The Seafox left the other boats in its wake; on the water- and on the fishing scoreboard
A snotty 25-knot wind blew straight into Urangan Harbour, on the eastern side of Hervey Bay. We stuck the nose of the Sea Fox Viper out into the bay, glanced at each other, lowered our shades, pursed our lips and dropped the hammer on the 200HP E-TEC G2. Other boats turned around, their captains wiping salty brows as their cargo of beer-filled eskies, well-worn swags and cooking pots lurched from side to side. Our second boat, a 5m console of repute couldn’t get in the race as it danced head-to-tail in the sharp sea. This seemed to drive Captain ‘hot-rod’ Hedges even harder to show the Viper’s performance. And perform it did.
SALTY SEA AXE
The Viper fits into the ‘bay boat’ category. We’d settle for the ‘salty sea axe’ class. We jumped from wave to wave at 30-plus knots with the hull barely changing attitude. It’s not a deep-vee that does the damage as the dead-rise is only 15-degrees at the transom, drawing only 33cm of water at rest. What makes it work so well in bay chop is the narrow profile, pronounced Carolina flare and down-turned chines. It’s not just a great ride, but also a dry one. Not a bad feat for what is essentially a floating casting platform. The helm position is set back, with a bank of comfortable fold-down seats across the transom. In fact, every seat is deliciously comfortable on the Sea Fox; the builders clearly put in the hours on the water. The performance of the hull belies the brochure specs. You’d swear it’s heavier than the stated dry weight (about a tonne) and beam (2.5m). Helping trim attitude on the Viper are two live-wells located in the centreline, plus the option of a third on the side. In these two centreline tanks alone, there is 136 litres of storage for bait, gear or ballast, not that we needed it.
The Captain loves touring in large casting platforms such as the Viper. It’s not just the fish-ability on a triple hook-up it’s also the storage and accessibility underfoot. Quicker than you can say, “Blackstock stocks black socks”, you can switch from a casting position to sitting down against a backrest with a cold beer sourced from a compartment under the seat. There’s no crawling into the cabin to remove your home and contents, just to find your favourite Halco. It’s a smart layout with plenty of fishing zones and space to walk around.
We fished four people and never bumped into each other – except when Trevor and Jack battled manfully for the final Peroni. Stability at rest is unbeatable for a 22ft boat, pontoon boats aside. The 235-litre fuel tank helps with stability and also means we could’ve camped at Rooney’s for a whole week without needing reserve fuel. And there’s a 65-litre water tank (also located in the centreline) to wash down the tackle at the end of the day.
AT THE HELM
The stylish console offers everything you’d expect from a high-volume console manufacturer from the USA. The flat section for the Simrad NSS16 sounder is mounted high, in an upright position that’s visible from the transom. We put it to good use on the shoals, where Jason showed us how Spanish mackerel mark on a sounder compared to reef fish (in case you didn’t know, mackerel and some other pelagics show up as wave-like readings). The top section on the console is large enough to hold sunnies, tackle and bits and pieces, with a soft ‘grippy’ cork finish that is also affixed in the foot-well. If anything, we wouldn’t mind a recessed section on the dash-top, just to hold things in place when travelling at warp speed.
IT SEEMS OVERPOWERED – THE WAY THE CAPTAIN LIKES IT
The Gen2 200HP HO put a smile on The Captain’s face, which grew as the throttles opened up. It does vibrate more than other engines at low speeds, and the fumes are typical E-TEC, but most owners say you get used to it. It certainly didn’t affect the bite. Efficiency was good: we used five litres per hour at six knots. The new E-TEC steering is pretty cool. It sounds like a Transformer robot and gives predictable feedback at
the wheel. The angular styling on the G2 complements the smooth styling on the Viper. At first glance, it seems overpowered, but that’s the way The Captain likes it.
HULL OF A WARRANTY
The Sea Fox Viper comes in four sizes, from 18ft through to 24ft. Whichever way you
go, there’s a lifetime warranty on the hull, as well as a one-time transferable 10-year structural warranty to the second owner. You won’t find any claims for wood-rot as there’s no timber in the lay-up. She’s all glass. Australian importer JSW delivers anywhere in Australia and offers a full back-up service. Unlike other importers (who only bring in a couple of models – and never in the colour you want), JSW has been in the game for a while and has ironed out all the boat-importation wrinkles. The company must be doing something right – JSW just won Sea Fox International Dealer of the Year. No wonder Jason drives like a boss.
Model: Viper 220
Length overall: 6.8m
Dead rise: 15 degrees
Fuel tank: 235 litres
Dry hull weight: 975kg
Hull warranty: Lifetime
Recommended min HP: 175HP
Recommended max HP: 250HP
Model: G2 E200XH H.O
Weight: 253kg (558lb) on 25” shaft
Sounder / GPS: 2 x Simrad NSS16
1 x BSM3 Module
1 x LSS2 StructureScan Transducer
1 x Airmar B175 Thru Hull Transducer
1 x RS35 VHF Radio with AIS
1 x SonicHub Bluetooth Entertainment Pack
Starting from: $88,000
As tested: $111,254
3 Ereton Drive
Arundel – Gold Coast Queensland 4214
Phone: 07 5529 2616 / 0419 030 799