With the success of the XM520 AND XM480 Tournament Classic series of boats, Garry Quinn from GS Marine decided to go larger again in producing the XM550TC. With similar features to the other Tournament Classic series of boats, this boat is simply that little bit larger and has a Rear Centre Console (rather than the Side console), which allows the owner to travel over longer distances, and have the peace of mind offered by the safety and handling that comes with a larger plate boat. Garry produced this model with long distance travelling in mind, particularly to places like the Tiwi Islands, situated around 100 km off the coast from Darwin.
I have worked for Fisheries Research in the Top End now for over 10 years, and have done much travelling in boats about the coast, and up the tidal rivers and creeks. Working regularly in remote areas, NT Fisheries needed a reliable boat that could work well in all conditions experienced in the Top End. This is why two years ago, Fisheries Research purchased the first Xtreme plate alloy boat manufactured by GS Marine off their new press at the Palmerston factory. This boat was produced specifically to be used in the gene tagging spanish mackerel project by NT Fisheries. Since then the boat has been used extensively by Fisheries, and has performed extremely well under arduous conditions experienced regularly offshore. At 5.5m in length it is the exact same hull used by Garry to produce the new XM550 Tournament Series.
I was asked if I would like to do a boat test on a 5.5m GS Marine boat as I had regularly used one through work. I was only too happy to oblige, and soon found myself travelling to the Palmerston boat ramp with Garry to test drive the newly designed XM550TC.
The 5.5m Xtreme hull, Flamin X-Rated, was designed by Garry to handle the rough conditions experienced offshore during the Dry Season in the Top End, and also be at home fishing the rivers, creeks and billabongs. The first thing you notice when entering this boat is the room available. With two large underfloor storage lockers installed at the bow (one designed to hold a large esky) and another at the rear of the boat there is plenty of open space left on deck to fish comfortably. There are also two 5-drawer tackle lockers, and a third below deck tackle locker installed.
The conditions were beautiful when the boat was tested. It handled extremely well and showed great stability. Even though we could not put the boat to test in extreme conditions on the day, I can vouch for the 5.5m Xtreme's handling in rough seas, having used one at work over the last two years including several trips across to the Tiwi Islands.
The boat obtained a speed of around 80km/h at 5,800 rpm powered by the new 4 stroke Suzuki DF150 hp motor. When cruising economically at 4,000 rpm the boat sat on a respectable speed of 46km/h. The hull is rated to a maximum of 150 hp, but the recommended horsepower for the 5.5m Xtreme is 115 hp.
The boat is constructed of 4mm marine grade aluminium bottom and 3mm plate sides, and comes with a 5 year hull warranty. All Xtreme hulls come with the uniquely designed Sportzbak transom, which allows better performance from heavier 4 stroke outboard motors.
The XM550TC comes in centre console and rear centre console configurations. It has an overall length of 5.65m, a depth of 1.35m and a beam of 2.25m. Other standard features include: a boarding ladder, large anchor well, 4 welded alloy rod holders, 2.4m rod locker (holds 10 rigged rods), 135 litre underfloor tank, 3/4 height casting deck, deck wash system, hydraulic steering, fully carpeted alloy decks and sides, drink holders, dual transducer mounts, 3 deluxe bucket seats with 7 seat positions, large kill tank, bait board, hand rails, quality two tone paintwork, GPS/Sounder, CD player and a sports mahogany steering wheel. Other options include a poling platform for fishing the shallow flats, and fully installed bow mounted driving lights.
Basically this model has everything that a keen fisher needs and more! Garry manufactured a slightly smaller and similar boat a year ago for himself, which he named X-ile. He loved this boat, and although he received numerous offers to part with it, he politely declined as it was his personal fishing boat. Unfortunately, his wife, Sue did not have the same understanding and promptly sold it while Garry was away on business! I must say I am equally impressed with his new boat, Flamin X-Rated, needless to say, a similar offer could be forthcoming when Garry heads overseas on his next business trip!