Haines Hunter historical timeline

By: John Willis


Want to know where it all began? The history of how Haines Hunter became an iconic trailer boat brand in Australia begins more than 50 years ago…

Haines Hunter historical timeline
The history of Haines Hunter boats goes back to the late 1950s.

 

Late ’50s

The American offshore racing scene develops the fibreglass deep-vee hull. Miami-based yacht broker, Richard Bertram, commissions naval architect C. Raymond Hunt to design the original Bertram 30ft Lucky Moppie (named after Bertram’s wife).

 

1959

John and Garry Haines build their first fibreglass speedboat.

 

1960

Jim Wynne skippers the first timber 23ft version of the Hunt design at the 1960 Miami to Nassau race. It is the only boat other than Lucky Moppie to finish, while Richard Bertram wins the race outright. The 30ft timber hull is then reengineered in fibreglass and lengthened to 31ft for the 1961 race.

Cam Craigie and Peter Huybers of Australian company QPS (Queensland Pastoral Supply) acquire the rights to produce new 12ft, 14ft, and 18ft models from Canadian firm Toronto Yacht and Boat Centre — they imported the first of these in 1960 / 61.

These were manufactured by the Haines boys for Craigie and Huybers’ company, Bertram Boat Company Australia. The original 12ft, 14ft, and 18ft moulds featured the patented "Hunt Hydrolift" hull, with the 12ft and 14ft also having a patented tunnel hull construction similar to that being used by Bar Crusher and Surtees today. The early boats also featured a reverse chine design with a big flared bow that required a split mould construction. Their deep-vee bottoms and broad beam were larger in volume compared to any of the narrow-gutted, flat-bottomed boats in their class, so they were renamed by measuring the length around the gunwale instead of their centreline length. Thus the original hulls evolved from V12 to V133 (Sea Wasp), V14 to the Hunt or Bertram V15, V18 to V19R (and its countless offspring), and the Formula 233 became the Haines Hunter Formula 233 with its countless offspring.

 

1964

Archie Spooner of Australia’s International Marine negotiates the rights to produce the Bertram Yacht Co range from Richard Bertram in Miami. He immediately imports a 25ft hardtop version, to be driven by Bob Dyer in the inaugural Sydney to Newcastle powerboat race. Thus, International Marine becomes the home of Caribbean and Bertram in Australia.

 

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1965

Throughout the ’60s and ’70s the Haines brothers maintain an exhaustive offshore and skiracing program, which includes the Cairns to Gold Coast Pacific 1000. Garry Haines described their greatest win to be the 1965 Sydney to Newcastle race in a V19R, but he also fondly remembers other wins, such as the gruelling Bridge to Bridge skirace on NSW’s Hawkesbury River.

 

1966 / 1967

Cam Craigie and Peter Huybers’ Bertram Boat Company Australia loses interest in boats and a dispute over the Bertram name is successfully settled when Archie Spooner (International Marine) negotiates total rights to the name in Australia. In need of a new brand, John and Garry select "Haines Hunter" — a combination of the Haines name (which already had a high profile built up through their racing success) and that of the original designer, Hunt. The patented Hunt Hydrolift hulls (12ft, 14ft and 18ft) are phased out in the mid-’60s.

 

Late ’60s / early ’70s

The Canadian 16ft pattern is imported. It’s an earlier version of the 14ft and 18ft hulls that closely resembled the original Lucky Moppie design. John alters it to include modified strakes and a more hollow flare in keeping with the 18, so that it fitted the stable. This is John’s first foray into design change, and it gives birth to the extremely successful V17MkI, while giving him confidence in his abilities as a designer.

"The Haines V17L was affectionately known as the executive model," says Garry Haines. "At the time the economy was suffering and John Snr decided the ‘shiny bums’ would put on the overalls and produce the latest model. It has become a renowned success with a longstanding reputation for its innovation and performance. John’s early policy to develop through downturns stood him in good stead many times," he adds. Many models and configurations evolved, including the "R" Runabout, "C" Cabin as well as the ski-oriented 1600,1800 and 2100SO (commonly known as "Essos"). There was also a cathedral-hulled 17ft bowrider and a 23ft twin-hulled catamaran.

 

1970

John and Garry take out first and second place in the Sydney to Newcastle race just one day after the birth of John’s son Gregory. John drove a 23ft Formula and Garry a single-outboard 1600SO.

 

1973

Lured by the promise of increased capital and expansion for the prospering company, Haines Hunter sells a majority shareholding to Robin Lowe. The Haines brothers remain as shareholders and directors of the company, running the operation.

 

1974

The great Brisbane floods of 1974 see Haines Hunters’ Goodna factory under 10m water — precious fibreglass moulds are recovered from treetops over 10km away.

 

1975

The Haines Hunter factory moves to Wacol.

 

1975 / 76

Fire nearly destroys the new Wacol factory.

 

Mid ’70s

Many new models are released, including the metric-defined Haines Hunter 445, 565, 600, 635, 733 and the 445F "Fisherman" centre-console, which evolved from John’s own 146 design.

 

1979

John and Garry win the Pacific 1000 — a victory John said was his favourite.

 

1980

John and Garry are forced out of the company through a bitter legal dispute. The Haines family has had no involvement with the Haines Hunter brand from this point.


’80s

The Haines Hunter brand rises and falls through a long series of management takeovers, reshuffles and ownership changes, but the range of boats continues to develop. Designs evolve, including the Haines Hunter 490, 520, 550, 580 SL, SLR and SLC models.

 

Late ’80s

Haines Hunter moves its factory to Yatala.

 

1990

OMC (Outboard Marine Corporation — which includes the Johnson and Evinrude brands) purchases Haines Hunter. Models such as the 560F and 580SF emerge with less cabin space but greater deck areas. The designs reflect the needs of more serious fisherman and divers looking for large deck areas in easily trailerable packages.

 

Early ’90s

Haines Hunter releases the updated 520, 620 and (in 1992) the industry-leading 680SF. This large, trailerable walkaround is introduced amid a tough economic climate, yet it quickly becomes one of the most successful boats of the era.

 

1996

The popular Haines Hunter 680 Encore is released.

 

2001

OMC collapses worldwide, yet continues to trade in Australia with a skeleton staff.

 

2001

Entrepreneur John Haber buys Haines Hunter and quickly releases the popular Breeze range plus the all-new Haines Hunter 680 Patriot.

 

2006

Haines Hunter builds a new facility in Derrimut, Victoria, and closes the Queensland facility.

 

2006 to 2011

In recognition of Haines Hunter’s achievements in manufacturing excellence, the Victorian Government proudly inducts Haines Hunter into the "Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame" in 2006, vindicating the company’s dedication to producing world-class boats with cutting-edge techniques and materials.

 

Today

Haines Hunter continues to produce premium boat products for the Australian boating public. The range has been expanded to include the Enclosed, ProFish, Patriot, Offshore, Prowler, "R" Series and Limited range. It has collected a swag of industry awards for its products in recent years, which are all built in its dedicated Melbourne production facility.

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #271, July / August 2011 

 


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