Ben was sketchy on the details and it appeared Quintrex was shrouding the event in some level of secrecy, so shooting down the M1 to Sanctuary Cove the following morning I was intrigued as to what I would find.
The location was spectacular: the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, and when I got there I realised why such an awesome place for a boat reveal had been chosen – Quintrex was treating us to an exclusive preview and test day in its much-revamped, new-look Explorer range.
The Quintrex Explorer open boat range was released in the early ‘90s and has proved extremely popular with boaties all across the country in the two decades since. In fact, the 390 Explorer is the biggest-selling Quintrex model, outstripping its fellow Quinnies by a fair margin in the sales race.
So, what’s new? Well the most immediately noticeable feature when walking up to the boats bobbing patiently in the water was the forked bow design. It’s certainly a big visual change but not purely a cosmetic one, as the reworked bow equates to wider chines for greater stability, a deeper entry point for a softer ride, improved spray deflection to keep you dry and 11 percent more space up front than previous Explorers.
The second thing I noticed was the new side pressings, which give the little tiller-steer boats a more ‘plate’ look, and they are actually 50 percent stronger than the sides of the outgoing Explorer range.
Once under way and sitting comfortably up the front of a 420 Explorer powered by one of Quintrex’s own Vortex 30hp two-stroke outboards I found the ride smooth, stress free and surprisingly swift.
The folks at Quintrex had decided a ‘dinghy derby’ would be a good way to show off the potential of the new Explorers, and arriving at our destination a decent way up the Coomera River I saw buoys set up in the water to resemble a slalom course. We were to navigate the slalom course in relay teams of four boats, with the winning team scoring bragging rights over the losers.
Well, I hadn’t driven a tiller-steer boat since a Swain Reefs trip way back in 2007, so I guess you could say I was a little apprehensive. However, once getting to the back of the boat and settling in I found the little Explorer a pleasure to handle.
Changes of direction were brisk and effortless, the ride was pleasantly smooth and dry considering all the wash we were both running over and creating, the Vortex engine punched hard and easily shifted the 420 to its top speed, and cornering stability and traction in the water were great, apart from a little cavitation from the prop when turning too tight an angle.
While a number of the other boats were doing photo runs, a couple of the guys decided to test the resting stability of the forked-bow tinnies. To say their stability was impressive is something of an understatement.
With a person standing all the way up on the bow of a 390 Explorer with no one else on board, the little boat barely broke a sweat and didn’t pitch or roll much at all. Check out the photo below to get a better idea of what I’m on about.
After setting foot in all models on offer except the 440 Explorer Trophy, I can confidently say this new range is definitely worth a closer look if you’re in the market for a small boat. A host of options are available to spruce up your little tinnie, such as wraps for the sidesheets including the awesome 70th anniversary livery our test boats were wrapped in.
I must tip my hat to Quintrex for managing to achieve that challenging goal of improving on an already very good thing. Oh and by the way, my team lost the dinghy derby. It wasn’t because of my driving, I swear.