McLay 651 CrossXover – family friendly fishing machine
  |  First Published: December 2016

New Zealand plate boat manufacturers McLay Boats continue to make inroads into the Australian market with their quality aluminium trailer boats. Their range includes everything from tiller steer styles to cuddy cabins and hard top cruisers. All are manufactured with fishing and recreational boating in mind.

The CrossXover series is one of their most popular ranges they produce with five boats to choose from. The 651 CrossXover HT is the premium boat in the range. Poor weather on the coast resulted in David Garcia and I heading to Hazelwood Pondage to put this package through its paces. We didn’t test it anywhere near its capacity, but it was great to get feel for what it offers.

The theory behind a CrossXover

The CrossXover series is a combination of a family friendly boat and a no holes barred fishing vessel. I would suggest it’s almost a boat of two halves. The cabin and wheelhouse provide the comforts and space to take the family out on the water. The rear of the craft is a large functional fishing space. How these two combine is very clever. The cabin area is fully lined and has a large cushioned area that can house a toilet if required. Underneath this. there is plenty of storage for safety equipment and any excess fishing gear you may have.

The wheelhouse is nicely thought out, with two seats that are well placed. It’s also lined, and has plenty of room for electronics and all the switches you could ever need on the dash, plus space above for radios and stereo systems. The visibility from the wheelhouse is excellent and includes two sliding windows for airflow and wipers to keep the windows as clear as possible at all times.

You also have the ability to set up the wheelhouse in many configurations, it is just matter of speaking to the dealer and they will sort it with McLay for you. Rocket launchers are above the wheelhouse to store rods not being used or during travel. The seating has storage in it, with the passenger seat also incorporating an esky, which can be pulled out from underneath.

The CrossXover doesn’t stop there. The large deck space provides plenty of fishing room. Importantly, it has no obstructions and can be easily cleaned. The transom not only includes a bait board and live bait tank, but is also a walk through style and includes a ladder. Housed in the transom is a very practical and workable space for all the batteries. Covering this is a seat that folds down for those times when you’re not fishing. There are additional storage pockets in each gunnel for all those things you need to get your hands on quickly. It’s an uncluttered space, with places for everything.

Strength and safety combined

When people say they build boats tough in New Zealand, they may well have had McLay Boats in mind. The 651 has a 5mm pressed hull combined with 4mm marine grade sides and top, plus a welded 4mm checker plate floor. It also has a full-length keel protection strip, all of which provides a bulletproof hull.

McLay doesn’t rest on its laurels there. For added safety and stability, they also have foam/air cell buoyancy from front to rear in the gunnels and further buoyancy under the rear platforms. All up, it’s great peace of mind to know, barring a catastrophe, you’re going to get home safely at the end of the day.

Suzuki DF200hp V6 4-stroke

A Suzuki DF200hp V6 4-stroke motor powered the 651, which is at the upper end of its horsepower capacity. It was hard not to enjoy the tone of the motor when we took off for the first time – the Suzuki has a lovely roar about it and delivers plenty of power to get you from A to B in a hurry if you want.

At full noise, we got up to 70km/h and it had a very impressive hole shot of 4.12 seconds for such a large boat. The sweet spot between speed and fuel usage came at between 3500 and 4000 revs. Somewhere in that zone will see you traveling around 40-45km/h and maximizing the distance you’ll get from the 180L underfloor fuel tank.


Although not an overly large vessel, at approximately 1900kg in tow weight, you will need a vehicle with a minimum of a 2t towing capacity. Housed on a Dunbier dual axle Glider Rolla trailer, the McLay 651 towed well and was a pleasure to launch. It was a very simple drive on, drive off scenario and we launched/retrieved it quickly with a minimum of fuss for two people.


The McLay 651 CrossXover HT ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to fishing. It’s as much at home out in the bluewater chasing tuna, marlin or kingfish as it would be chasing snapper or other inshore species. Where the appeal really applies is that on the occasion that you want to take the family out, they will be confortable, safe and enjoy being out on the water as much as you do.

We tested the McLay 651 CrossXover HT for the team at Warragul Marine Centre in Warragul. The boat as tested was worth $99,995 and was heavily optioned by them to ensure it matched the fishing machine label. To contact Warragul Marine Centre and find out more about the 651 and the other McLay Boats that are available, you can ring them on 03 56236250 or go to their website at www.warragulmarine.com.au.

Quoted performance figures have been supplied by the writer in good faith. Performance of individual boat/motor/trailer packages may differ due to variations in engine installations, propellers, hull configurations, options, hull loading and trailer specifications.


RevsSpeed (kph)Fuel consumption (km/L)
WOT (5800)70kph1.0
Hole Shot4.12 seconds

Options test boat

Underfloor kill tank

Rubber floor matting

12” Garmin touch screen sounder

GME radios

Fusion stereo system

Lone Star anchor winch

Suzuki Dual multi function gauges

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