Tournament is so far from failing itself that within the past few months it has created a new model from a completely new mould. This is the sort of brave move the other successful national fibreglass builders have made: if you stand still you are lost, they feel.
This new model, the 1800, is intended to be a versatile family boat, with a very roomy cockpit and a useful cabin that falls just short of sleeping adults comfortably. The builders have maximised space by deleting the cabin bulkhead and essentially merging cabin and cockpit. The tidy compromise the review boat provides is a clip-on fabric bulkhead with a zipper door. It is a nice thing to have if the children are sleeping aboard or the toilet is in use.
Another good space saver is the chosen seating, generally known as esky seats. Instead of mounting them on pedestals or lockers they have open frames that allow eskies to fit below them. Not just eskies: for overnighting, they allow you to stretch out full length on airbeds, leaving the cabin to the kids.
A settee that folds in two segments spans the transom, seating up to five people. Ahead of it a deck socket takes the pedestal of a table. The generous beam of 2.4m gives the settee its width and does the same for cockpit space. A boarding platform is not moulded into the hull, so as well as having increased locker volume aft a greater share of hull length goes into that space, with the result that this is one of the more expansive 18-footer’s cockpits afloat.
It is a secure place for children with its high sides, and good stability gives a reassuring platform for wandering passengers. We found that two light-heavyweights at the rail caused only a very modest list; should anyone want to go further and sit on the coaming, the recessing of the grab rails and cleats makes this more comfortable.
The clip-in carpet is easily removable for fishing days – the lockers beneath the bunks will swallow it – and around the cockpit’s edges are fishing’s accessories. The Targa, arching above the Bimini, carries four rod holders, and the transom houses a pair of bait tanks. The padded coaming hits a standing angler’s thigh comfortingly high.
Recommended power range is from 90 to 130hp, and the 115 ETEC fitted seemed ideally chosen: at 4000rpm it delivered just over 22 knots. This is the almost universal cruising speed of boats in this size range, and 4000 revs is close to the happiest engine operating speed. This leaves plenty of throttle movement in hand for calm days or for escaping breakers. A rapid and full opening of the throttle delivered typically brisk ETEC acceleration to a top speed of 32 knots.
Apart from switches the dash has just a pair of multi function gauges, leaving a substantial area for electronics. The relationship of wheel, seat, throttle and so on has been well organised; all is restful for long trips. The footrests, at first invisible, come into view when the foot of the bulkhead is unclipped.
The only access forward is via the fore hatch, so it is as well that it is as good as it comes. Normally flush with the foredeck, it hinges to swing well aft and sit securely against the windscreen frame. Standing within it even a child needs no stretch at all to reach cleats, anchor and cable bin. It is a solid hatch but, besides the removable bulkhead, light enters through a pair of side windows.
The 1800 Tournament sits in a size and purpose range with a lot of competition: these are the boats competing for the upper end of the small trailer boat market. Small in the greater scheme, they still need a serious investment and have to offer value and adaptability. The 1800 seems to have ticked the boxes, and at $55,900 with the niceties like clears below the Bimini, its price is right too.
Price, as reviewed $55,900
Hull length 5.65m
Overall length 5.95m
Hull weight 750kg
Fuel capacity 160L
Power range 90-130hp
Motor fitted 115hp Evinrude ETEC