Picking an actor to play James Bond is always a Hollywood sticking point. While Hamish Coop doesn't fancy himself as the next tuxedo-clad superspy, you can bet with a boat like his, cases of mistaken identity will be a regular occurrence.
Like a Bond movie, the making of Ishco 8.0 has been a long and well-thought-out process, one that began with Hamish drawing the script for the eight-metre trailer boat in 2007.
Since then, the 45-year-old has busy producing, directing and editing the final cut which is unlike anything made in New Zealand before. A second look at her uniquely staunch lines and a peek at her hybrid diesel-electric Steyr engine - the only one thought to be in the country - will tell you that.
Hamish has had a hankering to produce something substantial since building a Rothmans father-and-son plywood dingy at university, but the thought of a standard glass boat designed for fishing, cruising, watersports, overnighting, and everything else under the sun, didn't appeal.
"We wanted a stylish boat with good performance and good fuel economy. And I wanted to do something a bit different from anything else out there," he says.
He returned to university to complete a PhD in Marine Propulsion with HamiltonJet, then eventually began drawing hull shapes for his ideal vessel. Tim McDowell was hired to work on Ishco's overall aesthetics.
"We talked for a long time about what we wanted. Audi is the best example with their understated and elegant look and feel. We wanted to recapture that on the water, and not have a white or blue hull.
"I didn't want to go retro because that's been done to death, so we designed something looking forward."
The results are strong and sleek, and with its clean lines you can envisage barrel rolling over a flaming barge and landing perfectly for a speedy getaway while the baddies giving chase slam straight into the inferno.
In order to maintain clean and consistent lines, the fine entry bow is squared off at deck level. As a result, the anchor has been removed from the foredeck and now sits flush in the bow.
Moving aft, Ishco's lines mimic that of an American muscle car with meaty gunwales and sharp edges. The curved windscreen's lines slope nicely aft and mould into the square cut transom.
Inside, the simplistic theme continues.
"You'll notice there's no rod holders," Hamish says. Despite hooking his fair share of fish from an early age, the pastime has been replaced with chatting the days away among family and friends in picturesque anchorages.
A spacious, teak-lined cockpit encourages this kind of use. Sporty captain and co-pilot seats lead the charge and are capable of swivelling 180 degrees for easy interaction with anyone on the multi-positional transom seat.
With a bit of specialist wriggling, this piece of ingenuity has a sliding back capable of splitting seating into a row each side or sliding forward/aft to create a large sunbed on either side. From there, it's one step onto the duckboard and a leap into the water.
Stowage inside the cockpit consists of flush-mount, carpet-lined cupboards to port and starboard, and a lift-up hatch in the centre. There you'll find room for fenders and access to all eight of the batteries, weighing a total of 256kg, needed to run the hybrid vessel.
Forward, a huge lock-up cabin is down two stairs and decked out with a large vee berth. It's covered in the same, no-shoes white macro-suede upholstery found throughout the rest of the boat.
There's enough room for Jaws and a number of other henchmen to sleep in the comfy cabin. A sink and electric toilet plumbed into a holding tank cap of the accommodation.
Behind the scenes
Dave Pestor and his crew at Optimum Boats have been largely responsible for the construction of Ishco.
Her hull was built over frames and consists of a balsa core sole. Battens and foam were added before three laminates of epoxy sandwich and one of Kevlar were hand-laid over the top. Sole and side panels were vacuum moulded for strength. The deck was built in the same way.
"We wanted two things: good looks and a stiff structure. When a boat hits a wave you can tell if it's stiff or not."
Step aboard Ishco and one of the first things that becomes apparent is how sturdy she is. Just standing in the cockpit she feels strong, and her reinforced lines add to that.
Dave is said to have put in many 'off the clock' hours into the build, while Hamish estimates he's invested around 500 hours himself. If any commercial spin-off comes from it, the pair will split the winnings.
"I didn't set out to make it a business," Hamish says. "The market for a boat like this in New Zealand is one or two, but if someone rings and says 'I want one', we'd certainly go for it."
Hamish has voted for the Green Party a couple of times, but that's not to say the man raised on a north Canterbury sheep farm is a true tree hugger. He just wants to do his part.
"When we started in 2007 the whole 'green' thing was very strong and Steyr had just come out with this engine so I thought it would be good to incorporate."
Hamish is the first to admit the six cylinder, 3.2-litre 230hp engine driving through a MercCruiser leg, coupled with a duoprop, hardly gives him a ticket to God's green afterparty, but the Steyr's ability to run on batteries does help.
Fire the Austrian-made engine into life and she starts as a diesel. Push the 'E-mode' button and with a whiz and a whir the diesel disengages and Ishco slips into zero emissions mode. The 2300kg boat runs off eight batteries, and can be pushed up to 5.5 knots with control over the boat maintained right down to zero revs.
"It's great for marinas and really nice to come into an anchorage - no noise, no emissions - and leave the same way in the morning."
Ishco can travel for an hour at 5.5 knots using 180 amp hours. In other words, if the diesel decides to pack it in, there's a back-up to get to a safe anchorage. Steyr's command centre takes pride of place on the dashboard, and a touch screen unit monitors every aspect of the engine.
Flick the switch back to diesel mode and it's a completely different story. Engage the futuristic-themed gear leaver, ease the throttle forward and the acceleration is instant with more pick up than a James Bond one-liner. Getting over the hump is smooth and effortless and once the turbo starts whistling, there's ample acceleration on tap.
She cruises at around 23 knots, pulling 3200rpm and sipping 23 litres per hour. Although she looks like speed on a stick, she maxes out at a modest 34 knots and 4200rpm.
Even when she's at wide-open throttle, chatting in Ishco's enclosed cockpit is effortless. Ease the mahogany wheel to one side and her power steering makes for a light, easy and controlled lean into the corner. Throw the helm over and she holds on tight with cavitation only coming when speed and rate of turn are at a maximum.
On test day there was no sea to speak of. Although Hamish says the 19 degree vee hull is best suited for 'fair weather boating', Ishco's waterline length and weight will work in her favour when it comes to battling the sea.
Trimming the leg requires a degree of contortionism because the controls are aft of the comfy helm, but for the most part the leg is left alone anyway.
Like most personal projects, Hamish says he'd do a few things differently the second time around, but on the whole he's stoked.
"I'm thrilled with the way the boat handles and looks. For my first attempt, to put a boat together like this is just great. As a design and build exercise it's been a fantastic opportunity that few people take."
loa 8.4 m
draft .45m (excluding leg)
displacement 2300kg (unladen)
trailerable weight 3100kg
deadrise 19 degrees
engine Steyr 230 Hybrid
cruise/max speed 34.5 knots
fuel 180 litres
water 40 litres
cruising range 160nm
price $296,000 plus GST (as tested)
enquiries Coop Marine 021 31 68 44 www.ishco.co.nz
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