Weekend warrior

Mark Rothfield | VOLUME 21, ISSUE 6

As a weekender getaway sportscruiser, Sunrunner’s 2800 has a lot going for it

With some boats, the journey is important, while for others it’s the destination. The Sunrunner 2800 strives to fit into both categories.

Like others of the high-freeboard ilk, this sportscruiser is designed for good times at anchor or marina berth. There’s a fabulous cockpit for socialising with family and friends and a spacious cabin that can accommodate four people, all within the confines of an 8-metre hull.

As the sun sets on a glorious day or weekend on the water, the 2800 will whisk you home at around 25 knots.

The perfect place to enjoy such a craft is Bobbin Head, on the upper reaches of Sydney’s Hawkesbury River. Here, the prying tentacles of mobile phone reception won’t penetrate, so the world can’t bother you once you’ve boarded. Only glassy waters and sheltered bays await.

You may also find Mark Halvorsen awaiting, since he runs the family marina and is the local Sunrunner agent. It initially takes you aback, for the Halvorsen name is historically associated with displacement cruisers driven slowly, but surely by grey-haired gents.

Mark explained that the company was seeking a boat equally well suited to the Hawkesbury, yet targeted at a younger demographic – 30-somethings who want to get from A to B with power and speed. It’s arguably the market’s most cut-throat and price-sensitive sector. There are so many competitors that buyers get a headache sifting through them, but then builders are obliged to offer an entry-level product to instil brand loyalty.

The Queensland-built Sunrunner was chosen over myriad imports because of construction quality. Halvorsen says you only have to look at the hull laminate to see the inherent sturdiness and strength, plus the factory stands behind its product.

The 2800 is priced from $145,000, while the test boat’s factory-fitted options added considerably to that tally. Included are a two-tone hull, battery charger with shore power (including an AC outlet in the galley), carpeting, full wraparound seating for the cockpit table (fore and aft lounges are standard), plus marlin board, targa lights and a Navman sounder.

The engine has been upgraded from the standard 300hp, 5.7-litre V8 to a 320hp, 6.2-litre MerCruiser coupled to a Bravo II leg. A Yanmar or MerCruiser diesel will add some $30,000 to the price; an amount that would require considerable usage to justify, even with inflated fuel prices.

“All our hire fleet – 67 boats over the years from 1949 to 1970 – were petrol-powered,” Halvorsen said. “We only converted them to diesel when the commercial requirements changed.”

Halvorsen also opted for a bow thruster to offset the single powerplant. His rationale is that Sunrunner buyers are likely to be sailing expats or newcomers who’ll appreciate the extra manoeuvrability when berthing. A bimini and targa contribute to windage and, relative to topside height, there’s not much hull beneath the waterline.


This design factor has an even greater impact when the Sunrunner lifts onto the plane. Trim tabs are vital to counter heeling tendencies and the hull is very responsive to their adjustment.

It’s somewhat ironic that a vessel designed for novices requires more attention to tab and engine trim than its larger and more expensive brethren. On the positive side, the skipper has the ability to artificially counter weight distribution, so passengers can sit wherever they wish. Maximum capacity, incidentally, is eight people.

The 2800 is beamier than virtually all of its rivals. At rest, with the chines in the water, it is very stable, allowing people to move about freely.

The 18-degree deadrise hull jumps onto the plane and runs smoothly and efficiently throughout its performance range. An idle of 600rpm brings 2.5 knots, while minimum plane is maintained at 2500rpm for 7.8 knots. A pleasant 23-knot cruise speed comes at 4000rpm, and the MerCruiser accelerates to 4750rpm and 26.7 knots. Engine noise only becomes an issue at peak revs.

Sterndrive in-trim was needed to prevent cavitation in tight turns, however the hydraulically-assisted steering remained finger-tip light. If required, Halvorsen will provide lessons in berthing and driving the 2800.

On his own family outings, Mark has found it to be a safe and fun vessel for his children, aged six and 13. The Sunrunner has a deep cockpit with good boarding access, along with central access to the foredeck via two steps leading over the dashboard to a split windscreen. And there are sidedeck walkways leading to the bow, albeit narrow – no other competitor provides this, according to Halvorsen.

The test boat had a teak-lined boarding platform leading to a starboard-side walkway. Immediately to port is an outdoor dinette with fibreglass table and bench seating for four, and completing the passenger seating is a forward sun lounge. Opposite is a sink unit, complemented by an icebox built into the helm seat base.


A depth sounder and neat spread of gauges face the driver, along with a high-quality timber wheel. Trim tab switches are conveniently positioned to the right, next to the thruster. The driving position is adequate, a moulded foot brace assisting, but there’s also room to stand at the helm.

Engineroom access is gained by raising the entire moulding beneath the table. There’s space, but not justification for two motors, so the 350 Mag MPI looks almost lonely in solitary confinement. Keeping it company are a holding tank, hot water system, twin batteries and inline Sealand filters.

If you think that’s spacious, take a hike down the two steps into the cabin. The extra beam and freeboard provide remarkable volume; headroom of 1.88 metres being a highlight.

For those who enjoy the creature comforts, there is an enclosed head compartment, offering hand-held shower, moulded sink and electric flush toilet. Immediately to port is a linear galley with single sink, twin-burner Smev gas stove and overhead cupboard. Beneath the moulded benchtop are fairly substantial food lockers, supported by a small bar fridge housed beneath the cockpit sole.

A dinette fills the vee, converting to a veritable love nest by lowering the table. A queen-sized double runs longitudinally beneath the sole, with light for the cabin coming through an overhead hatch. Access is cramped, but it’s not claustrophobic.

Elsewhere in the cabin, lighting is limited – the saloon has only four halogens, none positioned over the galley. Natural lighting is OK thanks to a deck hatch and opening side ports – a mirrored bulkhead and glossy headliner help diffuse it.

A more serious design omission, in my view, is that there’s no hatch accompanying the anchor well. Chain simply tumbles straight into the hull from a Muir windlass and God forbid that a snag develops. Mark Halvorsen was having a hatch retro-fitted, but it should have been done at the factory in the first place.

The 2800 provides a good amount of space. A bit more tweaking would make it a great weekender for families or first-timers.


LOA (including boarding platform): 8.7 metres

Centreline length: 7.98 metres

Beam: 3 metres

Deadrise: 18 degrees

Draft (leg down): 1.05 metres

Displacement: 3.5 tonnes

Fuel: 280 litres

Water: 200 litres

Holding tank: 80 litres

Power on test: 1 × MerCruiser 6.2-litre, 320hp V8 with Bravo II leg

More information from: Sunrunner Cruisers, tel: (07) 5510 2900.

Website: www.sunrunnercruisers.com.

Test boat supplied by: Halvorsen Boat Sales, tel: (02) 9457 6725.

Website: www.halvorsenmarina.com.au or email: mark@halvorsenmarina.com.au.

Boat Test