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It’s On: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

It’s On: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Avid marlin fishermen Garry and James Holt already have a string of Australian national records to their name with their current boat French Look III. This boat is the world’s fastest at reversing up on marlin at 17 knots. World records are not handed out for being complacent though, so Garry has spent the last year chasing down his most ambitious boat yet, It’s On.

It’s On is a huge game boat at 59 feet long by 17.5 wide, and weighing 22 tonnes. Garry said he thinks of his other boat French Look III being like an F1 because it is purely about speed and performance, whereas It’s On is more like a Porsche road car. It will still blow your hair back with its speed, but you also get to enjoy the feeling of luxury while the ocean is tearing past.

Built in 1989 in Destin, Florida, It’s On is one of the few remaining G&S Boats in existence. Buddy Gentry and Steve Sauer built 50 of their high-performance G&S marlin boats, and only 30 are still believed to be operating.

As you would expect, keeping such a large boat in peak condition is an expensive hobby. The previous owner of It’s On had spent US$1.5M on overhauling the mechanical side of the boat. When Garry bought it in early 2018, he committed to spending another $1M-plus on maximising its marlin performance, while also ensuring it provided Maritimo-style luxury inside, as well as having all the necessary gear to enable the boat to be self-sufficient for up to three weeks.

During a three-month-long complete refit at The Boat Works, Garry and his engineer Danny Frizzel, have project-managed a team of 15 tradesmen to replace and upgrade a staggering amount of the original boat.

One of the largest jobs was replacing all the boat’s electrical wiring. This involved pulling out tangled messes of aging copper wire and installing 3 to 4 kilometres of new marine-grade tin-copper wire. These new electric systems are needed to power a wealth of gadgets, most of which are dedicated to fishing performance, such as dual driving controls decked out with huge Garman screens, enabling Garry to control the boat from either the cockpit or the back deck. The boat also sports more fridges and freezers than most houses. There are new chippers to create ice to chill bait, fresh catches and even drinks in a half-dozen freezers, all of which can be switched between fridges and freezers at the touch of a button. There is even a custom brine tank to instantly freeze the bait, keeping it tasting the just way the marlin like it.

Everywhere you look, there are examples that are easy to miss but reveal just how much work has gone into ensuring the best performance. The placement of the transducer is one such example. Transducers are essential because they use sonar to find the fish. In marlin boats like this, they are about the size of a car battery. Normally, they are just bolted to the underside of the hull, creating lots of drag. To avoid this, the team have cut a special enclosure into the keel to house it without any drag. To keep the boat out of trouble overseas, it even carries a spare propeller and shaft to enable quick and cheap repairs if it gets banged up on a reef.

Working on an American boat also creates a few extra challenges. Firstly, the electrical systems were all powered off the USA 110-volt standard. To ensure Australian 240-volt devices are compatible, building a series of step-down inverters into the system was necessary. The original It’s On did not have an anchor system, so an entire system had to be fitted. In America, where fuel is cheaper, boats go without anchors, because they normally return to port each night rather than anchor at sea.

Not all the improvements are purely about fishing though. Previously, It’s On had returned to the mother ship each night, which meant it had limited sleeping and cooking facilities. To ensure the boat is able to host big groups of his friends in style, Garry significantly upgraded the interiors across its nine beds, and the kitchen now sports a gas-powered oven. The boat even has a state-of-the-art satellite TV dome on the tower to ensure the bedrooms’ large screen TVs feature dual Foxtel systems to allow viewing of different movies in different rooms.

As much as he enjoys the luxury, it is clear Garry’s main passion is chasing down that elusive number one record. The last seven records Garry and James caught have been second in the world by just a few centimetres.

It’s On was rebuilt to make it a marlin record-breaker. The boat being able to plane while reversing at 12 knots will be key. Unlike most boats that have a v-shaped hull, the G&S boats have a very flat hull that enables it to ride higher and plane along the water. Another key tactic is the special fuel and seawater bladders in G&S boats. Although It’s On has a 6,000-litre fuel capacity, Garry will only carry 1,000 litres when he is chasing a record. And then, when the boys are reversing up on a marlin, the boat’s custom pumps push the fuel and additional seawater to the bladders in the front of the boat to keep the back up high for maximum speed.

Garry enthuses, “The G&S boats are classics. They are collector’s items because they don’t build them anymore. Anyone, like us, who is serious about chasing world records, has a G&S. Their hull shape and backing-up speed cannot be beaten for chasing marlins. People are always stunned when they hear I own two of them. I would never ever sell them though.”

Garry cannot wait to take advantage of the abilities of It’s On to do some lengthy voyages to Cairns, Darwin, Exmouth, and into international waters in search of his biggest marlin yet. We look forward to hearing about his future record-breaking.


By Narayan Pattison



It’s On: Under construction                                      Almost-finished celebration



It’s On’s kitchen: BEFORE                  It’s On’s kitchen: AFTER




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