Many people think of a ski boat as something only for the purist skier who demands the best tow machine on the water. While the Magnum 1650, built in Timaru by AeroMarine Ltd, has the style, looks and performance of a specialist ski boat, it also has the ability to cover a more broad-based set of roles.
Sure, the Magnum 1650 is a ski boat, but it’s what is loosely referred to as a family or recreational ski boat — the sort that is sweetly designed for your average skiing, but also has a bent towards straight-out fun boating. Not the sort of boat to which you would fit rod holders or a rocket launcher, but you could still fish from it.
Now you may think that there are plenty of ski boats like the Magnum 1650 to pick from, but you would be wrong. Aeromarine’s, Magnum 1650 is one of the few in this size: the majority of ski boats are in the 5.5 metre to 6.0 metre range. Magnum cater for these buyers with their 1850 and also look to the entry level market with their F15 (See NZ Propeller Magazine April/May 98).
The all new Magnum 1650 was released at the 1998 New Zealand Boat Show and differs a lot from the previous 1600 model of which many were built over the last 15 years. Obviously, it was time for change and Aeromarine saw the need for something new and more modern but with the 1850 appointments. Below the gunnels the hull is all new and bears little resemblance to the previous 1600, with the beam increased to 2.09 m (the same as the Magnum 1850) and a narrow ski plank added to the keel. The refinements in the 1850 hull have been incorporated into the 1650. This helps with stability and to get the boat up on the plane quickly, but isn’t too big to disrupt the wake exiting the transom and lifting the boat too high so that it falls off the plank when someone is slalom skiing aggressively.
The transom has also gone from a straight cut to portofino style, but includes moulded boarding steps to assist access and does away totally with a boarding ladder.
Over the years I have tested plenty of ski boats, right back to the days of the Plylite Panther and Fi Glass Sidewinder and everytime I have always felt that, to give a ski boat its dues, you need a skier on the back. This wasn’t possible for various reasons when we tested the F15, but this time we had no excuses.
Being an ‘all-round’ ski boat, the Magnum 1650 is being asked to tow in just about every discipline: slalom, tricks, barefoot, wakeboarding or kneeboarding. Of course that is a big ask as, apart from specialist ski boats, it is hard for any boat. Surprisingly, the Magnum 1650 does it all very well, and for the recreational skier and boarder the 1650 is a class act.
The first over the transom was Garry Ellicott, who forgot his skis! An ex-New Zealand representative barefooter and world silver medallist, Ellicott still loves to take his shoes off and run hard behind a good boat on calm water. He makes wake-to-wake one-foot manoeuvres look easy and found the small smooth wake behind the 1650 ideal for barefooting. He liked the steady firm pull out of the water and the way the rope pressure was right on to maximum speed.
Describing himself as a ‘serious recreational skier’ Murray Smith also liked the low wake and the steady line pressure. He was particularly impressed with the way the boat tracked, especially considering its length, and that it didn’t pull the boat around in hard slalom turns.
My son Travis enjoyed his wakeboard ride but found the wake a little shallow when he was looking for some serious ‘air’. A full transom fuel tank and plenty of weight aft would help.
All three found the new portofino stern with the built in steps great for access and all commented that they enjoyed their time behind the 1650.
SEATING FOR FIVE
With a totally new deckline and more cockpit area (1.5m x 1.9m) the layout of the boat has also undergone some changes. Our test boat had the standard two single bucket seats forward and a triple bench seat aft. The seating arrangements can be altered to back-to-backs forward and no aft bench seat with no variation in price. You can also do away with the aft seat completely and just have two forward buckets.
The port seat is reversible for those who like to keep a watchful eye on their skiers or boarders. However, with the addition of a huge ski mirror you hardly need to bother. There is also an L-shaped ski seat to port, which changes the whole layout again, but like the reversed observer seat means less access to the storage areas forward.
Storage in a boat like this is never great, but Magnum has used every space they have. With such a shallow distance between the cockpit floor and the hull, there isn’t any underfloor storage. But the open space under the foredeck is used to stow dry gear, wake boards, skis etc. There is the option of a special ski locker under the foredeck also. The side lockers are big enough for skis but not wake boards and are also a place to hide you fishing rod in case you see a workup on the way home.
The rear seat lifts up for access to the aft storage area, where two tote tanks are mounted on specially moulded bases with the battery and oil tank between. You have the option of an 80 litre stainless transom tank with the filler through the outboard well or a 100 litre stainless bow tank. If you decide to have the model without the rear seat, a clip on vinyl skirt hides away the area under the aft deck.
The driving position has been changed with a large curved tournament-style fascia for totally visual instrument placement, a small central locker for keys, phone etc and a deep recessed tray ahead of the observer seat. Although a moulded step from the cockpit to the deck is a handy feature, care should be taken when traversing forward as the shiny smooth deck is strong enough, but boy is it slippery!
I had a Mercury 135 on the transom of the Magnum 1650, with a Mercury High Five 19” prop that I managed to swing right off the dial of the 6000 rpm tacho. This is a boat that likes to be trimmed right for best performance and the difference between 50 mph and 54 mph is a mere tweak of the trim button. Flat out, with three adults and two kids aboard, plus three full tote tanks and a load of skiing and boarding gear, I got the GPS reading close to 54 mph. At 5500 rpm this dropped to a very acceptable 47 mph and at 5000 rpm, we were still humming along at 43 mph.
On a light upper Auckland Harbour chop, the boat felt great at 4500 rpm and 38 mph, with the trim about midway on the gauge. It’s a responsive hull and the 18 degree hull returned a comfortable dry ride in the conditions. Acceleration is impressive — something that skiers also commented on.
The Magnum 1650 is rated from 90hp to 150 hp, so the 135hp fitted right in the middle. Personally, I would think the 90hp a little on the small side for a fun boat like this, but the 150hp would be a real buzz. Aeromarine have tested a 1650 with a Mercury 225 V6 and recorded 84 mph on the speedo. Overpowered for sure, but they report that the hull handled the power with ease.
The Magnum 1650 exceptionally well presented and finished with three colour vinyl seating, with colour co-ordinated upholstery throughout the interior, fully carpeted and matching three colour gelcoat finish. Construction is solid grp, although special exotic lay-ups are available for anyone wanting a particularly light boat.
The market for the Magnum 1650 is for semi-serious skiers who are looking for something between the entry-level ski boat and the larger 6m range. It is priced accordingly and with an all up price for the package that I tested of under $30,000 it is good buying. Considering that just about everything from the ski pole to the single-axle Mudgway trailer comes in the standard package, there is little else you need apart from the fuel and a ski rope.
- Model: 1650
- Price (hull/trailer): $16995
- Price as tested: $29.995
- Designer: Magnum Boats
- Material: GRP/Coremat
- Type: Ski boat
- LOA: 5.15 m
- Beam: 2.09 m
- Deadrise: 18 degree
- Trailerable Weight: 800 kg
- Engine Capacity: 90 – 150hp
- Power Options: outboard only
- Fuel Capacity: 80/100 litres
- Cockpit LOA: 1.9m
- Cockpit Beam: 1.5m
- 2500 rpm @ 8.7 knots (10 mph)
- 3000 rpm @ 19.0 knots (22 mph)
- 3500 rpm @ 23.5 knots (27 mph)
- 4000 rpm @ 28.6 knots (33 mph)
- 4500 rpm @ 33.0 knots (38 mph)
- 5000 rpm @ 37.3 knots (43 mph)
- 5500 rpm @ 40.8 knots (47 mph)
- 6000 rpm @ 45.1 knots (52 mph)
- 6200 rpm @ 46.8 knots (54 mph)*
- *Estimated rpm
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Ski pylon, sports steering wheel, full upholstery and trailer.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
- Make: Mercury
- HP: 135
- Model: ELPTO
- Cylinder Type: V6
- Displacement: 1998 cc
- Maximum RPM: 5600 rpm
- Propeller: 19” High Five
- Retail Price: $15,160
- Make: Mudgway
- Braked: No
- Suspension: Springs
- Rollers: Multi roller
- Std Features: guide poles, tie downs, jockey wheel.
- Retail Price: Included in package.