Haines Hunter boats history

By: John Willis


Haines Hunter has been an integral part of the Australian boat scene for over half a century. Get to know the history behind the Haines brand name.

The history of Haines Hunter boats begins with two brothers and Australian boating innovators: brothers John and Garry Haines. Highly influential in the development and design of Australian powerboats, they were ahead of their time when it came to utilising new materials and harnessing new boatbuilding techniques.

The Haines Hunter story began in Queensland in 1959, when the pair began making boats in a backyard workshop. In 1966 the Haines Hunter company was officially formed from the boys’ business, Fibreglass Constructions Pty Ltd.

 


Find out more of the history on the Haines Hunter boats timeline.


 

THE HAINES BROTHERS

The Haines Hunter brand built its reputation on the deep-vee fibreglass hulls first seen in America’s 12 and 14ft Bertram hulls. The Haines brothers were inspired by the creations of American offshore racing entrepreneurs like Dick Bertram and naval draftsman C. Raymond Hunt.

Bertram logoDick and Ray’s famous Lucky Moppie and Surfrider hulls were a part of the deep-vee revolution competing with similar developments from powerboat companies like Thunderbird, Donzi, Scarab, USA Sports, Cigarette, and Formula. It comes as no surprise then that the brothers were also a formidable force in powerboat racing, particularly during the sport’s heydays of the ’60s and ’70s.

From this competitive background the brothers forged an Australian boating icon whose products have attained an almost legendary status in the Australian marketplace. As John used to say, "It’s not our job to produce boats to take people out to sea, but to design boats that will bring them back, again and again."

Interestingly enough, Haines Hunter over the years produced more than just deep-vee hulls. For example, Haines Hunter also made twin-hulls, aluminium hulls and even some interesting cathedral bowriders. However, the one common element found across all Haines Hunter boats was the premium construction process, with plenty of reinforced fibreglass in its hulls. This is one of the reasons why old boats (like our Haines V19R project boat) remain popular today evne though some of these hulls were released nearly 40 years ago.

 

UPS AND DOWNS

As a company Haines Hunter has endured many trials and tribulations over the years, including floods, fires, global economic crashes, ownership takeovers and management buyouts. Indeed, the Haines brothers haven’t been involved in the Haines Hunter brand since 1980, when company investors forced a controversial takeover. John and family went on to establish the successful Haines Signature brand (now known simply as Signature) in 1984, and the family company continued on with its own success under the banner of the Haines Group.

 1968 Haines V19R Hardtop
A Haines V19R with hardtop from about 1968. Their solid construction explains why these classic Haines hulls remain extremely popular. Trade-a-Boat’s very own V19R project boat was at least 30 years old. Photo by Norm Jervis, Marine Care, SA.

Amid a lifetime of achievement, John Haines received an Order of Australia medal in 2003 — said to be one of the proudest moments of his life — before passing away in 2009. Garry Haines, along with John’s sons, John Jr and Greg Haines, continued to work in the Haines Group, which produces Signature, Seafarer and (previously) Traveller boats, while also distributing Suzuki outboards and Walker Bay dinghies and inflatables (in 2012 Greg joined luxury motoryacht builder Maritimo).

However, debate still rages on internet forums, at ramps, in angling clubs and wherever boaties gather — which is better: the Haines Hunters of old, or its latest offerings? One thing is for sure — they’re all premium boats with excellent riding characteristics, and the later the model, the friendlier the layout.

Nowadays Haines Hunter is a modern, thriving boat manufacturing company that employs 35 staff in state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne. Managing director, John Haber, is proud of his company, his facility, and his brand — and he’s also proud of the Haines Hunter dealers network, which offers membership of a Haines Hunter Club, plus dedicated repair and service centres and personalized boat insurance.

Today, the Haines Hunter range covers over 20 boat models, from the diminutive Haines Hunter 400 Seawasp and Prowler right through to the magnificent Patriot series. The "R" Series has been a particular triumph, with the (see the video) Haines Hunter 650 R Limited winning the "Fibreglass Fishing Boats" category in our very own 2010 Australia’s Greatest Boats competition.

Originally published in TrailerBoat #271, July / August 2011

 

 


 

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