The Right Formula
The FC Boats brand has enjoyed rapid growth over recent of years, and seems to be in constant R&D mode, with the company fine-tuning new models before being released to market. Freddy Foote hits the water with Managing Director Ross Christenen to check out the last R&D project, the soon to be released FC560 Centre Console.
The FC560 Centre Console is the newest model from FC Boats; it seems everytime I talk to Christensen this is a new model having just been released or one in development. This particular boat is the prototype model which has undergone extensive testing over the summer months before it’s official release to the public at the upcoming Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in May.
Such is the popularity of the brand with the boat buying community that I had only been at the Kawakawa Bay boat ramp five minutes when the locals were crawling over the boat. One current FC owner also indicating to Christensen just how much she loved their new FC. Fairly sure none of that was staged!
Often when testing a boat, particularly a brand new model, you have to be extra careful to take care while out on the water and to be sure not to scratch anything. Not the case on this craft, this boat has indeed been used! In fact just weeks prior, it caught a rather angry Marlin out off Raglan and part of it’s bill was still lodged in the bilge pump outlet!
The plan for the day was reasonably simple. Launch from Kawakawa Bay, south-east of Auckland, then venture out and explore some of the Firth of Thames and the bottom end of Waiheke and surrounding islands.
Launching the FC560 was an easy affair and can be done by one person. The MinnKota electric trolling motor came into use, Ross pushing the boat off the trailer and using the GPS system, fixed a position about 20m off the beach. Ross was then able to drive back to the wharf, drop himself off and send the boat back to the GPS mark remotely.
While he parked the trailer, the MinnKota kept the boat in position, until Ross returned and brought the boat back to the wharf via the handheld remote. Easy boating.
We head out towards the Firth of Thames spotting some groups of birds along the way, which allowed us the opportunity to catch a couple of decent sized Kahawai.
We soon found some fish sign on the Lowrance HDS9 sounder and decided to stop and see if there was any action. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to become anchor-boy, thanks to the Maxwell RC6 rope and chain capstan operated from the helm.
Two of us fished very comfortably, Ross tossing big baits out of the cockpit while I worked from the foredeck area. After about an hour, sea conditions were worsening and we made the call to head into the eastern side of Waiheke where it would be protected by the surrounding Chamberlins and Rotoroa Islands.
From there we fished around the mussel farm, where amongst the dozens of undersized snapper, we managed to bring onboard a couple of legal sized fish.
Designed to Fish
The FC560 CC has a very functional layout, focused on fishing with plenty of storage throughout to house everything onboard that you should need.
Aft you will see an adequately sized boarding platform on either side of the outboard pod, with the port corner featuring an aluminium boarding T-style boarding ladder, finished with the non-skid, non-mark decking. Divers will love the grab rail on the transom to aid in re-entering the boat from the water.
In the centre of the floor under the transom is the FC passive live bait tank, which fills automatically when the boat is at rest. No pump is required and the water can be kept locked in until you choose to discharge it. We held a rather large Kahawai in there all day, before releasing him back into the water many hours later. A large bait station is mounted into the centre of the transom and doubles as a ski pole.
The cockpit has side shelves for storage of longer items and there are tackle lockers built into the gunwale on both sides. Four speakers for the Fusion stereo are also located around the boat.
Seating consists of a large bin seat at the helm, which also houses a removable Icey-Tek fish bin underneath. Further seating is located in the aft, both of which can be clipped up out of the way to allow further access into the corners when fishing.
The helm and dash area are large and spacious. On our boat, the Lowrance HDS9 was located over to the port side with a sizeable glovebox underneath for keys and cell phone storage. Add to that the GME VHF radio below and Fusion stereo alongside and you have everything you need close at hand. Access to storage underneath the helm console is available by either a hatch from the front of aft of the console.
Like all FC models over 5m, the FC560 CC has two stability systems. Aft, there is a flooding keel, which fills with waters when the boat is at rest, and once underway quickly drains out.
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 control valve is located under the helm console, accessed via the forward hatch. The forward tank holds around 80 litres of water and takes around 30 seconds to fill.
Up under the fairlead are two small holes, big enough to push the end of a hose through. It enables you to flush out the ballast tank system with fresh water after your day on the water.
Stability is superb when at rest. When netting the Kahawai aboard, the boat showed very little sign of lean, and you felt safe at all times. Not bad considering that two of us have a combined weight of just over 200kg. Extra safety comes in the form of a sealed floor and flotation foam under the side decks.
There is a sizeable underfloor locker forward which we utilised to store dive gear. A large bow rail keeps you safe and has a split section which allows the MinnKota to be deployed. The gunnels and foredeck are treated with an optional tough, durable coating. It makes the foredeck non-skid and then also allows the gunnels to take knocks and scratches.
The FC560 CC is easily powered with outboards from 90-115hp. Our test boat was powered by a Mercury 115hp four-stroke outboard. The 115hp pushed the 560 CC along to 34 knots @ 6000rpm.
On our test day, we had two of us onboard and around 100 litres of fuel under the floor, dive gear, fishing gear – the works. We found a comfortable cruise of around 21 knots @ 4000rpm using 19 lph. Push the throttle all the way to 6000rpm and you’ll hit a little over 34 knots.
The 115hp four-stroke gave great punch out of the hole and good acceleration mid-range and I felt it was the perfect engine match to the hull. One thing I noticed was just how quiet the engine was at idle. A couple of times when I was helming and knocked in back into neutral, I had thought the engine had stalled and died, nope, it was just so quiet.
Our test boat came with a 120L underfloor fuel tank; you can specify tote tanks should you wish.
As with other FC models I’ve managed to get out on, the handling, ride and performance were excellent. We experienced some varying water conditions, some of it quite rough at times, especially out in the Firth of Thames, and the FC560 CC just ate it up.
Trim it right, and the boat delivers a fantastic soft ride, and the flared bow design ensures you stay dry. For the performance that this boat provided it was hard to believe we were in a craft that was just 5.55m in length overall.
The driving position was comfortable. The throttle was positioned right next to the steering wheel which I liked, so it was easy to steer and trim/throttle the boat when needed. You could also sit to drive if you needed, with a handy footrest located below. Above the large targa top provides plenty of protection from the sun. There is no windscreen, but the Targa-top can be fitted with clears however which will provide extra wind protection.
We were out on the Hauraki Gulf on a nice day in late March, so the temperature was still warm. We did wear jackets while underway in the early morning, and you will certainly feel the cold if you are winter boating. No-one ever said centre consoles were warm!
The on the trailer height with the targa top fitted measures 2.8m off the ground. However, a fold down version is also available which takes the height down to 2.1m on the trailer – making it easily stored in a garage. It also only weighs 875kg on the trailer meaning it is easily towed by an average family car, and beach launching is a real option also.
Overall, I loved the FC560 CC. A very well appointed boat, which looks good and performs well. The more of the model line-up I get to experience the more I like them. Hands down one of the best thought out and performing boats on the market.
- Model & Model: FC560 Centre Console
- Priced from: $NZ39,995
- Price as tested: $NZ75,000
- Type: Centre Console
- Construction: Aluminium
- LOA: 5.55m
- Beam: 2.25m
- Deadrise: 17 deg
- Height on trailer: 2.8m
- Trailerable weight: 875kg
- Power: Mercury 115hp
- Propeller: 17P Enertia
- Power options: Outboard 90-115hp
- Fuel capacity: 120L
- Trailer: FC
Performance & Fuel