Shane Mensforth | 15 April 2005 | The Advertiser


SPEED: Acceleration in the Theodore Coastal 720 is breathtaking.

SHANE MENSFORTH reveals a just-released show-stopper.

A hush-hush operation has been underway at a Largs North boat factory - and now the secret's out. It's in the form of the big, fast and roomy 7m trailer boat, Theodore Coastal 720.

Created by Jim Theodore, proprietor of Port River Marine Services with wife Leica, the new craft is a low-profile half-cab aimed at the offshore angler. 

I have been privy to the development of the boat since its inception but, seeing the finished product for the first time over the Easter weekend, I was simply blown away. 

I can't remember a time when our small but thriving local boat-building industry was turning out so many quality products. Clayton Marine, Classic Craft, Goolwa Craft... the list is becoming impressive.

Add to that Theodore Marine. Invited last week to test this latest offering, I couldn't wait. The Theodore Coastal 720 requires a four-wheel-drive tow vehicle and plenty of horsepower to get up and going, but it will certainly deliver the goods.

Jim and I took this new baby out to the gulf for a long test drive on Easter Monday, which proved quite exhilarating. Fitted with a new Volvo Penta KAD 300 diesel sterndrive with Duo-prop, the Coastal 720 is a real flying machine.

After clearing the heads at Outer Harbour, I opened the throttle and could scarcely believe the amount of acceleration provided by the 285hp Volvo diesel. Never have I driven such a responsive diesel powered boat. Jim is offering five engine options with the Coastal 720 - two petrol and three diesel - but there's no doubt  the big Volvo KAD  is the way to go if the budget will allow. 

Top speed over flat water was just over 40 knots and, as mentioned, acceleration from idle is breathtaking.

Cruise speed of 28 knots was achieved around 3000rpm, which is where you'll find optimum fuel economy. 

One of the very impressive features of this rig is its ability to climb on to the plane at quite low speed and maintain planing attitude without constant throttle adjustment. This comes down, of course, to hull efficiency and there's no doubt Jim Theodore has thing all sorted out here.

The boat turns superbly at speed and disposes of unwanted spray about as well as anything of comparable size I've yet driven. The wake is flat enough to ski behind - an activity well within the realms of possibility with this motor installation - so it really is a versatile rig.

Six adults can be seated comfortably and although the cabin area isn't enormous, it's roomy enough to sleep two and a chemical toilet will naturally increase comfort for passengers.

The test boat was fitted with a neat hardtop, which is an optional extra, but one well worth considering. There's oodles of storage in side shelves and beneath the cockpit seats, and more than enough grab rails for security on rough days.

Despite the sterndrive installation, the cockpit is big enough to fish half a dozen without falling over each other.

As well as the sterndrive motor option, Theodore Marine will be offering the Coastal 720 with single or dual outboards, so there are plenty of alternatives. 

I's nice to see a local manufacturer turn out a boat as well finished and well appointed as this one and I'm certain it will turn plenty of heads at this year's Adelaide Boat Show.