by Dom Wiseman

Stabicraft is a New Zealand manufacturer that came to Australia about ten years ago. They were quickly recognised for their hull designs that gained notoriety for their exceptional stability and rugged approach. I recall my first ride on one back in the mid 2000s during the Port Stephens Trailerboat Fishing Competition. The boat immediately impressed as a sturdy fishing platform with plenty of room. I recall it being the only boat of the three we had up there that could head offshore on one particularly nasty day.

Since that introduction Stabicraft has gone on to become a legitimate part of the Australian boating market. The Stabicraft 1850 Frontier, initially launched around 2013, is a centre console design built on the tremendously popular Super Cab hull of the same size. It’s an aluminium build with a distinctly rigid inflatable boat look about it and it’s a centre console making it suited to fishing of any type. We used this platform as a camera/film boat recently and the cameraman came away beaming.

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stabicraft 1850 frontier-3WHAT YOU GET

The Stabicraft 1850 Frontier is perfectly suited to fishing with plenty of room to move around the boat. Centre consoles offer exceptional visibility all round which is why they are so popular despite the risks of getting wet occasionally. Stabicraft boats also have positive buoyancy, which if you haven’t considered such things is a massive plus on the safety side of the equation. It means that in the event of a swamping, the boat will still float allowing stranded passengers precious time to grab safety gear and to stay with the boat until help arrives.

The console in the boat we tested was pushed right up against the rear edge of the forward casting platform. The platform incorporates a large hatch covering a deep storage well. This placement leaves all the room in the stern available to move around freely and fish. The console also features a handy grab bar for passengers over the windscreen and while on the small side, has storage underneath and space enough for engine gauges and a single sounder/chart plotter unit. Add a radio and stereo and you’ve got everything covered.

The gunwales are large and solve one of the perennial problems in centre consoles, storage. Stabicraft has used the design to their advantage by incorporating several large cut-outs along the inside of the gunwale providing shelf storage for ropes, sea anchors, gaffs and fishing items. The topsides have grip added and are so wide they are easily usable as a seat all around the boat. They also feature cup holders and the necessary rod holders. The cockpit floor is not self-draining but that allows a deep and safe freeboard internally. While the checker plate floor is set low in the hull, they have still managed to fit a 120-litre under-floor fuel tank.
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stabicraft 1850 frontier-1The helm seat is a bench style with a comfortable cushion. It allows the driver to stand too, which you will find is the preferred position in offshore conditions. At the stern there is additional jump seating, which again will probably spend most of its time folded away, allowing access to the centrally located transom bait preparation station. It is a sturdy aluminium design and is the perfect height for comfortable use. It also has more cup holders and rod holders along the back.

From a fishing point of view, the transom design is not ideal. The engine while not protruding into the cockpit, is mounted on a moulded platform with a ladder to the port side. It extends well behind the boat and a lot further than you can reach comfortably with a fishing rod from inside the boat. It means that hard fighting offshore fish such as kingfish could foul you on the propeller pretty easily.

Elsewhere, the paint job is exceptional and the embossed cleats are a classy touch. The bowsprit and anchor well are a good size for a boat of this dimension.

POWER

The BF115 Honda four-stroke outboard is more than adequate for this hull and it’s extremely quiet, almost to the point of being inaudible. It has NMEA capability, which means you can run the gauges through a screen on the dash, eliminating the need for separate gauges. It weighs approximately 200kgs which is slightly more than some competitors although on this hull, it isn’t noticeable.stabicraft 1850 frontier-7

stabicraft-1850-frontier-4Acceleration is impressive jumping the Stabicraft 1850 Frontier onto the plane quickly with additional acceleration still available through the midrange.

Stabicraft says minimum power for the boat is 90hp so if you are not after flat out speed something in the 100hp range would be more than suitable.

ON THE WATER

The boat performed extremely well in the flat conditions with no obvious handling issues. Sitting or standing behind the console is comfortable. In either position the sport steering wheel is in easy reach as is the throttle. The hull design is very dry both inshore and offshore. On a day where we had water spraying across the windscreen of a bigger boat the Stabicraft remained dry. The hull has a fine entry and keeps water well down courtesy of the solid chine that starts at the bow and runs down to where the hull flattens out at the stern. The hull clearly has enough angle at the entry to slice through waves.

Turning is responsive and predictable. Like most mono-hulled boats, it beds into a turn. The angle here is not excessive but rather comfortable while the hull is fun to drive and we did not experience any cavitation problems. Offshore, the boat performs well in wind chop and cut through rather than bounced over waves.

stabicraft 1850 frontier-6ON THE TRAILER

The Stabicraft 1850 Frontier will sit on a dual axle trailer with mechanical brakes. There are any number of manufacturers, although each dealer will have their own they prefer to use. A dual axle trailer makes moving the trailer by hand difficult due to the four wheels, but they tow comfortably and easily. All up the boat, motor and trailer would weigh 1400 kg, so can be towed by a medium sized vehicle.

OVERVIEW

Any angler looking for something easy to tow, rugged and durable would do well to consider the Stabicraft 1850 Frontier. It is big enough to handle offshore excursions, yet sits right in the pocket where if set up correctly, would also be an excellent inshore rig.

POSITIVESstabicraft-1850-frontier-5

  • Versatility
  • Driving

NEGATIVES

  • Seat cushion not standard
  • Driving standing difficult

NUMBERS THAT MATTER

Price: (starting from) $52,428
Construction: Aluminum
Length Overall: 5.6m
Beam: 2.24m
Max HP: 115
Capacity: 6 people
Deadrise: 17.5 degrees
Engine: Honda BF115 four-stroke
Fuel Capacity: 120-litres

 

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