Commanding attention

Captain Will Tyne | VOLUME 31, ISSUE 6

When it comes to feature-packed centre consoles, American brand Sea Fox is a prime contender.

If you thought sportfishing centre console boats were solely dedicated to the diehards of offshore fishing, then think again – the new American Sea Fox 288 Commander is certainly one of the most aesthetically pleasing and family-orientated centre consoles I’ve seen for while … not to mention the unrivalled and exhilarating sporty performance delivered from the new 300hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 outboards.

Aside from being the ultimate offshore sportfishing rig, Sea Fox has excelled in combining luxury, style, comfort and numerous creature comforts into the 288’s internal layout.

For those looking for the ideal family, friends and fishing crossover, the 288 comfortably accommodates the maximum capacity of 12 onboard, having designer bow seating with forward-facing bolstered back-rests, infill drinks table, and infill bow cushion. In front of the console there’s a double-sized day-bed-styled seat that opens to dedicated dry storage for fenders or other gear such as dive cylinders.

The sports-styled console is set up with dual sports seats with flip-up bolsters and is protected from the elements by the stylish hardtop, which even has built-in micro sprays to keep everyone cool on hot summer days. For those looking for extra protection from the elements, full clears can also be fitted to the front and sides of the console – on rough or colder days they work exceptionally well.

As presented by Gold Coast-based JSW Powersports, the dash and helm configuration allows for numerous switch panel controls and electronics. On the test boat, the owner went the full hog to suit serious offshore angling and customised the dash to take the latest (if you’re not hard-wired for marine electronics, at this point you might want to go get a coffee) Dual Simrad NSS16 EVO2, OP50 wired remote controller mounted between the seats, 4G Broadband Radar kit, AC12 Autopilot, WR10 Wireless Autopilot remote and base station, VHF Wireless handset HS35 DSC, VHF Marine Radio RS35, GPS Antenna GS-25, and Airmar transom mount transducer TM275LH-W.

HIDDEN HEAD

Another great feature incorporated into the 288 is the head, which is built into the console. Access is through a side door and, besides being a bonus feature for a centre console, especially for the ladies and kids onboard, it’s also spacious enough to stow all your extra gear.

The stern comprises port and starboard flip-up seating, as well as a compact rear bench neatly tucked into the front of the colossal livewell.

Fully bolstered coamings line the gunwales while having the side door/game fishing door built into the gunwale adds to the ease of entry and exit to the 288, for passengers and large fish alike.

Besides accommodating the masses onboard, the 288’s vinyl pastel colour combinations, combined with light internal gelcoats, most certainly maintain a cool-to-touch feel and add to the edgy appeal of the boat.

On the fishing side, the 288 provides 360-degrees of fishability, but with a bit of added bling and style. Now, before you think the 288 is a bit fancy to take offshore and get covered in fish blood and slime, you need to appreciate that the designers anticipated the problem. Simply removing the bolstered cushions up in the bow and closing the rear stern seating opens up the fishing deck space and keeps the vinyls out of harm’s way.

Up in the bow, GT popping can comfortably be done from deck level or, for those with good sea-legs in the chop, the seating can be used as an elevated casting platform.

In the stern, the 288 is set up with some good tackle storage built into the rear of the console seating – and there is even an esky on electronic assist rails, tucked away below, along with a monster-sized split and pressurised livewell. There’s also plenty of rodholder storage throughout, and decent-sized flush-mount port and starboard deck hatches to take large fish.

The 288 easily tackles gamefishing on the troll, bottom fishing or bouncing plastics or jigs and, again, with a bit more style in comparison to other standard centre consoles.

POWER-PLUS

Exhilarating, exciting and plain bloody fast are the best descriptions I can come up with to describe performance. Which is not surprising when you’ve got a pair of the latest 300hp Evinrude E-TEC G2s … that’s 600hp of pure power to draw on. They’re enhanced with electronic throttle and steer assist pumps and resulted in a whopping 52 knots (96km/h) at wide open throttle.

The available power throughout the rev range is very impressive, and although it’s a large boat, the handling and ride is nimble, responsive and it’s exceptionally smooth to drive.

Surprisingly – although not for those who are acquainted with the G2 E-TECs – fuel economy for the big 300s was more than impressive. At relatively high cruising speeds of around 33 knots (61km/h), the Evinrudes burned a mere 70lt/h combined. Considering they are low-emission two-strokes, that’s exceptionally good economy.

Backing off the throttles to lower revs or standard troll speeds of 5-8 knots (9-15km/h), the G2s sip away at a gentle 6-15lt/h – again, impressive consumption for a boat of this size and horsepower.

Overall, the Seafox 288 Commander certainly stands out in all areas and boasts numerous standard and optional inclusions to suit families, serious fishermen and even those just looking for a stylish alternative.

The base 288 Commander is competitively priced at $233,600 and, in my opinion, represents decent bang for buck considering the styling, standard inclusions and size of the boat. For those into long-distance adventure trips, you can also tow the 288 as an oversize load and, if you’re up for a bit more style, the Dodge Ram 2500 or Ford F-250 will haul it with ease.

SEA FOX 288 COMMANDER

Length: 8.75m

Beam: 2.9m

Weight: 2721kg (dry)

Power as tested: Twin 300hp E-TEC G2

Fuel capacity: 745lt

Water capacity: 45lt

Priced from: $233,600

Price as tested: $298,653

More information, JSW Powersports, tel (07) 55 29 2616. Web: SeaFoxBoats.com.au.


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