Sporting proposition

Graham Lloyd | VOLUME 30, ISSUE 2
This is a wholly Australian designed and built ski/wake boat.
Aussie brand Skicraft’s Century RV hits the sweet spot with its comfortable, well-designed interior and sporty profile.

Our test boat, a Skicraft Century RV, made quite a stunning first impression. The Skicraft-branded galvanised Easytow trailer is itself worthy of note, with a glossy black paint job and gorgeous mag wheels under curved guards, braced fore and aft by large step panels. The equally gloss-black gelcoat of the Skicraft’s undersides provided a sharp contrast against the bright metalflake-green topsides, highlighted by white and black accents and lettering.

Above the boat, an anodised Roswell AVX tower raked forward at an angle reminiscent of an Olympic sprinter poised in the starting blocks. The Century RV’s combination of sleek lines, colours and graphics is certainly striking.

Pricing is pretty good, too, as our reviewed RV (Rear-mount, V-drive) is available from Skicraft’s Sydney dealer Hunts Marine as a tow-away package for $89,970 including a range of options, while packages start from $67,845. The Century also comes in mid-mount and outboard versions.

DESIGN HERITAGE

This is a wholly Australian designed and built ski/ wake boat. The brand has been popular on our waterways since 1969 so there’s a strong track record, including a number of ‘Boat of the Year’ awards, while a structural warranty of seven years is indicative of the high standard of construction and factory quality control.

It’s a big boat at 6.7m, with capacity for 10 people, although the design is such that it never looks bulky or unbalanced. The raked and rounded screen helps in that respect and the shape of the side returns in particular is very alluring.

The undersides are interesting, with quite broad, downturned chines and inner strakes that effectively form a planing pad as they flow aft. At the transom, across the end of that pad-shape, is fitted an adjustable wake plate – an electric-hydraulically operated trim tab that allows the size and shape of the wake to be altered. Below the plate is the bronze-look rudder and four-blade prop while above it, exiting the transom on either side of the tab’s hydraulic ram, are a duo of stainless exhausts.

The full-beam, carpeted boarding platform is an integral part of the hull moulding, for added strength. To achieve this, the gunwale line flows downward toward the back of the Century before its protective rub-rail angles even lower to form an extended and shallow ‘Z’. It then curves naturally around the sides and back of the platform. It’s very neat.

The interior layout is beautifully executed in mainly off-white trim using the same green and black colours from the exterior for contrasting panels. The upholstery is comfortable and attractive. The forward cockpit has unique billet handrails around the tops of the gunwales, while the interior has U-shaped seating, dual stereo speakers and quad drinkholders. Under the front centre cushion is a small anchor locker.

There’s a passage under the opening centre screen panel that comes with a removable clear acrylic ‘breezeway’ panel. Behind the port side of the screen is a lockable glovebox, with a 12v power supply. The base of the aft-facing observer’s lounge lifts out and the back of the seating hinges up on a gas-assist strut for entry into a huge stowage area. There’s more generous storage capacity under the U-shaped lounges around the sides and back of the cockpit, all very nicely carpet-finished.

VERSATILE INTERIOR

The cockpit seating is surprisingly versatile: the centre-aft section can be lifted and repositioned at the front of the side lounges to form another aft-facing observer seat. Across the back of the RV is a sunlounge with triple lift-up panels. The centre section hinges forward for access to the MerCruiser 5.7lt V8.

All the engineering looked good and the V8 mounts are through-bolted into the stringers rather than just lag-bolted. The visible wiring and hoses are neatly secured and it was easy to reach the day-to-day engine checkpoints.

The two side sections of the sunlounge hinge outward from above large storage lockers, with panels either side of the engine that can be removed for greater access to the engine. In this boat, those aft storage lockers held optional ‘fat sack’ water bladders that can be filled to weigh down the back of the RV for higher ‘boarding wakes.

Above the cockpit, the Roswell AVX tower had a bimini shade cover, swivelling board racks and extra speakers for the Roswell 500.4 amplifier and the Fusion MS-IP600 stereo system. Quick-release brackets allow the tower to be lowered for garage storage.

IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

The driving position is a good example of how it should be done, with ergonomic comfort in every aspect. The alloy-spoked, rubber-rimmed wheel is tilt-adjustable, while the seat is adjustable fore-aft and swivels. The seat also has a lift-up bolster at the front that provides good thigh support when down and a higher line of sight when up.

The dash area looks superb, with dark non-glare trim behind the screen highlighted with green stitching around metalflake-style green instrument and switch panels. Centred above the wheel is a Mercury VesselView 7 multifunction digital display augmented by a Mercury GPS Smart Tow (‘cruise control’) as well as a pair of analogue dials either side – a tacho on the left and speedo to the right.

The steering was light, with 3.5 turns lock-to-lock, which is just about the perfect range for good control without being too sensitive. Changing course can be as wide or as tight as you like, and the hull holds well through all manoeuvring.

ON-WATER PERFORMER

In calm waters and with two people aboard, a light fuel load and no water ballast, and with the wake plate level, the Century RV slipped onto plane smoothly, with barely any bow rise. Raising the wake plate lifts the bow of the boat and runs the back lower for larger wakes; used in conjunction with water ballast in the ‘fat sacks’, the wake can be adjusted to suit different wakeboarding styles. Lowering the plate lifts the back of the boat and smooths the wake for skiing.

For non-watersports cruising, the plate can also be used to trim the running angle, but generally it’s trimmed about level, at which the hull sections give a surprisingly soft ride through wakes and chop. MerCruiser’s DTS (Digital Throttle System) gives a fine and progressive feel to the throttle and smooth gear changes.

Murphy’s Law struck, however, and we encountered a loss of tune on the engine … just one of those things that seem to happen at the least convenient time. Even so, the Skicraft was easy and enjoyable to drive and had good mid-range acceleration. It was only at the top end that we couldn’t reach the expected speed of 72.4km/h (39 knots) at 4600rpm. We did, however, see 60.7km/h at 4000 rpm and it was obvious there was much more to come. At a cruise speed of 3500rpm and 54.5km/h, the Century RV just swept along in a very pleasing way, with low noise and vibration levels.

Other colours are available, but the green of this RV was certainly an eye-catcher and set the scene as the rest of the Century proved just as appealing … but you really need to see it for yourself.

SKICRAFT CENTURY RV

Length: 6.7m

Beam: 2.4m

Weight: 1200kg

Tow weight: 1700kg (boat, motor, trailer)

Capacity: 10 persons

Fuel capacity: 120lt

Power: MerCruiser 5.7lt MPI Scorpion 246kW (330hp)

Priced from: $67,845 tow-away (Hunts Marine)

Price as tested: $89,970 tow-away (Hunts Marine)

More information: Skicraft, tel: (03) 8720 0999. Web: skicraft.com.au. Hunts Marine, tel: (02) 9546 1324. Web: huntsmarine.com.au.


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