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REVIEWED: HAINES HUNTER 560 CLASSIC OFFSHORE

This Aussie built fibreglass cuddy cab looks destined to become a favourite with boat fishos right around the country. MICK FLETORIDIS reports.

Get a bunch of boat fishos together and as the talk turns to boats of choice, as it inevitably does, there’s a good chance the Haines Hunter brand will feature in the mix. A long respected name in Aussie fibreglass boats, any sniff of a new Haines Hunter model is always cause for excitement in boat fishing circles. And that buzz won’t change with the recent release of the 560 Classic Offshore. The latest model in the Classic range – a line-up which has gained an enviable reputation among boat buyers, and those who test them for magazines such as this – looks set to do little to tarnish that rep.

The size is right
If you took a poll to find the most favoured boat size for serious offshore fishing and occasional family fun days, one that offered hassle-free towing and solo launches, the 5.5-5.6m category would be a popular choice. While bigger boats are hard to beat out on the bluewater when things get rough, they’re not much fun to launch single handedly, or tow long distances. 

And some boats, no matter what size, just have a “right” look about them. The 560 Classic Offshore is in this class. Well proportioned and stylish, no aspect of
this Haines Hunter looks to have been completed without plenty of forethought or attention to detail.  

The basis of the boat is the manufacturer titled Performance Deadrise Vee (PDV) hull, which carries a deep 21 degree deadrise to offer a nice compromise between ride, stability and offshore performance. Below deck resides the backbone of the package in the form
of a seven stringer foam-filled hull. Down below too is a 200 litre fuel tank and a kill tank/wet well, around amidships, with plenty of space for a decent catch, or a mess of wet gear.

The cockpit is large and welcoming. There’s lots of practical freeboard on offer and functional full length side pockets that importantly offer toe space underneath for fishing – a small detail that’s often overlooked on many “fishing” boats. The side pockets also feature integrated horizontal rod storage for three outfits a side. There are two live wells at the transom, which means you’ll never be far from a livie, whichever side of the boat you’re fishing.

The 560 review boat came fitted with marine carpet, which is removable for thorough cleaning, and a couple of the best bucket seats in the business. These pedestal mount designs are slide adjustable swivelling models with plush cushioning and offer good support. The skipper’s chair has an additional locking feature that prevents the seat from swivelling.

The gunwales carry four stainless steel rod holders as standard, and an optional quality stainless overhead rocket launcher was fitted to the boat – a mandatory accessory for any serious bluewater fishos. Quality stainless fabrication work is also on show right around the 560 Classic Offshore, a case in point being the 32mm bow
rails that extend from the bowsprit to amidships. While the boat doesn’t feature a walk-around cabin, in the true sense, I managed to negotiate my way around
to the pointy end on the portside without a problem. The workable height of the
bow rails and the rocket launcher in easy reach make this manoeuvre possible – if ever required.

The access to the anchor locker and bowsprit is easily achieved via a hinged cabin hatch. The cabin entry is of reasonable size for average sized fishos to negotiate. The vee berths inside, typically, are ok for the odd lie down for full sized humans, or great for lengthier naps by the kids. The centre in-fill is removable for fitting a chemical toilet if required. Storage shelves are on offer in the cabin, which as in the case of most cuddy cabins will be used for storing excess fishing gear that would clutter the deck.      

For a cabin boat to be a serious bluewater contender it needs a good level of weather protection. If not, you might as well enjoy the extra fishing room of a centre console! The 560 Classic Offshore was fitted with optional clears that fitted snugly to the bimini top and windscreen for keeping out the wind, sun and salt spray. The vision from the helm was good and largely unobstructed, apart from the top of the windscreen, which was in my line of sight when seated.

A pleasing aspect of this boat is the obvious high level of attention to detail. This can be seen in little things such as the alignment of screw heads and nuts and the overall correct fit of things right around the boat. Small details that highlight quality control is a priority with the boat’s manufacturer.  

On the water
The Huett family knows a thing or two about boats as they’ve been selling them for over 40 years. While Haines Hunters are a fairly recent addition to the Huett Marine Centre’s books, Craig Huett is very happy with the decision to take them on as the dealer’s sole fibreglass boat brand.

“I think this will be one of the best sellers for them,” he told Boat Fishing as we set about getting a feel of the Haines Hunter near the mouth of the Hawkesbury River on a perfect summer day. Huett’s is also an Evinrude E-TEC dealer, a business connection that first began in the 1960s. It was hard not to imagine comparisons between a 2010 spec 150hp V6 E-TEC and a ’60s vintage outboard as Craig started the proceedings by blasting the boat out of the hole for our camera. The dealership had done its homework on motor/prop combinations as the 150hp E-TEC fitted with a 15” Rebel three blade stainless steel prop offered a good compromise between all out ballsy accelaration and effortless mid range cruising. The outboard definitely brought the grunt from its 500rpm idle right through to WOT at around 5500rpm. For the record the iCommand gauges gave readings of 9.8 knots @ 2500rpm (14.5 litres per hour); 23.1 knots @ 3750rpm (25.1lph); 30.8 knots @ 4750rpm (52.0lph) and 33.8 knots @ 5250rpm (57.5lph). The boat jumped on the plane impressively with three on board, the V6 E-TEC delivering strong power throughout the throttle range, with the mid range notably keeping things moving effortlessly.

The boat was pleasurable to drive, feeling surefooted and responsive to driver input while unfazed by the short chop we encountered near the Hawkesbury’s mouth. Throwing tight turns at speed highlights the value of a deep vee hull, one that stayed impressively dry despite a building nor-easter. Non-feedback cable steering was the standard fit and worked ok, albeit a little on the stiff side at low speed. Things lighten up once underway, but I think a boat of this calibre deserves hydraulic steering. A Tinka dual-axle load share trailer rounds out a very impressive sportfishing package. For more on the boat check out a video at www.fishingworld.com.au.

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