•Comes out of the factory with the biggest dive door in class – however they need a few mods to keep the water out when travelling
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COOTACRAFT 20FT COLDFRONT
The Cootacraft is the Colt .44 in this cache of six-shooters. It’s sexy, slender and, in the wrong hands, someone’s gonna get hurt. Owner Wayne Bernhard has owned Edencraft boats, but wanted something “on the edge”. He found it with 24 degrees of Coldfront, powered by a 300HP Yamaha delivered by ‘fly-by-wire’ throttle control. Wayne is a one-man race crew, travelling with spare props to suit the conditions. He even changes them in the water during drink breaks! He also fitted a jacking plate to the transom for millimetre-perfect performance – enabling adjustment of the engine height without having to drill more holes. Wayne’s also handy on the tools. He helped design the wave-breaker and built the cabin door from ballistic-proof carbon composite. Then he fitted a pie oven. Should Somali pirates attack, he can lock himself in the cabin behind his bomb-proof door and live off a selection of hot meat pies and Lean Cuisine. Steering is keen and agile – but less forgiving than the other round-keeled contenders. You have to be ‘on it’, particularly when on a charge in a big sea. She’s not as balanced or predictable as the other boats when coming off a wave. There is no seat or grab rail to hang on to, just a fly-by-wire throttle control and steering wheel. Thankfully, the Coldfront has the highest freeboard around, so any judge that did lose their grip, ricocheted safely inside (how’s your foot, Jules?) The judges were mixed in their evaluation of ride and handling. Some returned with scratched knees and bruised egos while others had that look of a boy who’s just had his first roller-coaster ride. We all agreed: if you wanted to get to the blue water quickly, this would be the fastest and most fun way. When combined with a class-leading freeboard, the Cootacraft would be ideal for spearos or commercial operators. On the downside, there’s not much dash space to work with and limited open storage for things you want to grab quickly. But that’s the way Wayne likes it. In the wash-up, the Cootacraft Coldfront proved the enigma of the shootout – fearsome and fun all at once. She was the boat that sent men sprawling, yet showed a softer side with a permanently fitted oven. She didn’t rate as high on the stability scale, or fare as well as on ‘game-fishing factor’ – with shortest deck-space, small kill-tank door and narrow opening to the cabin – but if you’re like Wayne and pour adrenaline on your Weet-Bix in the morning, then turn your cap backwards, grab some pies and hold on tight for maybe your best ride yet. Just don’t get burnt!
• The driver’s boat
• Dominant internal freeboard
• Bomb-proof cabin door, with pie warmer
• Yammie 300
• Temperamental in the air (the other boats levelled themselves out more smoothly)
• No grab rails – or seat to lock into
• Small kill-tank door and limited open storage in side pockets
• Fly-by-wire takes a little getting used to
• No seats, but we managed to find a permanently fitted pie warmer
EDENCRAFT 6M OFFSHORE
The 6m model was launched in the late ’80s, when Edencraft acquired the V19 mould from Haines Hunter. Back then, commercial fishermen were Edencraft’s biggest customers, but today there’s a new generation of game fishermen and divers who like their boats with big performance and a wow-factor to match their owner’s hairdos. Joel Ryan is one of those customers.
Joel’s boat, Shake ‘n’ Bake, is the pin-up girl for the Edencraft brand. She turns heads with black sides, black carbon-fibre wave breaker, stainless-steel armoury and a pair of black 140HP Suzukis. Joel has her permanently hooked up to his black Ford Ranger (with black rims, naturally) waiting for the next hot bite to pop up on Facebook. We’re not quite sure what Joel actually does, but he’s always where the fish are. His quest to catch fish never wanes, even when Fisheries officers pull up alongside (which they did). As the officer patiently waited to give Joel a ticket, he stubbornly stood on the front deck, bombing one cast after another toward an inquisitive kingfish. He didn’t catch a fish, but he did land a $75 fine.
There’s no debating the blue-water credentials of the Edencraft Offshore, with the time-honoured 22-degree hull and flared bow. Since the original Edencraft popped out of the mould, the factory has made a number of changes. The most significant was to extend the keel line through to where the pod used to end, removing the step-up at the rear. It gives the boat a 6.20m overall length, as well as buoyancy in the bum where it’s needed for twin rigs and big four-strokes. Many of the smart modifications on the 6m Offshore have been developed by Edencraft builder/owner Alan Ball. He used to build Olympic-class rowing hulls, so he knows a thing or two about composites.
On board the Offshore, it’s a game fisherman’s dream, with the widest gunwales at the rear, the longest deck and a high quality stainless-steel fit-out. The rocket launchers would make an army general proud, housing 11 rods. The cabin space is slightly longer than its Bass Strait cousin, but like the Straiter, it has no forward hatch. All the judges said she felt like a bigger boat. Not surprisingly, she took home the gong for best game-fishing factor. The judges also agreed the Edencraft was the coolest-looking rig on the water, but it was the twin set-up that really got the test pilots buzzing. If deep-vee hulls have a bad habit, it’s coming off waves with a troublesome attitude – but the Edencraft was balanced in the water and especially confident when leaving it. The difference between the twin-powered rig and the single power-planted Straiter is noticeable, despite sharing similar DNA below the waterline. The Captain presumes the Bass Strait craft would perform just as well with twins. If you’re thinking about either of these boats, be sure to test a well set-up twin-rig. Then sell your original Star Wars figurines to fund it, because this was the most expensive rig in the shoot-out, with a replacement value of $140,000.
• The king of cool
• Stable boat in the water – and most stable boat launching out of it
• Widest gunwales and longest internal deckspace – more than 20cm longer than the Cootacraft and marginally longer than the Bass Strait in the internal deck
• Twin-rig delivers balanced ride
• Most expensive set-up
• Lowest internal freeboard at rear
• Cabin door swings in the breeze when unlatched
• No hatch in forward cabin to deck area
• Heavily bevelled flat area on dash for mounting screens, but The Captain has yet to come across a round sounder!