REVIEW: CSB HUNTSMAN CRUSADER

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford


The Kiwi-built CSB Huntsman Crusader is an all-rounder with a superior finish and soft ride. But is it worthy of Australian waterways? David Lockwood finds out

Question: what’s the capital of New Zealand? If you said Auckland, as so many do, you would be wrong. It’s windy Wellington. But neither city on NZ’s North Island is relevant here. Rather, the CSB Huntsman is built in Christchurch on the South Island, itself a great boating area.
By virtue of that fact, Christchurch is bound to produce a seaworthy boat or two. Formed in 1992, CSB Huntsman is a case in point. The production boatbuilder is on the move, setting up dealerships throughout NZ before establishing itself in our three eastern states.
What does CSB Huntsman bring to Australia? Foremost, a level of finish that’s not that common in production-built fibreglass trailerboats.
Furthermore, the mouldings, upholstery, cabin finish, and fitments in general were first class. Then there is the styling: rakish and sporty, despite this being very much a family cabin cruiser. In fact, with convertible seating in the cockpit this is a sportscruiser with a family and fishing flavour.
The Sydney dealer who offered the boat for testing cited its quality, universal appeal, the family/fishing aspect, and the general utility, as evidenced by such things as a ski pole, as the brand’s strengths. Offshore performance and a cabin with 1.8m long bunks add to the Crusader’s appeal.

KIWI CONSTRUCTION
But for the 5.4m Sport runabout, CSB Huntsman boats are all cabin cruisers. This is a useful configuration in rough water. Of the five boats, the Crusader tested here is the flagship and the newest addition.
Construction is all solid GRP with a collision bulkhead, foam flotation built into the cabin, woodfree stringers and marine-ply floor, I’m told. The hull is backed by a five-year structural warranty.
The Crusader measures seven metres overall, with a 6.5m waterline length. It’s built on a rakish hull, however, with a 2.4m beam and a fine entry with angled stem. Deadrise is a sharp 21 degrees and the ride, when seated, is excellent. In many ways, not least being the cabin and deck line, the Crusader reminded me of a classic Haines Hunter or Haines Signature hull.
Packaged on a dual-axle Trailmaster trailer with I-beam sections and manual override brakes, the Crusader weighs about 1850kg dry. That puts the rig under the two-tonne towing limit and in the realm of family V6 cars. So you don’t need a new vehicle with your new boat.
 
ON DECK
The saltwater intent of the Crusader is reflected in the solid stainless steel deck gear. The boat is headed by a split bowrail, which I always welcome for disembarking to a jetty, with the option of a bow ladder for hitting the beach. There was a solid bowsprit with heavy-duty bowroller, not one of those toy plastic ones, and the boat is designed for mounting a windlass. The anchor locker was super deep.
Access back aboard is either through a deck/escape hatch into the cabin or the five-piece walkthrough safety-glass windscreen held up by plastic-alloy struts (give me stainless steel any day). There is non-skid on the stiff foredeck and a resilient rubber rubrail traces the boat. The Crusader has steps moulded in its GRP cabin door for climbing down into the cockpit.
The freeboard in the cockpit will be welcomed by families and fishers, as will the layout. The demo boat had a back-to-back co-pilot seat that converts to a sunlounge, a single pedestal helm seat, and a clever removable aft lounge.
There are options for twin back-to-back seats or twin pedestal seats, and all seat bases are non-rotting Starboard plastic. As it was, you might have to shift crew around to keep the boat travelling on an even keel. For this reason, I would fit trim tabs. The boat had a canopy.
The Crusader has plenty of storage. There’s a glovebox with VHF radio and stereo alongside before the co-pilot, full-length sidepockets with rod or paddle racks and half pockets above for stowing personals, and a subfloor, lined fish kill tank or ski locker.
The moulded base under the back-to-back seat can be used as storage and there was a net on the back of the helm seat. The twin liftout aft seats were mounted on moulded storage bases and I found room to stow things back under the transom, where the twin batteries and an isolating switch were well off the floor.
The local dealer fitted a 45lt water tank, 12V pump and handheld deck shower to the boat. The weight of the water tank was designed to offset that of the twin batteries. The centre removable ski pole comes standard, with the option of a stainless steel cutting board.
The transom’s walkthrough design has an extended landing area, boarding steps, and there was a very good outboard installation with sealed rigging from the dealer. The steering was, given the 200hp four-stroke Yamaha outboard, hydraulic Teleflex.

CABIN CRUISING
Kids will appreciate the long bunks in the cabin. There are sidepockets and padded backrests and I noted a neat GRP cover over the wiring behind the dash and a deep footwell in which you could stash an icebox. The boat has a chemical toilet. Yes, you could do an overnighter.
All up, there’s seating for six, sleeping for two, and sports performance to wow the crowd. The two latest multifunction Yamaha gauges helped simplify the dash, which included a 12V accessory jack and switch panels for lights and pumps.
The 200hp four-stroke Yamaha outboard was spinning a 19-inch stainless steel prop, though a 21-inch prop will give better top-end speed. With the outboard trimmed in there was a hint of bow lift, and clean plane was clocked at 10kts, but it was at cruise that the boat and engine were at their smoothest.
At 3200rpm the Crusader ran flat for a 17kt low-speed cruise. A family and offshore cruise of 22kts was recorded at 3500rpm, which are economical revs, as are the 4000rpm for a 27kt fast cruise.
At 4500rpm you get a comfortable 31kts. Top speed of 42kts at 6100rpm suggests that the 21-inch prop would indeed be better. And, as the dealer seemed so keen to impress upon me, the ride was great.
There are optional graphics and hull colours, but the styling of the Crusader is timeless. However, more than anything else, it’s the pride of workmanship that shines through. Unfurl the supplied canopy and kick back, and enjoy the ride back home. It’s a real all-rounder built with Kiwi pride.
 
WHAT WE LIKED
Great attention to detail
Made for saltwater use and rough conditions
Solid deck gear
Social and adaptable seating layout
The dealer fitout of a freshwater tank and deck shower enhanced the boat
Cabin toilet and 1.8m bunks, plus head room
 
NOT SO MUCH
Modest fuel capacity
Plastic and alloy windscreen struts
Glovebox isn’t lockable
Styling could be construed as a little ‘yesteryear’
Boatbuilder isn’t well known in Australia
Low turnover and unpredictable resale value
 


Specifications: CSB Huntsman Crusader

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $78,900 w/ Yamaha 200hp four-stroke outboard, dual-axle trailer, options, safety gear and registrations
Options fitted: Garmin GPS 172, Garmin FF250C, 27MH GME radio, GMD marine stereo, cabin and cockpit lights, ski pole, baitboard combo, dual-axle trailer with electric brakes, full camper covers, chemical loo and infill, cockpit lights, freshwater and transom shower, dual batteries

GENERAL
Material: GRP with foam flotation
Length overall: 7m
Beam: 2.4m
Deadrise: 21°
Weight: Approx 1850kg dry on trailer on road

CAPACITIES
Berths: Two 
Fuel capacity: 150lt
Passengers: Seating for six adults
Water capacity: Aftermarket 45lt for transom shower.
Rec. max HP: 225 outboard
Rec. min HP: 150

ENGINE
Make/model: Yamaha FL200AET
Type: Fuel-injected four-stroke V6 petrol outboard
Weight: 269kg
Rated HP: 200 at 5500 to 600rpm
Displacement: 3352cc
Drive: Extra-long shaft
Propeller: 19-inch stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
Boaters World Marine Centre Limited
363 Victoria Road, Rydalmere, NSW, 2112.
Phone: (02) 9807 2333
Visit: www.boatersworld.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #212

 


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