American firm Crestliner was only introduced in Australia last year, but it’s been producing boats in the US for over 65 years. Originally a small family boatbuilder, the brand was acquired by the massive Brunswick Corporation in 2004.
Since its launch at the 2012 Sydney International Boat Show, the Crestliner range has been doing well. That’s not surprising, given its clever cockpit design that enables rapid conversion from a smart runabout to a fishing platform with casting decks fore and aft.
We’d previously sampled the 1850 Sportfish (see Club Marine Vol 27 No 6), but this time we tried the smaller 1700 Super Hawk. Despite the reduced length, the 1700 hull is far from cramped and it offers the same chameleon-like versatility.
Priced from $43,290 ready to go on a Dunbier trailer with a 115hp Mercury FourStroke outboard, the Super Hawk also represents excellent value, while its lightweight and modest dimensions make it easy to handle and store.
UP THE CREEK
We gave the 1700 Super Hawk a run along one of the beautiful lengths of Berowra Creek, just north of Sydney, as it heads down to meet the Hawkesbury River.
First we were in family runabout mode with a comfortable aft lounge and a couple of inward-facing forward seats in the bowrider, as well as supportive skipper and first-mate seats behind that tall screen.
The Crestliner is in the ‘upmarket’ bracket for aluminium boats, with a great finish and no sharp edges or rough areas. Construction is tough, with fully welded seams and interlocking joins in the four-section aluminium hull.
The boat’s exterior is hand-sanded and then sprayed with Armor-Guard paints to achieve a durable, glossy surface. The cockpit soles have a hard-wearing, non-slip vinyl finish, the casting decks have marine-grade carpeting and the upholstery is comfortable and stylish. All the usual cockpit and deck appointments are there.
Anglers get rod holders and storage racks plus a livebait tank, and there’s provision for an auxiliary outboard (up to 15hp) and a bow-mounted electric trolling motor. A neat tackle drawer slides out from below a large glovebox.
The hull’s running surfaces have no strakes, although there is a full-length welded keel plus extruded chines that work as spray deflectors. The keel and chines combine with a variable deadrise hull to deliver an excellent ride that cleaves through rougher conditions. Turns are smooth and trouble-free; this is a well-conceived boat and one capable of handling up to 150hp, although the 115 Mercury was more than adequate.
We were easily running on plane at 3000rpm and 26.9km/h, while cruising was a relaxing affair between 3500rpm for 33.8km/h and 4500rpm for 50.7km/h. Even at 5000rpm the Merc and the hull remained quiet and smooth at 58.3km/h. Full throttle brought up 6000rpm for a top speed of 67.9km/h.
The Super Hawk gave a lively yet predictable and re-assuring reaction to steering and throttle input and there was very little bow rise on take-off. The hull responded agreeably to any trim, not that much was needed other than the usual improvement in prop grip by trimming in for sharper turns. This is a package well-suited to novice skippers and veterans alike.
The helm is straightforward with a legible dash and the usual array of gauges. Extra space is provided to the right of the panel – here our test boat sported an optional Lowrance Elite-4X fishfinder.
To the right of the tilt-adjustable wheel was a bank of switches for lights, the livebait tank pump and similar accessories, and a bit further down was the stereo. There’s also a 12v power outlet and more stowage under the helm console. Sensibly, the area behind the screen has a non-glare grey finish.
After a while we stopped to swap around seats and panels. The aft lounge folded out and down in seconds to become a sizeable casting platform with a bait well and stowage lockers below. There were also mounts to relocate the skipper and first-mate seats. It was quite amazing how easily the Super Hawk changed from a typical runabout to a tournament fishing boat.
It was a similar story at the bow, with a couple of panels folding down to hide the twin cushioned seats and form another large casting platform – at two levels, in fact, if you didn’t mind standing on the small carpeted foredeck.
Under hatches are spots for general stowage, an anchor locker and/or room for a battery to power the optional electric trolling motor. With the seats back in place, there is another mount in the bowrider sole for one of the skipper/first-mate seats.
Of course, just one of the forward or aft areas can be set up for fishing, leaving the other for family cruising – everyone’s happy. The Super Hawk is stable at rest and the gunwales are comfortable to sit on.
Another neat touch is the non-slip step pads on the gunwales fore and aft to aid easier and safer boarding. The topsides are quite high, which is helpful for both anglers in battle and for smaller youngsters at play. Any spare space below the floor is foam-filled to contribute to the Super Hawk’s quiet running and level-flotation safety standard.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you’re in the market for a top fishing platform or a comfortable family cruiser – or both – you will find a pleasing blend of performance, style, quality and value in the Crestliner range. There are both larger and smaller versions of the Super Hawk so visit your nearest Crestliner dealer for the full story.
SPECIFICATIONS: CRESTLINER 1700 SUPER HAWK
Weight (boat only, dry): 590kg
Power (maximum): 150hp/112kW
Power (as tested): Mercury 115 Four-Stroke (115hp/86kW)
Fuel capacity: 106lt
Capacity: 7 persons
Price from: $43,290 ready to go
Price as tested: $43,890
For more information contact Avante Marine, tel (02) 9737 0727, or go to: crestliner.com.au.