Compared to the average moderate deadrise tinny, Stacer's EVO, and in particular this 6.05m Ocean Runner version, is way out there in a class all of its own.
Issue: July 2003
Stacer's new 6.05m hulls represent a step onto new ground for this innovative Queensland-based aluminium boat builder. For starters, a 6m-plus hull is the largest Stacer yet and this cuddy cabin version is just one of a range of new models based on the hull. But there's more... The 605 series Stacer now feature a 5mm thick bottom sheet and 3mm topsides, there built like a brick outhouse. This boat was configured for serious offshore fishing and when you think about it that's also new ground for Stacer. For more than 20 years, Stacer's smaller fishing boats have proved themselves to be some of the best barra type boats around and similar comments have been heaped on their centre consoles, side consoles, runabouts and bow riders.
Yep, Stacer is in the business of being right up there at the pointy end when it comes to fishing. Nevertheless, serious offshore fishing is an area Stacer haven't previously ventured into. It's a whole new ball game needing a quite different approach to the inshore and sheltered water boats they've been building so well for so long. It must be said that any aluminium boat presented to the bluewater mob must faced the reality of just how well suited to bluewater operation deep-vee fibreglass hulls are. If the softest, driest ride possible is one of your prerequisites when looking for a new offshore fisher, it's a simple fact that Aussie-built, deep-vee fibreglass offshore fishing boats are some of the best hulls of their type built in the world today.
But having said that, there are many valid reasons why you should think about choosing an aluminium-hulled offshore fisher, because there are certain things that "tin" does better than "glass" and vise versa. With this thought planted firmly in the back of our minds, the Modern Boating team went into this test of Stacer's latest version of a stretch-formed, variable-deadrise hull they call the EVO. It's a hull that literally takes on entirely new dimensions from its smaller brethren. As you'd expect, the 605 Ocean Runner falls just short of the best glass hulls in terms of offshore performance. Having said that though, compared to the average moderate deadrise tinny, Stacer's EVO, and in particular this 6.05m version, is way out there in a class all of its own.
So much so that it's only the better, more expensive, deep-vee fibreglass hulls that clearly outclass it. The 605 Ocean Runner's hull weighs-in at 750kg, but a 6m-plus tinnie with a 5mm bottom was never going to be a lightweight. But out on the water where it counts, the combination of weight and the flared bottom shape of the EVO Hull gives a ride so much better than the average tinnie we'll stop calling it one. You may note that the skies in our photographs were far from a sunny and bright blue. In short, the day we tested the Stacer 605 Ocean Runner was what you might call "not a nice day" at all, so we had ample opportunities to form these opinions.
While sheltering from the pelting rain in the cabin we found that the bunks weren't really meant for sleeping on, but as a place to shelter from inclement weather they work fine. There are also more padded seats on top of the storage lockers. The windscreen is quite high, high enough to shelter anyone seated on the pair of pedestal-mounted bucket seats behind it quite well. Except when it's raining cats and dogs that is and the rain's bouncing off the cabin top and deck all at the same time. Cuddy cabins tend to look a bit "boxy", but somehow Stacer has worked enough taper in the rise from the bow to the windscreen so it looks reasonably graceful.
There's a big hatch in the cabin front so you can get at the anchor well and fairlead. It's also a secure place to handle the ground tackle through in rough water. We were pleased to note a Rotomoulded liner in the anchor well to stop the ground tackle banging around in the hull. Storage is always at a premium in any fishing boat and never more so than for offshore work. The Ocean Runner features plenty of it. The helm and passenger seats, more to the point the short pedestals they are mounted on, sit on a pair of lockers. These can be opened by lifting the lid, or through an opening in the side.
The padded lid also doubles as an extra aftfacing seat when trolling. The Modern Boating team has a track record of not being lovers of the side pockets in some aluminium boats. However, the ones in the 605 are tucked away underneath the side decks where they are out of the way, don't bruise anyone's shins and actually end up being quite user friendly. An absolute essential in any offshore fishing boat is unobstructed support for the upper thighs around the main cockpit's gunwales and transom, this boat's got it right. There is a basic lounge seat across the transom, which when used as a seat does interfere with unobstructed movement around the cockpit, but it folds quickly out of the way when the seating isn't required.
Behind the transom lounge the centre section is recessed to allow the motor to be tilted up. This recess doesn't extend into cockpit space and doesn't at all compromise leg support. On each side of this there's a shelf tucked underneath the bulkhead's covering board which could be used to stow an oil reservoir, or a couple of batteries. Outboard, what looks like a form of swim platform, is what Stacer call their "Modpod". In effect, it's a full-width transom extension. Modpods have proved themselves extremely effective on Stacer's smaller hulls supporting the weight of the heavier four-stroke motors, but they also improve the hull's general performance by increasing its planing area.
A folding boarding ladder recessed into the portside of the Modpod suggests that this boat would also make a good family day boat. That's if the male of any given household could be persuaded to give up a day's fishing to indulge in family boating activities besides fishing. We're only joking, kids are definitely an essential part of boating where the Modern Boating team comes from. In any terms the Stacer 605 Ocean Runner is an eminently capable offshore fishing boat, which is equally at home in the role as a family day boat ? even if the boat is made from aluminium.
While the Modern Boating test team generally prefer their boats with more power rather than less, the Stacer 605 Ocean Runner proved to be one of the rare beasts we thought would have performed quite satisfactorily with somewhat less power than the 140hp Mariner two-stroke strapped to its transom. Lightly loaded as the boat was during this test, we felt that a 115, or 120hp would have been sufficient. Only those who habitually haul big loads, admittedly your typical offshore fishos does exactly this, would consider more power than that. Of course the softer power delivery of a four-stroke might give a differing perspective to this opinion. Still, a top speed of 38.6 knots at 5500rpm is much more than the average fisho needs, although anyone considering an Ocean Runner with some family skiing in mind might also disagree with that.
Words by Warren Steptoe