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Jentan Marine Predator 15'6" Boat Review
Predator Spearo Version 15’6"
We all know that us spearos are a different breed, especially when compared to ski-boat fisherman. The ‘gun-ho’ do-what-it-takes attitude of the spearfisherman has meant that over the years, the boats that have evolved in spearo circles have had less refinement and finesse than those used by our ski-boat fishing cousins. Wet rides and aching backs from sitting on low hatches have been the norm, but the small boats have always been easy to handle, cheap to run and negotiate the surf well. Not to say that standard ski-boats don’t work for us, it’s just that the deck layouts are usually very cluttered, the gunwales are high and for the most part are too cumbersome. I suppose if you sat on a boat all day roasting in the sun hoping that some fish might swim past your bait, you would want to do it from an arm chair with a cup holder for your beer, and also not want to get wet!
This makes the Spearfishermen’s boat unique in almost every way. It’s from this raw street pedigree that some boat manufacturers are looking to improve on the tried and tested, and come up with practical boats that just do the job better. Jentan Marine are up there and have been working on a project with Springbok spearfisherman Brent Borslap to take their tried and tested Predator 15’6” hull and adapt it to the needs of the spearo.
Now, there are many ski-boats that get converted for spearfishing, but I was very interested in seeing what Jentan and Brent had come up with. Especially since they had designed the boat with the intention to replicate the layout, and Brent would have had a lot of input based on his experience on boats.
Thus it was on this premise that Dane and I met Brent at DUC to have a look and try the boat out for ourselves. My first impression was that the boat seemed big, well at least big for a 15’6” (4.72m) boat, but this was probably due to its width. The semi-deep vee hull, although flattening out towards the transom, has no ‘flat’ areas, which are always a tell tale sign of a pounding coming up.
The deck is very simple and uncluttered with loads of deck space. The top deck on the gunwales has been dropped to the transom height all the way to the centre console, and the fuel hatch in the middle of the deck is at the same height as the gunwale. The raised top deck on the bow makes a big anchor hatch, and there is loads of space on the inside gunwale for even more hatch space if needed. The fish hatch is flush mounted in the deck and extends all the way under the console… I think you will be pressed hard to fill this one up.
Before long we were kitted up and on our way out to sea. With two 40hp 2 stroke Yamaha motors, the boat hops. The sea conditions were quite good with a south-westerly starting to pick up. There were no white horses yet, but there was a fair chop from the previous day’s easterly. Dane and I were happy that it would be enough to really test the boat out. How a boat travels at sea is probably one of the key things guys often don’t look at when buying, and they land up with a good looking boat that is just plain horrible to ride in.
We pushed the Predator to well over 40km/h both into and with the chop and wind. Even when the boat landed flat in a hole it did not pound. Jentan Marine have worked out the weight distribution well and I think this adds to the nice ride. Sure, the ultimate test would be a 30-40 kt wind to ride into but I have no doubt that this boat would fair well.
We stopped for a while and jumped off just to have a little look around – why not? We were all dressed up and ready to kill. The water wasn’t that great and we didn’t stay long, but it gave us an idea of what it was like to dive from the Predator. Getting on and off the boat was very easy and going from the gunwale to the centre hatch is very natural… and there is just so much space. You feel like you are on a much bigger boat. The Predator is also very stable, we could all lean over one side with it hardly leaning over at all: another feather in the Predator’s cap, often the mono hull’s down fall.
Brent reckons they have comfortably dived 5 up on the boat before, and I can see how. With 3 up there was space to squeeze a 4th standing up next to the console while traveling, and another two easily could sit on the fuel hatch. Standing is a pleasure, the high gunwale next to the consol acts as a great support and there is even a handle on the gunwale if you really need to hang on.
Satisfied that we could do some long hauls to remote dive spots in the Predator, the last question on our lips was how the boat would handle in the surf. Brent’s face lit up as he said, “watch this” and threw the boat into a seriously tight turn while on the plane. He then did a series of turns at speed and from stand still. The boat can seriously turn on a ticky, I know smaller boats that don’t turn like that. The boat also has a high bowline with lots of volume up front, so hitting foamies wont be an issue at all; and if a wave comes over the top the low gunnels at the back will hold very little water, if any.
This boat had two 40hp motors and got out the hole very fast, approaching the 50km/h mark with the hammers down. The boat also just planes with a single motor. You might struggle with 4 up or if you were fully loaded, but you would get to where you needed to go, no problem. The specs say you can use two 30hp motors. I think this might be a bit limiting especially if you’re mostly surf
launching and looking at regularly having 4 up on the boat. But if you are mostly harbour launching or your launch site is protected there is no reason not to go for the 30hp motors.
Back on dry land, Dane and I ran through the boat and what we thought of it. The consensus was pretty much that the Predator is an excellent ‘step-up’ from the standard small spearfishing boats. For those wanting to take more crew or needing a very stable boat this is a great option. The boat merges the two worlds of ski boat comfort and the practicality of current top selling spearfishing boats, while still being small enough to handle fairly easily and not fall into that ‘big boat’ class.
Like Brent jestingly says, “It’s an Apex Predator” and there is truth to that statement. I don’t think it will be long before we start seeing more of these ‘Predators’ out there on the water.
Bulkheads: GRP Fibreglass
Hull and deck: GRP Fibreglass & Marine Ply
Transome: GRP Fibreglass & Marine Ply
Console and hatches: GRP Fibreglass
Poly Urethane Foam or HDPE bottles
WEIGHT OF BASIC BOAT: 450kg
2 x 40hp outboards.
2 x 30hp will also be sufficient. (protected or easy launch)
1 x 60hp outboard sufficient for surf launching with 4 persons, but 1 x 85hp or 90hp would be better
Hull which consists of: (At time of print)
Hull, deck, bulkheads, centre console, fuel hatch, fish hatch and anchor hatch. Built in rod/gun racks, keelstrip and bow and transome eyes. Scuppers are included
SOME OF THE OPTIONAL EXTRAS:
Windscreen and rail: R1,200.00
Roll bar: R1,800.00
Galvanised b/n trailer (unbraked): R15,500.00
2 x yam 30hwl (2 stroke electric start): R70,000.00
2 x yam 30hmhl (pull start): R55,409.00
2 x yam 40xwl (electric): R74,500.00
2 x yam 40xwtl (trim/tilt/electric): R90,000.00
The Predator is light for its size and planes quickly even with relatively small motors. When we launched 5 up at Umkomaas in strong seas with a 20 knot wind, the Predator handled the horrible conditions with ease. - “Neil Barnard”
I really enjoy the stability of the boat and also how easy it is to get on and off the Predator when diving. It launches well in big surf and comes onto the plane extremely quickly. - “Jaco Blighnaught”