Review: Northbank 650 Hard Top

By: John Willis & Tim Van Duyl, Photography by: Ellen Dewar & Nathan Duff


We water test and rate the Northbank 650 Hard Top, a contender in the fibreglass fishing boats category at the 2017 Australia’s Greatest Boats awards.

Northbank 650 Hard Top fishing boat
Australias best boats 2017 logo

There are some big rumblings coming from South Australia and the epicentre is the Adelaide base of Northbank Boats. Whilst Northbank Marine isn’t new to the growing Australian sports and gamefishing fraternity, its popularity is sending shockwaves through every in and offshore location. We were all impressed with Northbank boat designs, the construction quality, fishability, ride and – most importantly – the honesty. Northbank boats made plenty of friends at last year’s Greatest Boats shootout in Eden, NSW, with the mighty Northbank 750HT and followed up this year with the popular Northbank 650 Hard Top. It’s a hull that has withstood much time and many swells, and it’s now been updated with a ripper new hardtop to complete a very fishy offshore-capable package.

Trade-a-Boat representatives have put the Northbank 650 Hard Top through many rigours over the years, culminating in a recent extended test in the nasty wind-against-tide 25-30kt washing machine that is SA’s Backstairs Passage. Bear returned after a couple of days, saying: "While there was plenty of spray from the strong wind whipping up any displaced seawater, I never felt an anxious moment. The Northbank 650HT gave me the security of a strong and reliable friend by my side." Can you ask any more of a trailerboat?

Hardtop on Northbank 650 with stainless

Northbank Boats uses traditional construction methods combined with the latest in premium raw materials and components to produce tough little Aussie diggers. The designs reflect time-proven deep-V experience combined with clean, almost simplistic mouldings that are very appealing for modern sportsfishing. Owners and builders alike have long experience in the wide variety of fishing adventures available in the abundant waters off South Australia, fishing everything from squid, whiting and snapper through to the mighty offshore southern bluefin tuna, samson fish, kingfish and makos.

On the Northbank 650 Hard Top there’s a huge amount of deck space with big seaworthy sides and a very fishable transom layout with rear door. The new hardtop design is a beauty, combining the ultimate climatic protection with sweeping panoramas, and the helm is simple, practical and comfortable. There’s a well-proportioned V-berth, good fuel capacity and the ability to fit up to 250hp for the speed demons, though we found the 200hp performance more than pleasing.

The judges’ comments tell the story. Jo Starling got the first word in: "The Northbank 650 Hard Topis a no-pretence offshore boat, designed to chase down southern bluefin tuna in open water. Its high sides, open deck space and storage demonstrate how seriously they’ve taken that brief." Husband Steve said: "A very solid, workmanlike Aussie boat with solid offshore credentials. Extremely neat and tidy finish, with limited live-aboard capacity."

John Ford returned from testing with a big smile. "Dry and warm offshore. This hardtop fisher delivers performance and all-weather protection," and editor Tim said: "High sides and toe-holds all-round. There’s no hiding this one; it’s a fishing boat for you and all your mates."

Transom on Northbank 650HT showing Suzuki outboard motor

Everyone felt comfortable with the performance and ride of the Northbank 650 Hard Top. The gutsy 200hp Suzuki outboard motor was impressive in the Hervey Bay slop; John Ford wrapped up his feelings on the ride and power with the statement: "Sensational looks and impressive performance. The 200hp Suzuki was gutsy with low-down grunt and a blood-stirring four-stroke howl."

While all found the Northbank 650 Hard Topexceptionally good looking, it’s no show pony – instead it’s a trusted and well-trained stallion. The attractive wrap supplied plenty of nautical eye-candy, especially with the glowing new Northbank decals, unique outrigger bases, gleaming gelcoat quality, curvy new hardtop and faultless moulding quality.

The Northbank 650 HT provides the answers for a variety of trailerable escapades. It has good towability considering its offshore capabilities and will double as a highly desirable family package with good comfort, excellent stability and safety, and plenty of wet and dry storage. And when the going gets dirty the Northbank 650HT is the trusted friend you want to bring you home safely with a minimum of fuss.

Asked for their overall impressions and the all-important X factor our judges didn’t hold back: "The Northbank 650 Hard Top is a stunning-looking boat with glorious finish and artfully sculpted bar work. It features a sensible balance of cockpit and cabin space with unblemished mouldings and close attention to detail," said the not-easily pleased John Ford. Tim said: "Built tough with no compromises. Quality as good as I’ve seen on a trailerboat," and Steve asked the ultimate question: "Solid, safe, dependable and dry riding, but also roomy and with a very neat and tidy finish – what’s not to like?" Go drive a Northbank 650 Hard Top; you’ll come back crowing too.

 

Northbank 650 Hard Top specs

Northbank 650 Hard Top price: $119,000

Price as tested, ex Adelaide

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Garmin and Fusion suite, Stressfree, Zip Wake, deck wash, live well, wrap, outriggers and more

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull

LENGTH 6.8m

BEAM 2.44m

WEIGHT 2500kg (BMT)

FUEL 250L

ENGINE 

Northbank 650 Hard Top at rest

 

Northbank 650 Hard Top rating

 

Kev

Tim

John

Starlo

Jo

Fishing Suitability

9

9

9

9

10

Innovation

8

8

8

8

8.5

Design and Layout

8

8

9

8.5

9

Quality of Finish

8.5

9

9

9

9

Handling/Ride

8

8

8

9

9

Stability at Rest

7.5

8

8

9

8

Ergonomics

7.5

8

9

8.5

9

Standard Equipment

8

8

8

8.5

8

Value for Money

8.5

8

9

8.5

9.5

Wow Factor

8.5

8

8.5

8.5

9

 

More on Australia's Greatest Boats 2017

Aluminium fishing boat

Aluminium fishing boats 2017

 

Best fibreglass fishing boats

Fibreglass fishing boats 2017

 

 

 


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