BOAT TEST: HUNTER 50CC

By: ALLAN WHITING

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Forget the kitchen sink, this new flagship Hunter 50CC has a spa bath in the owner's suit. ALLAN WHITING jumps in

BOAT TEST: HUNTER 50CC
Hunter 50CC

Despite having different model numbers the Hunter 49 and 50 are built around a common hull, with identical deep and shoal draft keel options and the same rig. The differences are in the deck design and below.
 
Hunter Yachts combine ease of sail-handling with strong build quality, but until recently have suffered from poor aesthetics. Some models had conflicting port shapes and lumpy coach houses that broke up the lines. Now, Hunter has restyled its boats and fitted harmonious glass shapes that integrate well.

In the new 50CC model, the central cockpit sits atop a pilothouse that boasts a streamlined, tapered 'eyebrow' glass area that's reminiscent of the new 39's coach house windows. Cabin and hull ports on the 50CC echo the coach house's elliptical theme. The result is a complementary design that looks like it came from a clean-sheet-of-paper, not a central cockpit version of the aft-steered 49.

Although tastefully restyled, the 50CC is still recognisably a Hunter; marked by a gunwale rubbing strip that curves down the transom (how would Hunter integrate that in a vertical stern?) and the company's trademark B&R rig.
 
The B&R rig was developed in the 1960s by Lars Bergstrom and Sven Ridder, for use on shorthanded, around-the-world yachts. This rig design has swept-back spreaders, with the shrouds and forestay disposed at 120-degree intervals, triangulating the mast support. Hunter employs a relatively slender Selden mast section and no backstay. Hunter adopted the B&R rig in 1993.

The B&R rig requires a wide shroud base, so Hunter yachts have traditional, hull-exterior chainplates and long spreaders. The assembly appears extremely strong and reminiscent of catamaran rigs. A wide sheeting base is a plus at all points of sail other than close-hauled with an overlapping headsail, but that's no real issue in the case of boats that are designed primarily for cruising.

The stock mast measures 19.3m from the waterline, but there's an optional tall stick that adds 1.5m. Also standard on the 50CC is a 95 per cent self-tacking jib, but a modest-overlap jib can be ordered. The evaluation boat wore a tall stick and an overlapping headsail, in conjunction with in-mast mainsail furling.

 

 

ROBUST BUILD


Construction is state-of-the-art, with Hunter hulls and decks built in a production-line process, using a combination of solid FRP and Baltek and plywood sandwich materials. The hull below the waterline is monolithic FRP and above the waterline it's end-grain balsa sandwich. The forward section of the hull, from the keel sump to the stem, is reinforced with a Kevlar layer, to strengthen the hull against an object strike.

Hunter's production system is based on modular assembly. While galleys, cupboards drawer units and settees are being prepared in a cabinet shop, the interior FRP moulding is fitted with hoses, wiring conduits and tanks. The interior moulding is then placed temporarily in a 'dummy hull' that has access holes in its sides.

The part-finished interior assembly is then removed from the dummy hull and lowered into the hull moulding, with the bond between the interior moulding and hull formed by Plexus adhesive that 'melts' the resin faces of both components. After curing, the join is said to be as strong as the original laminates and up to six times stronger than traditional FRP taped joins. Final assembly of the interior includes engine installation. The deck moulding is kitted out separately and arrives in almost finished condition for bonding and screwing to the hull.

Hunter's deck gelcoat is Maxguard that is said to be more flexible than most finishes and also highly UV-resistant, while the interior gelcoat is MicroBan, incorporating an anti-bacterial agent that is used in surface materials in hospitals and food-processing plants. The outer hull skin is Ashland AME-5000 modified epoxy, for maximum osmosis resistance.

Chainplates are attached to the outside of the hull by bolts and a belt of reinforcement runs around the hull, from chainplate to chainplate. Deck walking areas are plywood sandwich laminate and Coremat reinforced FRP is used for vertical surfaces, with aluminium plates embedded in the laminate at deck hardware attachments.

The rudder stock is solid stainless steel bar, in concert with an isolation transformer to address any corrosion issues. Steering is by rod drag link, from a central wheel that can optionally fold.

 

 

WINGED KEEL


Hunter has been fitting winged keel profiles since 1988, to concentrate weight as deeply as possible, without draft that's excessive for cruising boats. The 50CC can be ordered with a shoal draft 1.68m keel or a 2.13m deep-draft keel. Both keels have high-antimony lead bulbs, cast around stainless steel frames, with integral threaded rods.

Our evaluation boat was fitted with the deep-draft keel, in the interests of maximum righting moment with a ballast weight saving - the shallow keel tips the scales at 5670kg, while the deep one is 580kg lighter.

The 50CC has a raised saloon floor that doesn't compromise headroom, but increases the below-sole storage space, in concert with deep bilges. This design contrasts with many Euro yachts that feature fattish bottoms and shallow bilges. Access to under-floor plumbing, wiring and fittings is excellent.
Hunter must be confident of its build quality and the reliability of its inclusions, because the warranty is an unbeatable five years - stem to stern.

 

 

A HOME AT SEA


The aft-cockpit Hunter 49 comes with up to four cabins, but the centre-cockpit 50CC is available in two- or three-cabin versions only. Both 50CC layouts cry "luxury" and incorporate moulded-in air-conditioning ducting.

The three-cabin layout sites two double vee-berths forward, with a portside shower room and a starboard head shared by the forward cabin occupants. The two-cabin version sees the twin vee-berths replaced by an island double bed and more generous shelf and wardrobe space.

 

 

SPA BATH


The aft cabin on both versions has generous proportions in keeping with a centre cockpit boat. An island bed is flanked by a settee and a recliner lounge, and there's space for a walk-in wardrobe and a large-screen telly. However, the crowning jewel is an optional spa under the bed!

Opposite the walk-in robe is a head with separate shower area and between them is a central module that houses the engine, with the optional generator mounted above it. Wide access panels allow easy access to the mechanicals. Just aft of the saloon bulkhead is a cupboard that hides a washer/dryer.

The luxurious theme extends to the saloon, which is lit by ample glass area and LED cabin top and floor lighting. Roof hatches hinge longitudinally, providing ventilation when the boat is berthed across-breeze.

As on most modern boats, the nav station has shrunk in size and functions as the boat's electrical nerve centre, with swing-out circuit-breaker panels easily accessed.

The galley has Corian bench tops, fitted with stainless steel handrails that double as fiddles. Hunter's crockery-drying cupboard features, of course.

The saloon has ample lounging and eating space for a crowd of people who might be forced below by inclement weather.
A spacious centre cockpit is supplemented by aft perches, including an 'admiral's seat' at the aft rail, and twin staircases set into the transom make taking a dip safe and easy.
Stepped-height bimini and spray dodger combine to shade the helmsperson and cockpit dwellers.

 

 

UNDER SAIL


Aliandus is owned by the Greer family - converts from powerboating. Acknowledging his lack of sailing experience, Ian Greer chose the 50CC for its ease of handling and powerful auxiliary engine. His aim to reduce the cost of cruising Port Phillip Bay has been well met by the 50CC, because he's found wandering under wind power very pleasant.

Simplifying the sailing job are in-mast furling and power halyard and sheet winches, so Ian Greer is confident of venturing beyond the confines of Port Phillip in the near future.
In-mast Selden roller furling offers easy reefing and dousing, but vertical battens and a straightish leech don't provide maximum efficiency.

However, Aliandus does have a mildly overlapping headsail that compensates to some extent on and off the wind. Tacking isn't difficult, especially with final tensioning done by a powered sheet winch.

The 50CC's mainsail traveller mounts atop Hunter's patented TravelerArch that consists of paired, heavy-wall stainless steel tubes that form a targa-top over the cockpit. On the 50CC the arch angles forward, where on the aft-cockpit 49 it angles aft. The traveller car operates via lines led down the arch tubes to cam cleats. The endless mainsheet can be worked from the helmsman's position, using the port sheet winch, or from the powered halyard winch, behind the spray dodger.

Swept-back spreaders didn't cause as much restriction to square-running as we expected and we could fly the jib wing-a-wing, without the need for a pole, because the sail dimensions and the wide sheeting base made the jib self-setting for square running.

Hunter's mainsheet design and a pair of rope bins behind the spray dodger eliminate sheets and halyards from the cockpit floor. In conjunction with the optional autopilot it's possible for one person to operate the engine, make and shorten sail, tack, gybe and steer the boat. However, buyers looking for a dual-purpose, cruising/twilight racing big Hunter would probably do better with a 49 than the heavier 50CC.

 

 

(FAST FACTS)


A luxurious, well-made, dedicated-cruising centre-cockpit yacht that's as easy to sail as possible, with resort-level accommodation for four to six people - all at a bargain price.

 

 

 

(Facts & figures)
HUNTER 50CC

 

 

RUN DOWN


Hunter has restyled the new 49 into a centre-cockpit design that works extremely well. Ease of handling hasn't been compromised in the swap from aft to centre control and, below decks, luxury accents prevail.

 

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$660,000

 

 

OPTIONS FITTED


Mariner Package (120amp alternator, bowthruster, power winches, engine upgrade, additional freezer, in-mast furling, inverter, memory foam mattresses, quiet-flush heads, Raymarine ST-70 suite, cockpit shade pack, stereo system upgrade and flatscreen TVs), tall rig, leather-wrap spreader tips, generator, additional 200amp/h battery, three-blade folding prop, leather upholstery, air-conditioning, BBQ, hot tub, washer/dryer, chartplotters and radar suite, 3G broadband internet, AIS, leather-bound folding wheel, dyna plate, aft lounge folding table, engine bay fire system, anchor and mooring packages, VHF, and EPIRB

 

 

PRICED FROM


$550,000

 

 

GENERAL


MATERIAL: FRP monolithic and balsa sandwich hull and plywood sandwich deck
TYPE: Monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 15.21m
HULL LENGTH: 14.58m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 13.36m
BEAM: 4.47m
DRAFT: 2.13m (1.68m optional)
WEIGHT: 16,175kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


BERTHS: Two or three doubles
FUEL: 613lt (867lt optional)
WATER: 734lt
HOLDING TANK: 197lt
WATER HEATER: 148lt

 

 

SAILS


SAIL AREA: 114.1m² (total w/ mast-furling vertical battened main); asymmetric spinnaker optional

 

 

ENGINE


MAKE/TYPE: Yanmar / diesel shaft drive
RATED HP: 75 (110 optional)
PROP: Fixed three-blade (folding optional)

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


US Yachts Pty Ltd, 
Sydney By Sail Festival Pontoon,
Darling Harbour, NSW
PO Box Q1195, QVB, Sydney 1230
Phone: (02) 9281 4422
Fax: (02) 9280 1119
Website: www.usyachts.com.au

 

 

TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS...


As a dedicated cruising and entertaining yacht the Hunter 50CC should suit many buyers. Fit and finish is excellent and the deep-bilge design provides much more storage space than can be found in flat-bottomed yachts. A couple could easily live aboard this yacht for extended periods without feeling claustrophobic. And with the optional spa bath they will be anything but so-called grotty yachties.

 

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 412, March-Apr, 2011. Photos by Allan Whiting. 

Find Hunter boats for sale.

 


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