Hot on the heels of the release of the Smuggler Stealth 720 HT in 2007 comes the recent release of the 720 Stealth Cruiser, one of the few locally made GRP boats that offers a fully enclosed hardtop. Freddy Foote checked out the new model soon after it was shown to the South Island public at the Christchurch boat show.
Since releasing the then Smuggler Stealth 695 Open (now named the 695 SPT) in 2004, Smuggler Marine has steadily built its model range, which now includes four hardtop models spread over two different hull lengths, as well as a number of larger and smaller RIB models, which are very popular for the west Auckland based manufacturer.
The company has certainly grown very quickly over the last few years, setting up new premises, tapping into the lucrative superyacht tender market as well as developing a burgeoning export market. Smuggler Marine has also set itself the goal of producing a new model for the local New Zealand market every year, something it has been doing successfully for the last four years.
New for 2008 is the Stealth 720 CCruiser in what is basically a different layout option from when the 720 hardtop model was released last year. Dave Pringle, Managing Director of Smuggler Marine, is the one who re-introduced the New Zealand boat buying public to the Smuggler brand a number of years ago, and since then, a number of innovative and clever concepts has quickly seen the name grow in popularity.
Looking for something new to release for the 2008 boat show season, and wanting to increase Smuggler’s presence in the South Island, plans were soon drawn up for the new CCruiser model.
“We have developed this boat mainly for South Island users. They do a lot of boating in winter, so we wanted to provide something that offered both warmth and the extra security of an enclosed hardtop,” says Dave Pringle.
“We have displayed our boats at the Christchurch boat show for a couple of years now and some of the feedback we got was for an enclosed model, so that’s what we now offer. Also, there are really very few New Zealand manufactured fibreglass hardtops available, so we think it will fit a niche in the market.”
Currently there are two hardtop models in the Smuggler range, the 695 and the 720. Whilst the 720 is longer, it also has a higher hardtop section by 100mm. The cockpit floor is also more generous, increased in length by 150mm. Additional features over the 695 include the aft corner seats, shoe locker in the transom, a live bait tank under the transom seat, and a window in the for’ard coaming.
On the cockpit sides, the 720 CCruiser boasts internal GRP linings which are designed to keep the stowage areas tidy. This particular model has been fitted out with teak flooring, giving the boat more of an upmarket cruiser look. If this isn’t your thing, then you can opt for the moulded grip/fibreglass floor with clip-in carpet.
Obviously what sets this boat apart is its internal cabin/helm door which has been designed to be highly practical, yet not take away any useable space inside the boat itself. Dave Pringle and his team at Smuggler have cleverly fitted an aluminium-framed sliding door that doesn’t take up valuable cockpit space. The frame is snugly fitted behind the helm and passenger seats, and just for’ard of the aft-facing cockpit seats.
The cabin layout is fairly typical of a boat of this size, twin single berths and infill to make a substantial double and is more than adequate for two to overnight comfortably. There is also provision for a toilet underneath the centre berth. Above, an overhead hatch assists in ventilation and light.
Also giving a ‘homely’ feel is a mirror on the forward bulkhead.
Sliding side-windows provide extra airflow into the cabin area and a driver’s side screen wiper are a nice feature.
To the port side and forward of the passenger seat is a small gas cooker, with a wooden lid above, and there is also a sliding hatch over the cabin entrance to be used as a bench top when cooking.
If cooking in the helm area-come-galley isn’t your thing, there is provision to mount a sizeable cockpit BBQ aft.
Storage is plentiful throughout the boat. The cockpit boasts large, deep side shelves which run the length of the cockpit, complemented with storage under the aft facing cockpit seats and a large underfloor cavity located towards the back of the cockpit, which is ideal for your catch, or wet gear.
A 300-litre underfloor fuel tank and an 80-litre water tank take up the rest of the underfloor area.
Any water taken into the cockpit drains into an aft locker that overspills into the bilge and this is then automatically pumped overboard. Batteries, cut-off switches, extra fuel, fenders etc and tackle stowage space are under the aft deck. Rods can be stowed in dedicated rod holders either side of the cockpit or you can add a rocket launcher to the hardtop.
There is a moulded sink unit with fresh and saltwater systems in the transom with a recessed step through onto the boarding area opposite. In the port corner rests a live bait tank, and a handy locker with a vertical access hatch, that Smuggler has named the shoe locker as it’s simply a handy place to put your shoes! Teak slats add a nice touch to the boarding area that is fitted with a stainless steel drop-down ladder.
Evinrude Etec outboards are the preferred power options for Smuggler Marine, with Dave Pringle commenting that he reckons they provide the optimum performance and fuel economy that most Smuggler customers want. However, he is still waiting for that elusive customer who wants to rig up a 300hp Etec on a new Smuggler hull!
Our 720 CCruiser was powered with an Evinrude 200 Etec HO, which returns a top speed of 50mph @ 5500rpm – not a bad top speed figure for a 200hp outboard and what is realistically quite a heavy boat. Our test day probably wasn’t ideal for testing such a boat with a radical 27-degree deep V bluewater hull. It was the day before the big storm that was forecast to hit the North Island at the end of July. Conditions were clear and calm, with nothing to indicate what was to follow just 24 hours later. On a reasonably calm Auckland Harbour the boat cruised nicely at around 4500 rpm @ 41.5mph. Like Smugglers we have tested in the past, the handling and ride in moderate to rough and even very rough water would be awesome.
The Smuggler hull has traditionally loved horsepower and has been favoured by the ‘go fast’ boater. The Evinrude Etec 200hp HO was a good match, providing plenty of punch out of the hole and a respectable top speed. It would easily handle more horsepower, such as a 225/250hp engine and even as high as a 300hp to which I alluded earlier.
The driving position is good, either seated or standing and a carbon fibre facia has room for all the necessary instruments and electronics. There was plenty of visibility forward and the noise from the outboard while underway was minimal.
Stability was great; the pontoons coupled with the 150-litre flooding keel provided ample stability for a boat with such a deep deadrise. The pontoon add-ons were developed in 2006 as a way to increase the boat’s stability at rest. When at rest, the rear of the pontoons are in the water about 50mm, although at speed they are effectively out of the water, although they do provide some extra stability when in rougher conditions or when in a hard turn.
Dave Pringle commented that the pontoons have been a really popular option, and since first developing the concept they haven’t sold a hardtop model without them, and have also retrofitted a number to existing Smuggler boats.
Overall, the new Stealth 720 CCruiser is a real winner. It’s the type of boat that South Islanders are going to love, but so will North Islanders, because the enclosed hardtop adds such protection from the weather that no matter where they’re from.
- Model: Stealth 720 Cruiser
- Price as Tested: $134,750
- Packages from: $110,500
- Designer : Dave Pringle
- Material: GRP
- Type: Hardtop
- LOA: 7.2m
- LOH: 6.9m
- Beam: 2.45m
- Deadrise: 27 degrees
- Trailerable Weight: 2200kg est.
- Height on Trailer: 3.1m
- Engine Capacity: 175-300hp
- Power Options: Outboard/Sterndrive
- Fuel Capacity: 300L
- Water Capacity: 80L
Performance -Evinrude 200 ETEC
|600 rpm||3.0 mph|
|1000 rpm||5.5 mph|
|1500 rpm||7.5 mph|
|2000 rpm||9.0 mph|
|2500 rpm||13.5 mph|
|3000 rpm||18.5 mph|
|3500 rpm||26.5 mph|
|4000 rpm||37.0 mph|
|4500 rpm||41.5 mph|
|5000 rpm||47.0 mph|
|5500 rpm||44.6 mph|
|5800 rpm||50.0 mph|