Stessco Bowrider 520 with Yamaha F90HP

Chasing a locally made aluminium plate boat that will keep the whole family happy and not break the bank? You need to check out the Stessco Bowrider 520.

• by Steve Morgan

Stessco’s Adrian Biel reckons that when your hull is a good thing, you don’t change it. And that’s exactly what Stessco has done with their 520 Bowrider hull. They’ve kept the popular shape and improved the layout.

But let’s backtrack a few steps before we dig into the details. Where does the Bowrider sit in the Stessco range and why would you buy one?

Well, it’s definitely a more comfortable boat for the less hardcore anglers in the family. Especially compared to something like the Gulf Runner. And sometimes, the fishing alone isn’t the reason you buy a boat.

Yes, I know. It’s a strange concept, but shade, comfort and the ability to use a boat for a variety of activities ticks a lot of boxes with modern outdoor families and this Stessco fits right into the hitting zone.

Firstly, it weighs in around the high $30K mark (and at around 1,000kg on the weighbridge), which means that it’s affordable for plenty of families. It also means that you probably won’t have to upgrade the family car to tow it.

Secondly, the configuration is pretty easily interchangeable between ‘fishing mode’ and ‘fun mode’. Drop in a few cushions up the front and add the removable ski pole and you’re ready to go tubing.

If you’re really clever, you’ll even have an electric motor on a bracket that takes a few seconds to pop off and on, which will really turn this into a fishing machine.

Thirdly, this boat is cheap to run. A boat over 5m in length with this level of fitout and that delivers well over 3km/L at cruising speeds really is giving you great value for money. The 110L tank fitted in this boat will get you over 300km of range at cruising speeds. The best we saw was at 3,500-4,000 RPM where it nearly reached 3.5km/L.

The bowrider was right at home in the Noosa River on the test day.
Everything is economical in the rig – from the mid-to-high $30K purchase price (depending on options) to the best fuel economy of 3.3km/L at 4,000rpm.
Driven at the best economy, the 110L fuel tank will give over 300km of theoretical range.
Here’s what the front deck looks like with the foam cushions on top of the infill.
You can remove the centre cushion and the deck section to allow for comfortable seating forward.
Back in the cockpit you can sit in the shade and swivel the seats around to watch a skiier or talk with your passengers on the bench seat. The ski-pole is removable.
You can shut the split windscreen and the bulkhead door to keep the breeze and spray out.
Obviously, there’s a mountain of storage space under the front seats, although it’s not totally waterproof.
Drop some batteries in here if you choose to add an electric motor to the front of the rig.
The rear bench sits starboard while the transom door allows easy loading and is on the port transom side.
The helm is simple and can hold smaller electronics flush-mounted.
Stessco’s Bowriders are a fun and good-looking rigs that really hit the spot with family boaters.
Here’s how you transform the bow into its various forms. First remove the cushions and stow under the decks. Next remove the floor infill. It provides everything from lounging to fishing in a bit of a swell.
Here’s how you transform the bow into its various forms. First remove the cushions and stow under the decks. Next remove the floor infill. It provides everything from lounging to fishing in a bit of a swell.
Here’s how you transform the bow into its various forms. First remove the cushions and stow under the decks. Next remove the floor infill. It provides everything from lounging to fishing in a bit of a swell.

And finally, it’ll definitely turn heads at the ramp. The smooth plate aluminium sides look great with Stessco’s standard colours, or alternatively take a vinyl wrap if you really want to make a statement.

Other improvements like the new, smoother windscreen just add to an already winning formula from the Brisbane based company.

There aren’t many drawbacks of this rig, however the fact that most of your underfloor storage will still let water dribble through in the rain is a problem for local manufacturers.

“Look, from the gunwales down, there’s nothing much we wanted to change in this boat,” said Adrian on the 2018 Media Day at Noosa, “so it’s just the small things that we’ve made better.”

“Things like the removable ski-pole and bait board, these needed to be easily interchangeable,” Biel continued.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. Tweaked a great seller to make it just that little bit better.

For more information on the 520 Bowrider, or any of the 2018 Stessco range, visit their website on www.stessco.com.au, make sure you Like their Facebook page (Stessco Boats) for social media updates and definitely scan the QR Code hereby to watch the video review of this rig on your smartphone. It’s also available direct on the Fishing Monthly YouTube channel.

PERFORMANCE
RPM           km/h            km/L
1000
………….. 6.5…………… 3.4
2000………… 10.7…………… 2.3
3000………… 27.9…………… 3.4
3500………… 35.6…………… 3.4
4000………… 42.2…………… 3.3
5000………… 54.8……………. 2.7
6000………… 67.2…………… 1.7
* fitted with SDS alloy 13 1/4 x 16” propeller

SPECIFICATIONS
Length
– 5.1m
Beam – 2.29m
Bottom sheet – 3mm
Side sheet – 3mm
Hull weight – 500kg
Max HP –  115
Fuel – 110L
Capacity –  6 persons