If you’re going to test a fishing boat, then it goes without saying that the best way to do it is to take it fishing. And if you’re going fishing, it always pays to stack the odds in your favour. In our case, this meant two things: firstly, we recruited ace fishing bloke, Al McGlashan into the team and, secondly, we opted for a new Pursuit C280 as our test rig of choice for the day.
Fortuitously, a few months earlier we’d received a call from a friend, David Epper who had been speaking with the folks from Graaf Marine in Sydney about a new brand they were bringing in from the US. Being a confirmed fishing tragic, David had been so impressed by the Pursuit range’s angling features that he’d signed off on a new C280 sight-unseen.
A while later, we found ourselves off Long Reef, off the northern beaches of Sydney. It was a balmy day, with light breezes, slight seas, an esky full of fresh bait and a rod rack full of fighting sticks. As an expert in these matters, Al McGlashan had assured us that the kingis were on the bite and right on schedule a few good-sized kingfish showed up for a contest.
For the next couple of hours we came to appreciate what a fine fishing boat the Pursuit is. As kingi after kingi took us for a frenzied dance around the nooks and crannies of the reef, we hardly noticed the C280 at all. It is a mark of a good fishing platform that the Pursuit played its part well, allowing us to match our adversaries without hindrance.
We soon came to appreciate such fishing-friendly features as the generous walkaround spaces, that allowed us to move from one end of the boat to the other with zero hindrance as we followed our quarry. Earlier, David had taken us for a tour of his new craft, pointing out the insulated 175lt kill tank set into the top of the transom, with convenient overboard drain. Next to it on the starboard stern quarter was an inbuilt bait-prep area, complete with a cutting board, sink and very handy slots moulded into the top for stowing such easily misplaced things as pliers, knives and the like.
The foldaway transom seat makes for increased fighting space in an already generouslysized cockpit, which also boasts easily accessible tackle drawers stacked away in the transom bulkhead. A 200lt recirculating livebait tank is mounted behind the helmseats and the port-side transom door is handy for hauling oversized fish into the cockpit.
Once hooked up, the C280 makes the angler’s job easier courtesy of well-padded coamings throughout the fighting spaces.
It seemed Pursuit engineers had an in-house competition to see how much of the internal spaces could be devoted to stowage as virtually every available nook and cranny is utilised to store gear, bait and fish. And just in case we’d happened upon the motherlode of kingis on the day, there were an additional two 110lt insulated fish boxes beneath the deck.
Other spaces were found to house lockable rod boxes, which are thoughtfully lined with a rubber coating so as not to damage the contents.
Practical, boatie-friendly touches abounded, including the well-laid-out dash, which boasted plenty of room for decent-sized electronic displays, as well as amenities like good hand-holds and drink-holders, all within easy reach.
Both skipper’s and first mate’s seats are well-padded and bolstered to allow for either standing or sitting while underway. The tall windscreen and solid fibreglass canopy will be appreciated on the more inclement days.
Six solid pop-up cleats are positioned around the gunwales to aid tying up, whilst also ensuring no fights will be lost to errant line-wraps.
For a boat with such hardcore fishing credentials, the C280 still offers much in the way of creature comforts. It boasts a fully-enclosed head under the helm bulkhead, accessed by a hatch to starboard. While a somewhat confined space, it nevertheless can easily accommodate a generously-proportioned adult.
The bowrider space up front is a welcoming spot for those who would rather watch than wet a line. Infill cushions turn the area into a sunpad for total relaxation mode, while there are plenty of additional nooks and crannies underneath for more stowage.
Movement up front is easy courtesy of the wraparound bowrail. And while at the bow, there is a very neat enclosed anchoring system, including windlass, which sees the anchor and ground tackle launched through a slot under the bowsprit. Like everything else on the Pursuit, it is a simple, tidy solution that ensures there are no potential snags for a boat-full of hooked-up anglers.
Speaking of which, our haul for the day, while not likely to worry the record-keepers, was, nevertheless, contributed to in no small manner by the well thought-out layout of the C280. At times we had multiple hook-ups, with anglers moving every which way in order to follow their quarry, but there was never any risk of entanglement or collision.
The hull design is mostly conventional, yet very strong, the 24-degree deep-V design reinforced by a stringer grid wrapped in fibreglass. Power on our test craft was provided by a pair of 225hp four-stroke Hondas, which not only produced more than ample grunt for the job, but managed to do so in a whisper-quiet manner. While we didn’t get fuel consumption figures on the day, the massive 830lt fuel tank certainly gives the C280 serious offshore roaming potential.
For the performance-minded, we achieved figures of 14km/h at 2000rpm as we rose onto plane, with 50km/h at 4000rpm and 80km/h at WOT/5800rpm – a respectable clip for a boat of this size.
On the day, seas varied from mirror-flat to a medium chop, which, while not exactly providing challenging conditions, gave me no reason to think the Pursuit would deliver anything but a fuss-free ride. Certainly, based purely on reputation, Pursuits are known as competent craft in difficult conditions.
Other standard features of note include hydraulic steering, Lenco trim tabs and fresh and saltwater washdowns.
The overall level of presentation and attention to detail on the Pursuit C280 are difficult to fault. This is a craft that has evolved to a high level in terms of utility and amenity and for those who like to chase sports fish in style, the Pursuit leaves little to be desired. In the case of our test boat, and to weigh things in his favour, David ticked just about all the Pursuit option boxes, including the outriggers, forward casting platform, hardtop (really a must-have for most buyers), electric (as opposed to manual) head and the combined ‘skipper and companion’ seat option (a leaning rail is standard).
David says he has found the C280 to be a particularly versatile workhorse, not only providing a great platform for the family, but also occasionally even coming in handy for commuting to his office in Sydney’s CBD.
“Now that I’ve had it a while, I use it to commute to work,” he says. “It’s a lot quicker than driving and it’s a great way to get to work when the weather is good. Plus, I always have a couple of rods ready for the trip home, just in case.”
As for its ‘fishability’, David is a confirmed Pursuit purist now, having notched up a few more trophies since our day at Long Reef.
“I’ve fished in the harbour and outside the Heads and it’s just fabulous as a fishing platform,” he says. “In fact, it’s really like cheating …”
The C280 is backed by a five-year structural hull and deck warranty and base pricing starts at a fairly reasonable $180,000.
SPECIFICATIONS: PURSUIT C280
Dry weight: 3311kg
Fuel capacity: 830lt
Max HP: 500
Price (as tested): $205,000
For more information, contact Graaf Marine, tel 1300 147 223 or go to: www.graafmarine.com.au.