In 2011 Ross Christensen founded FC Boats in Hamilton. Ross had been in the boat retail and maintenance side of the boating industry for 26 years, and with an engineering background and a love of fishing, diving, and boat racing, he was uniquely qualified to design and build quality, but modestly-priced, boats that incorporated the features Kiwi fishers and divers wanted. Ross’ son Max subsequently joined the company. Retail branches for FC boats are Fish City Hamilton and Albany, with the latter store owned and operated by Mike Graham. Right from the word go, Ross’ designs were a success, practical, well-performing boats at very reasonable prices. The range was rapidly expanded from the original 430 and 500 models, and now includes a wide family of runabouts, centre consoles, cuddy cabins and hard-tops. Currently, the largest model is the FC 700 Hard Top. Hearing that a new FC 700 HT had been dispatched to Fish City Albany, I met up with the store’s owner Mike Graham and Dallas Traill from the workshop to take the rig for a run. Chris Duffin came along to drive the camera boat, and we launched at the Gulf Harbour ramp.
The white stuff Recommended power for this hull is 200-250hp, and the difference had been split on the test boat with one of Mercury’s latest 225XL V6 four-stroke outboards. Relatively light, economical (see the performance table on page 107) and quiet, this engine was fitted with an Enertia Eco 16.5” pitch prop. Maximum ‘book’ revs for this engine are 5200-6000, but the maximum we achieved on the day was 5150rpm. This is perfectly adequate for most situations and leaves room for a couple of inches finer pitch on the prop if more acceleration is required. Mercury have radically changed their cowling shape and offer the engine in white, as well as the traditional black. We were all impressed with how quietly and smoothly the engine ran, and how little wake and spray the hull produced, courtesy of its wide gunwales. The Mercury throttle/ shift and Seastar hydraulic steering were a pleasure to use. Lectrotab trim tabs had been fitted, but we didn’t need to use them. After the photo shoot and a bit of a run around the Tiri’ Channel, we headed wider, in the direction of Little Barrier Island. The wind picked up to about 15 knots against the tide and the chop rose to around 1.5m and more. It started to get unpleasant but the FC 700 Hard Top has an answer to this situation.