Gisborne-based White Pointer boats is a pretty well-known marque, having built its trademark smart-looking, well-performed, practical aluminium dive and fishing boats for sixteen years now.
White Pointers are designed and customised to each owner’s requirements, and most hulls are large, complex builds, often for specialised purposes, completely fitted out (including custom in-house trailers) and ready to hit the water. This complexity and level of finish limits output. The team of nine (including owner Rex Briant, business manager Tony Bourke and seven boat builders) currently turns out about 14 boats per year. A number of these are sent overseas, with Australia taking most of the recent exports.
In the early days of the company the bulk of sales were smaller boats (the 5.7 to 6.5m were popular), then demand increased for boats in the eight- to nine-metre class, and most hulls ordered are still in excess of 7m. With more financial constraints in recent times, White Pointer saw a demand for a hull between their 7m and 7.5 models; an entry-level hardtop with basic stay-away capacity, that could be launched – even beach-launched – and handled by two people. The result is their new 730 Sports Hardtop, and I travelled down to Gisborne just before Easter to put one through its paces.
White Pointers have a reputation for being strongly built, and the 730 is no exception, with a minimum of 6mm plate bottoms and transom, 4mm sides and 3mm topsides and deck. The keel assembly sees the bottom plates fully seam-welded to a keel bar inside and out, with a 6mm fully seam-welded keel cap over this. Chines are butted up and again fully seam-welded inside and out.
In addition to the keel bar there are four other full-length bearers, with lateral support provided by six bulkheads. The deck is supported by frames at 800mm centres. Sealed, pressure-tested under-deck chambers provide about 600kg of reserve buoyancy, according to figures supplied by White Pointer.
The hull design features downturned chines and a fine entry with no strakes required. The deadrise is 18 degrees. The hull features graceful curves in the plates, a side moulding towards the stern, and robust, well-executed welding. The finish is of particularly high standard, and when painted could almost be mistaken for fibreglass.
An interesting design aspect is the flanges at the sides under the boarding platform which, besides adding to the strength of the construction, effectively act as ‘flopper-stoppers’, increasing stability at rest.
The decks are sealed chequerplate and drain to a sump under the transom. This, in turn, is drained by both a duck-bill scupper and an 1100gph float-switch-operated bilge pump. Twin batteries are set in a protected locker up in the transom wall, which also features a step-through with polycarbonate drop-door.
The White Pointer 730 was powered by a Yamaha 225hp four-stroke outboard turning a 17-inch pitch Saltwater Series stainless-steel prop. This is about the middle of the 175-250hp recommended range for this hull. At full power it ran up to 6000rpm, the top of its ‘book’ range, producing 38.4 knots (71kph) at these revolutions. A comfortable cruise speed of 25 knots (46kph) was achieved at 4000rpm. Fuel capacity is 230 litres in an under-floor tank.
After launching at the Gisborne town basin, we headed out across Poverty Bay towards Young Nicks Head. The wind of the previous day had dropped out, leaving a big but fairly open 1.5m swell. I was very impressed with the performance of the 730 hull, which cut through the swell like a knife, rode softly, and proved to be a stable hull at rest. It showed no tendency to broach or bow-steer, even when I deliberately ran it at very flat angles to the swell line. This boat backs up unusually well for a trailer boat, too.
Trim tabs had been fitted, but I never had to use them, and the Teleflex Hydraulic Steering was very responsive. In short, the 730 was a very comfortable rider with no vices and a pleasure to helm, encouraging you to seek rather than avoid the roughest water.
Anchoring facilities are an important aspect of New Zealand boats: from a safety point of view; because we do a lot of bottom fishing at anchor; and because many regions offer sheltered anchorages for overnight trips.
The 730 was fitted with a Lewmar Profish anchor winch with controls at the helm. A Sarca anchor is permanently mounted on a short bowsprit, with a chain and warp combination completing the ground tackle. The anchor-well can be accessed, if necessary, through a hatch in the forward bulkhead.
Access to the bow is easy around the cabin sides, with anti-skid panels fitted and substantial bow rails. The hatch in the forecabin is also an option, useful if you just want to put the anchor winch into free-fall mode, for example. Bow furnishings include: an aluminium bollard welded to the foredeck; a protective panel to guard the foredeck against chain flogging; and a fold-down ladder to aid boarding over the bow – a handy thing when holding the boat off a beach with the prop in the deeper water, or when passengers are disembarking.
The fully-lined forecabin sleeps two adults comfortably with the berth infill fitted, and three at a pinch. Two levels of side shelving provide stowage and double as a padded backrest for those seated on the berths. A flush toilet is fitted under the centre berth, with a curtain fitted to the wide entry for privacy. Additional stowage is available under the berths. A cabin light is fitted, and a screw-off panel allows access to the wiring inside the console.
Out in the wheelhouse, deck hatches allow access to under-floor stowage, which in this boat was largely taken up by the 85-litre tank for the freshwater system. A nice wooden table with cup holders provides a work top or dining spot, but folds down flat on the cabin side when not required. Passenger seating is a bench with back rest, fold-down footrest and internal stowage space.
Visibility is good through forward screens and side sliders, all constructed in 6mm toughened glass. A wiper is to be fitted. Vision is aided by a rear cabin window on the passenger side, which slides down inside the cabin wall to allow ventilation and communication with the cockpit when needed. White Pointer built the bi-fold polycarbonate door, which can be held open with a stainless stay.
At the helm is a large dash with back lip, marine-carpet lining and grab-rail. Instrumentation, switching, Icom VHF, Minn-Kota trim tabs and Raymarine C120 sounder/plotter are all flush mounted in the console. The helm seat is swivelling bucket seat with foot rest and a Vitrifrigo fridge fitted underneath.
The cockpit features grab-rails on the trailing cabin edges and a short, removable canvas canopy to provide a bit of sun and spray protection. An EPIRB is also mounted out here – a good safety measure. The rear bench seat against the cabin wall on the port side features more stowage space and is fitted with a fold-up butane cooker, allowing basic meal preparation or a cuppa to be made. The starboard side is taken by the freshwater sink unit with califont and gas bottle inside, with a pullout nozzle allowing it to double as a hot shower.
A pair of small matched open stowage nooks at the sides behind the rear cabin wall adds to the storage provided by large side shelves that run the rest of the cockpit length. Wide gunwales with Deck-Tread panels offer additional cockpit seating spots. Decking is chequerplate with tube mat over the top, offering good footing, and an under-deck hold is fitted.
Besides the two batteries, the transom lockers house the isolation switch, fuel filter, fuses and a pressure pump for the wash-down hose. Behind the transom step-through is a large chequerplate boarding platform, fold-down ladder (with anti-skid on the rungs – nice) and grab-rails. A ski-pole is an addition to the rear transom wall, and the fuel port is also situated on the rear of the transom top, where any spillage when fuelling is likely to go overboard. Mooring cleats are on the stern corners.
White Pointer Boats is known for the practical fish and dive layouts of its boats, and the 730 fits the bill perfectly. A stable, open cockpit with plenty of workspace, good footing, toe room and comfortable mid-thigh support at the gunwales provide all the basics.
Fishing fittings include six thru-gunwale rod holders, a six-position rocket launcher on the hardtop, and a further six rod holders mounted on a substantial transom bait-station. A live-bait tank is fitted into the transom step-through, and two tackle lockers are built into the sides. Pole and gaff racks are fitted under the side pockets, and outrigger mounts are on the gunwales, just forward of the main bulkhead.
The owner is obviously keen on his diving; boarding facilities are excellent, and a tank rack is fitted on the outside of the transom (the side shelves look wide enough to take dive tanks as well). The hot shower is a great luxury when you climb out of the water after a dive, and the transom step-through is on the starboard (helm) side.
I should explain this last item. With the helm on the starboard side, the helmsman has maximum visibility on this side of the boat, so it makes sense to also have the ladder and step-through there when manoeuvring to pick up divers.
However, for game fishermen fishing stand-up tackle, it is usually easiest to chase fish by travelling forward. To avoid the helmsman accidently running over the line, forward chasing is best done with the angler on the helm side of the boat, so the skipper can see the line’s angle through the side window, and has time to react should the fish change direction. Consequently, if the angler is to face forward, keep balance and wind in line efficiently, they must be able to lean against the transom in the starboard corner. For this situation, the transom step-through should ideally be on the opposite (port) side of the boat (note that some transom drop doors and swing doors are designed so you can lean on them comfortably, removing the ‘either-or’ aspect).
So transom step-through position should be decided by the boat’s main purpose: diving or game fishing. If you are a bottom fisherman, it doesn’t really matter which side the step-through is on. In the case of the test boat, the owner took the dive preference.
White Pointer custom-builds the trailers for its boats. The trailer under the test boat was built from heavy aluminium, gusseted for strength, with tandem axles and Duratorque suspension. The boat is carried on four keel rollers, benches and skid plates.
Fittings include: submersible LED lights; hydraulic brakes and park brake; wind-down jockey wheel; dual coupling; and a dual-ratio manual winch. The winch post was a work of aluminium art.
The boat drove on and off the trailer easily, and the tow weight for the rig was given as 2350kg.
White Pointer’s 730 has all the makings of a great fish and dive boat. It travels extremely well and is sea kindly. The addition of basic stay-away capability to a good-looking package that can be launched and handled by two people makes this is a very desirable boat.
Configuration: enclosed hardtop
Bottom and transom: 6mm
Recommended HP: 175–250hp
Test engine: Yamaha 225hp Four Stroke
Prop: Saltwater Series 17” pitch
Fuel capacity: 230 litres
Trailer: White Pointer aluminium
Tow weight: 2350kg
Price as tested: $140,000
(200hp Yamaha): $95,000
Test boat courtesy of Johan Peters.
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