Moda means “style” in Italian, but don’t let the gorgeous lines fool you, this Express model is full of function too, with a 600km range, the ability to sleep five adults and almost $80K of electronic equipment.
The Captain: Ahoy Shane, we’ve seen your a.m.a.z.i.n.g. rigs and we’re thrilled they’ll grace the pages of The Captain. Tell us about the team behind Moda.
Shane Darlington: Moda is a family run business, started in 2008 by my father and me. We decided the aluminium boat market was becoming boring and thought we could liven it up. We’ve employed some of the best young boatbuilders in the country who share our view.
Your boats are pure works of art. Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from all around the world. We like to look beyond our backyard. Our name, Moda, is the Italian word for style and we try to reflect that. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head while chilling and listening to tunes.
What kinds of tunes get your creative juices flowing?
At the moment, Flume is the biggest trigger for my latest designs. Rufus also helps out.
Have you always been motivated by cool design?
We believe not every boat owner wants a square tinnie. We cater for the person who loves the style – and wants something more refined. Some people are happy with a Hilux Ute and others want a Mercedes AMG – just because they can.
How do you put these ideas into practice? Tell us about some of your construction techniques.
Moda vessels are built on a jig using longitudinal and lateral framing – ‘grid frames’, built to exact tolerances using state-of-the-art Fronius pulse welders. Audi, VW, and Bentley use the same equipment. We also use the latest plastics and vinyls in the interior to eliminate rot. They are also built to AS1799.1.
How long does a typical build take?
An Express HT takes between five and seven months, depending on what kind of bling the customer wants.
Can you make a new letterbox for The Captain’s shack? Some punk knocked ours off.
Yes sure can. How big would you like it?
Big enough to take to the shelf ‑ and mount twin 350 outboards, please. Jokes aside, tell us about your customers.
Our customers are usually experienced boaties. Most have owned 10-plus boats in their lifetime. They’re tired of the same old boring stuff and come to us to get exactly what they want. After dealing with the customer one-on-one over the period of construction, we always develop good friendships. We even go fishing together and enjoy good times in the product! It’s great meeting all these different people from around Australia with different backgrounds. I’ve built boats for miners, cane growers, builders, mechanics, finance brokers, CEOs and cleaners. They all share the same love ‑ fishing.
So you guys are hardcore fishos? What’s your target species?
Yes, we all fish. I love billfish, but I also don’t mind relaxing and catching some whiting – just don’t tell my mates. The builders love any kind of fishing, including the crustaceans. To build the ultimate fishing boat, you need to know how to fish.
Couldn’t agree more, Shane. $225K is a lot of coin for a fancy tinny. Why should we buy a Moda and not two Bar Crushers?
Same reason people spend $2-$3 million on a Riviera – because you can. The Moda Express is beyond what a Bar Crusher can offer in refined performance, handling and comfort. What other trailer boat on the market can sleep five adults and has a 600km range? And we’re still cheaper than our 8m Kiwi cousins. Most of our Express customers are stepping down out of larger 35ft-40ft boats due to running costs. The feedback has been awesome. They all agree it handles like a big game boat and rides like a ‘glass boat.
Tell us about the fit-out on the Express.
This vessel was designed with the customer from the keel up. Interestingly, they just stepped out of a recent “boat of the year” rig. The biggest challenge was the installation of the Furuno Searchlight sonar; a 900mm high, 50kg transducer that retracts from the bottom of the hull through a 185mm tube. There’s $38k worth of kit there. Normally these are fitted to 60ft game boats. We were the first trailer boat manufacturer in Australia to install one. Other features on board include the Sure Shade retractable awning, custom tuna tubes, custom SeaDek flooring, facilities for cooking lamb chops while trolling, FLIR night vision, one-piece curved glass windscreen, recessed transom door, workstations, life raft, heavy tackle rod locker, plus heaps more. The colours were specifically chosen to suit his tow rig.
I’d be too scared to bring a mako onto that gorgeous deck ‑ or the kids, for that matter. Do you have an entry-level model?
These are hard-wearing boats. The paint is protected with multiple layers of clear. The SeaDek is extremely durable and the vinyl upholstery is robust. However, we do build other models from 6m upwards that can be customised with less fruit. The Express HT is our flagship; it’s one model we don’t like to skimp on.
Thanks for the chat, Shane, The Captain salutes you and your commitment to cool!