Tested by Erwin Bursik (SKI-BOAT July/August 2010)
BEAUTY & ELEGANCE
THEY say opportunity knocks only once, and if you miss it it’s gone forever. Well, I recently grabbed an opportunity afforded me, and am very pleased I did.
Dean Levy of Boating International was in Durban in April for the annual Boat Show. He had brought along two of his new Ace Glider 630s and offered me the chance to join him on a photo shoot of various craft he was videoing. “It will give you the opportunity to experience this craft which I reckon surpasses all my hopes and dreams,” Dean enthused.
One Ace Glider 630 was finished in metallic dark blue, and the other
in a magnificent red, both bearing Boating International’s striking decals especially designed for these craft, which incorporated colours blended to match each craft’s hull. They certainly were eye catching. We launched the navy blue craft, and together with her manufacturer — Ace Boating’s Dayalan — we proceeded through Durban Harbour and out to sea.
I have gained a reputation of looking and listening— but saying nothing — when confronted with any new craft. I believe that I need time and on-the-water experience to firstly get to know the craft, and thereafter to try and assimilate my impressions. However, I’m aware that builders, marketers and owners try to get a reaction virtually from my first sight of the craft. I cannot be swayed.
Over the last 30 years of boat testing, I have established a formula of consideration and reconsideration, and then reviewing
of the many photographs I take, before I finally commit to paper my impressions of the craft under review. Only then am I really happy to express my views of any particular craft.
It was no different with the Ace Glider 630, although I admit I was very impressed when I first saw the craft I was to review on her trailer. Stunning, I thought.
A moderate southwesterly was blowing as we exited the harbour, providing lake-like conditions in the Durban beachfront area. However, on the eastern side of the South Pier there was sufficient wind to provide a reasonable chop, making for the odd white horse over a fairly large residual swell from the wind that had blown the previous day. Ideal conditions in which to try out any craft.
For the photo shoot we motored out to an area directly off the new Moses Mabhida Stadium that has already become a proud landmark for offshore boaters. The ocean had sufficient surface movement to get the craft we were on to come to life.
From the photo boat, Lowrance’s new Ace Glider 630, I spent an inordinate amount of time viewing the test boat’s hull-over-water performance as Reyno Schoonees from Boating International ran her past me at various speeds, trim position settings and directions. This was not only to photograph her, but also so that later, when I was skippering the craft, I would be able to correlate what I had seen with what I was experiencing during similar trials in the same sea conditions.
It’s a very interesting exercise, especially when I later added a third aspect to the equation and viewed the many pictures I had taken on my computer screen. It is the information gathered during these three exercises that allows me to form my opinion of the physical ride of the craft’s hull over water.
After boarding the craft under review, I have the habit of trimming her motors right in and then heading towards Umhlanga Rocks, as if proceeding to the gamefishing grounds north of Durban. I then gradually increase speed and adjust the trims until I am comfortably travelling at around 20 knots SOG.
I rate this “getting to know the craft” time as the most important aspect of any boat test.
During her initial run, the Ace Glider (“Her Royal Highness”, as I nicknamed her, because of her colours and the stately way she performed) responded very quickly to the trim I needed to apply to lift her bow a tad. I also laterally stabilised her ride in the beam swell and the aft starboard wave chop. At 20 knots she glided over the ocean as I chatted to Reyno, explaining what I was attempting to achieve and how I was doing it.
This craft likes a fair degree of bow-up trim, yet over-trimming her sweet spot quickly causes her to start with tunnel hydraulics and reduces revs and speed. The converse applies to under-trimming.
This Ace Glider has a definite trim position where her hull-over-water provides an optimum ride. However, it’s a position that obviously varies, depending on the heading of the craft. Through 360 degrees I found myself continually retrimming, bow-up bow-down and laterally, and was able to obtain a very comfortable ride in all directions, even directly into the southwesterly chop.
Dean had chosen twin 125hp Mercury Optimax motors with 4-bladed stainless-steel propellers. Throughout the test these motors — relatively low-powered for a 6.3 metre craft — provided more than adequate power, especially through the middle and upper torque curve range. I felt she was marginally over-propped which made her out-of-the-hole performance marginally sluggish. During single-motor trials it also took her time to get onto and stay on the plane with three people aboard.
The props being used bit very hard into the water, with no initial slippage. However, a plus-factor with these props was that there was zero cavitation. No matter how hard I tried in simulated surf conditions, I could not force any cavitation.
Talking about the “surf trials”, this hull swings easily to both port and starboard in tight turns, but because of the props’ bite, I found pulling her out of the turn was a little harder than it would have been if there was a degree of prop slippage as she powered out of the hole.
In this aspect I am, however, talking degrees of perfection, as I would not have hesitated to take her out in a big surf at Sodwana, propped as she was.
Once out the hole her attack on the rearing, oncoming crests was easy: climbing over them at an angle, she easily maintained speed and didn’t jump excessively.
During the time I spent trolling with the Ace Glider through a range of speeds from idle at ±1 knot to kona speed of eight knots, I found her to be surprisingly stable laterally. I say this because this craft, with her prominent Targa wing that incorporates her canvas canopy, has a high centre of gravity compared to a similar sized craft with no added superstructure.
Furthermore, in the seas we encountered she was totally dry no matter what direction we trolled in, and she produces a very fishable wake for all styles of game- and billfishing.
Finally, I trimmed both motors out a fair degree and backed her up into the face of the choppy sea. She responds well for an outboard powered craft, and because of her transom design I didn’t get much water pushing back onto her deck.
It was, however, the above-deck design and finishes that I found both visually pleasing and very practical to use and enjoy during an extended day on the ocean.
Dean has, as usual, been thinking out of the box in his efforts to make this boat, Boating International’s top-of-the-range offshore fishing craft, not only more user-friendly, but also visually pleasing. His thinking has obviously been fuelled by ideas he has gleaned from the imported boats he sells, as well as his exposure to a wide range of sportfishers and luxury pleasure craft. Boy, does it show on the Ace Glider 630!
It is in the helm station area of this craft and forward of the Targa wing that radical thinking has resulted in a number of aspects that make this craft surprisingly comfortable for its size. With the steering binnacle controls and relatively traditional instrumentation, the upmarket swivel helm chair adds to the well-laid-out skipper’s domain.
The innovations become obvious on the port side and the centre walk-through to the sundeck upfront. First up there’s the wash basin plumbed with freshwater, then the adjacent upholstered seat with a very rounded support hatch. The rounded step configuration leading up to the walk-through in the forward console also proved to be extremely practical and user-friendly, as well as visually pleasing. The upfront built-in fridge is a luxury indeed and is well situated for practical use.
Stowage is provided in numerous drawers and cupboards, and there’s even a rubbish bin that fits under the top step of the walkway. In my opinion, all these extras — including the sound system and the canopy that folds up against the Targa wing, as well as the clears that can be added to fully enclose the forward helm station area — provide that all important extra comfort to those fishing for pleasure on the Ace Glider 630.
Above all, skippering and using this forward area is as practical as it is stylish — a factor I put great store in, especially when the sea is rough.
The sun deck or forward fishing platform is a novel idea that will work well in calm seas. I went upfront in reasonably bumpy conditions and found it practical for flyfishing or dropshotting, but easier to recline and relax on. Oh, yes, and work the anchor from.
The fishdeck on the Ace Glider 630 is designed to suit both the ardent gamefisherman as well as the billfisherman using standup tackle. Both Luna tubes and a good-sized livebait hatch have been provided on either side of the transom gate, thus catering to both styles of angling. A fighting chair can be fitted on request, and with the coffin-style centre hatch removed, this would allow for heavy tackle bill- and tuna fishing.
In overall terms, the Ace Glider’s beauty and elegance are not just skin-deep. There is so much to her in the way of mouldings, finishes and quality hardware that to appreciate the full extent of this craft, one has to physically look at her, touch her and spend some time exploring her full makeup. Only then will you truly appreciate the Ace Glider 630. •