The Captain discovers why the White Pointer from New Zealand is considered the apex predator of plate boats. 

If you call your boat a White Pointer, you better have the chops to back it up. After building them for more than 24 years, Rex Briant, top of the food chain at White Pointer plate boats in Gisborne NZ, reckons he does. The “little” ones start at 6.2m and go all the way up to destroyer class with the 10.5m model. They’ve earned a reputation as tough blue-water battleships, as LandCruisers of the sea – rugged, purposeful and very, very cool.






The Captain’s crew was blooded on White Pointer boats back in the silly tuna season of 2015. Barrels were busting up all along the coast. So we detoured south and jumped aboard some tanks in the Tasmanian waters off Eaglehawk Neck, where limestone cliffs gaze down on the white-capped waters of the Tasman Sea. The trailer car park was a lonely place back then as 30-knot winds swept over the launching ramp at Pirates Bay. The Captain’s crew shook hands with the skippers of a 730 Sports Hardtop and an 800 Sports Cruiser. The crews were veteran fishing warriors, crusty old salts who made Paul Worsteling look like Cinderella. The saltiest of them all was a bloke called Barry. He drove away from a school of surface-feeding bluefin, sensing bigger fish near “the rock”. He was right. The battles raged for two days with 100kg-plus bluefin hook-ups in less than 50m of water, testing boats, gear and nerves.




Rex Briant called it “the pinnacle of his career”. However, the local seals thought less of his trans-Tasman tour and the bullish few that came too close to his quarry still have the headache to prove it.




White Pointer boat owner Bruce Franks claimed it “the highlight of his life” and The Captain’s crew willingly share the tale to wide-eyed kids around campfires. But that’s a story you can read about in issue #1 of The Captain, if you can find one of these precious gems.






Rex started building boats in the early ’90s, back when Mark Wahlberg was still Marky Mark and everyone wanted a “Sports” Walkman. He finished his apprenticeship, packed his Hypercolor T-shirt and headed off on an overseas working holiday to Canada. There, he honed his boat-welding and fabrication skills, absorbing the wisdom passed down by the staff of a second- generation boat-building company. He returned to New Zealand with not much more than a couple of sawhorses, a few skill saws and a dirty MIG welder – plus the lessons he’d learned on the rocky shores of the land of the red maple leaf. Word got around Gisborne that Rex could build a boat – but he wanted to build “the best”. So he hooked up with naval architect Terry Reid of TR Marine design, who set him on the path long before CAD design was available. “We discovered a good design principle and followed that,” Rex said.




“It’s a traditional design that’s incredibly rigid. I took that design and built a tough commercial- grade boat with modern materials around it, then dressed it up for the ballroom.”




White Pointer customers include commercial and charter operators, Department of Conservation, Police, and Search and Rescue. Many of the lessons learned from building these working boats spill over into the recreational boat construction. There are about 650 White Pointers on the water and they take 12 to 16 weeks to build.



“It’s a slow process to build this boat, it’s not mass-produced,” Rex said. “We take a delicate approach to a fairly hostile task. It’s not just a bunch of hull plates stitched together, with girders, frames and stringers fitted afterward. We build the internal structure then stretch 6-8mm skin around it forming a curvaceous compound shape. This process is labour intensive but it creates the surface tension that makes White Pointers so rigid. ”




Everything is built in the Gisborne factory by a team of 15, from fabrication and fit-out to painting, installation, electronics and the custom- built trailer. Most (80 per cent) of boats are sold into NZ. The second biggest market is Australia (ahoy Cam McDonald at Geelong Boating Centre) and the Pacific Islands make up the rest of the fleet.





Power plants come in single, double and triple outboards, as well as inboards. The Captain’s crew recently rode on board an eight metre White Pointer Sports Cruiser featuring one of Rex’s favourite donks: a Volvo Penta pumping out 260HP via a duo-prop stern drive. Power is delivered by a common rail, fuel-injected, supercharged, turbocharged, intercooled, multi-valve diesel-powered engine. “It’s heavy, old-school stuff that complements my boat,” Rex said. “They just hook up and climb when the swell gets big – and keep driving. The manoeuvrability is great with the duo-props, and reversing up on a fish is brutal.”




We compared it side by side on our test run off Port Stephens and it ran flatter and more efficiently through the water than the 750 outboard-powered vessel. “It churned the sea up,” Rex said. “It handled anything, running nice and stable at all speeds and all angles – even reverse.”




Not to deride the outboard model, but this inboard model was as surefooted as any other eight metre boat we’ve been in. It’s not a high- speed wave slicer in the same way as a glass Formula – but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a comfortable workhorse for white water. All boats are a compromise, but Rex reckons he got it right. “You might make a boat to be the best at one thing, but the White Pointer does it all really, really well,” he said. “They’re renowned for being a really good ride, they’re predictable, they’ll take on a sea meaner than the clientele are comfortable with, and they’ll get you home with confidence. They’re also tame for cruising, pretty stable with a deep internal freeboard, and three guys can comfortably wrestle a fish off the side.”




The sister ship to the 800 Sports Cruiser, a white 750 Sports Cruiser has become a popular model. “It’s a great balance of cabin, bunk and cockpit space,” Rex said. “It’s a versatile big-water boat, can be managed under three tonne and can take a diesel or two outboards. You can pretty much dress it up for any occasion.”




Rex doesn’t favour one outboard brand over another, although most Australian deliveries are fitted with Yamahas at Geelong Boating Centre. The custom options extends to the trailers, which are a work of art in their own right. Rex said they’re custom-designed for each boat, with a unique bunk and cradle system he crafted based on the jet-boat trailers built for Canada’s swollen rivers.






When the Captain’s crew judge a boat, we don’t cut a lap around the bay, sink some Sailor Jerry rum and throw an X-Factor at the dartboard. Nope, we also judge the characters behind the helm; the souls who have just parted with between $200 and $300 large to steer these ships. We wonder: what did they steer before this one? What’s his fishing factor like? Do we believe his shit? When it comes to White Pointer owners, we keep coming up with the same buyer profile:

• Male aged 60-plus
• Hardworking and hard-spending
• Want their DNA built into every corner of the boat
• Lives in a regional town about two hours from the city
• Owns a shed that would shame most boat dealerships
• Drives a V8 LandCruiser with colour-coded bumpers
• Stupidly successful in a technical trade (building shit better than anyone else)
• Fanatical researcher – he’s spent his whole life working out the right rig to pick
• Sits full on the spectrum when it comes to fit-out and finish
• Likes giving boats punny names







LIVES: Newcastle, NSW
JOB: Manager Glenwood Rural Building
BOAT NAME: Reel Rush
BEAM: 2.5m
STERN DRIVE: Volvo Penta D4-260
WEIGHT: 3.5+ tonnes
CUSTOM GEAR: Open cabin with lounges and fridge freezers, $30K of Raymarine gear including Flir night-vision camera
PREVIOUS BOATS: 35ft Caribbean, AMM 7.5m
BEST FISH: 80kg stripe, 125kg black marlin, 360kg tiger shark, 170kg mako



Owner Bob says: “I wanted everything from my big gameboats in a legally trailerableshing boat. I wanted the best electronics, an open cabin and a stern drive – because the weight is down low under the waterline. I got my perfect trailerboat.”

Builder Rex says: “This boat just churned that sea up. It’s got a man’s anchor well with 300m to 400m of rope and a free-fall capstan winch. It’s got custom seating with a big built-in fridge and freezer – there’s an awful amount of work for one hell of an outcome. There’s nothing that comes close to that boat.”

The Captain says: “The perfect east coast dream machine for long days trolling and bottom-bashing. The lounges that open to the express-style deck are mint. Efficiency and performance in equal measure.”







LIVES: Tasmania
JOB: Builder
BOAT NAME: Lie-Ability
LENGTH: 8.2m
BEAM: 2.5m
OUTBOARDS: Twin F200 Yamaha 4-strokes
WEIGHT: 3.6 tonnes fuelled-up
CUSTOM GEAR: Waeco fridge, Garmin gear galore, outriggers, extended roof, warm-water shower REPLACEMENT VALUE: $280K
PREVIOUS BOATS: 18ft Shark Cat and Quinnies
BEST FISH: Striped trumpeter up to 16kg, bluefin to 80kg



Owner David says: “I’ve finally found the boat that appealed to me, that had everything. It’s a big boat, but it’s still trailerable. It performs as good as anything I’ve ever been in. 600 hours- old and still going strong.”

Builder Rex says: “Everything gets used on this boat and it’s great to see how durable everything is. It’s a rugged workplace from the cabin back, and cosy forward. It has nice framed curved glass with extended-roof option and built-in electric- powered refrigeration with hot and cold fresh water.”

The Captain says: “The 800 Sports Cruiser is all battleship outside and deluxe cruiser inside. Rugged, yet still elegant.”







LIVES: St Helens, Tasmania
JOB: Old-fashioned machinist and self-taught engineer, now retired
BOAT NAME: Cray Nomad
LENGTH: 7.4m
BEAM: 2.44m
OUTBOARD: F225 Yamaha
WEIGHT: 2.3 tonnes fuelled-up
CUSTOM GEAR: Lock-up wheelhouse with bi-fold doors, under oor kill tanks and pot hauler, custom trailer, plus $20K of Garmin gear
REPLACEMENT VALUE: $185K+ some extras for electronics
PREVIOUS BOATS: 6.1m Trailcraft
BEST FISH: 90kg bluefin from Eaglehawk Neck. In Bruce’s own words: “It made my life!”



Owner Bruce says: “It’s purely a shing boat. I can go deep-sea shing single-handed or cray shing solo. I can also take crew if need be.”

Builder Rex says: “A real favourite of mine – a cool, economical boat, easy to tow, easy to manoeuvre, easy to skipper and can go where the big boys go.”

The Captain says: “The 730 achieves a good balance between ride and stability, with an 18-degree dead-rise at the transom, a fine entry point and downturned chines. The slide-down window from the cabin to the rear deck is effortlessly efficient, creating an open feeling while keeping the elements out.







LIVES: Geelong, Victoria
JOB: Owner Geelong Boating Centre (Aussie dealer)
BOAT: 750 Sports Cruiser
LENGTH: 7.5m
BEAM: 2.5m
OUTBOARD: F250 Yamaha
WEIGHT: 3 tonnes fuelled-up
CUSTOM GEAR: Weekender/overnight package with kitchenette, freezer, fridge, gas stove, 12-volt oven, hot/ cold water tank, toilet, kitchen sink. Garmin 7412 with 1kw Chirp, thru-hull transducer and 3D mapping.
PREVIOUS BOATS: Also sells Quintrex tinnies – all fitted with Yamahas
BEST FISH: Tuna on the Eaglehawk Neck trip


Dealer Cam says: “This is how I would build my own boat. It can go hard fishing with the boys then convert to an overnighter for the family. I’d happily spend a few nights in this boat.”

Builder Rex says: “A great balance of cabin, bunk and cockpit space. A versatile big-water boat, can be managed under three tonne and can take a diesel or twin outboard, you can dress it up for any occasion.”

The Captain says: “The white paint work with the tan coloured Sea-Dek flooring and Yamaha coloured outboard is a winning combo. You’d go a long way to see a better-looking trailerboat.”






LIVES: East coast of the North Island, New Zealand
JOB: Panelbeater, Dominion Panel & Paint, Wakefield Panelbeaters, Auckland
BOAT NAME: Girlfriend
LENGTH: 9.40m
BEAM: 2.9m
ENGINE: Volvo Penta D6-400
WEIGHT: 5 tonnes fuelled-up
CUSTOM GEAR: $30K electronic package, custom trailer
PREVIOUS BOATS: 2500 Rayglass, several Haines Hunters and a couple of Buccaneers
BEST FISH: All of them





Owner Robbie says: “I’ve had boats for 20 years, but I wanted one of the best ones. It tows unbelievably. We also launch it off the beach with a John Deere tractor. After owning glass boats, I was initially reluctant to go to alloy. Now that I’ve done it, I wish I’d done it sooner.”

Builder Rex says: “Remains one of the most iconic White Pointer builds in New Zealand. The whole boat is created around the engine and the recessed leg.”

The Captain says: “Girlfriend is a beast! It’s completely built from the keel up to go fishing. The accessibility around the deck is next-level. I slept like a baby at full steam.”