Tested by Heinrich Kleyn (SKI-BOAT January/February 2011)
STAR OF THE SHOW!
THE Ace Glider 750 caused the biggest stir that I have seen in a long time at the National Boat Show in Johannesburg. Everywhere you went people were talking about this bright orange boat. I wondered what had been behind the allure — was it the colour, the design of the boat or the engines? I had to wait until about two weeks after the show when I got the chance to take her out to sea to assess her performance.
When she arrived at Natal Rod and Reel Club in Durban Bay, I took a closer look at her and got to climb aboard and get a feel of the craft. Quite a few changes have been made since the Ace Glider 630 was launched. Indeed, this boat was bigger, better and stronger.
This Ace Glider 750 arrived at the club on a double-axle breakneck trailer, pulled by a truck. The driver assured me he’d had no hassles towing this awesome-looking, large craft on the open road and in traffic. I boarded her again before the trailer was reversed into the water, whereupon the Ace Glider slid off as if she was seated on oiled rollers.
After the test loading her was just as simple: we lined her up and drove her straight onto the trailer. That’s a clear indication that the trailer was perfectly built to fit the Ace Glider 750.
I’m always amazed at how the weather gods try to foil my boat testing plans. On this day there were smooth seas and no wind — great conditions for leisure boating, but not what the doctor ordered for a comprehensive boat test.
This was the first time ever that I’ve sat off Vetch’s beach in front of Durban Ski-Boat Club, and when looking down into 12-15m depths, the water was so clear that we could even see the baitfish on the bottom and watch a skate gliding past. There was no doubt about it, the test would be easy in such calm conditions, but getting her to perform for the camera, so that I could take great shots — well, that turned out to be another story.
The Ace Glider 750 we tested had already been customised for a particular client, and she had been fitted with twin counter-rotating 250hp Mercury Verado 4-strokes.
I have used these engines before on waterski boats and know how they perform. I knew too that it was going to be interesting to drive this boat with this combination on the transom, because she was somewhat overpowered. It’s one thing to have one of these supercharged engines behind a boat, and quite another to have two of them pushing you.
However, I believe in being overpowered rather than underpowered, so … let the games begin!
The test boat had binnacle mount controls with hydraulic power steering. With these big, strong, counter-rotating engines it’s essential to have power steering or you would really have to hang on the steering to make her turn.
Out at sea I had Silan Naicker from Lowrance aboard with me to help put her through her paces.
The first question I had was why fit such powerful engines? Well, her owners wanted to be able to launch her through the surf, and wanted me to assure them this would be possible. From a standing position she took off like a rocket, and I think there are few, if any, smaller boats that would be able to keep up or outrun this big boat from a standing position. I’m positive launching her through the surf would be a cinch for this Ace Glider 750, though power should be applied conservatively and with restraint.
What an amazing feeling it was to have so much power behind the steering, but the skipper of this vessel should be wary of this, especially when surf launching: too much power can also be very dangerous.
Although the sea was flat, once on our way we were cruising at 75km per hour with ease into the swell, and I could not get her to pound at all. Running with the swell I did not need to trim the motors as she ran evenly with no broaching. When I swung her around, I did notice the slightest cavitation, but put that down to the fact that I had turned very sharply and these engines are supercharged powerhouses.
When it came to the ride of this boat, she was most comfortable and I think the new owners will be very happy with her. They should be able to undertake all facets of fishing from her with ease.
Running on one motor only, I manage to get her on the plane in a flash. Trolling just in gear with one engine, I quickly found the ideal speed for livebait fishing, and then — still on one motor — found that one 250hp motor was all I needed for an even faster troll for gamefish like marlin.
But bear in mind that if you use both engines, they don’t have to work as hard to get you to the right speed. Also, with both motors running, the superchargers wouldn’t need to kick in, so you would save a lot on fuel.
Let’s get to the layout of the Ace Glider 750. With a length of 7.5m and width of 2.8m, she should be very stable, and indeed she was, both at drift and on the move.
This is a big, solid boat built for fishermen, but she has a number of luxury touches too. To start with there’s a lovely neat, clean toilet, especially for those days that the ladies are onboard. The skipper’s seat has also been made much bigger, for added comfort.
The Ace Glider 750 has built-in Luna tubes at the stern in the side of the false transom, with a very spacious livebait well on the other side. This livebait well has been fitted with a very neat window in the front.
She boasts 100 litre built-in under-deck fuel tanks on both sides, and there are two extra large fish hatches, boasting quick access and drainage. For the marlin fisherman she sports a removable swinging fighting chair at the back. If the new owners don’t use this boat for marlin fishing, removing the chair — or leaving it out altogether — would be a cinch. Incidentally, the fighting chair is very comfortable.
Keeping the deck clean would pose no problem, as they have fitted a deckwash pump on the boat that you could use with either saltwater or freshwater.
Then on to the electronics: the Ace Glider 750 is fitted with a Lowrance combination unit fishfinder, chart plotter and radar. The Lowrance combo also has a docking station for your iPod for some boom-boom music — or perhaps something more classical — when the fish aren’t biting.
On top of all of this, the Ace Glider 750 is also fitted with an autopilot that makes it the boat to drive when marlin fishing: you set your course and speed, and the boat does the rest.
This craft has a fitted T-top that can be folded down when towing the craft. On top of this T-top there are stainless rod holders for the extra rods you might need.
On the sides of the boat next to the T-top — within easy reach —they have mounted the outrigger holders. There are also extra flushmounted rod holders in the gunnels for use when marlin fishing with the outriggers. The rod holders on the trolling bars have been springloaded so that you would be able to change the direction of the rods when trolling.
The inside of the gunnels are padded to make it comfortable to lean against with your knees when jigging or fighting a fish. Then — a huge plus: on both sides of the boat, against the inside of the gunnels and just below the padding, they have installed fold-up seats — a lovely innovation indeed for those long trips to the fishing grounds.
Beneath the seats, inside the gunnels, rod racks have been installed to keep your rods out the way when traveling.
Boating International have really thought of everything on this boat, and I doubt they could include anything more — except the skipper and crew. She even has a spacious fridge, and there’s no shortage of storage space on this craft.
This boat is quite possibly the best craft I have seen coming out of the Ace Glider factory. Indeed, I could not fault any aspect of her performance, from her ride at speed to trolling and drifting. Added to this, she certainly has all the bells and whistles, excellently finished, with everything neatly in its place and ready to use.
By the end of the test I knew what all the fuss was about at the National Boat Show. Yes, unquestionably — the Ace Glider 750 is sure to make waves in the marketplace.