Tristram 690 Cabriolet

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Tristram 690 Cabriolet

The Tristram 690 Cabriolet shares an enviable hull pedigree with the well proven 691 Millennium, one of the most successful models in the Tristram range. For the moment the new 690 is the biggest bowrider in the Tristram line-up. Freddy Foote checks out the hot new 690 Cabriolet.

So why a bowrider bigger than the very popular 640 Cabriolet? Like the development of the 640, the 690 evolved after feedback from Tristram customers about the kind of bowrider that they wanted to see come from the Hamilton factory.

“This is the largest bowrider model we’re doing at the moment, but watch this space as we will possibly be doing a bigger one,” says Lance Fink, managing director of Tristram Marine.

“We wanted to build a bigger model than the 640 because we had the demand from customers for a larger boat. We also had a number of features and concepts that we wanted to see in the new model.”

One design parameter for the new boat was that the bowrider section would be larger, which sees this area 200mm longer and also that extra storage would be a big feature for the new boat.

The 690 boasts a healthy ski and dive bottle locker under the floor as well as large storage lockers under the consoles in front of the helm and passengers seats; these are accessed by larger hatches on either side of the walkthrough to the bow.

Although access to the bow and anchor well area is easy in a bowrider, Tristram Marine has gone to the extra trouble of fitting an auto rope/chain capstan as standard so that all the anchoring duties can be done automatically from the helm.

An underfloor ice/fish bin is also available in the floor of the cockpit – a great feature for summer boating.

A removable seat is also available in the aft port corner, a feature design for those who will be in and out of the water such as skiers, wake boarders or divers.

One seating option is offered, being a moulded seat base with back-to-back seating on both sides. Storage is available underneath the moulded seat bases, and is accessed by lifting either the aft or forward facing seat bases. The seats on the new 690 face slightly inwards, compared to directly aft as seen in the 640 model. I found the seats to be really comfortable, with plenty of depth to be able to actually sit in rather than just be perched on.

The overall finish on the 690, as on all Tristram boats, is pretty hard to fault. In fact, you simply can’t! Everything is absolutely top quality, which is why Tristram customers enjoy paying slightly more re for their boats and also why Tristram product returns such a good resale value. Vinyl padding runs along the insides of the cockpit – giving the boat quite a luxurious look, rod storage is available via storage lockers built into the cockpit sides.

The entertainment factor is a big feature of the 690, which is illustrated by the stainless steel cup holders fitted in and around the cockpit, the very comfortable seating in the bow section, the stereo sound system – complete with pull-out DVD screen on the stereo unit itself. The stereo plays through the Polk Momo pod speakers mounted on the Ology wakeboard tower. Ensuring that even the rider or skier behind the boat will get the very best in audible sound.

If you want to give the boat a warmer social feel, then carpet is a feature throughout. It is easily removable, so if you want to spend a day fishing, simply take it out, and then hose it down afterwards. Tristram Marine has also gone for a softer grade of carpet here, making it easier to maintain.

Blue Water Hull

Like other Tristram bowrider models we have tested in the past, the new 690 has a conventional underwater shape with two strakes per side and a pronounced keel. A deep forefoot, a 22-degree deadrise at the transom and plenty of bow flare give the 690 a soft and dry ride.

Whilst I didn’t have the opportunity to test the new 690 in any rough water (just see the photos!), the entire Tristram range are proven and excellent bluewater performers. You only have to see the numbers of Tristram boats in and around the waters of Omaha north of Auckland and further afield to Little Barrier, Waihi and out to the Mercury Islands on the Coromandel to attest to this.

For our test day, we headed out to Lake Karapiro just south of Cambridge; which is considered a wakeboarding mecca for the Waikato. Fine weather greeted us one weekend in mid November, and when we hit the water it seems everyone else had the same idea with a ton of other boaters also with the same idea as us, taking advantage of the late spring weather

We met up with local wakeboard ace, Jared Dawson, the 2006 Men’s One wakeboarding champion, who was eager to jump on behind the 690 and test out the ‘wakeboardability’ of the 690.

On his first run behind the 690, Jared really cut loose and cracked some pretty big aerial manoeuvres, afterwards commenting that for a deep V bowrider, it made quite a good all-rounder, also continuing that the wake had a nice lip on it to help get some good air.

To accentuate the wake of the 690 we loaded up the boat with a couple of ‘fat sacks’ which basically added a few extra kilos of extra water ballast. If you really want to transform your boat into a wakeboarding machine the addition of a couple of fat sacks can really accentuate the wake of the boat. Tristram Marine has also had Ology Wakeboard Equipment manufacture a customised wakeboard tower for the 690 Cabriolet; the wakeboard towers are now available as an option on all Tristram bowrider models.

This is the first 690 to be built and will be Tristram Marine’s demonstrator boat, and a boat that the two younger members of the Fink family, Tristram and Kingsley, hope will be kept around for some time.

Powered by a Yamaha 200hp HPDI outboard, the 690 managed to hit 46.0mph @ 5900rpm. We measured this top speed with two of us on board and a fairly full fuel load. There had only been three hours logged up on the hour meter, so the outboard was not even run in. The HPDI’s generally like at least 10 or so hours before you’ll get their full performance. So with a few more hours added, expect to see a top speed a little higher.

For the hoons out there, the 690 is more than capable of handling larger horsepower outboards up to 250hp.

If you choose to stand and drive, the controls are still within easy reach, and there is plenty of room for you to stand and position your feet without feeling unstable. I loved the seated driving position, a large footrest area meant you could really stretch yourself out, and sit snugly in the helm seat. The low profile windscreen provided heaps of protection from the wind, and overall it felt like one of those boats that you could happily drive all day long while your family and friends sit back and relax, ski or wake board.

When we tested the Tristram 640 Cabriolet in January 2005 it was then Tristram Marine’s latest bowrider release. The boat test writer and former Propeller magazine editor Barry Thompson summed up the boat with: “As a versatile multi-purpose bowrider it is as close to perfection as any builder is ever going to get. Impeccable might just be the right word to describe Tristram’s latest creation.”

So how do I go about summing up the new 690 Cabriolet model? When I first saw the model at the Waikato Boat Show, the boat had the immediate wow factor and I immediately fell in love with it. The custom Ology wakeboard tower, the black hull sides (a first for Tristram), the yellow trim detail, and the immaculate interior finish – all were features to really set the 690 apart from others. Has Tristram raised the bar for New Zealand manufactured bowriders? Without doubt!


  • Model: Tristram 690 Cabriolet
  • Price as Tested: $94,500 (200hp HPDI)
  • Packages From: $85,703 (200hp HPDI)
  • Designer: Lance Fink – Tristram Marine Ltd
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Bowrider
  • LOA: 6.90m
  • Beam: 2.48m
  • Deadrise: 22 degrees
  • Trailerable Weight: 1850kg (est)
  • Height on Trailer: 2.17m
  • Engine Capacity: 175hp – 250hp
  • Power Options: Outboard
  • Fuel Capacity: 200 litres

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