Polycraft 5.3 Warrior Review

Plastic Fantastic – Bash ’em, smash ’em… these boats are unbreakable!

Belt it with a hammer or bang it against a jetty and it will literally bounce back into shape. Well, that’s what Steve and Brad Cooper, who build Polycraft boats in Bundaberg, say. I didn’t try it myself with their 5.3m Warrior Cuddy Cabin when I drove it recently on the Gold Coast. I took their word for it.

The Coopers claim that they have run a monster truck over one of the boats and even blasted a hull with a shotgun and the results have been the same. We don’t recommend trying this at home, but it’s good to know.

The material the boats are built from has a memory and returns to its original shape, albeit slowly (at about 2mm a day), after damage. The hotter the day, the quicker the recovery.

The Polycraft manufacturing process uses a specially formulated, UV-stabilised, marine grade polyethylene powder that is cooked in an oven to cast the hull in one, virtually indestructible, piece. The top deck is then screwed and welded, so there is no visible seam between the hull and the deck.

According to Steve Cooper, polyethylene is five times more impact resistant than fiberglass. There are other advantages of polyethylene, which Cooper is quick to point out. It’s not affected by electrolysis or osmosis, no gelcote to polish and it’s easy to clean, maintain and repair – forget the fenders.

Drill a hole in the wrong place and it’s just a matter of filling the hole with the same material and welding it in place – just like a repair to a modern car bumper bar. So, why hasn’t the idea taken off quicker ? Maybe it is because the process is still relatively new and perhaps Polycraft hulls are considered by many to be a little unconventional. A Polycraft boat is not for everyone.

Take the latest addition to the Polycraft fleet, the 5.3m Warrior Cuddy Cabin for example. There’s nothing fancy about this workhorse boat. But then, it’s not meant to be a showpiece.


This boat is pretty basic, and that’s the way they like it. The Warrior Cuddy Cabin is a rugged, durable boat aimed at the fishing market. The boat is designed to take some rough treatment. It may be a little agricultural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a performer.

The hull design has noticeable reverse chines, which start amidships to promote lift out of the hole. It gets onto the plane in 5.3 seconds – and that was with a well-used 115hp Johnson outboard on the back. The hull was originally designed by Les Ward who sold the company a few years ago and has a bit of an Edge Tracker look about it and with a 16-degree deadrise, it doesn’t want to spear off in a following sea and just sits on a wave like a surfboard.

You have probably seen other Polycraft models in a variety of solid colours, such as the Tuff Tender and the 4.55 Quickcraft – some of the colours are pretty loud. The Warrior is available in white only with the brand name and a blue flash emblazoned on the side.

The ride from this boat is remarkably soft, a result of the manufacturing process that forms a dual-wall hull.
Polyethylene floats independently and with the space between the hull walls filled with foam it has level floatation.
This also contributes to the ride as the hull itself acts as a shock absorber.

Starting off from rest with half trim out this boat won’t protest, and with a little more trim, it will get back on the plane quickly. Trim fully down in a tight turn, and it just bites down without any sign of wanting to break out. 
At 3000rpm the outboard plugged along at eight knots, pushed up to 4000rpm the GPS read 23 knots and at 55000rpm with three-quarter trim out, the top speed settled down at 34 knots. The test boat was Polycraft’s demo rig and it had certainly seen a lot of work. With a current model 115hp outboard on the back it would certainly perform a little better.

There is nothing fancy about the cockpit with its wooden floor and carpet. It is a no nonsense work platform with plenty of space provided by the 2.4mm beam and 700mm freeboard. A good feature is the moulded non-skid on the gunwales. I stepped straight on to the gunwale getting aboard from the pontoon and felt confident. I also wanted to see how far the boat would tip with my weight on the side. It didn’t.

If you ditch the aft lounge cushion, the fold-down base can become a casting platform. There are two comfortable swivel seats for the driver and a passenger, mounted on moulded platforms in front of the opening to the Kiwi-style cuddy cabin. There is good storage space up front and for the serious types the cushions can be left off the options list and the space converted into a kill tank. There is also a spot to keep a cooler.

Polycraft produces a basic boat and leaves the options up to the dealer and customer. There are only two rod holders well aft in the gunwales. If the owner wants more, it’s just a matter of drilling holes and dropping them in.
It’s the type of boat where you can stick whatever you want, wherever you want.