by Wayne Kampe •
I’d be the last person to buy into the old glass (‘it’s the ride, mate’) vs aluminium (‘you won’t scratch it’) argument.
I’ve owned plenty of both during my five decades of boat ownership but I’m going to stick my neck out and offer an alternative that’s a handy combination of strength, light weight and durability. Fibreglass over foam-core hulls are gaining in popularity these days.
The 4.1 Ezy Topper is a case in point. As background, two Queensland companies producing lightweight infused core boats, Ezy Topper and CrossXCountry, became one back in September. John and Geoff Hall and Adrian Heath are directors and keenly involved in design and production.
In the 4.1 there’s lightness (around 84kg for the test craft), strength via the infused glass/core foam process, plus performance that beggars belief unless experienced first hand.
The Ezy Topper’s hull has an interior floor depth of 60cm and an exterior side height of 50cm, so obviously there’s some vee in the floor.
This super-light boat has its hull and a moulded inner liner seamlessly bonded together to for great strength. The hull felt as rigid as any other 4.1 craft, alloy or glass, I’ve been in.
The core foam used throughout the hull makes it very quiet at rest and under way. The overall finish was absolutely first rate with not a hint of any lack of attention to detail throughout.
There is a small but handy cleat at the bow and then a 1.2m long full-width casting deck covered in SeaDek, a closed-cell, high-density EVA foam which has a non-slip finish. It enables the angler to stand with confidence.
An 85cm x 50cm locker below the casting deck has a wide access door and drains aft through a channel below the cockpit floor to the transom.
The cockpit floor has a moulded non-skid surface and offers a lot of useful room to store fishing or crabbing gear and the aft thwart has enough seating room for two.
Floor depth is around 40cm, offering comfortable legroom and enough height to not feel like you’re going to be tipped out.
A neat mini side console provides ample space for engine instruments, electronics and switches and is within easy reach of the skipper. Pedestal seats are an option many fishos might consider for more comfort on longer trips.
There are side cleats aft plus a storage area under the rear seat for a tote fuel tank.
Yes, it’s a simple layout but factory options include side lockers for 3m rods, a plumbed livewell and other options for the angler requiring just that bit extra in their pride and joy.
The best comes last: performance and handling. The 4.1 Ezy Topper is rated for 8hp-30hp engines but the 20hp lean burn EFI Suzuki four-stroke offered as much power as I considered necessary.
It made such easy work of powering this light hull that a bigger motor would not be needed, even with four adults regularly aboard.
The well-designed hull has a small amount of vee aft, reversed chines and a prominent keel (equipped with a glue-on poly Keelguard for peace of mind at the boat ramp).
Planing with two adults aboard occurred at a gentle 6 knots (11.2kmh). At an easy cruise of 14 knots (26kmh) the Suzuki was hardly working while a burst of wide open throttle posted 22.8 knots (42.3kmh) on the hand-held GPs.
The ride was quite exceptional. The Ezy Topper powered over – not through – chop in the estuary channels with ease and crossing wash from larger craft caused no jolts or jarring.
And the quite high sides meant the ride also remained dry. I did expect some spray to come aboard in cross-chop with a bit of breeze behind it but it was not to be: the Ezy Topper remained surprisingly dry.
Stability was every bit as good as a conventional tinny or similar-sized conventional glass boat. The shallow deadrise aft and the wide reversed chines had a powerful grip on the water at rest and under way.
Returning to my opening comments: are we not still discussing an all-glass boat? Of course, but with differences. A lot of the supposed drawbacks with fibreglass construction – the weight, extra care around ramps, etc – are easily overcome thanks to the Ezy Topper’s light weight and advanced construction.
Issues around ramps and the like would be rare. As an example, when time came to retrieve the 4.1, Tyson from Ezy Topper pulled it onto the trailer by the painter line attached bow cleat and without using the winch. That’s something I’ve not seen before!
Set up on a skid trailer, the 4.1 Ezy Topper as tested should give years of boating and fishing life in any situation a similar-sized glass or alloy boat would, but with the advantages of extreme shallow draft, light weight and superior ride and handling.
On a Redco trailer the rig would come home for around $13,000, representing excellent value. The 4.1 is also available as a 75kg car topper for vehicles and roof racks capable of carrying that weight. For more information contact Enlightened Boating on 07 5499 3155 or visit www.enlightenedboating.com.
Length on trailer: 4.8m
Hull weight: 84kg
Transom deadrise: 6°
Max adults: 4
Test engine: 20hp Suzuki EFI