One of Campion’s most popular boats, the Victoria 627 fully enclosed hardtop is a very different package for the fibreglass boat market in New Zealand. After a day aboard, fishing, diving and generally having a good time, Barry Thompson discovered a versatile all weather mini cruiser that may just be the ideal transition from trailerboat to launch.
The Campion Victoria 627 would be best described as a family cruiser that’s designed to be enjoyed and used for more than just day trips on the harbour. This is a boat that says…..” take me, I want to go and spend a few nights away”. It’s a holiday boat and one that has already found favour with those who aspire to a small cruiser, but still like the versatility of a larger trailer boat.
While it is a compromise, the dimensions within contain a whole lot more boat than you would first imagine and it is a true weekender in every sense.
The Campion range of boats are built in Canada by Campion Marine and imported into New Zealand by Sports Marine. The Victoria 627 is only one of a range of 20 models and 36 variations, with boats from 16ft – 30ft in length. The 627 Victoria is somewhat unique in style for kiwi boaties and it’s looks quickly attract or detract potential buyers. Interestingly, it is this style of enclosed hardtop that has been very popular with the larger aluminium boat manufacturers for years.
I managed to grab one for a day, between being unloaded off the wharf and delivery to its owner for Christmas. The plan was to head off to the bottom end of Waiheke for a fish and dive and spend a few solid hours behind the wheel.
The first impressive thing I noticed on the boat when we picked it up with our Ford Explorer was the price tag. At around $60,000 for the complete drive away package it is exceptionally well priced for a boat of this size and appointments. At around 2000 kgs on the road, the Explorer certainly felt it behind, but with a good trailer braking system it wasn’t a problem to tow the few miles to the Bucklands Beach boat ramp.
Ride & Handling
Although a conservative 18-degree deadrise, the Campion 627 does feature the company’s own APEX lift system, designed to expand the high pressure zones and make the boat run faster and easier through the water. This is basically a variable deadrise and conical lifting pad that helps aerate the bottom and reduce drag.
The Campion 627 ran easy over the moderately calm water on the run from Bucklands Beach to the bottom end of Waiheke. On the return journey, with the engine sitting on 4000 rpm, it was a pleasure to drive and felt more akin to a small launch than a trailerboat. With no breeze in the face or sun beating down on you, there’s a very relaxed feel behind the wheel.
Around the back of Waiheke I had the opportunity to try the boat in some moderate easterly swells. Taking them on the nose, the boat took a little getting used to at the lower speeds, but once I had the trim and speed set right it ran well. The hull lands harshly but not hard and there’s a feeling of sturdiness about the boat. Perhaps it’s the fact you are driving from inside, but the boat certainly has a big boat feel about it.
It’s that inside helm position that I found disconcerting at first, but by the end of the day, had grown to accept the fact that it is ideally suited to a boat of this concept. However it does make docking and coming back on the trailer a little more difficult, especially when you are on your own.
With the throttle wide open in a following 1m breaking sea off the back of Gannet Rock, I found I could push the Campion to the limit. Although I managed to bury the nose a few times, the full buoyant bows only go so far, then lift the boat easily across to the next swell. Spray is kept low and dissipates away from the boat. The spray that was picked up by the wind was soon off the screen thanks to a windscreen wiper on the armourplate glass.
Powered by a MerCruiser 4.3 L V6, punching out 205hp, we saw 45 mph on the speedo @ 4800 rpm. Considering the style of the boat the engine package is well suited and there is also the option of a V6 outboard on a bracket.
Best cruise in the light to moderate water was around 4000 rpm @ 36.5 mph and according to the GPS we got as low as 3.5 mph @ 700 rpm, so it’s fine for trolling. If you do plan to drag a few skiers or wakeboarders then the low down pull off the mark is fine and mid range acceleration reasonably quick. You can drag a good-sized wakeboard wake as well.
Power assisted steering also makes driving an effortless chore and even when subjected to a series of ‘hooning manoeuvres’ carried out when one of our ‘fishos’ got behind the wheel, the boat was positive and safe in response. Eventually we had to stop his fun, not for the consideration of fellow passengers but the fact the 20 kg burley bin of rather ‘used by date’ pillies was in danger of spilling its contents into the cockpit.
Talking about fishing, the Campion 627 is certainly not a serious fishing boat, but being a kiwi, I know you will try everything from any boat. The clean lines and layout of the cockpit make it ideal for fishing and a self draining fibreglass bin in the cockpit sole is capable of holding a good haul of fish. Rod storage is either in rod holders around the flat coamings or in an optional overhead rocket launcher. We managed to haul a few good size fish aboard during the ‘test’ and even sent our fishing columnist, Richard Baker over the side for both scallops and crays. The scallop dive was a success but the cray dive lacked results. Still he did prove that for diving and fishing it’s fine, although a full width boarding platform would be a nice addition.
Let’s Go Cruising
The real attribute of this boat is its weekender or extended cruising capabilities. Having already commented about its ‘small launch’ appearance, I found the internal layout also along the same theme. Forward there is a large double berth with a toilet beneath and a draw curtain for privacy. Storage is provided underneath the berth and in very wide side trays. The entire front cabin is fully lined with soft fabrics and there’s plenty of lighting and ventilation. With the centre squabs removed you have extra sitting headroom, which expands the usable area when entertaining.
The main cabin is split into three distinct areas – helm, galley and dinette/settee. The L shape day lounger converts to a second double berth at night and with the drop in table in place a dinette by day.
The compact starboard side galley serves the boat well, with a stainless steel sink unit with fresh water tap, single ring alcohol burner, fridge with generous ice tray provision and storage areas under the vanity. There is also extra storage provided under the helm seat and in a shallow locker beneath the raised helm station.
The driving position has a single pedestal seat on an adjustable base for the skipper. A plastic moulded fascia houses all the necessary instruments, although there isn’t a lot of area left to bracket mount your electronics. Forget flush mounting there’s no space suitable. The driving position is different and I didn’t personally like the fact I couldn’t get my head outside as the optional hatch wasn’t fitted. The height is such that with a well positioned top hatch, on the right day you could sit on the cabin top and drive with your feet! The standard optional sunroof is suited only for ventilation and light access, but it wouldn’t be a problem fitting a custom one to suit.
With a full rear bulkhead, ventilation is an important factor in the boat, so Campion have made sure there is plenty, with the forward deck hatch and sliding side windows.
It’s the cut-off rear bulkhead styling that you’ll either like or dislike. It’s really that simple. However with sales currently exceeding expectations there are local buyers that are not afraid to accept something different.
The rear bulkhead features double clear perspex lockable doors and rear windows, so you don’t get that closed in feeling inside. Although the engine box encroaches into the cockpit space the floor area is of a reasonable size. This does have the added bonus of a further seating area, to go along with the removable jump seats either side. For the benefit of fisherman there’s certainly better fishing space with the rear cushions removed. The high coamings with thickly padded side panels will find favour for those with small children.
When you toss up the entire rear canvas pack and fully enclose the cockpit you add yet another dimension to the Victoria 627 and further increase the overnighting area. Another double berth, made up of a few squab infills around the engine box means you have the option of a six berth boat. No bad for a 6m boat.
We had a great day aboard the Campion Victoria 627 and although we never quite managed to overnight in it, I am confident it would be ideal. We filled the self draining fishbins with some serious sized snapper and made a hell of a mess in the cockpit. However the moulded fibreglass inner liner certainly made cleaning the cockpit an effortless task.
Sea conditions on the day gave me the opportunity to get the feel of the boat in everything from flat calm to a typical Auckland Harbour afternoon chop. On all counts the hull performed okay, and felt better in the rough the more I drove it.
If I was buying this boat I would certainly take the optional stand-up camper pack which encloses the entire cockpit and really turns the Victoria 627 into a ‘big’ boat.
Generally a very practical and well packaged little cruiser.
- Model: Victoria 627
- Price (Standard): $59,800
- Price (As Tested): $64,300
- Designer: Campion Marine
- Material: GRP
- Type: Weekender
- LOA: 6.25m
- Beam: 2.36m
- Hull Config: Medium vee
- Deadrise at Transom: 18 deg
- Trailerable Weight : 1950 kgs
- Power Options: sterndrive / outboard
- Fuel Capacity: 265 litres
- Water Capacity: 3.5 Litres
- 800 rpm @ 3.0 knots (3.5 mph)
- 1000 rpm @ 4.4 knots (5.0 mph)
- 1500 rpm @ 6.0 knots (7.5 mph)
- 2000 rpm @ 8.7 knots (10.0 mph)
- 2500 rpm @ 13 knots (15.0 mph)
- 3000 rpm @ 21.7 knots (25.0 mph)
- 3500 rpm @ 26 knots (30.0 mph)
- 4000 rpm @ 31.7 knots (36.5 mph)
- 4500 rpm @ 36.9 knots (42.5 mph)
- 4800 rpm @ 39 knots (45.0 mph)
Speeds are recorded on an Eagle GPS and taken to the nearest 5mph.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Fully enclosed hardtop, windscreen wiper, AM/FM stereo, galley, internal lighting.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Stand-up camper top, marine head, single swim platform
- Make: MerCruiser
- HP: 205hp
- Model: 4.3LH
- Cylinder Type: V6
- Max RPM: 4800
- Propeller: 17” alloy
- Retail Price: $17767
- Make: EZ Loader
- Model: NA
- Braked: yes
- Suspension: Duratorque
- Rollers: No
- Std Features: Bunks, submersible lights, brakes.
- Retail Price: $5900