MARINE industry mover and shaker Formosa Marine certainly ruffled some feathers when it released the X Bowrider in 2017.
Not conforming to one single design philosophy, the X Bowrider stands out from the pack with sharp lines above the gunwales and a look somewhere between a bowrider, centre cabin and runabout. I had hotly anticipated taking this boat for a spin, so was delighted to recently sample the Sea-Rod 580 Classic version of the X Bowrider on the Tweed River.
Nestled into the helm seat, I noted the driving position also treads a middle ground between a raised ‘offshore’ style and the traditional low-slung bowrider seating position. Nonetheless I quickly became comfortable and nudged the throttle forwards to spin up the prop on the Yamaha 150hp four-stroke mounted on the stern. Motivation was instant despite the hull being capable of handling another 50 horses, and flattening the throttle saw the 6m (including bowsprit), 900kg (dry) hull shooting up to almost 70km/h through a bit of Tweed River chop. Needless to say, in ideal conditions and with the maximum horsepower fitted, this boat would absolutely fly.
Which is apt considering the X Bowrider’s tagline of ‘fish, wake, ski’. If suitably specified, the X Bowrider could easily fit the bill as a high-horsepower, fast ski boat. However, I’d be quick to recommend Yamaha’s venerable 150hp power plant to any fisho who’d prefer to use the boat as a dedicated fishing rig. In this instance, the 150’s superior fuel economy and subsequent range from the 150-litre underfloor fuel tank would make it the more suitable choice. The 580 X Bowrider is rated to carry seven people on board, and this boat would comfortably seat each and every passenger.
In fact, it would easily seat almost double that number! As well as the two box-based bucket seats for driver and primary passenger, the X Bowrider has three two-person fold-down padded lounges with padded backrests that seem to appear from nowhere on both sides and at the rear of the cockpit. The side-saddle seating arrangement was something new to me in a fishing boat and I thought it was a fantastic use of space considering when folded and latched away (upright) the seat bases tucked in below the padded backrests on the gunwales, which were very comfy to lean against.
Moving to the bow by opening the latched swinging central door and windscreen section saw me coming upon the X Bowrider’s trump card: its versatile bow area. It’s a vast space in the 580 model (though fishing room out back is still decent) and can either be a delightfully comfortable and sumptuously padded lounge area, or with the cushions whipped away, a carpeted casting platform with central in-fill. How good is that!? So if you’re taking the family out for a day trip and a spot of tow sports, leave the cushions in and let everyone revel in the comfort of the sun lounge or leave the family at home and set the casting platform up for an ultra-stable perch from which to cast while fishing.
Seems like the best of both worlds to me. As proof of its dedication to covering all bases, the X Bowrider is even fitted with an electric bow mount plate, despite not being the sort of boat customarily associated with electric motors. However, more and more commonly we are seeing people buying electric motors for their versatility in ‘spot-locking’ for silent and super-easy anchoring without the traditional chain and anchor noise, not to mention stealthy trolling ability to sneak up on the fish.
In terms of handling the Tweed River chop, the chunky 580 X Bowrider was not fussed. Whether tackling the chop straight on, side on or at any other angle, the V2 Plate Hull just ate it up. Naturally the ride was dry and having a bit of weight to the hull ensured we punched through the chop rather than bouncing over it like a smaller tinnie. Being the Sea-Rod version of the X Bowrider, a four-chamber water ballast system in the hull is standard.
This is a huge aid for stability at rest and then once under way the chambers drain so you aren’t hampered by extra weight on the move. Despite looking something like a pleasure craft and featuring plenty of creature comforts, the X Bowrider won’t leave hard-core fishos feeling short-changed, with four rod holders on the hard top, four more on the bait board and another four recessed into the gunwales. However, if you’re purely a mad-keen fisho and never take family and friends out on the water, you probably wouldn’t be in the market for an X Bowrider.
You’d get a side console or similar open boat and forego all the things that make the X such an incredibly well-rounded vessel. Fit and finish on all Formosa boats is exemplary and the X Bowrider was no exception, with a good thick coat of paint applied to all surfaces for a premium feel. The test boat also had a pair of cracking Fusion speakers installed in the hard top’s unique ‘knuckle’ design, which worked flawlessly and looked like they were always meant to be there.
This boat also utilised the Sea-Rod exclusive Active Transom, fitted here in ‘Dual Access’ form that allowed entry and egress at the stern either side of the bait board thanks to sturdy fold-down doors covered in a non-slip coating.
I could honestly write for many more pages discussing the myriad standard and awesome optional features of the Sea-Rod 580 X Bowrider but the best bit of advice I can give you is to check one out for yourself. If you’re after the ultimate compromise between family fun boat and fishing boat, you really need look no further. Teamed with an ultra-reliable Yamaha outboard (I’d stick with the 150hp for economy and performance balance), you’d enjoy many years of trouble-free boating.
To check out an X Bowrider and Yamaha package today, duck into Gold Coast Boating Centre at 64 Kortum Dr, Burleigh Heads and chat to the friendly team about designing a package to suit your needs. For any more information on the Formosa boat and Yamaha outboard ranges, visit formosamarineboats.com.au and yamaha-motor.com.au