The Fusion 19 had literally just been fitted out, and Reef Marine owner, Greg Camilleri, was still in the boat finishing off a few last minute things when I arrived. This gave me about 15 minutes to walk around the boat and talk with Greg, prior to sliding the boat into the water at the ramp. In that 15 minutes, my previous thoughts about every boat being a compromise started to change. This seriously is a total package (boat, motor and trailer) that you have to get up close to so you can get to appreciate it for what it really is. Firstly, the hull construction is 100% fibreglass with no timber being used. It also comes standard with full underfloor floatation and boasts a self-draining deck.
From the design of the hull itself, with the nicely flared bow, through to the stern with an 18-degree deadrise at the transom, I could tell that this boat would not only handle well on the water, but that it would also be very stable at rest. Both of these points were very evident when we had her out on the water later that afternoon. According to Fusion Power Boats, the design of the hull allows for the beam to length ratio to be wider than normal. This allows the boat to be stable, get on the plane easily and also provides for ample deck space. The hull also boasts 680mm of freeboard, making the sides high enough to be able to lock the knees when fighting a good fish, but also not too high so that landing a fish is still an easy job. The side height would also play a part in keeping the family safe when out on the water for those special family trips. The other interesting aspect of the hull is a very cleverly designed reverse hook which creates a ‘pocket or dip’ in the underside of the hull, just short of the transom. This acts like a built-in trim tab, which in turn, gets the boat up on the plane a lot faster, and makes it sit nice and level in the water.
Again, this was very evident once we had her on the water and were able to put it through its’ paces. Have a look at some of the photos showing the boat up on the plane and look at how much of that hull is sitting out of the water and also where the spray is leaving the sides of the hull. Those two things, in my mind, are critical in choosing a boat as it not only tells you that the ride will be comfortable, but it will also be dry when things get a little choppy. Sure, you can trim a motor up or down to get the best result, but, without a well-designed hull (featuring things like a variable V, 15-degree transom angle and wide reverse chine’s), you still won’t be comfortable and dry when underway. Believe me, I’ve been there. Talking about salt spray, in the 2 hours we were out on the water that afternoon, the only time I got hit with salt spray was when the test boat got a little too close to me (in the camera boat) and covered me in spray. Greg was at the helm of the test boat, and I am pretty sure he had a big grin on his face as he was approaching me. Enough said about the hull, but before we move onto the remainder of the boat, I have to say that there is absolutely nothing that I would change on the design of this hull. It is, in my opinion, as close to perfect as you would get.
Moving onto the internal layout, this is the ideal boat for the serious lure or fly fisher with a nice clean deck layout, while still allowing for ample storage both fore and aft, and whilst our water test was around the mouth of the Pioneer River, I wanted nothing more than to get into some clear, skinny water and jump up on the forward casting deck and cast a flyline at a cruising fish. The fact that this hull has a shallow draft of 350mm was another big plus in my books.
Every bit of space inside the boat is very well utilised with storage not only under the foredeck, but also on both sides of the stern compartments and also underfloor, with a live well and 2 underfloor ‘kill’ tanks. If that’s still not enough storage for you, then have a look at the centre console. This thing is huge, yet it is not restrictive, as some boats are, if you have to move around the boat while fighting a fish. The console has ample space to place all of the modern electronic gadgets that we crave such as sounders, GPS, stereos, etc., but then you open up the hatch at the front of the console and there’s enough room for an adult to hide in – not that you’d do that. I think the space would be better used for storing things life safety gear and a few extra tackle boxes.
Again, with the storage, like the remainder of this boat, it is very well thought out, and there is also storage under the seat in front of the console, and then the seat at the rear of the console has room for a 78L esky – perfect for those cold drinks and some food when out with the family while also being ideal for keeping those fish on ice, keeping them well preserved and ready for the dinner table later in the day.
When it comes to on-water performance, our test boat was fitted with a 140HP Suzuki outboard spinning a 20inch prop. On the test day, with an honest 10-15knot wind, this gave us a top speed of 48knots at 6400rpm. At this speed, the boat felt very comfortable and safe, while still being nice and smooth on the water. Given this was the very first time this boat had hit the water, some fine tuning with a different pitch prop, possibly a 21 or 22inch and you would get even better performance out of this combination. Keep in mind that this hull is rated to a maximum of 200HP.
Personally, I’d settle for the 140HP that was on the test boat as it seemed to be very well matched and we were easily up and out of the hole and on the plane in no time. Matched with the 150LT underfloor fuel tank (which is standard) and you have a good amount of fuel to keep you on the water and also get to some of those destinations that may be a little out of the way.
Apart from all the features listed above, this boat also boasts things like provisions for up to 8 rod holders, deck wash, 4 stainless grab handles, plus the one around the console all as standard. Optional extras fitted to our test boat included the aluminium T-top, which can be easily folded down, and a ski bar over the motor. The hull colour is also an optional extra, and I have to say that I love a green boat so there’s another big plus for me.
The Fusion 19 is marketed as a 5 in 1 boat package, allowing you to utilise the boat for family cruising, wakeboarding and skiing, offshore fishing, tournament fishing and estuary and inshore sportsfishing. That’s a big call for just one boat, but after seeing this in person and getting out on the water, it is a claim that is very well substantiated.
The trailer is often overlooked when purchasing a boat, yet it plays a significant part in your day whilst out boating. There is nothing worse than a poorly designed trailer that either is a chore to launch, or retrieve your boat. With my last few boats, I have had custom trailers built so that launching and retrieving is done with relative ease. The trailer provided with this boat is a relatively simple design, but it proved to be very effective at both launching and retrieving. This was particularly evident at the end of the day as the crosswind at the ramp could have easily caught the boat and shifted it off the trailer at an angle, but with the timber slides, all Greg had to do was line up the centre of the hull with the start of the skids and the trailer did the rest. I was impressed. So much so that I asked Greg to launch and retrieve a few more times, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.
What would I change if I could? Personally, as an avid lure and fly fisher, I’d add a bow mount electric motor, a good quality sounder, GPS and marine stereo and I’d also try to incorporate a poling platform with the ski bar – that’s it. Obviously, regardless of the boat, these are all features that I would include, however, without a well-designed, solid hull, it would still be a compromise.