When Frank Simpson built his first all fibreglass production trailer boat in 1962, under the Fi Glass banner, he changed the way we looked at our family boating. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Thousands of boats later, Fi Glass are still producing fibreglass boats and are still one of the leading brands in the industry.
Fi Glass might not have been the first, that distinction goes to Arnold France in the early ’50s and even Condor Craft beat Fi Glass by at least five years. However it was Fi Glass that turned the industry on its head and took volume boat production to new heights.
In the boom years of the late 70s and early 80s, the company built over 20 boats a week, with names such as Firecrest, Viscount, Fireball, Regent and Lightning very much part of the local trailerboat vocabulary. The 6m Viscount at the time was the biggest production fibreglass trailerboat in the country and came about as a result of the new era of V6 outboards. At last there was a boat suitable for the size and horsepower being offered by Mercury and OMC. Hundreds of the earliest Mercury Black Max and Johnson/Evinrude “Jumbo” 200s found their way onto Viscounts.
In 1977, Fi Glass introduced a ‘smaller’ version of the Viscount they called the Warrior. It looked very much like its big brother but fitted into a lower price bracket, required less horsepower and smaller tow vehicle.
A few years ago, Fi Glass saw the need to replace their now very aged and somewhat dated Viscount and Warrior models. Interestingly they compromised by retaining the Warrior name, but fixing it to a Viscount sized hull. The result is a nice combination and a balanced boat that is a totally new look for the company.
The easy way would have been to take the existing Viscount hull and slap on a new deck and cabin. This time however Fi Glass went all the way with a hull shape that is unlike any other Fi Glass. While the deck lines and layout carry over some of the best ideas from the previous boats, essentially it’s all-new.
The variable deadrise hull is 22-degree at the transom, however it features a v-plank section on the bottom that runs well forward, tapering away around the base of the stem. This is designed to give the boat easy acceleration onto the plane and in calm water the boat runs on the v-plank, thereby reducing the hull drag and unlike a flat plank doesn’t pound in the rough or tend to fall off.
There is a finer entry forward than the previous Warrior and although the same strake pattern as the Viscount has been retained the inner strakes go further aft to handle the bigger horsepower engines. There is also a wide downturn chine and flats both sides which give stability both at rest and underway.
I had the opportunity to try the Warrior with three different engine combinations and in three different water conditions. The first was with a Suzuki 150 EFI off Whangaparaoa Peninsula on calm to mildly choppy water. The Suzuki ran out to 5600 rpm @ 51 mph and as expected in the sea conditions the hull ran faultlessly. It sat up on the v-plank at speed and with out too much trim had plenty of bow lift. Nicest cruise was at 40 mph @ 4500 rpm.
When my time came to try out the same boat with a Honda 130, the sea state was a lot more severe, with a stiff 25 knot plus breeze blowing the tops off a short 1/2 metre Auckland Harbour chop. The Honda returned a top speed of 43 mph @ 5500 rpm and 37 mph @ 4500 rpm. The Warrior loved the rough water and handled the following, head and side seas with ease. It’s a quiet hull and responds quickly to throttle and steering alterations. There was a little spray over the screen when quartering the sea and in the stiff crosswind leaned into the wind. That’s nothing against this particular boat, it’s a trait of most boats with big volume topsides and no tabs. Shifting passenger weight soon fixes the problem.
The third outing was a mirror smooth Lyttel-ton Harbour with a Yamaha 130. Top speed was an impressive 46.2 mph @ 5800 rpm and 35 mph @ 4500 rpm. As I found the day I drove the boat with the Honda, the boat ran perfectly, with good acceleration and effortless handling and ride.
The thing that impresses me about the layout of the new Warrior is the openness. Personally I’m not a fan of lockable cabins with solid bulkheads in boats this size. The Warrior has a port bulkhead only, with a deep recess into the cabin. In fact there isn’t anything ahead of the passenger seat but the windscreen, with the deck cut right back to give a true feeling of open space.
If you don’t have your canopy up, then the rear of the cabin squabs may get wet in the rain, although the large racked back perspex screen does tend to cover a lot.
The cabin layout is basic regulation twin full length berths and deep side trays. It is a full size cabin with the berths long enough to sleep on and the cabin height adequate for 2-3 adults seated. There’s no storage under the squabs – the space is used for foam filled buoyancy – and the front squab can be removed when standing in the large cabin hatch for anchoring duties. Although the Warrior does have wide side decks with anti skid, I can’t image an easier place to handle the anchor tackle, than from the cabin top hatch. The deep self draining anchor locker is concealed under a large moulded cover that follows the contours of the deck. There is space beneath for a low profile capstan, which can be operated from either the helm or with a foot/knee pad inside the cabin.
The interior is all fully lined and carpeted with an internal light and access panel to the rear of the helm.
When you design a boat to be an all-purpose utility, then the layout must reflect that image. The Warrior’s cockpit imparts that design with a simple yet practical design that should cater for most tastes. Standard seating is twin back to back (upper/lower) bucket seats on moulded fibreglass bases, plus removable jump seats aft. The rear seats are wide enough for the larger prosteria and recessed stainless rails incorporated into the side decks give your passengers a secure handhold. There are other seating variations available with single buckets and swivelling bases also very popular.
The helm position is great when seated, with the footrest at the right height (for me anyway), the screen doing its job keeping off the wind and spray, the controls are well placed and the instruments easy to read. I found the fixed seat base too close when standing to drive and would have preferred to see it mounted about 100mm further back or replaced with a sliding pedestal type. The split-level dash allows you to fit either flush or bracket mounted electronics plus plenty of instruments and switches.
Storage is not wanting in the Warrior with a cavernous underfloor locker that is long enough to take skis, wakeboards and fishing rods and deep enough for all your dive gear and bottles. Behind this is a 150 litre stainless steel fuel tank. If you don’t like the idea of your rods under the floor, then you can use the rod racks, fitted to the narrow trays either side. There are the deep areas under the front seats, in a port side half shelf and extra space below the aft deck. Battery, oil tank and spare tote tanks are fitted away behind a clip-on vinyl curtain.
If you are a fisherman, then you will appreciate the removable back seats, wide flat side decks and plenty of space to mount a bait board. Large built-in boarding platforms and a stainless ladder will satisfy the divers and skiers.
The Fi Glass Warrior is a CPC boat, which means you know that such items as navigation lights, bilge pump, battery cut-off switch and structural hull warranty (6 years) are standard.
The Warrior is a boat that comes with a huge reputation and tradition, from a company that has been 40 years in the business. It is probably one of the best priced boats for its size on the market.
It has the finish and quality construction, style and handling, and the finer details that should see it carry a much higher price tag. It’s a Warrior with a proud history.
- Model: Warrior
- Price: $22500
- Price as Tested: $41000
- Designer: Frank Simpson
- Material: GRP
- Type: cabin
- LOA: 6.4 m
- Beam: 2.3 m
- Deadrise: 22 deg
- Trailerable Weight: 1400 kgs (approx)
- Engine Capacity: 115hp – 200hp
- Power Options: Outboard / sterndrive
- Fuel Capacity: 150 litres
- Cockpit LOA: 3.0 m
- Cabin LOA: 1.9 m
|Honda 130||Suzuki 150||Yamaha 130|
|13” x 16”||14 1/4” x 20”||13” x 19”|
|500 rpm||2.5 mph||—||—|
|750 rpm||3.5 mph||4.0 mph||6.5 mph|
|1000 rpm||3.5 mph||6.5 mph||7.5 mph|
|1500 rpm||5.5 mph||7.5 mph||9.5 mph|
|2000 rpm||7.5 mph||11.0 mph||10.0 mph|
|2500 rpm||9.5 mph||20.5 mph||12.0 mph|
|3000 rpm||17.5 mph||26.0 mph||19.0 mph|
|3500 rpm||23.0 mph||31.5 mph||24.5 mph|
|4000 rpm||27.0 mph||35.0 mph||30.0 mph|
|4500 rpm||32.0 mph||40.0 mph||35.0 mph|
|5000 rpm||37.5 mph||44.5 mph||39.5 mph|
|5500 rpm||43.0 mph||48.0 mph||44.5 mph|
|5600 rpm||—||51.0 mph||—|
|5800 rpm||—||—||46.2 mph|
Speeds are recorded on an Eagle GPS and recorded to the nearest .5 mph.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
CPC, 12 volt socket, bow rail, rod racks, boarding ladder.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOATS
Canopy, ski pole
- Make: Fi Glass
- Model: NA
- Braked: No
- Suspension: Springs
- Rollers: Multi roller
- Std Features: dip lights, jockey wheel, plug holder.
- Retail Price: $4640
Fi Glass Products Ltd, 247 Dyers Road, P.O.Box 19602, Christchurch, Tel: 03 384 3199, Fax 03 384 4470.
BOATS SUPPLIED BY
Suzuki – Gulfland Marine, 671 Whangaparaoa Rd, Whangaparaoa, Auckland Tel 09 424 5556 Honda – Mikes Marine Centre Ltd, P.O.Box 55, Silverdale, Auckland, Tel 09 426 8556 Yamaha – Mr Boats Ltd, 247 Dyers Road, Christchurch, Tel 03 384 3199,
Fax 03 384 4470.