By: Rick’s Huckstepp, Photography by: LOU MARTIN

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There’s no shortage of bowriders on the market these days, but very few possess the quality and value for money of the Haines Signatures. The brand new 500BR puts a spring in Rick’s Huckstepp.




When it comes to trailerboats, size does matter. And for manufacturers to remain at the cutting edge as well as maintain a profitable business, they need to have a good stable of boats that cover as many scenarios as possible.
Haines Marine Group has done this and done it well - the company's huge array of boats, ranging from small tenders to 60ft cruising catamarans, is capable of tempting boaters of all persuasions.
The Haines Group's Signature series has done particularly well since its inception decades ago. Signature boats exude a quality that fastidious buyers always seek; but in the majority of cases, at prices a healthy distance from the top end of the market.
The 500BR is another of The Haines Group's boats that is aimed directly at a small-family, small-budget market that is looking to maximise value for money.




This brand new model measures up at a tad over 5m, and its reasonable 2.1m beam gives it the stability mum and dad are looking for when carting the young family around.
As a beachgoer, the 500BR fits the bill: it has nicely contoured coamings, which makes climbing overboard for a roll in the waves a much more comfortable experience.
While it's not designed as a fishing boat (though there's nothing to stop you flinging out a few lines), it does have a fixed bowroller and split bollard on its nose for anchoring, which not all boats of this style have. A bow-mounted folding ladder would further improve this boat's practicality.
The anchor well consists of a tray that holds plenty of rope and a kellick, and this area is secreted below a flush-mounted hatch. Cool stainless pop-up cleats are located on each coaming in front of the wraparound Perspex windscreen, and another couple are installed in rebates on the aft corners to secure the boat if need be.




The bowrider section is best described as snug, with room for an adult and two kids or two adults. It is comfortably upholstered over nylon-type boards, which serve as hatches that open into large dry stowage areas underneath.
Step through the opening screen and you'll notice that the comfortable finish continues throughout, with upholstered cockpit liners and generous sidepockets for lifejackets, paddles and so on. There are two comfortable swivel seats; the helm is adjustable forward and back.
The rear lounge is nicely sculpted for relaxing in the sun, while the back section is contoured to allow the engine to tilt enough to clear the water. This provides a snug corner in which to wedge yourself while petrol-heads are at the helm.
Below the seat cushion is a large wet box that's removable by operating a couple of barrel bolts: this would be handy for carting gear ashore for a picnic and swim.
A telescopic ladder gives access over the stern, and stainless ski rope tow-eyes are installed on transom. The test boat featured a skipole mounted in the rear bulkhead, but unfortunately the rope swinging off this contacted the engine cowl, which would eventually lead to paint loss. A minor extension to the skipole is required, but you could probably sort something out at the dealership.




With a 115hp four-stroke Suzuki on the back, the 500BR leapt up onto the plane easily. It then accelerated out to a fairly fleet 65kmh and 6100rpm at full throttle.
Holeshot was not what you'd get from, say, a 130hp two-stroke, but with the 21in propeller fitted on the test rig, it displayed excellent torque for pulling skiers - or in our case, an inflatable tube. Economy is also excellent.
Non-feedback mechanical steering from Teleflex was comfortable enough to use when trimmed out and running free, but if you're going to tow the kids on a tube, you'll be throwing the boat around a fair bit with the leg trimmed in - and that's where you'll need hydraulic steering. For the extra $500 or so, it's well worth the investment.
The Haines Group has followed the current trend of including vented chines on this neat bowrider. This reduces drag for better top-end speed, and also helps the boat look and feel more contemporary.
In terms of value for money, the Signature 500BR compares well with the competition. It's probably a little dearer than a comparably sized aluminium bowrider, but it's slightly cheaper than imported BRs with a V6 inboard - but you've got the quality, finish, comfort and style of fibreglass.
The boat has a fairly good spread of the necessary features included in the standard price, but expect to pay extra for things like pop-up cleats, CD player, skipole and boarding ladder.




• Quality build and fittings
• Stable and safe for families
• Economical, with plenty of torque for towing tubes and skiers
• Value for money




• Needs a longer skipole
• Hydraulic steering would be nice
• Could use a bow-mounted ladder for extra practicality




Specifications: Haines Signature 500BR




Price as tested: $37,673 w/ 115hp Suzuki four-stroke and trailer
Options fitted: Tonneau cover over bowrider cockpit, Clarion radio/CD player, pop-up cleats, compass, carbon fibre dash, hull graphics, stainless-steel ladder, skipole, non-feedback steering
Priced from: $30,137




Hull type: Monohull bowrider
Material: GRP
Length overall: 5.05m
Beam: 2.1m
Deadrise: 21-33° variable
Weight: 500kg (hull only)
Towing weight: About 1320kg




Rec/max hp: 115/130
Fuel: 75lt
Water: n/a
Berths: n/a




Make/model: Suzuki DF115
Type: Four-cylinder fuel-injected four-stroke
Rated hp: 115
Displacement: 1950cc
Weight: 189kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.59:1
Propeller: 21in




Runaway Bay Marine, 2/247 Bayview Street Runaway Bay, Qld, tel (07) 5572 2666 or email



Originally published in TrailerBoat #186

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