Text by Barry Thompson
STILL ON THE PROWL
While the Prowler powercat has been around for many years, it has morphed into various forms, with each new model improving the last. The latest offering, the Prowler 10.8 Sports Fisher from Fusion Marine Boatbuilders, is unquestionably the best yet.
This is the third Prowler powercat I have reviewed over the years and is by far the best example yet. Denis Bettany and his team at Silverdale based Fusion Marine have transformed what was becoming a very outdated powercat into a vessel with a new life breathed into its classic hull.
The Prowler powercat started in Australia when Jeff Schionning designed a 9m version. It was further developed by NZ designer and builder Eric Knight as a 10.4m model. Formula Cruisers were next to get their hand on the moulds, and they made several significant changes to the overall look of the boat.
They added a further 400mm to the aft extremities of the hull and raised the sheerline by 250mm right through the length of each hull. Before this, the Prowler had a somewhat stubby and cut-off appearance, and while the lines of the boat aesthetically were much better balanced, it still didn’t look quite in proportion. About seven years ago, Denis Bettany acquired the moulds, and while to date has only produced two boats, it seems that it is all about to change. He says there is a lot of interest right now, and he is in discussions with three clients, who all want something different.
“Working within certain constraints, we are able to customise the layout from the accommodation configuration through to the overall length of the saloon. That’s the beauty of being a Kiwi boatbuilder! We can provide clients with customisation which you can’t achieve from an imported boat”, adds Denis.
He could see the potential of the Prowler but knew it needed some tweaking, especially in the styling. The newest version has seen the most dramatic change with the lengthened topsides which raised the sheerline. This also meant the transom could be moved further aft. The drooping sheerline of the previous Prowler gave the cat a distinctive cut-off and stubby appearance. Not only do the changes make the boat look better, but it has also significantly increased the useable area aft.
“There was a lot of unutilised space around the aft end of the boat, and by extending it, it also allowed us to extend the cabin further forward and bring the whole boat into proportion”, says Denis.
The cockpit is 1.1m longer than the previous Prowler 10.8, the cabin is 600mm longer, and the side decks have been widened for ease of access forward. Gone are the soft nets between the hulls on the foredeck area, replaced with solid panels.
With the wider side decks, the compromise is less beam in the saloon. However, with a redesigned galley, the lack of internal beam is more than compensated for. There is a natural feeling of space the second you step aboard.
Like most powercats of this size, the hulls are used for accommodation, which in Prowler #11 has three very large single berths and a separate head/shower. However, how this area is configured is up to each individual owner. Denis is working with a client that has requested two double berths forward, a single to starboard and a sizeable port-side head/shower area. Add that to the dinette table that can be converted to another double berth and you have sleeping for seven.
He said he is also looking at adding 100mm into the beam of each hull, which will increase the internal volume of the hulls and add more buoyancy.
With the extended cockpit, there is the opportunity now to customise the layout in the cockpit better. The boat was kept reasonably clean with an L shape lounger to port with a multi-functional dining/coffee table and a moulded unit opposite designated for a bbq. The transom featured three large lockers, with the centre one designed as a live bait tank if required. There is space across the transom for a settee. With no engines taking up any internal space, there are massive storage areas in each hull aft.
An excellent option to consider would be a high/low hydraulic platform between the outboards. This would assist access to and from the boat and be ideal as a fishing platform and stowing the tender.
Bifold alloy doors and a removable rear panel (an electric drop-down window is an option) open the boat up and accentuate the space on board. One of the significant changes from previous Prowler’s is the starboard side U shape galley is changed to a fore-aft bench with storage beneath. Very practical and certainly a better use of space. Opposite is a dinette (extended now by 600mm) which drops to convert to a double berth.
The sole driving position is in the centre forward and is flanked with Isotherm fridge/freezers on either side. With the high window profile, you get a panoramic view from the helm and, in fact, all areas of the saloon.
While we ran a pair of Yamaha 150hp 4S outboards, the Prowler 10.8 is rated from as low as a pair of 90hp outboards. The previous Prowler built by Fusion achieved 21 knots with a couple of Honda 80hp outboards. On a glassy day off Gulf Harbour, Auckland, I saw 28.5 knots @ 5500rpm on the GPS. Not quite the magic 30 knots.
We ran 14 ½”x 15” Reliance 3 bld propellers, which maxed out at 5500 rpm, about 300rpm shy of the desired maximum. I found that between 3500 rpm – 4000 rpm (18-21 knots) was a real sweet cruising spot, and the Prowler ran like on rails.
A word of caution. If you are driving the boat, let your passengers know when you are pushing the throttles on. The transition from idle to planning is quick and snappy, with virtually no bow lift. It sits very level with a slight lean outward due to the symmetrical hull shape in tight turns.
While Denis admits that while called a Prowler 10.8 a sports fisher, by the time they produced the finished boat, it was quite different from what they had conceived. It’s undoubtedly a lot flashier than they planned, but it has turned out to be a perfect family cruiser for me. With a beam of 4.8m, you don’t need a dedicated catamaran berth, and with an overall length of around 11m, it’s going to fit easily into a marina.
The new Prowler 10.8 Sports Fisher is a hugely different boat from the first one I saw many years ago. Fusion Marine Boatbuilders have certainly come up with the goods, and with the ability to offer custom layouts, it’s a winner.
- Model: Prowler 10.8 Sports Fisher
- Builder: Fusion Marine
- Price As Tested: $NZ765,000 (inl gst)
- Type: Powercat
- Construction: GRP/Foam
- Displacement: 4600 kgs
- LOA: 10.80m
- Beam: 4.80m
- Draft: 600mm
- Power: 2 x Yamaha 150 4S
- Power Options: Outboard Only
- Propellers: 14 ½” x 15” Reliance
- MFD: Simrad 12”
- LED Lighting: Hella
- Entertainment: Fusion
- Cockpit Flooring: Flxiteak
- Anchor Winch: Quick
- Fuel Capacity: 600 litres
- Water Capacity: 400 litres