Recent changes to the Webster 4.9's design should keep the model competitive for years to come. The main changes are to the stern section's design and fuel tanks.
Webster Twinfisher 4.9 review.
Andrew Richardson gets twice the thrill while testing a new design for an Aussie classic.
By now, the Webster Twinfisher has probably earned the title of an Aussie classic. The company was founded by Ron Webster and after extensive bathtub testing, Ron's twin hull single engine aluminium cats have been in production for almost 20 years. Ron, who started out as a specialist whitegoods welder, has passed the baton on to Daniel and Kelly Schofield who have been working at the business since 2004.
My trek from Sydney to Melbourne for the day seemed like a lot of effort to get on board the unassuming runabout, but then again, Port Phillip offered a different perspective to a Sydneysider and it was great to meet up with one of Webster's keenest dealers Tim Edney of Inverloch Marine. Tim's so enthusiastic he even takes the Twinfishers on travelling demo tours. For example, he covered Lakes Entrance to Eden during April this year.
Tim was also enthusiastic about the recent changes to the Webster 4.9's design it should keep the model competitive for years to come. The main changes are to the stern section's design and fuel tanks. The old model had 65L of fuel stowed aft, the new total is 100L-50L located each side in the midsections of the vessel?and the new stern section has an integral bait tank plus a transom door. The larger more buoyant stern allows the updated Webster to take a larger engine and utilise the heavier four-strokes.
There are two standout existing features with the Webster Twinfisher design. Firstly, the sponsons are sealed from the cabin so if one or both sponsons are holed, the vessel remains afloat. The second clear advantage is that the twin hulled aluminium boat is designed around a single engine reducing outlay and running costs considerably compared to the many twin engine cat designs. This single engine twin hull design is the essence of Twinfisher's original success.
It is hard to ignore the many arguments for twin engines on cats (and monos), especially if working offshore and requiring the security of two engines. However, this argument doesn't apply so much when you get down to a 5m coastal runabout. And that's where this boat's formula spells success.
The vessel's helm is quite forward so the sense of boat is less than the sense of the sea ahead. The craft was quite dry with most deflected spray going under the sponsons. The 80hp four-stroke Yamaha outboard was exceptionally quiet, produced a handy cruise speed of 20 knots at 4400rpm and wound the vessel out to almost 30 knots at 5800rpm. The craft seemed to have plenty of power so a slightly larger pitch prop would probably boost the top speed a little without putting the craft below her rated rev range.
Tim Edney was very keen to demonstrate those tight turns I mentioned and I have to say it was quite fun flicking the boat around on one sponson quite a lot of fun, surprisingly, for what looks like quite a conservative boat.
LAYOUT AND FEATURES
The tested vessel's helm and seating was functional and practical. The plastic wheel and off-the-shelf glove box show that the Webster is not vying for a European design award but at least there was a glove box and an off-the-shelf drink holder! The fish finder, engine gauges and VHF radio, essential tools were all included to keep the fisherman happy. The anchor well was open and large enough to take two anchors if required and the well was set up so that an anchor could be dropped and tied off by leaning forward through the screen a good feature.
The Webster's cockpit was serviced by a padded box seat providing ample stowage while creating enough space for two or three people to work the lines. The combings were about 10cm wide and there was also a lip at floor level providing room for your feet when fishing from the side. Other stowage areas included side pockets, forward of the helm, and rocket launchers for rods.
Other standard features besides the aforementioned live bait tank and transom door include tinted windscreen, an elevated battery shelf and fixed floor carpets. There are a range of options including an electric motor mount, rear lounge, rocket launchers and upgraded seats. Removable carpets, however, would be a good feature?they'd make it a lot easier to clean up after a messy day out.
The updated Webster Twinfisher 4.9 is an honest package that will endure the test of time. By not getting too carried away the Webster 4.9 manages to stay just under the $40,000 as tested but it is possible to spend more depending on features chosen. On the other hand, the base model with a 60hp outboard would cost $34,000.
HANDLING AND PERFORMANCE
Underway, the vessel's design behaved like a hybrid as it enjoyed the benefits of twin hulls for straight line and at rest stability but she could also be flicked around tight turns on one sponson, giving the vessel a turning circle not much more than its own waterline.
Port Phillip was very calm during the test so we had to hunt around for wakes and slush to check out her performance in mixed conditions. By the end of the test I would say the Webster had very honest handling let's face it, she is an aluminium boat under 5m so she will bash about a bit but when conditions get tough this craft will get you home a bit wet but in very good shape.