A traditional handmade fibreglass Australian cuddy cabin for fishing and family boating

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Sam Catanese, the founder of long-standing Stejcraft boats, returned to what he loves most by creating the Revival brand of trailerboat in Melbourne about six years ago. We got to drive and test the entry-level 525, but this 5.8 Sports has become a bigger hit in less than a year.

– Best-seller status in just a year
Since our spin on Port Phillip Bay some months ago, Revival founder Sam Catanese says his 5.8 Sports has become a best seller.

“The 6.4 is still selling very well but in a short amount of time since its launch at the 2014 Melbourne Boat Show we’ve been selling one 5.8 a week into WA, QLD and NSW,” he told BoatPoint and boatsales.

Certainly, this 5.80-metre (hull length) cuddy is a very practical size of trailerboat. But it’s the keen package price, about $50K on a tandem-axle trailer with a 115hp ETEC, that really adds to this model’s appeal, he says. And the boat will perform just fine with 115 horses.

The other appealing thing is the Australian build quality and design for our way of boating. This cuddy doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it does answer the call of a lot of trailerboaters looking for maximum useable deck space, storage and weather protection.

– JV Marine package
The 5.8 Sports we drove was a special JV Marine package with some fruit and an upgraded 135hp Evinrude ETEC outboard. It was selling for $54,999 at the time of writing, which is excellent value given all the gear aboard.

The test boat had a GPS/fishfinder, alloy rocket launcher and stainless-steel bait board among its upgraded fishing kit. But it must be said you get a lot of standard gear on the Revival 5.8 Sports.

The factory-rolled package includes hydraulic steering, walk-through foredeck, sliding helm seats and driver’s side storage box, 200-litre infloor kill tank, padded fold-down rear lounge, walk-through transom, live-bait tank in port quarter, and padded and carpeted side pockets in cockpit and cabin.

The opening windscreen and walkthrough foredeck are big selling points aboard what is a very easy boat to anchor, while the cabin cushions include an infill as standard to lift the luxury levels and appeal to those seeking a degree of comfort in their cuddy.

– Cuddy cabin formula
Australian boaters love their cuddies and the 5.8 Sports trades off that fact. The boat offers plenty of cockpit space for fishing and a spacious dry-storage area that doubles as a decent cabin for kids to nap or even an adult to grab 40 winks. The bulkhead between cockpit and cabin adds to the sense of protection once inside.

Catanese realises that boaters in this market spend a fair bit of time anchoring and re-anchoring at their favourite fishing spots and boltholes. So he ensured the set-up was a premium one with easy and safe access.

The opening windscreen and foredeck hatch create a walkthrough to the large anchor well, the heavy-duty bow roller and bollard. You could add a drum-style auto winch if you wanted but it’s really not called for. The moulded cabin footwell and a raised step make anchor dispatch a snap.

The other requirement of a good cuddy, and indeed any small fishing/family boat, is storage. This exists in cabin side pockets, under the bunks, in cockpit side pockets and under the cockpit floor, which has a carpeted centre section. The driver’s seat storage box includes a stack of tackle trays, too.

The walkthrough transom assists water access for the family. There’s a pullout rear lounge backrest and fold-down seat swab leading to the requisite swim ladder, albeit a bulky fixed number rather than a folding one.

Meanwhile, the storage box in the opposing starboard deck corner can be plumbed if you want to carry live bait for your fishing ventures. We’d add a portable esky with ice and carry that in the footwell when running around.

– Proven marine-encapsulated ply
Catanese swears by glass-encapsulated marine ply stringers and cockpit floor. In this sense, he is a traditional boatbuilder doing things by instinct, a sharp eye and experience rather than 3D computer modelling and foam filling.

The boat has what’s deemed as basic flotation derived from sub-floor air tanks. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years so why change,” he says.

Revival says the 5.8 Sports weighs 830kg for a hull with a beam of 2.34m. This makes it an easy tow on its dual-axle trailer.

The 20 degrees of transom deadrise is moderate, offering the best of stability and wave-cutting. It’s certainly not as sharp as a 580 Haines Hunter, but it is surefooted at rest.

The 130-litre underfloor fuel tank is modest but in keeping with this boat’s anticipated all-round fishing and family use.

There are LED cockpit lights, two supplied rod holders only, and recessed stainless cleats and grab rails. The optional rocket launcher added six rod holders for storage when running to the grounds.

Battery, oil bottle (a deck filler would be handy) and fuel filter access are gained under the transom, while the hull is backed by a five-year warranty and a national dealer network.

We would have liked to have seen better access to the bilge and the supplied 1100gph pump, which were below the ‘sealed’ carpeted floor and therefore not easy to service at all. But I’m sure Catanese can fix that oversight.

– A day on Port Phillip Bay
On a typically choppy but fishable Melbourne Day, the 5.8 Sports performed pretty well. The boat displaced plenty of water but the spray was pushed out to the sides.

The V6 60-degree 135hp Evinrude ETEC two-stroke certainly provided plenty of power. The 2.6-litre block has a lot of torque and big charging via a 135A alternator (total output).

At 3000rpm low-speed cruise we clocked 24 knots, 4000rpm gave 31 knots and wide-open throttle of 5450rpm gave 44.7 knots, perhaps indicating room for a smaller prop.

That said, hole shot was snappy on this boat and we noted it is an eager planing hull that leans towards stability over rough-water ride comfort. Driven sensibly, it’s a nice family and fishing rig.

– Australian-made all rounder
There aren’t too many Australian fibreglass-boat builders remaining in the affordable and highly competitive end of the market. So Revival’s relatively new appearance on the scene and subsequent survival means it must be doing something right.

The 5.8 Sports is an honest all-rounder built for local conditions and boating applications, with a keen price. You get plenty of fishing and family room, bow-to-stern access, good storage and predictable performance in a drive-away low-$50K rig.

See the Full review here

>> Good-value Australian-made all-rounder
>> High-aspect cuddy for weather protection
>> Good low-speed and eco cruise performance
>> Well priced in the competitive 5m-fibreglass market

>> No immediate and easy bilge (pump) access.
>> Oil bottle could do with a deck filler
>> A little harsh head-on in the rough stuff

Overall rating: 18/25 = 72%
Mechanical/equipment: 3.5/5.0
Packaging and practicality: 4.0/5.0
On the water performance: 3.0/5.0
Value for money: 4.5/5.0
X-factor: 3.0/5.0

Price as tested: $54,999 with 135hp Evinrude ETEC, dual-axle trailer and options including spare wheel, GPS/sounder, rocket launcher, bait board, concealed rig kit, regos and safety gear
Price from: $49,095 with Evinrude ETEC 90hp
LOA: 6.80m
Hull length: 5.80m
Beam: 2.34m
Deadrise at transom: 20 degrees
Engine max: 175hp outboard
Engine on test: extra-long 25in shaft Evinrude 135hp ETEC
People capacity: 7 max.
Weight: 830kg hull only
Fuel: 130 litres underfloor

Supplied by:
JV Marine
878 Springvale Rd,
Braeside VIC 3195
Phone: (03) 9798 8883