1997, January; Port Phillip Bay: Most boatbuilding companies specialise in one material, usually either aluminium or fibreglass. J. J. Savage and Sons is probably the only builder in Australia that uses both materials and, whilst most models in the Savage fleet feature aluminium, this Tasman 52 is an example of the company's skills in mouldwork and 'glass construction.
With rounded 'Euro-style' lines, the Tasman is a very contemporary design that's focused on fishing but perfectly suited to family cruising and other water sports too. The layout is quite straightforward, but includes plenty of clever touches that make the boat that much more usable, and more enjoyable.
The cockpit has lots of room with a carpeted floor and plushly upholstered aft quarter seats that drop down out of the way when not needed. There's a neat panel between the seats, also nicely trimmed, that innovatively drops down to form a bait workbench with a cutting board. With the quarter seats down and the baitboard up, there is a full width padded 'leaning board' against which you can comfortably and securely brace whilst working fish astern.
Big sidepockets have moulded liners for a clean and tidy appearance, with brackets for rods and recessed grab rails. On the side decks, just aft of where they flare up into the cabin, are teak boarding pads with rod holders about half way back to the transom. Behind the aft seats, on either side of the engine well, are live bait wells or storage lockers.
Up front there is a pair of superbly padded and trimmed swivelling bucket seats. The skipper has a good office, with the gauges mounted in clear line of sight above the wheel. The first mate is equally well cared for with a grab rail and an extra storage pocket to port, and with a drink holder and glovebox in front. There's another grab rail below the centre of the curved screen, just above the companionway into the cabin.
The latter has comfortable seat cushions down each side and centrally forward. All three have stowage below, and there's padded sidepockets to take more essentials. There's just sitting head room at the aft end of the seats. A nice touch is the moulded steps on which you can stand to work mooring or anchor lines through the quite big hatch. Split bowrails, a good anchor locker and solid deck hardware make everything very practical and easy to use.
The Tasman had a 75 Honda four-stroke for power and it delivered plenty of punch to give the cuddy-cab pleasing levels of performance. The hull swept swiftly on plane, and ran easily with a soft and controlled ride. Turns in both directions were as tight as you'd like to make them, with hull and prop working perfectly together. The Tasman showed no signs of anything other than good manners and exemplary handling.
The best cruising speed seemed to be around 4,000 rpm when we had 39 kph showing on our GPS. Pushing the throttle all the way forward took us to 5,600 rpm and 58 kph, which is pretty good for 75 hp on a boat this size. The 90-litre underfloor fuel tank would give a good cruising range.
The skipper's seat is adjustable fore and aft, so you can get the distance from the wheel that best suits you. The only thing I noted as a point to improve was that the throttle did come a bit too close to the rim of the wheel at times, but that didn't stop me having a highly pleasurable time driving the Tasman.
Length: 5.20 metres
Beam: 2.11 metres
Deadrise: 18 degrees
Weight: 620 kgs
Fuel: 90 litres
Power as tested: Honda 75
Price (at time of review): Around $25,500