The Magnum F15 is a small ski boat. But don’t let its size deter you, this is a little boat that packs a big punch. Targeted towards the price-conscious buyer, the F15 is light to tow, compact to stow and inexpensive to run. It’s the baby in the Magnum fleet, the others being the Magnum 1600, 1800 and top selling model in the line-up, the 1850. The 1600 is to be replaced by a new 1650 to be launched at the NZ Boat Show and on the drawing board is a 2050 which Magnum Boats hope to release in 1999.
When you are given a ski boat to test then what better place than a mirror smooth lake? That it was one of the South Island’s hydro lakes was a bonus.
Lake Benmore has to be one of the nicest lakes I have ever boated on and certainly the biggest. From the huge Benmore earth dam through to the infall of the Ahuriri, Ohau and Tekapo Rivers, the lake covers over hundreds of acres. Suffering from a severe drought, the landscape around the lake is parched, uninviting and inhospitable, a direct contrast to the rich turquoise colour of the man-made lake around its base. The F15 isn’t a new boat. It started life many years ago as the Magnum 1500, a boat designed by Australian Don Cameron. For those familiar with performance ski boats, the Cameron name will be no surprise as he was also responsible for designing the Bullet.
Since first introduced into New Zealand in 1986, the F15 (nee 1500) has undergone a complete deck and interior restyling but no alterations have been made to the hull. The underwater sections retain the moderate 15 deg deadrise at the transom with a wide flat ski plank and two strakes per side. Cameron was one of the first to introduce the plank into production designs and today it’s hard to find a ski or performance boat without one. Although the hull is over 20 years old it works brilliantly.
This isn’t a boat designed to handle rough water, so the chance to give it some space on the mirror-smooth waters of Lake Benmore was gratefully accepted. Although I couldn’t convince anyone to ski during our test session, I have no doubt it’s a great little ski boat. At 20mph the boat drags a nice short steep wake for wakeboarding and at 30 – 35mph the low flat wash is ideal for skiers.
The shallow vee, low freeboard and physical size of the F15 limits its use to calm to very moderate water. However, I have been told by one Auckland owner of an F15 that it will handle moderate or choppy water with ease…it just depends on how hard you want to push it. Auckland’s inner harbour, maybe. Cook Strait, no way!
Running across Lake Benmore the boat’s reflected image on the surface was only broken by the water peeling off the strakes. Much like a Bullet at high speed, the spray from the hull exits at the transom rather than from the side. If you trim it out to the max, the boat lifts up onto the plank, which takes over as the running surface, offering a very low drag co-efficient hull.
It didn’t matter which way I flicked the wheel, the F15 responded with instant intent, feeling stable and firm throughout all manoeuvres. Admittedly, that was all in calm water so I wouldn’t expect anything less. Sitting on 4000rpm @ 30mph, you punch the throttle to the limit and the F15 rockets out of the hole. From idle to maximum speed is raaaapid, but make certain you don’t have the trim out or you’ll stand the little boat on its tail. Top speed with the 90hp Johnson was 55mph on the speedo. Bolt on a 115hp and you can expect around 62mph or a lower powered 70hp is good for 45mph.
Today there’s more cockpit space than in the original 1500. The test boat had a fully moulded deck–screen and seating for four. Standard features include stainless steel ski pole, fully carpeted interior and transom curtain. Options include vinyl covered dash fascia, transom hand rails and graphics.
The F15 layout is actually very basic and designed to service the needs of skiers. The standard seating layout is twin floor-mounted bucket seats, with the port seat facing aft for the observer, and twin rear corner seats. Latest option is a full-width bench seat with removable centre section for ease of boarding.
Storage is limited to two small side pockets, lower side shelves, behind the aft seats and under the foredeck (ideal place for the skis and wakeboard). With a lack of height beneath the cockpit floor, there’s no space for a storage locker or underfloor fuel tank. Normal procedure is to carry a couple of tote tanks which, although fitting under the aft deck, give better hull balance if the spare one (or two) are well forward under the foredeck. With a heavier V4 on the transom, the tanks forward make quite a difference to the handling and ride of the boat.
Magnum Boats have spent some time getting the look of the boat right and their accent on graphics does a lot to make a plain white boat look sharp. This is an area that is almost totally customised, with owners encouraged to try something different and give each F15 its individual signature.
Construction is gunlaid grp, with coremat in the deck and a dry weight of 210kg. All up trailerable weight of our test rig was around 600kg.
Although pitched directly at the ski boat market, the F15 has also found favour with family boat buyers who are looking for a fun boat for sheltered water boating. It offers more space in the cockpit than some of its larger competitors and both in the performance and handling departments it’s as good, if not better,
However, this is still a calm water boat and true to its design has no pretence at being anything else. With four adults aboard the F15 will still run well with a 70hp, although my pick would be 90hp, for a better overall performance. The boat is well balanced and fun to drive. It’s a an entry level ski boat that has enjoyed a steady market throughout the country and is destined to continue for years to come. Timaru agent Marine & Auto can sell you an F15 with 90hp on the transom for $19999 and with a 70hp outboard for $17999.
Magnum are specialist ski boat builders who started in the late 1970s building racing catamarans. Although it was only eight years ago that they began producing for the market, they have established a serious reputation and a loyal following. With a new factory in Timaru and the capability of producing around 60 boats a year they are now the largest specialist ski boat manufacturer in the country.
- Model: F15
- Price (Package): $12,250 (Boat,trailer,freight)
- Price as Tested: $24500
- Designer: Don Cameron/Magnum Boats
- Material: GRP/Coremat
- Type: ski boat
- LOA: 4.52m
- Beam: 1.742m
- Deadrise: 15 deg
- Trailerable Weight: 585kg
- Engine Capacity: 70 -140hp
- Power Options: outboard only
- Fuel Capacity: tote tanks
- Cockpit LOA: 1.85m
- 3500 rpm @ 20.8 knots (24 mph)
- 4000 rpm @ 26.0 knots (30 mph)
- 4500 rpm @ 31.2 knots (36 mph)
- 5000 rpm @ 36.5 knots (42 mph)
- 5500 rpm @ 42.5 knots (49 mph)
- 5800 rpm @ 47.7 knots (55 mph)
Notable STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Stainless steel ski pole, carpet, side pockets.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Windscreen colour, graphics. upholstered dash, transom hand rails
- Make: Johnson
- HP: 90
- Model: 20”
- Cylinder Type: V4
- Displacement: 1726cc
- Max RPM: 5800 rpm
- Propeller: 19” alloy
- Retail price: $11057
- Make: Mudgway
- Braked: No
- Suspension: springs
- Rollers: multi-roller
- Std Features: low profile tyres, guide poles
- Retail Price: $NA