trailer but the boat is easy to drive on and off and can be a one man operation. Owners will appreciate the simplicity the design offers with the tunnel automatically guiding the boat onto the trailer right the first time very time. Though you will need a big 4WD for towing.

OVERALL
The Sailfish Shelfrunner is a great package that offers a safe, comfortable ride, even in rough offshore conditions, and a fishing platform that is hard to match. Fishing four down one side while drifting should not pose too many problems. The 75hp engines provide a good combination of power and economy to ensure the Sailfish Shelfrunner has a good range. While the electronics package is sufficient most serious fishers are going to want to upgrade this equipment.

POSITIVESSailfish Shelfrunner 9

  • Soft ride
  • Massive deck space for fishing
  • High gunwhales which make it both comfortable when fishing and safe

NEGATIVES

  • No Kill Tank
  • Electronics package that comes with standard setup


NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Overall Length:  6.03m
Beam: 2.45m
Height on trailer: 2.9m
Fuel: 2 x 140 litres
Construction: Aluminium (5mm hull, 3mm sides) with built-in foam buoyancy
Price as Tested $94,990

 

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