SINCE the Australian takeover of the Haines Hunter Company the team has been hard at work overhauling boats, sourcing new dealers and introducing new models. I’ve tested a few of their boats since then, and the team promised that I’d get to test more down the track.
The big day came last month, with Haines Hunter holding an on-water field day to show the media what’s in store. I’ve reviewed a couple of the new boats in this report which I’m sure will be of interest. One model in particular will make offshore fishos very happy.
The company’s aim is to produce quality boats with quality fittings, with many options now as standard features. An increase in the material used for hull lay-ups means that all Haines Hunter boats now have a five-year structural warranty. The extra material also adds weight, which sees the boats sitting better in the water with a softer ride. On some of the bigger boats the weight increase is up to 300kg.
As far as the fittings go, just about all latches, taps, hinges, bollards and so forth are now made of stainless steel to ensure a long life for all the fittings. Below the waterline, heavy-duty brass fittings are used to continue the quality line in the fit-up.
A remoulding of the dash allows for better layout of instruments and electronics. In many cases, a Navman sounder and GPS comes as standard already fitted into the dash.
On the smaller end of the spectrum is the V 17 Legend. This hull has been around for a long time and has always been a good seller for the company. On the new model the hull has stayed the same, with the layout and exterior receiving a makeover.
The Legend is essentially a day boat, with no bunks inside the cab. The low-profile interior of the cab is used for storing life jackets, ropes and so on, leaving a good working aft deck.
A split windscreen and fold-out door in this section allows you to walk easily through to the bow for launching and retrieving the anchor, as well as boarding the boat.
The helm set-up of this runabout has been designed for sit-down driving, which is nice and comfortable with plenty of room to stretch the legs out and a good view of what’s around.
It’s the little things that add up to make a good boat even better. This model has a nice high bulkhead rising from the floor at the feet position to stop those items that you’ve stored up front working their way back, and there’s a deep lockable glovebox to keep a few valuables locked away. There’s also additional underfloor storage.
Power for this rig was a 115hp Yamaha two-stroke outboard, and this had more than enough grunt. It took very little effort to get the boat underway.
Like most smaller 5m boats, the hull is still a little tender at rest when you get too much weight on one side – but it’s nowhere near as bad as some similar boats I’ve been on. The extra weight in the layout no doubt helps the boat sit better in the water.
Outside of day fishing trips, the Legend makes for a great watersports boat for friends and families with skiing, wake board and tube riding. A boarding platform on the transom makes life easier when getting in and out of the boat.
The V 17 has a capacity for five adults in enclosed waters and four in open waters. Additional seating is found in two aft corner seats with lift-out cushions.
Make/model - V17 legend
Length - 5.2m
Beam - 2.1-0m
Weight - 560kg (hull only)
Max hp - 115
Fuel - 90L underfloor
Package price as tested - $33,950
The 600 Classic provides quite a diverse package, not just for fishing but pleasure cruising with room for camping overnight.
In offshore boats that have good cabin room, a common complaint is that you lose deck space and the helm area extends too far back. Haines Hunter has cleverly built the cockpit area with sides that don’t extend right back. This short cabin provides ample room to fish over the sides in the aft deck area while sill providing protection in the cabin while you’re travelling and in rainy weather.
The added bonus is that the internal can area comfortably sleep two, and there’s good head room so you can sit up while inside and have a bit of room to move about.
In much of the range, wasted areas have been used to maximise storage capacity and you’ll find storage below the bunks as well as some nice deep pockets either side of the helm seats.
To the aft of the boat there’s a rear lounge with a difference. It’s actually a corner lounge which runs across the back and around behind the driver’s seat. It looks very smart and is nice and comfortable. It would be a great place to prop your back up in the corner, stretch out and read a book while wasting the day out on the water. It makes for a great social area, with more than enough room for three adults to sit. Swing the helm seats around and you have a great little hub to sip a few bottles of spring water.
There is storage below and behind this lounge, and when the rear seat is removed you get a larger, more workable area for fishing.
The port side transom has a walk-through section which adds to the user-friendliness of the boat for socialising and water sports. The space under here has been well used, making for a top little area for bait or a few fish.
The other corner has a new redesigned livewell with rounded corners and plenty of depth to hold a good supply of lives. It’s big enough to be used as an ice box if necessary. There’s another good size box under the deck which can be used for additional storage or as an ice box.
The 600 Classic is powered with a 150hp Yamaha, and because this is a heavier boat it’s good to have that extra horsepower to get you on your way. None of the models I tested went bow high; all just glided onto the plane.
I also liked the beaut stainless targa tops and rocket launchers on these boats. They look smart and they’re sturdy and strong, which comes in handy when you’re the one standing and travelling. The test rig had an extension from the main targa top to provide extra shade. Haines Hunter custom makes the canopy to suit each buyer’s height, so you can easily access the overhead rod storage. It’s a nice little bonus to keep in the back of your mind when ordering the boat.
Make/model - 600 Classic
Length - 5.85m
Beam - 2.3m
Weight - 900kg (hull only)
Max hp - 175
Fuel - 175L underfloor
Package price as tested - $54,000
This baby is one of the new models in the range and it’s going to be a big hit with offshore anglers. Over 12 months of R&D has gone into developing this boat, much of which has come from requests from dealers and boaties as to what they want in this fishing boat.
Space, storage, comfort and performance are priorities in the 650, and everywhere you look around the boat you can see that Haines Hunter has strived to give boaties exactly what they’ve been asking for.
As a fishing boat the room around the aft deck is most important, and here we see room for four anglers to fish without a worry. It truly is a good size aft deck.
Instead of the traditional side pockets there’s a two-tiered set-up. The lower section is fitted with rod / tag pole / gaff racks and it’s open so they can easily be put in and taken out. Above these there’s a secondary side pocket – more of a shelf than anything else – which lies below the side decks. There’s a lot of room in here to stow all those other items that accumulate in the side pockets. The beauty of this format is that they don’t get tangled up with the tag poles and gaffs.
The whole transom has a completely new design. The starboard corner features a big 75-litre livebait well with a storage cupboard in front of it, and to the side of this sits one of the best rear lounge set-ups I have seen. The two-seater lounge folds back into a moulded cavity in the transom, so it’s flush with the inside transom when not in use. There’s a stretch net in front of this so you can throw a few things in this as well. Fold the lounge’s legs out and hinge the seat forward and you have extra seating. It’s very well done.
To the port side of this is the walk-through door in the transom. Not content with just a door or a gap, the section that makes the door folds down to provide a step down into the cockpit. There’s more storage in here, too.
Around the side decks all the cleats are recessed and made from stainless steel, as are the rod holders flush mounted into the side decks.
Moving into the cabin, two swivel pedestal seats provide the seating. To the side of each are two big, deep side pockets for keeping more gear, along with a deep lockable glovebox.
The new moulded dash is made for single or twin instrument layout and comes standard with the Navman GPS and depth sounder.
Where the control/throttle box is mounted at the side, the cab has been moulded to take the binnacle-style mounting (compass mounting). The way this has been done gives good room forward and back movement of the throttle position without hitting the seat or steering wheel, as well as delivering more arm room for the driver. Overall, it’s a neat, spacious helm set-up without being sprawled from one side of the boat to the other.
Like the rest of the boats the targa top and rocket launcher are made from stainless steel tubing, only in this case 32mm tubing is used instead of 25mm tubing, and the same goes for the bow and side rails.
After going for a run out through the Seaway I jumped back and assumed the stranding position, reaching up and grabbing the targa for support. As we bumped over a few of the swells I soon appreciated the solid foundation I had to hang onto. Considering that the top folds down for storage, it’s very sturdy and you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s all one section permanently fixed to the boat. Passengers can hang onto the solid grab rail that follows the contour of the windscreen.
The room in the cabin hasn’t been overlooked either – there are two 6’1’’ bunks with storage below and side pockets alongside the bunks.
Special attention has been made to develop a for’ard area for the anchor and rope, as well as a concealed electric winch. You can’t see any of it from the top as it’s all concealed below, while still being easy to access.
Being designed as an offshore boat there is a decent engine on the back. While the 650 Classic will perform with engines down to 150hp, the 225hp four-stroke Yamaha on the test boat makes for a real gem of a package, delivering of power, good economy and fume-free running.
As you run about you don’t appreciate just how fast you’re travelling; the boat rides well, is quiet in the water and, along with the quiet running of the engine, you have to look at the speedo to release you’re comfortably cruising at 30mph. This makes all the difference on those long runs out to the reef, making the whole day a lot more enjoyable.
There are numerous small features around the boat including concealed cab and deck lights, speaker location, toe rails around the aft cockpit, step-ups and so on, reflecting all the hard work that the R&D team has put into developing this great offshore boat.
I was surprised to find that the complete rig, as tested, was only $70,000, including the trailer. I know that’s still a lot of cash, but you’re getting a lot of boat for your money.
Make/model - 650 Classic
Length - 6.75m
Beam - 2.4m
Weight - 1200kg (hull only)
Max hp - 230
Fuel - 210L (underfloor)
Package price as tested - $70,000
The 710 Horizon comes fitted with all the onboard luxuries for extended stays on the water while enjoying many of the comforts of home.
It’s a big heavier hull that’s not just designed for spending a weekend in protected waters, but also for crossing open areas to various anchorages out around the islands or up and down the coast.
Power comes in a variety of options, from twin and single engines to sterndrives such as the 5-litre MerCruiser fitted to the test boat.
The for’ard cabin is a big area with spacious double-berth bunks with plenty of head- and legroom. An enclosed stand-up shower and toilet adds more comfort and a degree of privacy.
The helm station sees you sitting nice and high so you have a good view forward as well as to the sides and out of the rear. Having good all-round vision is a big help when pulling up to a mooring or pontoon.
Down the port side of the boat is the galley, housing a stove, sink, storage cupboards as so on. This compact station has all the essentials with enough room to cook up a decent feed while at sea.
Dining is in the aft cockpit, where there’s a variety of ways in which you can sit around the table and lounge.
There’s is no arguing this boat has all the comforts for you to enjoy yourself on extended trips, but these comforts do take up a fair bit of space. Once you get more than two people in the aft cockpit area you’re going to start bumping into one other. Because of this, the boat is best suited for two adults to comfortably enjoy themselves. To cater for more people, a little more work would need to be done on the layout.
Make/model - Horizon 710 Elite
Length - 7m
Beam - 2.5m
Weight - 1350kg (hull only)
Max hp - 360
Fuel - 240L underfloor
Package price as tested - $116,750 (excl. trailer)
1. The V17 Legend, even after 30 years remains a popular model. With it’s latest make over it’s likely to be around for another 30.
2. A simple clean layout with walk through split windscreen allows for a variety of uses (V17 Legend.
3. Haines Hunter 600 Classic
4. The aft lounge in the 600 Classic give plenty of seating room and doesn’t tend to clutter the aft deck.
5. The new 650 Classic can only be described as outstanding for it’s ride, performance and layout.
6. No shortage of free room or storage in the 650.
7. That’s what I call a clever transom. You wouldn’t even know there’s a fold out rear lounge here.
8. The 710 Horizon Elite offers the home away from home style of living.
9. The forard cabin has plenty of room for sleeping but the aft area with all it’s comforts is a little on the squashy side.