BOAT TEST: HAINES HUNTER PROSTRIKE SPORT

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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John ford dangles a rod with an Australian angling champion in the Haines Hunter Prostrike Sport and finds out why this boat is attracting the gun fisherman

BOAT TEST: HAINES HUNTER PROSTRIKE SPORT
HAINES HUNTER PROSTRIKE SPORT

 

HITTING THE MARK
When Haines Hunter released its original Prostrike in 2005 it arrived to high praise as something of a revolution in Australian boating. At the time, the local bass and bream competition fishing scene was coming alive and lots of imports were arriving to stir up the largely tinny-based Aussie-made competition.

The original hull was developed with input from fishing experts including Ian Miller-NSW South Coast rod manufacturer who has plenty of fishing experience, and the hull benefits from his input from things like rod and tackle storage and placement. What came out of the development was a stable but fast fishing platform capable of mixing it with the best bass boats that the good old US of A had to offer.

The new model, the Sport, has evolved even further with the incorporation of a planing plank into the length of the hull, and extended legroom in the cockpit.

During the time the boat has been in production it has been at a price disadvantage compared with imports but with the devaluation in the Aussie dollar, times have changed and the boat now sits as a clear target for local buyers.

To give the boat a proper outing we arranged a morning's fishing on Pambula Lake with its owner, three times Australian Fishing Champion, Chris "Slick" Wright.

Decked out in sponsors colours and logos the boat is a real head turner. It sits low on the water and has a menacing, purposeful presence that says fast. The fact a 150hp Evinrude E-TEC is tacked on the back hints that it is.

 

BOARDING PARTY
Stepping aboard, the first thing you notice is the stability. Walk around and the boat sits flat even at the extremities with a couple of people aboard.

The boat is dominated by two raised carpeted platforms with a central cockpit section. The bow section incorporates cleverly designed mountings for the Minn Kota electric motor and forward sounder while the rear has a contoured outboard well with space for a motor up to 150hp.

Storage is a real feature throughout. Along the foredeck you lift moulded hatches to discover two eight-foot carpeted rod storage lockers with space for up to six rods each side. More centrally, there is a 200lt dry storage bin which also houses the Minn Kota battery. Hatches are fitted with gas struts and are lockable.

The central cockpit provides seating for three in comfortable wraparound buckets. The driver gets a contoured windscreen and a deluxe brushed metal sports steering wheel with non-feedback system ? the wheel can be adjusted to five different positions.

Visibility forward is unimpeded. All controls fall easily to hand, with clear vision of all instruments. A Lowrance LMS520C GPS-sounder is fitted to the dash. The central seat has dry storage underneath.

As you settle into the seats, it is reminiscent of getting into a sports car - you sit into the hull and the boat wraps itself around you giving a feeling of security.

The rear platform also houses plenty of tackle storage and the 120lt livewell which comes as a complete working unit and fills quickly, recirculating water efficiently. It is easy to access for bait and to clean. Rear storage bins have removable liners for good access and for easy clean out. Cupholders, rodholders, nav lights, anchor hatch, and retractable deck cleats are standard and of high quality.

Hatches at the stern give access to bilge pump, bilge and oil bottle.

 

E-TEC SYMPHONY
The gear lever slips easily into forward and as we get moving the boat needs a bit of in trim to jump onto the plane but once there it surges ahead and feels like it is sitting on a rail all the way to full noise.

Speaking of noise, the HO version of the E-TEC sitting behind us is like a symphony. The HO was developed for plank-designed hulls. Its gutsier noise is due to a different nose cone styled gearbox cover that diverts water to the intakes and allows the motor to sit higher on the transom. The result is exhaust exiting into clearer air through the Viper prop and a throatier sound than usual from an E-TEC.

The Sport gets onto plane at around eight knots. A steady 20kts is reached at 2500rpm and a comfortable (ridiculously fast) cruise around 35kts has the motor spinning at 4000rpm. Flat out at 5200rpm we saw 48kts with plenty of out trim. Consumption at these speeds saw 17lt/h (2.2km/lt) at 2500rpm, 36lt/h (1.9km/lt) at 4000rpm and at 5200rpm around 65lt/h.

At speed the Sport really comes into its own. The planing plank was incorporated for stability around top end - it certainly seems to have worked and having been an owner of both models, Chris confirmed the new hull is more stable at speed where the older model had a tendency to chine walk.

Cornering is flat and smooth. It is so flat that it's a good thing passengers are safely seated into the hull as the side force is considerable at speed. Steering can be heavy until trim is correctly set.

On the move, it is unlikely anyone will want to sit anywhere but in the cockpit as there is no freeboard to offer security. A heavy hand on the throttle could see passengers inadvertently going for a swim.

 

FISHING THE JUDGE
To give the boat a workout in the environment it was meant for we set out to catch some fish - well Chris did. What was surprising was the ability of the boat to get into confined shallow spots over oyster beds, rocks and around half-submerged trees. Of course, being experienced on the Minn Kota helped as Chris found his way over, around and through obstacles.

We fished for awhile around the oyster racks that line the western end of the lake but could come up with only a few undersize bream. The time and tide were working against us.

Shifting to some sand flats, Chris selected a Miller Bream Buster Prowler rod fitted with a Stella 1000FD reel. Loading up a Squidgy Stealth Prawn, he flicked into an area where the sand dropped off from around a metre to a deeper channel. With only a few casts he came up with a healthy flathead pretty much right where he said they would be. Just to prove the point he was able to find another within a few minutes.

What became clear was the total fishability of the hull. It gets into tricky spots with ease then if the place isn't producing, you can up and try somewhere else and be there in no time - with a rooster tail of wake behind. All of this is done in comfort and with the ability to move easily around the boat and fish from it anywhere. It can be set up to have equipment at hand when you need it so that you have the best chance of landing the big one.

Although our test was conducted in enclosed waters the boat is capable of being fished in open bays on the right day. You would need to be prudent but Chris has taken the boat offshore in the right conditions. With blue sky and gentle swell it would be a real thrill.

As a sign of how far specialised fishing boats have come in the past 15 years in Australia, reflect on Chris's story about his first fishing competition in 1991 in his 3.8m tinnie with 35hp outboard where, despite the lack of power, he was passing many other competitors. As we headed up the river in search of some fish not many tinnies were overtaking us.

In summing up the Sport, we left it to Chris. He claims it has the workability of a tinny but with stability and comfort plus plenty of storage and of course, speed. "It will go anywhere a tinny will go but it just does everything better," he said.

 

WHAT WE LIKED
Stability
Great fishing platform
High-quality finish

NOT SO MUCH
Glass hull needs care around oyster leases

Specifications: Haines Hunter Prostrike Sport

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $51,999 w/ electronics, 150 E-TEC HO, and trailer
Priced from: $42,500 w/ 90hp two-stroke Yamaha, and Mackay trailer

GENERAL
Material: Fibreglass
Length: 5.22m
Beam: 2.25m
People: 3

CAPACITIES
Weight: 580kg
Rec. max. HP: 150hp
Fuel: 125lt

ENGINE
Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC HO
Type: Direct injection V6 two-stroke
Rated HP: 150
Displacement: 2589cc
Prop: 14.5 x 22in

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Website: www.haineshunter.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #243

Find Haines Hunter boats for sale.

 


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