Trailerable fishing boats sure have come a long way over the last few years. The category, especially in the over 5.5m bracket, is now probably the most competitive in the market, with plenty of heavyweight names vying for buyers’ money. And that competitiveness has led to many design innovations and improvements as local manufacturers not only vie with each other for market share, but also compete with the many imports. This, in turn, has led many boat builders to package as many features into their standard spec boats as possible – with a corresponding effect on base price.
It’s not unusual for some of these craft nowadays to come with a price tag not too far under the magic 100K. That’s for a trailerable fisher with all the bells and whistles, including fridges, plumbed live bait tanks, gas or liquid cookers, untold rod racks, storage and tackle compartments, top-of-the-range electronics and more.
Then there’s Haines Hunter’s selection of affordable fishing boats, formerly tagged the Breeze range, but now about to be rebadged with the simple ‘R’ designation, as in the new 585R.
Haines Hunter spends a lot of time seeking feedback from the market – in particular current owners and potential buyers. And what much of the feedback has been saying is that there are plenty of fishos out there who don’t necessarily need all the flash equipment that is becoming, in some circles, de rigeur. Either that or they would prefer to option their boats from the ground up; customising them to suit their own particular boating needs.
The expanding Breeze/R range is a direct response to that consumer feedback; from the 4.62m Breeze to the 6.4m Breeze, each boat is packaged from the factory in fairly basic spec. They have enough gear, accessories and electronics to be ready to slip straight into the water, but the base spec is designed to come in at a price that is extremely competitive. Fishos are the prime target market, although there is still enough basic comfort in-built into each boat from scratch to keep mum and the kids smiling, should a day’s fishing have to be mixed with some family fun time.
First released at last year’s Club Marine Melbourne International Boat Show, the 585R has quickly become a big sales hit for the company. In particular, it has touched a nerve with hardcore fishos, who like the option of heading out wide in pursuit of serious game fish. Our test boat is a good example, owned and fitted out by Melbourne Haines Hunter dealer, Phil Pierias of Port Phillip Boating Centre.
Phil explained that, in base spec, with a single 150hp Evinrude E-TEC engine and quality Mackay trailer, the 585R is priced at around $58,000, which is not bad value for a large trailerable fisher with offshore capabilities. The base equipment list includes enough gear for most fishing trips, including a big 210-litre fuel tank, electronics in the form of a Lowrance X510c sounder and LMS-332c plotter, mounting platform for an anchor winch, twin, fully-adjustable pedestal seats, sturdy 32mm bowrails, Kevlar dash inserts, sports steering wheel, screen grab rail, padded cockpit sides, four stainless steel coaming rod holders, a folding rear lounge, 65-litre live bait tank (unplumbed), a voluminous 200-litre central kill tank, 850lt/hr automatic bilge pump and a pair of stainless boarding rails.
Optioned up, as on Phil’s own boat, which includes a twin-rig power package comprising a pair of 90hp E-TECs, a bit over $21,000 is added to the base price, coming in at around $79,000. Phil explained that he’s a fan of the twin rig concept for trailer boats that spend a lot of time chasing fish out of sight of land due to the safety of having a spare engine, just in case. Plus, the two smaller powerplants tend to give better lower and mid-range punch, while they can also be used in place of trim tabs to level the boat when travelling long distances in windy conditions. The rest of the options help to transform our test boat into a “mini offshore game boat”, according to Phil. And he should know, having already chased big bluefin tuna way out in the Southern Ocean off Portland on Victoria’s south-west coast.
In addition to the twin E-TECs, Phil’s ‘one with-the-lot’ 585R includes – wait for it – hydraulic steering, twin batteries, stainless steel boarding ladder, transom door, plumbed live bait tank, deck wash, fibreglass bait prep station, deluxe stainless steel rocket launcher with cockpit lights and grab rails, quality Reelax outriggers, a Fusion CD player and speakers, hollow seat pedestals for extra storage, a bimini top, front and side clears, a VHF and 27MHz radio, Lewmar anchor winch and cockpit isolator switch, carpet cabin lining and a two-tone hull colour scheme.
The end result of ticking all these Haines Hunter options boxes is that the boat, as tested, amounts to one extremely capable and very impressive offshore game fishing platform. And adding to its fishing credentials is a large, uncluttered, deep and wide cockpit, with plenty of extra rod storage in the form of side-mounted rod racks, plus good, deep toe recesses on either side. Cockpit depth is close to ideal, so that anglers have good protection without requiring too much effort when wielding a gaff or net.
The 585R is a member of the new generation of Haines Hunters designed on the company’s CAD software, which links in directly with the manufacturing process, ensuring all components are made within tolerance and uniformity limits.
As company boss, John Haber explained, the hull and transom are built to be extremely rigid, with a special seven-stringer matrix system, reinforced by the use of Divinycell polymer in the hull sides. The end result is a very stiff hull structure that translates to a superior ride in the sort of tough conditions likely to be encountered out wide.
“Using the Divinycell and our matrix system gives a hull that is very rigid and strong as well as being very quiet. And the design and construction of the transom means that the 585R is the only boat of its size that can take up to a 200hp single engine, or a twin rig,” said Haber. “As far as our build quality goes, it’s worth noting that the laminate specifications of the 585R exceed the Victorian survey requirements.”
Overall length, including the bowsprit, adds up to 6m, with all-up weight, as tested, nudging the scales to 2180kg. But as Phil explained, with a normal single engine arrangement, weight is down around the 2000kg mark, bringing it within towable limits for large family sedans. It’s also a very ‘beamy’ boat for its size, with 2.4 metres gunwale to gunwale.
Other features worthy of mention include the folding rear lounge, which hides away nicely inside the transom and, when folded out, provides access to the bilge area. The cabin is, understandably given the 585R’s pedigree, not overly encumbered by creature comforts. Nevertheless, it provides an adequate sanctuary from the elements and is well-upholstered. Underneath the three cushions there is plenty of storage for PFDs and the like, while the overhead hatch is big enough to accommodate the more ‘kilo-challenged’ boaties. There is also a hatch in the front bulkhead for maintenance access to the cavernous anchor well.
COPPING THE CHOP
Right on cue, Port Phillip Bay awakened from its slumber to deliver a 15-20-knot northerly just as we headed out for our test run. It was an ideal opportunity to put the 585R through its paces in bumpy conditions, with the chop quickly rising to around a metre-plus. This is where the rigidity that John Haber spoke of became evident. We were able to skip across the chop at around 40km/h without the slightest bit of fuss. Inevitably, every so often a crest would rise above the chop, but the 585R would simply slice cleanly through it. There was none of the harsh hammer effect and sudden, bone-jarring impact encountered in some other craft, and no audible indication that the hull was, in any way, challenged by the pace or conditions. The 585R provided an extremely quiet and dry ride in the circumstances, and I’d imagine would thrive in more challenging offshore conditions. Stability was also exceptional, both underway in an unpredictable sea and while at rest, which is welcome in such a dedicated fishing platform.
At the helm, visibility was excellent, seated or standing, with controls and instruments right where they needed to be. The only comment I’d make here is that, for long offshore runs, a wellplaced footrest would give the skipper the option of taking a spell in the seat while on the run.
The twin 90hp Evinrudes performed well and, while not the quietest engines around, certainly weren’t too intrusive at speed. They rose to plane easily and Phil advised that the ‘sweet spot’, from a fuel economy standpoint, was around 3800rpm, which translated to around 45km/h, but, according to the E-TEC instrumentation, worked out to around 19.4 litres per hour per engine. Given the above-average 210-litre tank capacity, this gives the 585R serious range in terms of game fishing capability. In practice, Phil says a day chasing tuna 70km or so off the coast, including hours spent trolling lures, still left him with more than 30 litres to spare back at the ramp.
The power steering was very responsive and light, while the cable-operated throttles were precise and well-placed. There is a switch on the dash that allows both trims to be linked, which is convenient in normal conditions. And speaking of the dash, it’s good to see that there is plenty of room to accommodate the larger displays that are now becoming more common on serious fishing rigs.
I have covered a lot of water over the years in trailerable fishing craft of all persuasions and I can’t remember being more impressed with any other single boat than I was with the 585R. It is a boat that is very hard to fault and ticks all the boxes in terms of a competent, versatile offshore performer.
It is built solid and tough, handles rough conditions with ease, can take single or twin rigs, is a very dry boat, has gobs of cockpit room and is excellent value for money in base spec. But it has huge potential in terms of the options that can transform it into a budget game fisher, easily able to tame that 400kg marlin or angry mako. It’s no wonder that Phil reports that the 585R is easily the best selling model on his showroom floor at the moment. And for good reason, from my own experience.
SPECIFICATIONS: HAINES HUNTER 585R
Length overall: 6.00m
Weight as tested: 2180kg
Power rating: 200hp
Power as tested: twin 90hp Evinrude E-TEC
Fuel capacity: 210lt
Base price: $58,000
Price as tested: $79,000
PERFORMANCE RPM KM/H
2600 (on plane) 21
5500 (WOT) 70
For more information, contact Port Phillip Boating Centre on (03) 9369 0099 or for your local Haines Hunter dealer, go to: www.haineshunter.com.au.