McLay Sportsman 591 with Suzuki 115hp
  |  First Published: June 2017

What better way is there to test a New Zealand built aluminium boat than in New Zealand-like conditions? Sorry Kiwis, but the only way I could describe the nasty storm we drove the McLay 591 Sportsman into on the test day was “New Zealand like”.

Rugged up in a rain suit and with a sense of adventure, we ventured out of the Patterson River and into a wall of water falling from the sky. Luckily, we had a canopied McLay to use as a camera boat for the session. Funnily enough, all of the rest of the crew preferred to pile in there, leaving me alone on the test boat.

Spending some quality alone time on the McLay, though, I got to get a good feel for the rig. It’s a combination of a workboat and sports car – sort of like the 4WD ads where they wash off the mud and they’re instantly ready for a classy function.

Like all McLays I’ve tested over the years, this McLay looked like it was fresh from the factory. The Nyalic coating that is applied to the bare aluminium stops the natural oxidation process and keeps your pride and joy looking mint for years to come.

Although there was not a heap of wind with the rain, there was enough residual chop on Port Phillip Bay to get a feel for the hull. Wide reverse chines and a variable deadrise ending in 17° at the transom means that if you land the rig correctly at 90° to the wanes, it will land remarkably softy.

One up, I wasn’t afraid to put the Sportsman into some tight turns and let the Suzuki do its thing. The harder I drove it, the more impressed I was with the behaviour of the hull.

Trimmed in, it pulled tight into the corners with minimal ventilation. Trimmed out on a speed run and the raindrops were definitely stinging the eyes.

The boat pulled 62km/h at 6000rpm, delivering 1.6km per litre of fuel burned. The best economy was at 3500rpm, where you could squeeze 2.9km out of every litre of fuel burned.

Is this the ideal family boat? Far from it. This is a boat built for hard-core anglers, and as such it has little in the way of creature comforts. If family boating is what you’re after, there are other boats in the McLay range that are better suited to the task. Still, there is enough of a cabin in the 591 Sportsman to get out of the elements if you’re not wearing a $1000 rain suit in a downpour.

The 591 is designed to be a robust and practical workspace that’s easy to keep clean, both during and after the fishing sessions. I particularly liked the smart design of the transom door area – a folding ladder gets you in, and the door slides up and out but has a place to keep it stowed while it’s not in use. The bait station is removable, and the step contains the live bait tank complete with a window. Combine that with some adjustable upright storage for rods along the side pockets and a high rocket launcher on the Targa top, and you’ve got a combination that’s obviously been designed by anglers.

And coming from NZ, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ve caught better snapper than you or I.

The carpeted dash is designed to flush-mount quite substantial electronics, even though the test rig was fitted with a smaller, bracket-mounted Lowrance.

I also liked the positioning and abundance of places to hang onto in this boat. Some of the boats we test see us searching for a place to white-knuckle when the going gets rough.

The guys at Warragul Marine Centre are passionate about their brands – both McLay and Suzuki. You can call them at the dealership or just visit wwwwarragulmarine.com.au for more information. You can also find them on Facebook – just search for Warragul Marine Centre.



Transom height25"
Transom deadriseVariable 17 V

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