Fi Glass Lightning

by admin
Fi Glass Lightning

The Lightning is back. Fi Glass has resurrected the famous name that between 1967 and 1978 adorned one of the most distinguished ski and performance boats in the land. Designed by Frank Simpson, the all new Fi Glass Lightning is far removed in style and features from that original boat, although you may be forgiven for thinking you had just seen a smaller version of the Fi Glass Warrior.

T he Lightning is in effect a shortened version of the Warrior and is not a scaled down model as it still retains the same beam and the underwater hull sections have only been marginally altered to compensate for the shorter length. The portofino stern area was lengthened to increase the aft buoyancy and overall the weight saving is down by as much as 350 kgs for the base boat. Designer Frank Simpson has added more downturn on the chines to increase the dryness of ride and the hull is about 600 mm shorter on the waterline. The deck has a striking resemblance to its larger brother and there are layout and styling features of the Warrior that have found their way into the Lightning. If you really want to compare the new Lightning with the old Warrior (which it replaces) then it has slightly more internal volume, a higher floor level, larger cabin and much improved storage.

For Fi Glass, it offers an alternative for their clients who liked what they saw in the Warrior but wanted something less expensive, lighter to tow and more compact to stow. Despite its size it still offers full-length berths in the cabin, a 150-litre fuel tank and large underfloor storage which is only slightly smaller in volume than the Warrior.

Six Seater

Fi Glass provide a number of seating options from two bucket seats on Softrider pedestals to a pair of back-to-backs or a combination of the two. With the drop-out rear jump seats you have comfortable seating for six. I was pleasantly surprised at the position of the helm pedestal which could be moved far enough aft to be out of the way when standing to drive and yet tucked well forward when seated.

I wasn’t so sure of the dash design which in both our test boats had the instruments mounted on the lower vertical section, making them hard to read when standing, although perfectly positioned when seated at the helm. Personally I would prefer to see them on the angled upper portion where they could quite easily surround a flush mounted fishfinder or gps/plotter and be better read from both driving positions. Each boat is individually set-up for the client and you have the option of a walnut veneer dash panel on either fascia.

According to Fi Glass the new Lightning is virtually unsinkable with foam filled areas under the forward vee berth moulding. The lack of storage in this area is more than compensated for by the very wide side trays in the cabin. As there are effectively no side decks, all anchoring is done via the front hatch, although with a kneepad on the forward bulkhead and semi-automatic windlass, you can take the hard work out of it all. There’s sitting headroom inside for 3-4 adults and with an infill you can easily transform the cabin squabs into a double berth. There’s also space for a portable head, with an optional draw curtain across the open bulkhead giving some degree of privacy.

Fi Glass have gone for the open plan styling which I feel is a must in a boat this size. In my opinion solid bulkheads tend to divide a boat off too much, although they do have their place in some of the smaller walkarounds. The cockpit is available with a basic nautolex floor covering or carpet. The choice is yours and there’s no price variation from the factory. Storage outside is provided in side shelves which incorporate rod racks, under the floor and beneath the rear seats and portofino stern. If you go for the back-to-back seating layout then there’s also extra storage but be prepared to lose some workable cockpit space. Other options which will find special favour with fishers include a live bait tank, rocket launcher, fold down bimini top and even a fibreglass hardtop.

4 Stroke or 2 Stroke?

I got the opportunity to test the Lightning on the mirror smooth fresh water of Lake Pearson (about 1hr out of Christchurch) with a Yamaha 115hp 4 stroke and on Auckland harbour. Lake Pearson was so calm you could have barefooted all day, but it did offer a magnificent backdrop for our cover shot. Although fresh water does slow a boat down a little and we were on an almost new engine, the Yamaha 115 returned a top speed of 44 mph @ 6100 rpm. Slow trolling was 2.5mph @ 600 rpm and it wasn’t until the engine reached 3500 rpm that the Lightning climbed onto the plane. Acceleration through the range is smooth but not quick. This was the first Yamaha 115 I had had on the transom of a test boat and it has to rate as one of the quietest outboards I have ever heard – or not!

Given a little rougher sea conditions on Auckland Harbour to try the Lightning in waters it would be more accustomed to, I liked the way it rode. It handled well and remained dry in most directions, with the deep 22 degree hull doing the business. Stability was good and I found it performed much like the Warrior, despite its slightly shorter hull length.

Loyal Customers

The Lightning is finding customers from both first time and experienced boaties and also a whole lot of loyal Fi Glass owners. It is also an easy step up from the Fi Glass Dominator or Senator, without going into the extra expense and overall size of the Warrior. The rebirth of the Lightning will certainly do for Fi Glass what the recently released Warrior has done and further enhance this proud New Zealand trailerboat manufacturer’s place in the market. Production is scheduled for 1 1/2 Lightnings a week and already most of this year’s scheduled production is sold to dealers throughout the country. 

Griff Simpson summed it up when he said “ While the Warrior was an outstanding success for the company and helped to re-establish Fi Glass in the marketplace, the response to the Lightning has been nothing short of phenomenal. It’s simply blown us away!”

HULL

  • Model: Fi Glass Lightning
  • Price (Hull only): $19000
  • Price As Tested: $40,000
  • Designer: Frank Simpson
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Cabin runabout
  • LOA: 5.80 ma
  • Beam: 2.30 m
  • Hull Configuration: Deep vee                   
  • Deadrise At Transom: 22 deg
  • Trailerable Weight: 1100 kg (estimated)
  • Engine Capacity: 90 – 150 hp
  • Power Options: Outboard only
  • Fuel Capacity: 150 Litres

PERFORMANCE

600 rpm     @             2.5 mph

1000 rpm   @             4.0 mph

1500 rpm   @             5.5 mph

2000 rpm   @             7.0 mph

3000 rpm   @             8.5 mph

3500 rpm   @             10.5 mph

4000 rpm   @             24.5 mph

4500 rpm   @             31.5 mph

5000 rpm   @             35.5 mph

5500 rpm   @             37.5 mph

6100 rpm   @             44.0 mph

NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT

150 litre fuel tank, CPC rated, bow rail, boarding ladder, 12 volt spot light socket, and BEP switch panel.

NOTABLE OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT

Canopy.

ENGINE

  • Make: Yamaha
  • HP: 115
  • Model: 4 Stroke
  • Cylinder Type: In-line-4    
  • Max RPM: 6000
  • Propeller: 19” alloy
  • Retail Price: $16938

TRAILER

  • Make: Fi Glass
  • Model: Lightning
  • Braked: No
  • Suspension: Springs
  • Rollers: Multi roller               
  • Std Features: Fibreglass guards. dip lights,
  • Retail Price: $3350  

related articles

;