Queensland made Haines Signature boats seem to have a boat for every purpose these days, and their new 543SF (the SF stands for Sport Fishing) model follows that trend to a T, delivering anglers a specialised, high quality, sportfishing rig.
With a length of 5.41m and a 2.13m beam this deep V fibreglass hull is large enough for offshore work on calmer days (due to the limited freeboard of the sports style hull), and is tailor made for bay, estuary and impoundment angling. The reviewed vessel came equipped with a side console and tandem seating, but can be ordered with a centre console options if that’s more to your liking. Haines Signature offers some latitude in the layout of the deck and are more than happy to discuss the available options. Standard on all models and layouts though is Haines Signature’s attention to detail and high-level build quality and finish.
Reviewed on Moreton Bay on a typical choppy morning the Signature’s variable deadrise hull provided an extremely dry and comfortable ride. Being a sports style hull design of course necessitated the need for sufficient power to push the hull out of the hole and onto the plane, and likewise sufficient grunt was needed to keep the boat on top of the chop and push it through the waves with ease. This was a task the 2.8litre four cylinder Suzuki 150hp four stroke engine seemed to thrive on. More on performance later, in the meantime let’s take a look at the Haines’ layout and features.
Up front there are several storage compartments under the 40cm high front casting deck, conveniently equipped with lighting for night fishing. Complimenting the lockable dry storage compartments up front is a fully plumbed, full width livewell, plus another pair of storage compartments located at the rear of the deck. A stainless steel grab rail located on the top of the gunnel further adds to the front deck’s features, providing angler comfort and security in rough conditions.
The cockpit also boasts a host of fishing features for the discerning angler. Upright rod holders are located on each side of the cockpit, while under gunnel horizontal rod holders located on the port side of the vessel provide room to safety and securely store five outfits.
The 543FS has seating that could only be described as plush. Classic in design, these stylish blue and white pedestal seats feature a high backrest, and a fully moulded bucket seat base. Equipped with a front bolster, height adjustability, and full swivel functionality these are seats that definitely look as good as they feel.
When seated at the helm I found there to be ample legroom between the seat and the console, while the console’s windscreen provides some shelter from the elements. Engine controls are comfortably located next to the skipper’s right arm, providing ultimate comfort and control.
The 543SF’s well-considered and designed dash saw not one, but two, in-dash Garmin 751xs sounders positioned side-by-side. Also set into the console’s upright section is, four banks of rocker switches controlling various functions, trim tab controls, and drink holder. Located lower on the dash along with the ignition key is a microphone for the vessel’s marine radio. In all the Haines’ dash was well set out, ergonomically friendly to use, both when at rest and when travelling at speed, and like all elements on the boat a testament to Haines’ attention to design and construction quality. An on-board sound system was also part of the package and sat unobtrusively on the console.
Driving the 543SF was effortless and pleasurable with the craft’s tilt adjustable steering wheel linking with the vessel’s hydraulic steering to deliver a steering set-up that is fluid and assured at all speeds. Trim tab controls are also right at the skipper’s reach providing further hull control when on the move. The 543SF’s deep V 33/21 degree variable deadrise hull didn’t seem to need a lot of power to get it up and planning. With three aboard the Haines only needed 2,600rpm of power from the motor, and 7.6 knots (14.1km/h) of speed to get it out of the hole and on the plane. The 150 Suzuki worked effortlessly during the onwater test recording a speed of 8.9 knots (16.6 km/h) at 3000rpm, 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h) at 4000 rpm, 30.5 knots (56.6km/h) at 5000 rpm, 36.8 knots (68.3km/h) at 6000 rpm, and 38.4 knots (71.3km/h) at 6200rpm.
These were impressive speeds but are of course entirely governed by water conditions. What additionally impressed me was the very smooth and seemingly noise-free cruise speed of 22.6 knots (41.9km/h) at 4000rpm, and the fuel consumption of 18.5L/h. With 170L fuel capacity this is vessel that has some serious range.
The performance from the Suzuki was virtually seamless. Whisper quiet at idle the engine purred into life once over 1000rpm, and when driven harder never seemed to be working that hard at all. Given the ease in which the 150 Suzuki push the hull along, opting for a smaller 140 would be a viable money saving option.
The 543SF is true to Haines Signature’s fishing pedigree with a multitude of features combining to make it a sports fishing boat with few peers. Cockpit features to please the angler are a deep underfloor compartment for stowing fish, soft coaming on the sides to assist when fighting fish, a recirculating livewell located at the transom, rear twin stainless steel rod holders, transom lights, rear boarding steps, and a rear portside ladder. A small casting deck is also located at the rear and extends the full width of the boat. A large forward deck further enhances the vessel’s large work area, proving sufficient room for up to four anglers.
With a hull weight of 1100 kg this is a mighty substantial craft and while the deep V hull was slightly inclined to lean when sitting at rest in chop, I noted no excessive leaning or tipping even with three moving about onboard. For those wishing to run an electric motor an electric motor bracket is available as an optional extra.
As a dedicated sports fishing rig the Signature 543SF will be suited to a lot of different anglers. From the tournament angler to enthusiast bay and inshore anglers it’s a vessel that offers a lot and delivers plenty. For a fly angler like myself the expansive front casting deck is tailor made for casting a fly line from and offers a tonne of room to fight fish
Stunning in looks, refined in design and construction, and ultimately impressive in performance this a craft that is built to excite.
Including all extras (including three Garmin sounders) the reviewed Haines Signature 543SF would come home on a Dunbier dual axle trailer for around $62,990. Haines Signature can be contacted via email on --e-mail address hidden-- , or by phone or fax on 32714000 to locate a dealer near you.
|Hull deadrise||33/21 degrees standard variable.|
|Engine ratings||130 to 150 h.p|
|Engine fitted||150 Suzuki four stroke|
|Towing||family six or big four sedan|