Any boat with 38 rodholders aboard is not going to be towing the kids around on a tube. And that was certainly the last thing on Mario Aquilina’s mind when he purchased his Haines Hunter 760R Limited new three years ago.
Mario is old-school when it comes to his boating. He’s owned boats since before he had his car licence and has spent a large part of his spare time on the water with a rod in his hand.
Over the years he’s owned an armada of fishing boats, from smaller trailer craft to larger flybridge boats and has fished everywhere from Queensland, to Bermagui and off the Victorian coast. So he knows a thing or two about boats and when he decided to purchase his latest fish-chaser, it was going to take a lot to impress him.
“The reason I decided on the 760 was I spent almost a year fishing with John (John Haber, MD of Haines Hunter) on his 760R and it convinced me that this was the boat I wanted,” he explained.
The flagship of the Haines Hunter stable, on the trailer or off, the 760R is an imposing boat. Its high sides and tall hardtop combine to give it a big boat look, and, indeed, at 8.2m length overall, this is a big trailerboat by any measure. Beam is right on the non-permit trailerable limit at 2.5m.
Mario’s boat is a ‘spare no expense’ effort, with pretty much everything you’d ever need in this, or even a larger boat when hunting serious fish.
At the back are a pair of F250 V6 Yamaha four-strokes, which Mario swears by, and which provided outstanding service during our two days on pretty demanding seas. They never missed a beat during hours of idling and trolling and had more than enough punch to drive the nearly four-tonne hull through some pretty big waves, while powering along at a deceptive 45km/h and getting through a relatively miserly 25lt/hr. They were extremely quite too.
On flatter water we managed a touch over 95km/h at 5400, rpm fully loaded with four adults and an armoury of game reels aboard, which is pretty impressive for such a big rig. The 760 felt rock steady as it skipped across the light chop.
The 21 degree deadrise hull helped a lot in the rough stuff. While the ride was firm at times, it carved through the head and following seas with finesse, never giving us any reason for doubt or unease.
The transom is designed purely with fishing in mind. Livebait tanks reside in each corner and the boat came standard with the large and beautifully finished baitboard.
Access to the filters and bait tank and bilge pumps is via two large hatches and the batteries reside in sealed compartments either side of the rear of the cockpit. Mario runs twin engine batteries on the port side and one large house battery opposite.
The cockpit is self-draining, with large scuppers in either rear corner, while the floor is cork-lined for good grip and easy cleaning.
Tall gunwales provide security when fishing in big seas and there are racks in both sides for gaffs and fenders, with a vertical rod storage rack mounted low on the port side. A large slide-in door on the starboard side provides easy access and is also handy when big fish need to be hauled aboard.
As mentioned, rodholders are everywhere on this boat, including in the centrally mounted lean post, which comes in handy when engaged in extended fights.
A large kill tank resides at the rear of the cockpit, while a shallower lined storage compartment runs fore and aft in the centre of the cockpit floor.
Given the ugly seas we were in for most of our Portland seafari, it was reassuring to be in such a stable boat. With waves coming at us from all directions, either drifting or trolling, and with a lot of weight up high in the form of some serious reels and rods, the 760 still felt rock solid and planted at all times.
“The thing is, when I take people out in this boat I know we’re comin’ back,” said Mario, in between driving between the walls of water that were coming at us from all sides as we headed back into Portland after a run offshore in conditions that would see most watching comfortably from land.
Other notable features include a sturdy hardtop, incorporating a roof hatch and with plenty of quality stainless steel reinforcing, plus a rocket launcher across the back. The windscreen is similarly industrial strength and augmented by a hand rail and full clears, which came in handy offshore.
A single pedestal seat mounted on a fibreglass base incorporating some tackle storage was all we had in the way of seating on this trip, although Mario does have a removable three-seat unit that he can put in the boat if needed.
We also had a compact Waeco chiller unit with a padded top for some extra seating at rest.
In keeping with Mario’s serious approach to his fishing, the electronics are definitely up to spec. A Simrad NSS12 GPS screen is hooked up to a roof-mounted Simrad radar unit and auto-pilot, while finding the fish is the job of the Furuno FCV295 unit, linked to three powerful through-full transducers.
Mario relies on Lenco trim tabs to keep things steady when the wind’s howling.
Additional storage pockets are located either side of the forward cockpit and managed to accommodate a considerable amount of clutter for our four-person crew.
While the lock-up cabin is a great place for a couple of adults to overnight, with carpet-lined roof, a plumbed toilet and stowage beneath the cushions, in Mario’s case it’s primarily a large storage area to keep the cockpit clutter-free for when the going gets serious.
Given the sort of distance Mario is prepared to cover in search of fish, it’s just as well there’s a 500lt fuel tank below the floor. If he’s fishing close to shore, the large Viper anchor winch comes in handy.
In the two days that I spent aboard the 760R Limited, I came to appreciate what a robust, solid and comprehensively capable fishing platform the boffins at Haines Hunter have produced. Everywhere you look the finishes and fitting are absolutely superb, which is just as well in Mario’s case as he is one of the most fastidious boat owners I’ve ever come across.
This level of fish-fighting ability doesn’t come cheap though. As is, Mario’s boat, complete with heavy duty Easytow trailer, hits the scales at around $240,000. The standard package, which includes 150hp Yamahas and doesn’t have the level of electronic sophistication, is pegged at around $163,000.
– Chris Beattie
HAINES HUNTER 760R LTD
Overall length: 8.2m
Dry weight: 3500kg
Capacity: 8 persons
Fuel capacity: 500lt
Power as tested: 2 x Yamaha F250
Price from: $163,000
Price as tested: $240,000
More information: haineshunter.com.au.