Five years on the market since the release of their first model and over 650 boats later, the FC Boats brand is making its mark on the New Zealand boating scene. Freddy Foote checks out one of their most popular model, the FC525.
Unquestionable, FC Boats is the fastest growing aluminium boat brand on the market. In just on five years they have produced over 650 boats, and established a new factory in Hamilton. Designed to be stable, deliver a dry and comfortable ride, provide usable space, storage, strength and to look good, the brand is indeed hitting a chord with buyers. Now with 13 models, ranging from dinghies and runabouts through to centre consoles, cabin boats, and hard tops, the brand is on an upward trajectory. Having been lucky enough to get aboard a wide variety of their models, I’ m never disappointed and have only ever had positive things to say about them. They always seem to be the complete package, meaning they do everything pretty well. A key attribute of the FC525, like other FC models, is stability. The FC525 has two stability systems; aft, there is a flooding keel, which floods when the boat is at rest, making the craft ultra stable, then when underway the water drains out quickly. In the forward section next to the helm, there is a controllable ballast system, enabling the skipper to bring onboard the desired amount of forward ballast, and then to dump it when it’ s not needed. A simple release valve is located near the helm to control the amount of water easily. Though we didn’ t use this on our test day – it was flat calm, I have used it in rougher conditions in FC models of a similar size, and it works well. Up under the fairlead are two small holes, which are big enough to push the end of a hose through. This enables you to flush out the ballast tank system with fresh water after your day on the water.
The FC525 has a very open and functional layout giving those on board a feeling that the boat is much bigger than it is. Like other FC Boats models, extended gunnels provide ergonomic access around the sides to the foredeck area. One prominent feature, not seen on many boats of this size, is the casting platform on the foredeck. It can be accessed via a large deck hatch from the cuddy cabin below or by walking around the sides. The gunnels and foredeck are treated with a tough, durable coating called ‘ Deck Tread’ which is available as an option. It makes the foredeck non-skid and then also allows the gunnels to take knocks and scratches.
Navigating your way around the sides is very easily. Alloy Boat Magazine editor Barry Thompson accompanied me on this test, picking me up from the jetty at the ramp. I was easily able to step onto the foredeck then to shuffle around the sides using the framework of the rocket launcher as a handhold. An open layout firstly sees an adequately sized boarding platform on either side of the outboard pod, with the port corner featuring an aluminium boarding ladder. A grab rail has also been welded onto the rear of the transom to aid in re-entering the boat from the water – perfect for divers. Our test boat came with a 25-litre tote tank, which sits neatly in the aft corner; a second tote can be stored opposite. An 80-litre underfloor fuel tank is available as an option, but that will require you to have the optional box pedestal seat, which houses the fuelling pipes.
The transom area has lockers built into the after corners that are ideal for storing any miscellaneous items such as tackle boxes etc. as well as housing all the onboard systems such as the battery. Above, there is a sizeable bait board, with three different versions available. Other features include the FC passive live bait tank at the centre of the transom. Open a bung when at rest, and the tank fills itself, water can be kept locked in until you choose to discharge. A pretty simple and clever system that means you don’ t have to have a pump. On a previous FC test I did, we kept quite a large kahawai in there all day, before releasing him alive and well. The cockpit is fairly sizeable, with long side shelves running right up to the forward seating area. Three welded rod holders each side are situated along the coamings, while the rocket launcher/bimini configuration above provides storage for a further six. Seating on our test boat consisted of a single pedestal seat on the passenger side, with the same configuration mirrored for the skipper. Additionally, seating is available in the aft corners, which when not in use lift up, and create thigh padding for an angler to play a fish right into the far corners of the boat. Small storage shelves are on either side of the helm are a perfect place for keys and cell phones. A handrail runs right along the edge of the dash forward area and is ideal for passengers to grab onto. Forward in the cuddy cabin there is a single bunk to starboard, while to port, gear can be stowed on the floor. The footrest for the passenger seat will stop gear sliding out into the cockpit. A large aluminium deck hatch provides access to the forward casting platform above and is easy to open and navigate through. At the helm, our test boat had the engine instruments mounted in the alloy dash, with the forward dash area carpeted, a flush mounted 7” Lowrance MFD and a GME VHF radio below.
The FC525 is rated from 60hp through to 90hp. Our test boat came fitted with a Mercury 60hp Command Thrust four stroke outboard and was a good little performer. With two of us onboard and a single 25-litre tote tank, the 60hp pushed us along to 27.4 knots at 6200rpm using 22.4 lph of fuel. You’ ll find a comfortable cruise of around 18 knots @ 4500rpm using just 10.9 lph. To get on the plane, the 60hp does have to work a little, and it will require full throttle before pulling it back once the desired speed is achieved. Other options for power include going up to a 75hp four stroke, alternatively, if you want something little more lively, then a 90hp two or four stroke can be fitted.
The FC525 has an incredibly soft ride and is more than capable of handling any chop you throw at it. A gull wing design is incorporated that has been successful in its smaller models, which lends itself to making this boat very dry. Underway, there was excellent visibility forward through the curved windshield, which provided great protection from the wind. If weather conditions are a bit chilly,
you can close the helm in by zipping up the clears of the bimini top to keep yourself and passengers snug. Stability at rest was impressive. With two of us on one side of the cockpit, it hardly shifted, so you’ ll be able to net those big fish without that uneasy feeling that the boat is a bit unstable. Once you get home, the FC525 is easily handled back onto its single axle trailer that has been purposely designed with a drop axle.
As tested with the Mercury 60hp Command Thrust four-stroke, this rig was $46,9995 which I thought was great value for money. I’ ve been lucky enough to get onboard most of the FC Boats m
odels, and I’ ve never been disappointed. In the design and build process, the FC Boats team manage to get every boat perfectly balanced in terms of design, distribution of weight and matching the hulls with the right outboard configuration.
That’ s why when you step aboard an FC, the performance characteristics are pretty much the same as the other models. Very few manufacturers seem to get this formula right, but FC Boats have. Overall, it’ s a great boat – a super finish, great features, both from a safety perspective and practicality and overall a value for money package to get you out on the water. I can also confidently say it’ s one of the best performing boats in its segment for not only ride but also stability.