Fi Glass has a reputation for building wholesome, well founded family trailer boats.
While the Firestar model has been around since the late 1960s, the current model is obviously a far different boat than the one first released by Fi Glass over 50 years ago.
However, it does share one very poignant link with its predecessor, being the last hull to be designed by the late Fi Glass founder, Frank Simpson.
It was the first of his new theory about designing a hull with a variable longitudinal deadrise, with a fine entry and low planning speed. It indeed slips onto the plane very quickly, and it’s a boat that will not throw up any surprises for a novice boat owner.
Set the trim to position five, and you can just about leave it there all the time without having to worry about sorting out the engine trim.
The Firestar is essentially a cabin version of the Senator runabout which while they share the same hull have a completely different internal layout. Griff Simpson, MD of Fi Glass Boats, says that following the success of the Senator, they adding a cabin to the hull to open up a broader customer base. In fact, since the first of the new generation Firestar’s was released in 1999, over 450 have been sold.
PRACTICAL & UNPRETENTIOUS
Fi Glass has a reputation for building what I would call wholesome, well-founded family trailer boats. They are exceptionally well built, with full fibreglass inner liners, stringer grids and transoms. There isn’t a hint of timber anywhere in the construction, a process that Fi Glass pioneered back in the 1990s. The layup is very conventional, and they are built tough.
The layout of the Firestar and all Fi Glass models is practical and unpretentious. The Firestar is all about versatility with family boating in mind, where owners will use the boat for fishing, towing water toys, and generally have fun on the water.
It has many features of larger models in the Fi Glass range with a layout that makes perfect use of the space. The boat carries a 2.10m beam, and with narrow side decks, Fi Glass has been able to maximise the internal space. The cabin features twin bunks, (optional infill) which while not long enough for adults to sleep are perfect for kids. I found it provided enough sitting headroom for me and is the ideal place to stow all the stuff you take out for a day on the water. There are wide side trays for gear, but due to the fine bow entry and hull shape, there is no storage under the squabs. Fi Glass have filled the shallow void and all underfloor spaces with polyurethane foam for buoyancy.
A large deck hatch provides easy access to the forepeak anchor locker should you not have an auto winch or capstan. Looking at the space available, you could easily fit a small drum winch which means you can do all your anchoring from the safety of the cockpit.
The cockpit has been configured as a compromise for those that want plenty of seating and those that want as much working space as possible for fishing. Fi Glass offers several different seating layouts to cater to that. Our boat had the standard single pedestal swivelling helm seat and a back to back passenger seat. Plus there is a full width moulded bench seat aft which offers two dedicated side seats, plus with an infill, you can add comfortable seating for a third person. You also have the option of twin back to backs or twin pedestals.
Storage is available in a deep underfloor locker in the cockpit plus side trays as well as under the back to back seating. Rod holders either side come standard with optional rod racks also available. If you use the standard tote tanks, there is space for a couple under the aft deck, or you can go for the optional 80-litre stainless tank.
Lyttelton Harbour was calm, with a light breeze when we ran across from the ramp to Governors Bay. Powered by a Mercury 90 CT (Command Thrust), we recorded a top speed of 34.5 knots, with two onboard and a full tote tank. The larger CT gearcase has a 2.38:1 gear ratio, which means you can run larger diameter propellers, which in our case was an 18″ Inertia. At 5000 rpm we were still cruising along at 27.5 knots and 4000 rpm, 20 knots.
The Fireball hull has a deep 21 deg deadrise aft and offers a comfortable ride in choppy water. While this is what I would describe as an inshore boat, reports are that it performs better than most in rougher seas. The boat hangs on well in tight turns with no sliding and is very predictable. The boat is designed for outboards, 80-130hp, so the 90hp was a perfect match. I loved the driving positions, which when seated, lets you see through the glass screen while providing perfect wind protection and when standing, leaves enough space to stand up without digging the back of your legs into the seat base.
LOADS OF FEATURES
At a smidge over $40,000, the Firestar is an exceptional value, especially considering the standard features that it comes with. The list starts with a six-year transferable structural hull warranty, closed-cell foam core transom, foam-filled underfloor buoyancy, fully lined cabin and cockpit sides, stainless bow rail, rod holders, bilge pump and UV stabilised floor carpet and more. Just add fuel, and you are boating.
The Fi Glass Firestar 530 Cuddy Cabin is certainly a family-friendly boat that is a real all-rounder and looks like being around for many more years to come. It also comes with 62 years of boat building experience and excellence.
- Boat Design Name: FI Glass Firestar 530
- Builder: Fi Glass Boats
- Priced From: $NZ41,990
- Price as Tested: $45,000
- LOA: 5.30m
- Beam: 2.10m
- Deadrise: 21 deg
- Trailerable weight: 900 kg
- Height on Trailer: 2.10m
- Max Speed: 34.5 knots