“New Kid on the Block”
Way back last summer I had a meeting with Don Jarrett from Angler Boats who shared his thoughts on a long-cherished dream to bring back to the South African market an affordable boat for wider public consumption. His idea was to produce a towable outfit that was easy to launch — ideally suited for family and friends.
I was privileged to see the first computerised designs and over the months watch this new kid grow into the finished product.
Finally review day arrived and I set off to Hazelmere Dam just outside Verulam on the North coast — together with Waterbuoys Durban staffers, Paul Webster and Fabian Schobermayer and Veronica Harrison from Fast Sails. The weather was perfect with not a breath of wind and no cloud.
Looking at her standing on the slipway in the brilliant sunshine, I had the feeling that the Panache 1450 is going to be a big seller this summer. She is an extremely compact and attractive outfit built to accommodate six people comfortably.
The open bow, which is always popular with the kids, has three very comfortable cushions which are UV ray resistant and loose items can be stored under this seating area. The necessary stainless steel bow rails are there for holding on.
Moving down from the bow to the port console you’ll find a stylish, aluminium-framed acrylic windscreen with walk-through door. Just behind the screen on the port side is a glove box with a lid big enough to store keys, cell phones etc, plus there are two drink holders. The comfortable pilot seat allows good visibility and there is surprisingly good leg room even for large people. In the centre of the floor is a carpeted ski locker to keep watersport gear out of the way, leaving this space uncluttered.
There is a walk-through section built into the back seat and engine well allowing access to the transom which has two boarding platforms at the stern. A telescopic ladder makes for easy boarding from the water and a stainless steel mini ski wing completes this package. She is injected with high-density foam flotation of 540-litres under the floor giving her a 55% positive buoyancy that more than meets BIASA standards.
Don’s original idea not to over-power this craft was a good one. Waterbuoys fitted a 60HP Evinrude outboard motor for the test that produces 864 cc. A 15-inch pitch propeller was fitted — designed to give the ideal torque needed to pull out a skier.
The E-Tech motor comes with a well-established resumé, including electronic fuel injection, has a proven history of low fuel consumption. Seated in the pilot’s seat I was faced with a whole array of instruments that included speedometer, rev counter, voltmeter and power-trim gauge. The control box was fitted into the coaming next to the steering wheel.
The boat was equipped with a 25-litre fuel tank and having launched, at a turn of the key this fuel-injected motor burst into life, though it was extremely quiet and smooth. At idle she revved at only 800 rpm, and in our test from standing still to full throttle the Panache was already flying at 3.5 seconds.
I took her through her paces at different rpm’s, and our top speed was 5 500 — which is optimum. Her cornering was excellent and either turning left or right there was no cavitation, while she felt extremely stable and safe at all times. While the conditions were ideal she skims over the water surface and her hull lifts high enough to give a really dry ride. I did pick up a hint of porpoising but with the motor already set at the right height, a slight shift in passenger distribution alleviated this.
I found the control box a bit close to the steering when opening the throttle wide but this can easily be adjusted back a few millimetres, if need be.
Now for the real test! I had brought Fabian with me as he is a good wakeboarder, but I told him no fancy tricks, please, just get out of the water! When he shouted “hit it” I couldn’t believe how fast he came out and got into action on top of the water. This was exciting stuff and proved you don’t need a lot of horsepower to enjoy waterskiing, tubing etc.
This leaves me to conclude that Don’s dream of producing a boat that can perform with a 50HP is still achievable. I remember years ago, learning to slalom behind a 50HP at Bronkhorstbaai Dam on the Highveld — so it can be done.
The Panache 1450 will undoubtedly be a winner for first-time boat owners and even those who are tired of big boats but still want to keep on boating with a minimum amount of fuss. Evinrude’s long history in the marine industry is legendary for reliability and performance, and, coupled with the outstanding finish and class of the 1450 — make for a neat outfit of which any boat owner would be proud.
Specifications: LOA 4.55m, beam 2.05, weight 385kg, recommended horsepower 40 — 70HP.
For further information contact Waterbuoys in Durban on (031) 332 3656, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their site at: www.waterbuoys.co.za