Haines Hunter SF535FB

Haines Hunter has sold over 3000 SF535S and the model’s been around so long it’s become part of the fab­ric of New Zealand power boat­ing. It’s so fa­mil­iar, we some­times for­get just how good the SF535 re­ally is.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY JOHN EICHELSHEIM

Up­graded clas­sic. A stal­wart of the Haines Hunter clan gets a few tweaks.

The most re­cent take on this pop­u­lar Kiwi sta­ple is the ini­tia­tive of Seacraft, Haines Hunter’s re­tail out­let for Auck­land and North­land. Seacraft wanted to fur­ther broaden the ap­peal of its most suc­cess­ful model by of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive spec aimed at the diver/fisher mar­ket. The boat re­viewed here is the first of the SF535 FB (Fish­ing Boat) fac­tory pack­ages avail­able and it will also be of­fered to other Haines Hunter deal­ers around the coun­try.

I had the op­por­tu­nity to spend some time on the wa­ter with the team from Seacraft – Bob, Den­nis and both Re­bec­cas – all of whom are very proud of their com­pany’s his­tory and prod­ucts. They are look­ing for­ward to em­brac­ing new out­board and elec­tron­ics tech­nol­ogy to drive the re­tail side of the busi­ness.

When the SF535 was first re­leased, out­boards were ex­clu­sively two-stroke and those fit­ted to the 535 ranged any­where between 90hp and 150hp. With the ad­vent of four-stroke out­boards, which were sub­stan­tially heav­ier than equiv­a­lent two-strokes, en­gines at the higher end of the 535’s rec­om­mended horse­power range were at the ex­treme end of the load ca­pac­ity for the boat.

By of­fer­ing the SF535 with the F90 we’ve tried to break the ‘ex­pen­sive’ bar­rier in the minds of our cus­tomers...

Four-stroke out­boards have come a long way in the last 30 years. Mod­ern en­gines are much lighter and per­form bet­ter than the early mod­els, so trailer boats like the SF535 reap the ben­e­fits at both ends of the horse­power range.

The SF535 is usu­ally equipped with a Yamaha 115hp, a four-cylin­der, fuel-in­jected four-stroke that com­bines strong per­for­mance with light weight. How­ever, the SF535 fea­tured here has a 90hp four-cylin­der fourstroke on the tran­som to high­light the model’s hull ef­fi­ciency with mod­er­ate horse­power.

Seacraft sup­plied two Haines Hunter SF535S for this story – one a new ‘FB’ pro­mo­tional ver­sion with the F90 Yamaha and the sec­ond, by way of com­par­i­son, a higher-specced ex­am­ple with an F115 Yamaha. En­gines aside, the two boats are iden­ti­cal ex­cept for trim and equip­ment lev­els.

The 535’s long-term pop­u­lar­ity can be at­trib­uted to its han­dling and per­for­mance, val­i­dated by a dis­cern­ing client base, states Seacraft’s Den­nis Mc­corkin­dale, as well as its gen­er­ous in­te­rior vol­ume.

Some as­pects of the lay­out, such as the bat­tery box on the floor, the ab­sence of any tran­som lock­ers (where the bat­tery might go) and the mod­est-sized helm con­sole fas­cia, can be put down to the model’s age. But these are mi­nor crit­i­cisms: the SF535 still looks the part and, more im­por­tantly, still out-per­forms most sim­i­lar­sized craft and quite a few big­ger ones as well.

So, the ques­tion is: how does it go with 90hp on the tran­som? Well, af­ter a cou­ple of hours tool­ing around in Seacraft’s new pro­mo­tional pack­age, the short an­swer is, very nicely!

By spec­i­fy­ing an F90, Seacraft saves its cus­tomers a few thou­sand dol­lars on the stan­dard ver­sion. And there’s plenty more sav­ings to be had with this fac­to­ryrigged pack­age.

Com­pared to the other SF535 in this story, this pack­age lacks a few of the lux­u­ries of the stan­dard boat. For ex­am­ple, in­stead of car­pet on the floor it has easy­clean Capri Marine vinyl floor­ing, while the rear cor­ner seat cush­ions have been re­moved. Up front there’s no elec­tric cap­stan, so an­chor­ing is manual, and there are just two through-gun­wale rod hold­ers.

The seat­ing com­prises a pair of cush­ioned Spring­field swiv­el­ling pedestals on Hitech Softrider

alu­minium bases; the higher spec’d boat has a deluxe helm seat and king-and-queen seat ar­range­ment with lots of stor­age in the seat base. While los­ing out on seat base stor­age, twin pedestals pro­vide a net gain in cock­pit space, which will suit the fish­ing fra­ter­nity, and the pedestal seats with their re­mov­able up­hol­stered cush­ions are com­fort­able enough.

Other stand­out dif­fer­ences in­clude lower-spec elec­tron­ics – a seven-inch Lowrance Hook MFD in­stead of the Elite 7Ti unit in the other boat – and a sim­ple canopy in­stead of a bi­mini top with clears.

But in other re­spects, the SF535 FB dif­fers lit­tle from the higher-priced ver­sion: the good-sized cabin is lined and fea­tures good-qual­ity up­hol­stery on the berths, the gun­wales are still capped with teak, there’s a stain­less-steel board­ing lad­der and the deck hard­ware is iden­ti­cal.

Un­der the gun­wales of both boats, the lined cock­pit fea­tures rod racks on ei­ther side for a cou­ple of fish­ing rods, poles or other long ob­jects and the padded shelf fac­ings are up­hol­stered in vinyl.

It might be the least ex­pen­sive ver­sion of the SF535 avail­able, but the FB is cer­tainly not a bare bones pack­age.

The fac­tory fit-out in­cludes the VHF ra­dio, elec­tron­ics, switches, stan­dard Yamaha LAN dig­i­tal gauges, hy­draulic steer­ing, canopy and a sin­gle-axle, DMW Premier Series mul­ti­roller trailer with smart al­loy wheels.

At re­tail level, cus­tomers can up­grade the ba­sic pack­age with any of the fea­tures of the stan­dard boat, depend­ing on their bud­get and re­quire­ments. Every new Haines Hunter,

re­gard­less of model or spec­i­fi­ca­tion, is Cpc-com­pli­ant and the hull lam­i­nates are hand-laid and squeegeed for strength, stiff­ness and weight saving.

“We con­sid­ered of­fer­ing the boat with tote tanks, which would have shaved a few more dol­lars off the price, but we’ve stuck with the 120-litre un­der­floor fuel tank,” says Den­nis, “because older peo­ple, es­pe­cially, don’t want to be heav­ing tote tanks in and out of a boat. This also leaves the floor clear for gear bags or fish bins.”

This boat should have plenty of ap­peal for older folk – and not only because of its lower price, reck­ons Den­nis.

“By of­fer­ing the SF535 with the F90 we’ve tried to break the ‘ex­pen­sive’ bar­rier in the minds of our cus­tomers, but this pack­age will also ap­peal because it isn’t over­pow­ered, it’s eco­nom­i­cal and it’s easy to man­age on and off the wa­ter.”

It’s cer­tainly not over­pow­ered with the Yamaha F90, but nor is it un­der­pow­ered. The F90 and the F115 share a dis­place­ment of 1832cc and weigh vir­tu­ally the same. Con­se­quently, ac­cel­er­a­tion with the F90 is good and load car­ry­ing abil­ity should also be sat­is­fac­tory.

Seacraft tried a few dif­fer­ent pro­pel­lers be­fore set­tling on a 16-inch Talon, but a dif­fer­ent pro­pel­ler may be ap­pro­pri­ate depend­ing on the boat’s in­tended use. Two up with half a tank of fuel, top speed with the Talon was a re­spectable 36 knots at 5800rpm.

Also very re­spectable is the SF535’S han­dling and ride. This is a nim­ble and re­as­sur­ing boat to drive, the deep-vee hull show­ing its pedi­gree with ex­cel­lent man­ners and a soft, dry ride. For a rel­a­tively small boat, it han­dled the con­di­tions ad­mirably when­ever the sea got a bit sloppy.

Com­pared to the F115-equipped SF535, which we also drove, the pro­mo­tional pack­age gave away a cou­ple of knots at the top end. It wasn’t quite as snappy or re­spon­sive as the 115hp, but with just two peo­ple aboard, there wasn’t re­ally a great deal of dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance or han­dling.

By any mea­sure Seacraft’s SF535 (FB) pro­mo­tional pack­age works well. Per­for­mance with the Yamaha F90 is more than sat­is­fac­tory, and by trim­ming the spec­i­fi­ca­tion level, Seacraft has been able to pare back the price, pro­vid­ing a new en­try point for this pop­u­lar model.

A few min­utes be­hind the wheel is all it takes to con­firm why the Haines Hunter SF535 has been in con­tin­u­ous pro­duc­tion since 1983. The new­est ad­di­tion may be miss­ing a few lux­u­ries, but in every way that mat­ters, it is un­mis­tak­ably a Haines Hunter SF535.


BE­LOW RIGHT The dash­boad con­sole has enough space for en­gine gauges and a flush-mounted seven-inch MFD. The fore­cabin of both boats was iden­ti­cally trimmed.

LEFT Sim­ple pedestal seats open up the cock­pit for fish­ing.

LEFT The bat­tery box and fuel fil­ter are lo­cated un­der the tran­som since there are no tran­som lock­ers.

TOP LEFT The Yamaha F90 shares the same 1833cc block as the more pow­er­ful F115. RIGHT Two rod racks per side, cock­pit lin­ing and a vinyl floor are stan­dard on the FB.

BE­LOW The FB ver­sion of the 535 has ex­cel­lent man­ners.

RIGHT The SF535 FB is sup­plied on a DMW sin­gle-axle multi-roller trailer.

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