The new Stessl Seahawk is very impressive. It's high, wide, and mighty handsome and combines plenty of fishing features with seakeeping ability.
The Seahawk’s construction is sturdy, with the Stessl Platerix underfloor framework linked to 4mm plate bottom and 3mm plate metre-high sides.
The Seahawk combines a careful blend of cabin space and fishing room, comfort, practicality and fish-ability in a seamless package.
The cabin is large enough to allow up to four people to sit out of the weather, thanks to plenty of headroom and legroom and the full-length bunks are handy for a snooze. Valuable rods could also be stored in the cabin while the boat is under way.
A marine toilet is standard although a privacy door is not fitted to the cabin entry between the pedestal seats.
An upholstered area forward of the bunks made it easy to stand comfortably braced in the rear-opening hatch to tend the anchor. The anchor well is spacious for all ground tackle and the bowsprit, roller and bow rails are standard.
The full-width dash has two tiers of shelves and is tucked behind a three-piece curved windscreen with a folding bimini overhead. The front and side clears on the test craft are optional.
There is ample room for any number and size of electronics on the Seahawk's dash and they’ll be in full view of the skipper. The test craft's Northstar 657 Sounder-GPS combo was a shining example and totally visible.
A neat instrument binnacle is set in the wide upper dash shelf with all engine instruments visible at all times. On the lower tier the compass and marine radio leave plenty of room for keeping personal items in plain view.
A grab handle across the cabin entry is also standard, which is very handy in a craft venturing offshore. When seas turn nasty there can never be too many grab handles around.
All of the floor areas are carpeted and a handy underfloor storage area is between the skipper’s and mate’s sliding pedestal seats. This floor well is large enough for a tackle box or two or maybe a spare anchor and rope if required.
A footrest is provided for the skipper and the first mate can rest feet on the rear of the bunk. A locking glove box is set to port.
With an interior height around 80cm, the Seahawk's cockpit is quite capable of fishing four or five anglers in estuary, bay or offshore waters, depending on the day. The craft is rated for seven adults.
The Seahawk's high sides offer plenty of protection from the sea but would not, in my opinion, affect fishability. A really big fish could be brought in via the transom door if necessary.
There are wide sit-on gunwales with two rod holders aft and 1.5m side pockets suitable for a gaffs or storage of other items. There is space below the side pockets for anglers a place to dig their toes in and brace against a stubborn fish or a sudden wave.
A plumbed underfloor kill tank is towards the rear of the cockpit and large finger tabs allow easy opening.
At the rear of the cockpit a folding bench seat, complete with backrest, can seat two or three. A grab rail is provided for the starboard passenger and a neatly constructed armrest-cum grab handle set up for the port passenger.
The raised shelf across the transom houses the engine battery to starboard and the inward-opening transom door to port is well sealed.
Further transom features include a pair of cleats, grab rails extending down to the full-width boarding platform and a boarding ladder to port.
The Stessl Seahawk 560's hull has 15 of deadrise at the transom and a progressive deadrise forward.
The bow is bold yet quite rakes and provides a ride that is soft, controlled and quiet, courtesy of the foam under the floor.
A large amount of bow flare keeps occupants dry heading into seas. I had no difficulty driving the Seahawk in pressure waves on the test day when 30-knot southerly winds prevented us heading offshore.
The big Stessl handled sloppy water very well with no inclination to bang or bash whether heading into chop or quartering away from it.
Low speed manoeuvring was easy with seas astern and the hull readily responded to driver input.
The hydraulic steering offered fingertip control and the Seahawk was also quite responsive to trim. The hull planed easily and held there without constant engine throttle adjustment.
I found the driving position ideal. Visibility at the helm is quite unrestricted and the engine controls easily accessible.
The boat is rated for engines from 115hp to 140hp, so the Suzuki 140hp four-stroke with its 19” prop had plenty of punch and easily kicked the craft onto the plane at 3000rpm at 12 knots (22kmh). At 4000rpm we cruised at 22 knots (41kmh) and 5000rpm saw 30.5 knots (56.6kmh).
The engine was very new so further speeds were not tested but I confidently expect a maximum around 35 knots (65kmh) from a fully broken-in motor.
Noise levels from the Suzuki were very acceptable and at no time did we have to shout to hear each other.
The sheer mass of the 600kg Stessl Seahawk hull ensured that it sat very steady at rest.
The hull features several large V-shaped strakes on the 4mm bottom. Together with the small reversed outer chine these ensure the hull resists any tendency to roll or lean at rest.
The big Stessl is the sort of versatile craft that could be used in the bay, estuaries and offshore and it would also suit the family angler for an overnight stay. An inflatable mattress in the big cockpit could certainly sleep a family with kids in the cabin.
While the metre-high sides might make it hard for a child to haul a fish aboard, they would also provide plenty of peace of mind for parents.
The only features lacking in the test craft was a bait board aft and a livewell, both popular options.
The finish was of a high standard. Welds were visible but were neat and continuous and the paintwork and overall presentation were very good. One would be proud to own this craft.
The test Seahawk was on the owner's special request dual-axle Dunbier trailer but for around $47,000 (including optional clears, motor and Northstar sounder GPS upgrade) the Seahawk will come home on a single-axle multi-roller Dunbier trailer, which would be entirely adequate.
The test boat was supplied by Coastal Powerboats, phone 07 5526 0858. To find your nearest dealer to arrange a test run, jump on the web at www.stessl.com.au.
|Height on trailer||2.64m|
|Length on trailer||6.8m|
TowingLarge 4WD/family six