TESTED: BAR CRUSHER 615HT GEN2

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: JOE PRESS


Bar-Crusher-615HT-07.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-07.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-08.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-08.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-09.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-09.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-10.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-10.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-11.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-11.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-01.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-01.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-02.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-02.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-03.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-03.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-04.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-04.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-05.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-05.jpg
Bar-Crusher-615HT-06.jpg Bar-Crusher-615HT-06.jpg

Angelo San Giorgio admits to being a tad sceptical prior to hopping aboard Bar Crusher’s new 615HT Gen2, particularly when he found it so hard to fault the model it replaces, the 610HT.

TESTED: BAR CRUSHER 615HT GEN2
The Bar Crusher 615HT Gen2. The 610 was already a damn fine boat.

Déjà vu; that overwhelming sensation you’re reliving a past experience. It was palpable when I stepped aboard for this test. Here I was, almost 12 months to the day since my debut test for TrailerBoat, preparing to put another Bar Crusher through its paces.

Hastings boat ramp on Victoria’s Western Port looked the same: the sky was grey, rain was falling and winter’s chilly embrace cuddled me in an icy bear hug. Even the boat looked familiar, though I’d been assured it’s not. Sort of.



TRADING PLACES

When a company commits to updating one of its bestselling models, it’s faced with two main options. Apply a bit of make-up and a fresh coat of war paint, or grit the teeth and surgically enhance the hell out of it. More often than not, the less invasive former route is taken, resulting in a revised top deck, sheer line or some other mild cosmetic tweak. The reason for this is understandable because the end result is more obvious on the showroom floor. To fiddle with a hull is far more laborious (read: expensive) and involves a considerable amount of faith — and really big balls.

So when the new Bar Crusher arrived at the boat ramp, I must confess to wondering what all the fuss was about. I mean, the new 615HT Gen2 looked kind of the same as the now-superseded 610HT (Hard Top) I’d reviewed last year — a floating attack helicopter minus the rotors — and flaunted a couple of new logos. But other than that it looked pretty, well, Bar Crusher-ish.

It wasn’t until managing director Peter Cleland invited me to get down on the ground with him that I realised something was up.

"What do you think about this?" he asked as he pointed at the rear end of the first 615HT to be released from captivity.



FLARE DINKUM

We’ve all seen various interpretations of gullwing and semi-gullwings before, most commonly on fibreglass hulls, but this was something altogether different: a gullwing keel, or "Delta Flare", which is one of a raft of features Bar Crusher is pioneering as part of the 615’s new Gen2 hull design. This is probably the most striking change and will also be the most obvious to the casual observer, particularly when viewed from the rear.

Think of Delta Flare as an upside-down "W" that frames Bar Crusher’s signature QuickFlow Ballast port — a stylised hole — and you’ll start to get the picture. Rather than the standard deep-vee where the sharp ends of two hull sheets are welded together at an angle, Delta Flare incorporates a complex "plank" that extends through to midships.

The result of 18 months of R&D, the goal was to create a running surface that generates more lift while also better turning down water and reducing spray, thereby affording a drier ride.

The benefit of additional lift to any hull is reduced drag and quicker planing speeds, with less power required to get you there in the first instance. Noble aspirations, but not as easy to achieve as it sounds. Indeed, it all looked impressive and seemed to tick all the boxes on paper, but would the 615HT actually build on the 610’s legacy?



DRIVING INFLUENCE

This is the part where we normally launch into how the boat handles on the water and carves through chop and all the usual blah, blah, blah. But let’s back up for just a second. A fundamental, if often overlooked, component of trailerboating is getting the boat to water in the first place.

Bar Crusher factory-fits its boats to Easytow trailers, which are an integral part of the Bar Crusher experience. Every trailer is tailored to a specific hull and supplied with a proprietary Bar Catch launch-and-retrieve system which works every time.

While this might come across as blowing smoke up Bar Crusher’s skirt, there’s no denying a well set-up trailer not only enhances the overall experience, but reduces fatigue on driver and tow vehicle. Plus, you’re a deadset hero to your mates and the ramp jockeys when you nail it.

Fitted with a 150 Suzuki four-stroke, the 615HT Gen2 was never wanting for power. Plane was achieved in around three seconds while exhibiting minimal bow lift. It also had the point-and-squirt dynamics of the 610 and handling was precise and confident at all speeds.

When throwing it around at 20kts (37kmh), deliberately trying to plough into some steep chop with the nose trimmed down, I noticed there was no spray deflecting off the bow and blowing back onto the windscreen, which was one of my key criticisms of the 610.

A quick glance at the 615HT in full flight reveals the aggressive wide chines carried all the way forward, an increase of 18mm each side. This was achieved through changing the chine shape by cutting, welding and turning down to achieve the profile. These chines extend the full length of the hull and enhance stability at high speed and at rest, improving an already impressive at-anchor experience.

The drier ride is further enhanced by 2m long spray rails that skirt the bow and assist in dispensing with residual spray. Driving hard into breaking swell to get some air-time for the camera resulted in a similar outcome, with spray pushed down and back. And those soft landings maintained any future prospects of fatherhood.

I performed these manoeuvres several times, eventually provoking a couple of droplets onto the screen. I then trimmed the motor correctly, adjusted the trim tabs to neutralise the minimal lean brought on by the stiff side-breeze and tracked a straight dry course. Bar Crusher’s tabs are of note because they dispense with the traditional stainless steel blades in favour of an alloy version of their own design — Bar Tab — which is a compact electric system that incorporates Lectrotab rams.

Stainless and alloy tend not to live in perfect harmony, thus Bar Crusher’s decision to alleviate a potential electrolysis problem from the outset. More importantly, they work, and visual clues to their angle are on constant display via the integrated LED indicators on the helm-mounted trim switch.



INTERNAL MONOLOGUE

Like all Bar Crushers, the 615HT’s interior is a blend of simple and uncluttered surfaces. Two long side pockets capable of swallowing 7ft rods or gaffs flank a deep fishing cockpit that features tube mat over the tread-plate alloy floor.

I’m a big fan of this treatment because the spongy surface reduces fatigue and drains well. A full-width three-person bench folds flush into the transom when fishing and exposes the battery compartment when deployed.

This area deserves a special mention because it follows the idiot-proof mentality evident throughout the 615HT. No tangle of multi-coloured copper spaghetti here, just VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay) twin batteries, selector switch and 120A circuit breaker, all raised to around knee height.

A factory-fitted baitboard with three rod holders is easily removed and replaced with an optional ski pole should the mood take you. This well-executed, if slightly small, baitboard sports an integrated drain tube which flows overboard into the standard berley bucket recessed into the full-width boarding platform-cum-engine well. A lift-out entry door to starboard and a plumbed livebait tank to port flank the baitboard.

The Suzuki 150 on our test rig is a serious piece of equipment and anyone who has regular offshore intentions should definitely tick that box on the options list. For most other applications, however, the slinky new DF140A would be bang on, and would also offer a saving of around $5000.

The tops of the coamings, which are also home to three alloy rod holders on each side, are covered in Bar Crusher’s now familiar non-skid rubberised panels that protect the painted flat surfaces, while also aiding access in and out while dockside. These panels also make an appearance on the bench seat, although I would’ve preferred a plusher surface. I know, I’m getting soft.

The helm is a pleasant place and even chunky helmsman will find comfort behind the tiller. The semi-matte treatment of the driving zone complements the interior of the hardtop and everything falls well to hand. The broad carpeted dash that links the helm to the screen is a perfect receptacle for phones, keys and other sundries. A Raymarine C97 combo takes pride of place in a dash that would accommodate a unit of twice that size.

It’s worth taking into account that the fuel cell that sits between the helm seats and is replenished via a low-profile floor filler. I must admit, I initially looked upon this as a negative until I used it: since you’re staring into the tank — 150L total capacity holding 140L — you’re unlikely to ever spill fuel. It also allows you to inspect remaining fuel if the gauge is bouncing around.



ANGLING HAPPY

This is critical since Bar Crusher doesn’t do cruisers, bowriders or pseudo ski boats. This manufacturer has both feet firmly entrenched in the fishing boat camp, even going as far as labelling a range "Fishing Weapons". So all efforts would be wasted if the new boat’s fishability had decreased.

In a nutshell, everything that endeared the 610HT to us as a fishing platform still works, and works well, with one noticeable difference: the 615HT is actually more stable at rest, even when hanging of the side of the hardtop.



THE WRAP

Bar Crusher’s stated intent with the 615HT Gen2 series was to improve on the successful benchmark established by the 610HT. Mission well and truly accomplished.



ON THE PLANE...

· Great fishing platform

· Economical offshore rig

· Sure-footed handling

· Soft, dry ride



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· A bit noisier than before

· Doesn’t look all that different

 

BAR CRUSHER 615HT GEN2 SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?

Indicative price: $70-80,000 (depending on options)

Type: Trim tabs; Raymarine C97 combo unit; VHF radio; Fish Matt; livebait tank plumbing.

Standard: Vee-berth bunks, tackle box seats, dual batteries.

 

GENERAL

Type: Plate alloy monohull

Material: Aluminium, 4mm bottom, 3mm sides

Length: 6.15m

Beam: 2.25m

Weight: 1580kg (approx. BMT)



CAPACITIES

People: 6

Rec. HP Rating: 115-150

Max. HP: 150

Fuel: 140L



ENGINE

Make/model: Suzuki DF150 XL

Type: 150

Weight: 220kg

Displacement: 2867cc

Gear ratio: 2.50:1

Propeller: 15x21in

 

 

SUPPLIED AND DISTRIBUTED BY

Bar Crusher

5 Quality Drive

Dandenong South

Victoria 3175

Tel: (03) 9792 2999

Web: www.barcrusher.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #297, July 2013.

Find Bar Crusher boats for sale.

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.