BOAT TEST: SOUTHERN STAR SF580 PLATINUM

By: RICK HUCKSTEPP, Photography by: LOU MARTIN


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Classic boats never die; they just smell that way, like any self-respecting fishing boat. While not exactly old, the revamped SF580 has carried its reputation for seaworthiness over to its new name, as Rick Huckstepp discovers

BOAT TEST: SOUTHERN STAR SF580 PLATINUM
SOUTHERN STAR SF580 PLATINUM

 

THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH


Stocks of Southern Star boats are starting to fill dealership yards around the country as the new company gears up for full production. The company's boats might look familiar to many readers: that's because the moulds for the range were bought by former employees of Yamaha, who previously sold the range under the Southwind brand.
The name might have changed, but the models are essentially the same - although the new owners reckon they've managed to refine and improve them even further. We decided to head out off Jumpinpin Bar in SE Queensland on one of the apex models in the range, the SF580, to test Southern Star's claim.

 

 

BEAM ME UP


My initial impression was that this boat was exceptionally beamy, suggesting stability would be a strong point. Interestingly, though, the lightly loaded boat sat very high in the water with the chines almost proud of the waterline when at rest, perhaps due to the very large internal volume of the boat.
But with a couple of blokes aboard, the boat settled nicely and sat still underfoot.
Speaking of internal volume, this is one hell of a big boat for its waterline length once you jump inside. It has very high gunwales, which lends it to being a brilliant offshore bottom-fishing boat, and also one that could handle big following seas without being pooped. The kids would be safe behind it as well.
The 135hp Evinrude direct-injection two-stroke motor was bolted onto a pod, and duckboards provided the infill on the aft corners. This rig definitely does not need extra buoyancy in the aft end: the broad running surfaces generate more than enough lift to give a brisk holeshot and enough buoyancy to float big outboards.
The coamings are big enough to handle additional recessed rodholders and downriggers if you want to install them, and the sidepockets underneath are longer than average. A hatch under the transom bulkhead allowed for easy cleaning of the bilges at the end of the day, and there was plenty of room either side for engine and house batteries and oil bottle stowage.
A removable baitboard was fitted to the test rig, but it was very high for the average person. Nothing a quick trim of the posts wouldn't fix, though.
Large baitwells are situated under nylon board hatches in each corner, with the portside unit sporting optional plumbing.

 

 

INSIDE LINES


While the rear lounge seat drops down for better access over the stern, the backrest is permanently attached to the coaming and forms a thigh bolster when leaning against the coaming.
Both helm and passenger seats swivel and have forward and rearward adjustment, and the comfort levels, vision forward when standing or seated, and general access are above average on this boat. A big-screen sounder/GPS unit would neatly flush-mount into the blank panel on the dash with other instrumentation fitting around it. There's also ample room for a compass or sounder on the dash brow.
The cabin was neatly finished, and there's room for the kids to crash out in the afternoon after a morning's fishing. Adults get seated headroom and could also take a kip on the bunks once the infill is dropped in place.
There were the usual stowage pockets tracing the inside of the cabin, and stowage under the seats was also spacious. With no walkaround outside of the cabin, the added width inside gave a feeling of spaciousness. Access to the anchor well was via a large hatch forward.
After a couple of days in the sun, this writer was very appreciative of the big bimini sheltering the helm and passenger area, and it also featured a six-pot rocket launcher for storing lighter outfits.

 

 

PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING


At full throttle the 135hp 'Rude pushed the Southern Star out to 44mph according to the dashboard instrumentation, which is a little more than 70kmh. It was very responsive right through its throttle range and had the grunt to lift the hull out of the hole effortlessly.
The maximum horsepower for this rig is 150, and although it might add a few bucks to the purchase price, you might find you'll appreciate it with more than three adults aboard and a full load of fuel and gear. With the natural buoyancy in the aft end of this boat being so great, it would lend itself to installation of a big four-stroke, the weight of which would give it a nice attitude on the water provided you didn't go over the 220kg rating for the transom.
During high-speed turns the boat performed exceptionally well and was easy on the arms thanks to the Seastar hydraulic steering. With no big seas to play in, we did our best to upset it over some large boat wakes, and its solid and predictable handling suggested it would make a very capable offshore fishing boat. It was also remarkably dry for a deep-vee boat.
A fisherman looking for a fibreglass boat and with a family to consider would be hard pressed to find a more practical and affordable rig for offshore work on a budget. What you're paying for is a proven design, good build quality and a respectable fitout without shelling out for a bunch of accessories you don't really need.
It's a boat that will definitely keep competing higher-profile brands honest.

 

 

HIGHS


* Spacious cockpit with good storage
* Soft, dry ride
* No frills, top quality, honest rig
* Buoyant and stable

 

 

LOWS


* Could have used a bit more horsepower for heavier loads or those with a penchant for speed
* Branding only recently established
* Fuel capacity a little on the light side

 

 

 

Specifications: Southern Star Platinum SF580

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $49,890 w/ 135hp DI two-stroke Evinrude, trailer and regos
Options fitted: Targa bimini, rocket launcher, clears, bait board, plumbing in livebait tank
Priced from: $44,000 w/ 135hp two-stroke sans options

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Fibreglass
Length (overall): 6.05m
Beam: 2.34m
Deadrise: 20°
Towing weight: 1760kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 150lt
People: Five adults
Rec/max hp: 135/150
Accommodation: Two adults
Water: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Type: Direct-injection two-stroke
Make/model: Evinrude V6 135
Rated hp: 135
Displacement: 2589cc
Weight: 190kg
Gearbox ratio: 1.85:1
Propeller: 17in stainless steel

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Logan River Marine, 1 Christensen Road, Yatala, Qld, tel (07) 3287 4888 or email loganmarine@optusnet.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #190

Find Southern Star boats for sale.

 


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