Plenty of trailerboat manufacturers claim to make boats that are versatile, multipurpose craft aimed at delivering a broad boating experience to buyers. Typically, the boats in question are bowriders and are almost invariably GRP in construction. They will boast towsports capabilities and maybe have a few rodholders and a removable baitboard to give them some fishing credibility.
But there are few examples of similarly genuine multipurpose all-rounders in the aluminium boat segment. Until now, that is.
Australia’s largest aluminium boat manufacturer, Quintrex, recently launched its all-new Freestyler range of family-focused boats as part of its release of its revolutionary new forked bow Apex range of hulls. The Freestyler range currently runs to five models, from the entry-level 510 up to the flagship 630.
Our test craft, the 550 Freestyler, sits smack in the middle of the line-up, incorporating nearly all of the features of its stablemates, including the Apex hull, colourful wrap options, newly designed split screen and high sides.
The whole point of the Freestyler range was to present a range of boating options in one boat. Thus, the 550 embodies all of the capabilities you’d expect to find in an all-rounder, including a large bow cockpit, which is particularly wide for a 5.5m boat, courtesy of the broad Apex bow. It means two adults or a posse of kids can enjoy the view from the front of the boat in relative comfort.
The extra width up front also means there’s plenty of storage available, including for the ground tackle, with provision for a small windlass. And with the addition of an optional centre infill, the bow also makes a great spot to fish from.
From the split screen aft, designers have managed to squeeze in many additional features without compromising space or the ability to move around freely.
The dual side consoles give good protection at speed, and the helm dash is functional and allows for a bracket mount for a medium-sized GPS/ sounder. There’s a good-sized ski/board locker centred in the deck, which could also double as a killtank and would, I’d estimate, take a 20kg Spaniard with ease. And you could even use it as a rod locker if you wanted to stash them out of the way.
Adding further functionality is a stern skipole mount, with the option for a baitboard as well. And serious fishos would also tick the livewell box.
Another really good fishing feature is the optional Fishpack deluxe rear lounge upgrade, with the lounge converting into a large and sturdy casting deck incorporating a decent-sized plumbed livewell and storage pocket. It adds further versatility to what is already a very credible all-round package.
Other points I liked on the Freestyler 550 included the bolstered padding all-round, full carpeting, drinkholders and side pocket storage, plus there’s a very comprehensive options list, including a wake tower, larger electronics, and an electric trolling motor.
Speaking of which, serious fishos might want to consider battery options for their trolling motor as there’s no dedicated spot for one on the 550. I’d think the ski locker would be the most logical spot, particularly as far as maintaining an ideal overall balance factor and weight distribution.
The 130hp E-TEC fitted to the test craft was an ideal match, I thought, providing nippy holeshot, which would suit skiers and wakeboarders. It tops out at a decent 33.5knots (62km/h) and cruises comfortably at around 4000rpm and 29.7 knots (55km/h). At that speed, it’s slurping through just 24 lt/h which, with a 95lt fuel tank, will provide plenty of hours on the water without having to top up at the bowser.
The transom handles the weight of the two-stroke nicely and personally I wouldn’t go for less horsepower. It’s a good combination as it is.
I did notice that the bow can be a touch flighty at speed due to the long and protruded pickle fork bow, but it’s not a major issue, as adjusting the trim accordingly sorts it out. Having a few extra people in the bow doesn’t hurt either.
The Freestyler provides a comfortable and smooth ride, with the angled screens providing protection from the wind at speed. The skipper’s seat incorporates a flip-up bolster for a raised driving position.
The Freestyler is certainly a fun craft to throw around and locks into sharp turns comfortably and without a hint of cavitation. It also carves through chop and moderate swell, thanks to the new Apex hull, which provides a soft and dry ride.
OPTIONS ON TAP
There are plenty of factory options to provide even more versatility, including large and small biminis, VHF radio, bowrails, removable cockpit table, skipole or hooks and a twin battery pack.
As far as all-rounders go, the Freestyler 550 is a genuine contender. I found it to be a great multipurpose craft that will offer groups of up to seven people plenty of options, including a variety of fishing scenarios and watersports activities. And it’s not too hard on the eye either, with nice lines, which can be enhanced with great looking wrap options.
If you’re in the market for a feature-packed boat that will keep the whole family happy, you might want to go visit your nearest Quintrex dealer.
QUINTREX 550 FREESTYLER
Weight (boat only): 660kg
Power as tested: Evinrude E-TEC 130hp
Fuel capacity: 95lt
Priced from: $52,490
Price as tested: $60,990*
More information and to find a Quintrex dealer: Quintrex.com.au, tel (07) 5585 9898.
* Price supplied by Surf Coast Marine