By: Rick Huckstepp

Rick Huckstepp put three top end fishing icons through their paces and offers his assessment on how they stacked up

If you’re in the hunt for any boat in today’s new boat market you will be hard pressed to find a dealer with two, let alone three or more makes and models with which to make a good side by side comparison.


Jump to:

Trophy 2052

Haines Hunter Patriot 680

Cruise Craft Outsider 685


We’ve decided to do it for you, here in print but, even with our resources, times and distances made it impossible to do all three on the same day at the same location.
The boats we chose to feature in this shootout were the Trophy 2054, Haines Hunter’s 680 Patriot and Cruise Craft’s Outsider 685. The latter two are from south-east Queensland, while the Trophy hails from the US. We managed to get the location sorted but the different days left us with the differing sea conditions. Having had more than one trip to sea in all of these boats on other occasions I had to draw on those experiences when discussing in particular, the Trophy, which scored a day and a sea that was calm enough to take a dingy to Cato Reef!
The common denominator with these contenders is their similar lengths and the fact that all three feature in the yards, driveways and sheds of generally serious offshore fishers and boaters. Price wise, they are not entry level boats either, rather icons in the marine market that most of us aspire to own at one stage of our boating life.
They all require a tow vehicle of Land Cruiser-plus status and border on the maximum trailerable width for most states’ roadways.
As long as you are wetting a fishing line or turning the key on your rig, you will never get the perfect fishing and boating machine. The best possible scenario is to pick the attributes that will suit the greater percentage of your boat usage, be it fishing, cruising, racing or just kicking back. Let’s see how these three rack up!


The Trophy 2052 has been on the Australian market for some time. The test boat had just been acquired by Tim Dean, who was kind enough to supply it for the test, which was also its maiden voyage. It is a ‘walk around the cab’ configuration and features a wide path that allows one to walk foot-over-foot rather than shuffle. The rebate widens at the bow so there is plenty of room to move around if manually handling the ground tackle.
This boat has a tinted hatch in the roof of the cabin, which serves as a ventilator but is too far aft of the anchor well to allow one to work rope and chains from within. Although safely fenced by a high stainless steel bowrail that extends back to the aft level of the cab, an electric winch should be a priority on the options list if you will be bottom fishing at anchor. As tested, the anchor well was too small for an offshore grappling anchor, so a rail mounted tube should also be on the wish list if you need to carry a spare.

Walk-around capability on a boat is a serious advantage for the offshore sportsfisher, especially those that are dealing with multiple hook-ups on pelagics such as sailfish and marlin that like to stretch the cockpit resources during a hot bite. Such a configuration has a downside in that it does eat into cabin space, so this is a decision you can only make after analysing your fishing style now and what you expect to achieve in the future, as well as whether or not you need to appease the rest of the family. Transit around the bow for an angler with a loaded stand-up rod will not be a problem. A rebate in the brow of the cabin roof had press studs for the installation of a cushion to park yourself, should you be relegated to pulling the pick on the high seas or need a rest during an epic battle.
The bar work that supported the hard top was about 50mm in diameter with a smart, silver anodised finish. The top itself was large enough to cover the helm area and plenty of quality bar work offered safety grabs for those behind the seats when underway or when moving around the outside of the cabin. A rocket launcher was part of this feature but, post purchase, a semi permanent awning had been fixed to the rear of the hard top, making it difficult to access the rods while standing in the cockpit. Incorporated under the hard top, a wide compartment with a clear hatch offered dry stowage and room for radios if you want to open up the helm area.

A raised livebait tank is part of the inner cabin liner and is also the base on which the pedestal for the helm seat is fixed. The plumbing for this and the removable deckwash hose is mounted on the inner liner. The lid of the bait tank is the step up to access the walk-around path. Having the bait tank remote from the coamings poses a couple of issues. Usually you will have hook in hand when foraging for a livebait which means trace line will be extending across the cockpit back to the rod in a gunwale-mounted rodholder. If someone collides with the trace, the holder of the hook will likely be on the receiving end of the hook point rather than the livebait. Having to lower the head in heaving seas might also result in head butting part of the liner or helm seat. An option of a bait tank in the transom bulkhead would be a good idea.
Opposite the helm, the swivel passenger seat is mounted on a small bench, under which a removable icebox is secured. This type of cold stowage is finding favour amongst bluewater anglers.
The Patriot and Outsider have a companionway into the cabin, with no sill on the bottom of the aperture. The Trophy features a sill due to the fact the deck area is on the same level throughout, and the sill keeps water out of the cabin. The upper part of the opening is recessed deep into the dash top, making it easy to enter and exit without crouching too much. The latch here is very neat and sturdy.
Inside the cabin, a plumbed, portable toilet capable of being pumped out at the dock externally or manually drained on shore, secretes away under the overhanging foredeck mould. Two adults could sit on the berths and, with the infill that stows in the void between the cabin liner and the hull installed, two could catch a nap between hot bites. The removable table that fits to the floor is also stored between the hull and the cabin liner. This void is also a good place to mount rods with their tip sections in the gap, out of harms way.

The dash is very busy and a large Raymarine radar/GPS chartplotter/depthsounder unit was gimbal-mounted and a fascia to recess a large single unit flush to the dash is available.
Another bonus for the serious offshore angler is the crowned cockpit deck which allows incoming water, blood and guts to drain away to the sides, into the gutter surrounding the port and starboard kill tanks where it can exit astern through tubular scuppers. This is a good feature in the absence of a raised platform.
The inboard engine box is under a square metre in surface area and allows plenty of room either side for an angler to stand. While not cutting into stand-up angling space, the engine box does restrict one from standing at a centrally-mounted bait station on the transom bulkhead, but it is still accessible from each aft corner. The resulting deck space is 3.42 square metres.
Inside the engine box is a 1.7lt 120hp Cummins/MerCruiser diesel, sitting snug against the transom. There is good access to the front of the engine for pulley belt and fuel filter maintenance when required. The Trophy featured gunwales that were 610mm high.

Over the stern, a small step out with hand rails features on the starboard side and trim tabs were fitted. At idle speed travelling ahead, the boat proved to be more responsive and direct at the helm with the trim tabs set for bow-down attitude. Without the tabs in play the boat tended to oversteer at slow troll speed, so trim tabs should be standard.
Pushing astern, the steerage for backing down on fish was exceptional and direct from let to right lock and the boat’s high coamings on the transom would make it a winner when backing into swell and chop. This boat’s beam made for stable fishing on the drift.
At speed, the Trophy handles nicely, laying well into hard turns. This attitude is a result, in part, of having a sharp deadrise well forward that tends to reduce inertia for the crew during aggressive handling. The boat can handle chop softly and lays water rising off the keel line down and away, resulting in a dry windscreen. With only a gentle swell to meet us out in the Seaway it was difficult to find conditions to test for broaching but all felt correct with what conditions we had, as well as those generated by the passing of small ships.
You might think the engine noise from the MerCruiser/Cummins engine is excessive. Most diesels are no different and this unit seemed to be quieter in this boat than most others I have tested. In any case, while there was some soundproofing fitted, there was room for more and there are some great sound-deadening materials available on the market these days that will make life more comfortable.


The 680 Patriot was launched on the Broadway on the Gold Coast during an outgoing tide. An opposing south-easterly wind of 15 to 20km/h produced the kind of chop that sorts hulls out fairly quickly. As high as it was and such was the distance between peaks that there was no way you could ride down and through them. Rather, we had to punch through one and through the top of the next. The sharp entry at the forefoot of the 680 allowed it to slice cleanly and gently with plenty of grunt from behind with Evinrude’s 250hp E-Tec outboard.
This hull is not the lightest in its class but, on smoother water with full throttle applied, the E-Tec revved out to 5400rpm with a 19-inch propeller, while the speedometer registered 48mp/h. Hole shot was not an issue either and, with hydraulic steering making life easier, throwing this rig around was child’s play.
At the mouth of the Gold Coast Seaway and despite the conditions, this boat proved to be very dry with only a small amount of spray straying up onto the windscreen. Further offshore the sea settled somewhat.

The 680 was fitted with a raised Muir winch running all chain into a massive locker, which held a large plough anchor. There is a lot of room here for other spare anchors and ropes as well.
This rig is a walk-around configuration and, like the Trophy, has plenty of room up front for fighting fish and battling ground tackle should you not opt for an electric winch.
Each side of the entry to the walk-around had a step with non-slip and a recessed light for night use.
Running from below the aft end of the cabin the side pockets were a wide two-tiered configuration and each side gunwale featured three rodholders. With toes tucked under the lower pocket there was plenty of upholstery to cushion the body while leaning against the high coamings, which stopped 760mm off the deck.
If you’re into work stations you will like the option for the transom of this Patriot. An 80lt livebait tank has been stylishly moulded into the top liner so the back of it protrudes outside and, on opening the lid you’ll find a large draining tray for thawing baits out of the water.
That removable bait rigging station sits in vertical postholders and features hinged cutting board lids with drainable trays underneath and rodholders recessed in its top.
Built with a full skirt along its face, it prevents a clear view of the single engine from the helm. The upside of this is that it deflects engine noise.
In the portside aft corner, a half-height walkthrough transom features a freshwater shower running from a 70lt tank recessed into the wall. On top of the bulkhead another small hatch hides a saltwater deckwash. The foot tread for this walkthrough consists of a hinged fibre board which, when lifted, exposes the fuel and oil bottle filler. Below all of this is a hatch on the inside providing access to batteries and pumps. Out on the full-width walk-on transom, a boarding ladder folds upwards and can be secured against the stern with an elastic strap.
The rear collapsible lounge is removable and, when lowered, your feet can still fit under, adding some extra balance to a rocky fishing situation. Once removed, access to the bilge and electrical components behind is made easy.
Two large kill tanks on the deck may be optioned with insulation during the factory build.

The helm station deck sits about 75mm above the rear deck, preventing water and fish juice flowing into the cabin. Seating is on two plush swivel chairs that have a forward and rearward adjustment. With the helm seat in the fully rearward position it would be a tight squeeze for anyone with large thighs to fit between the seat front and the wheel. With the seat fully forward, someone with skinny legs won’t even fit here. This needs to be modified.
The liners next to both chairs featured large bin-type stowage pockets.
The dash area was neatly fitted with Navman sounder and a GPS, which are standard equipment, as are the trim tabs. To the left of the helm, near the companionway was room behind the full hardened glass screen for a gimbal-mounted GPS or depthsounder.
The hard top on the 680 is higher than that on the Trophy and Outsider. Tall people would be happy moving around under this shade setup. The problem for me is that, being a short arse, I almost needed a leg up to get rods out of the rocket launcher.
The aperture down into this cabin is large and one steps down and walks in at an angle. I’m about 180cm in height and my heels don’t touch the bottom of the well when seated so there is plenty of room for big people. Likewise, I can almost stand upright in the leg well with my head just touching the roof of the cabin.
The toilet sits behind a false forward bulkhead and is the macerator type, exiting contents out through the hull. The usual stowage compartments exist under the berth cushions. On the helm bulkhead, inside the cabin, a neat cooker is installed in a drop down galley. It folds neatly out of the way under the hinged lid, which covers the spaghetti at the back of the dash board. This model has the option of foam filling inside the hull and featured the highest gunwales of all three, being 80cm above the deck.


I’ve spent a lot of time fishing from various Cruise Craft boats over the years, mostly from the 625 Outsider, so it was nice to jump into the flagship of the series.
While the Trophy and the Patriot featured a walk-around that entered and exited the cockpit via an opening each side of the wheelhouse, the Outsider has its walk-around rebated into the top deck. One climbs onto the coaming and steps down into the walk-around. This prevents any water entering the cockpit as it is retained in the walkway and drained externally through the outer hull.
The cabin of the Outsider is similar in volume to the Patriot in berth height off the bottom of the leg well, length and head height when standing inside. Both are slightly larger than the Trophy in this department. The bulbous forward part of this boat’s cabin is uncluttered.
A macerator-type pump-out toilet was installed, although this model comes standard with a lift-out portable toilet at the forward end of the vee-berth.
Unlike the Patriot and Trophy, the Outsider features a hatch at the front of the cabin that allows one to access the winch and ground tackle without having to climb out onto the walk-around deck.

A continuous stowage pocket that doubles as a backrest surrounds the cabin. This boat exhibits wider berths than the other two, resulting in a more narrow leg well. The Patriot has the second widest berths and the Trophy has the least widest, preferring to optimise leg space in the well to utilise the removable dining table more comfortably.
An optional infill to make a spacious double berth for over-nighting can be installed on each.
The helm seat on this boat is on its own pedestal while the passenger seat is a backless, cushioned affair. With the cushion base swung out of the way, the underside becomes the food preparation table and a drop down module that recesses flush into the wall features a portable gas cooker.
A large access door at the aft end of this module opens to reveal the owner’s practical tackle stowage system.
Between this module and the lockable companionway to the cabin, a sink with a freshwater port is recessed into the liner. Below that, a vertical hatch holds the usual galley cleaning equipment.
A 50lt freshwater stowage bag is hidden inside a pocket on both port and starboard liners, along with respective pumps.

This entire area is neatly shaded by Cruise Craft’s standard targa. There is a pull-out awning for extra shade. The height of the soft top frame was about 70mm lower than the Patriot and was on par with the Trophy.
This boat was fitted with Mercury’s 250hp Verado four-stroke outboard, which runs a remote power steering pump. This pump was also installed inside the starboard cavity between the inner liner and hull.
Verado’s electric remote gearshift is rebated in the liner in comfortable reach of the skipper. The helm featured a recessed Lowrance combination GPS/depthsounder, with radios also installed here. The hardened glass windscreen was fitted with a grabrail as standard. Like the Patriot, the Outsider featured a raised helm deck area preventing fish guts and the like sloshing around and finding their way into the cabin.
Out on the cockpit deck, the lowered area measured 4.4 square metres, compared to the Patriot’s 4.32 square metres and Trophy’s 3.42 square metres of usable deck space.
The bait station was functional and removable, as was a drop down rear lounge that when lowered, still allowed the feet to tuck underneath for stability. When removed, one could access the bilge underneath the overhang. The back rest stayed fixed to the inside of the transom bulkhead and this provides for thigh comfort while fishing in rough water.
A fibre door closes off the half-height walkthrough transom bulkhead and under the step through a vertical hatch hides batteries and water pumps.
On the deck, two kill tanks did the job nicely on a couple of jewfish that fell foul of some livebaits plucked from the ample tank built into the transom bulkhead.
If you are a fan of four strokes, you will be impressed by the Verado outboard. They are quiet, punchy, and as smooth as silk on the gear shift and steering is a dream. Hole shot was fast, almost next snapping as we wound it out to 6000rpm, which realised a speed of 68km/h. The standard foam filling for buoyancy of this hull is a silencer and takes a lot of the water noise away, complimenting what little sound came over the transom from the outboard motor.
In hard, fast cornering, the Cruise Craft lays over less than the two other boats, in part due to the chines running further forward before they rise up toward the bow. This gives the boat something to lean on and doesn’t take away anything from its performance in chop and big seas. In fact this feature gives a lot of stability to the forward half of the boat when at anchor and on the drift when fishing.
The test day offered us similar weather to that of the Patriot test – 20km/h from the south-east and some big chop. Keen to get a feed, we took the rig out through the Southport Seaway and headed north-east for some miles before jigging some livies and knocking those two jewfish on the head. We then headed into and crossed Jumpinpin Bar, which was an experience in itself and one that a lot of people over the years have not survived.
Being fairly dicey the cameras stayed put in their waterproof cases. The 685 chewed through the mess and spat it astern before heading south along the inside of and completing a circumnavigation of South Stradbroke Island.

Who said this was an easy job? Faced with all the facts and figures it would be simple to take the easy way out and buy on price but, unfortunately you might not get a boat as close to perfect as you would like it to be.
Let’s look at Cruise Craft, which carries a price tag about $11,000 above that of the Patriot. The guys at Cruise Craft make no bones about their pricing and promote this rig as a bluewater family fishing boat. If you have been around fibreglass boats for a while you would have to agree that these boats are right up there amongst only a handful of icons of the Australian recreational boat building industry. A perusal of the secondhand pages in <i>TrailerBoat<i> will show you that boats such as this hold their resale value very well and don’t stay on the market too long. There is something to be said about looking at the other end of your fishing investment. One of the aspects that lend it favourably towards a family boat is its larger berths where youngsters can bunk down or a couple spread out for a weekend.
Another is the optional galley being external from the cabin, which is an advantage if in anything but glassy waters, where otherwise being cooped up in a cabin might send one a little green. The food preparation and sink area is sure to please and, yes, even though it weighs in the heaviest out of the outboards, the Verado really compliments this outfit.
The practicality of the Patriot is right on the money for the hardened fisho. They will enjoy the extra 40mm height in the gunwales when getting trashed around the cockpit offshore, but some modifications to the helm seat’s location should be a priority with this rig though.
Out of the three contenders, the Outsider 685 will most likely get the family vote, provided you can get over the line with the dollars.
Some of the trimmings available on the Outsider that might please the other half are neither here nor there when it comes to serious offshore anglers. They want fishing practicality through and through and getting a good night’s sleep is not in the equation.
To some it is just as easy to wash your hands in a bucket or not at all rather than a sink and who cares if the sandwiches taste like old pilchards!
The Trophy performed well in all aspects. With only a 120hp engine on board it is slower out of the hole, not having the neck-snapping punch of the 250hp engines on the other rigs, but it gets out without any worries and will carry the payload of people easily. Although not tested, in all likelihood it will do so with the least fuel consumption of the three and, even taking into account the cost of diesel over unleaded petrol, it would still be in front. Certainly the purchase price will leave you plenty of change to keep the tanks full for a while.
The Trophy presents more as a practical fishing boat along with the Patriot, rather than one geared more towards families.
The Trophy is only a tad behind the Patriot price-wise so, if you are going for a fishing machine, your first decision has to be whether it is going to be inboard or outboard-propelled. If you discount the Trophy, the next decision comes back to the family versus serious dedicated angler requirements.

Specifications: Cruise Craft Outsider 685

Price as tested:    $99,990.00
Options fitted:    Targa extension, targa spotlights, and bunk
     infill, electric winch, rope and chain, bait board,      livebait tank, plumbing and deck wash, galley
unit with sink and stove, Navman radio and aerial combo GPS/sounder, duel batteries and isolation switch
Priced from:    Recommended retail price unavailable

Material:    Fibreglass
Length overall:   7.2m
Beam:     2.5m
Deadrise:    20 degrees
Weight:    1320kg, hull only

Fuel     300lt
Water:     100lt
People:     7
Max transom engine weight:  390kg
Max/rec HP    270
Hull warranty:    Seven years

Make/model:    Mercury Verado
Type:     Supercharged four-stroke, six-cylinder EFI
Rated HP:    250
Weight:    302kg
Gearbox ratio:    1.85:1
Propeller:    19-inch

The owner via Tweed Coast Marine,
147 Pacific Highway,
Tweed Heads South, NSW 2486
Phone: (07) 5524 8877
Fax: (07) 5524 3324


Specifications: Haines Hunter Patriot 680

Price as tested:    $88,000
Options fitted:    Hard top, carpet, baitboard and two radios
Priced from:    $85,000

Material:    Fibreglass
Length overall:   7m
Beam:     2.5m
Deadrise:    21 degrees
Weight:    1500kg, hull only

Fuel:     350lt
Water:     70lt
People:     8
Max transom engine weight:  500kg
Max rec HP in two or four-stroke: 320

Make/model:    Evinrude
Type:     Direct fuel-injected two-stroke
Rated HP:    250
Displacement:    3279cc
Weight:    234kg
Gear box ratio:   1.85:1
Propeller:    19-inch three-blade 

Hinterland Marine,
Phone: (07) 5572 8166


Specifications: Trophy 2052

Options fitted:    Too many to list
Priced from:    $83,790 on trailer

Material:    Fibreglass
Length overall:   7.26m   
Beam:     2.46m
Deadrise:    19 degrees
Weight:    2.324 tonnes

Fuel:     322lt
People:     8
Rec/max HP:    220hp
Hull warranty:    10 years

Make/model:    Cummins MerCruiser MS 120  
Type:     Turbo-charged direct-injected diesel
Rated HP:    120
Displacement:    1.7lt
Weight:    296kg    
Leg model:    Alpha
Gear ratio:    2.0 (1:81
Propeller:    14in, 21in pitch

The owner via Prestige Marine,
227 Brisbane Road,
Biggera Waters, Qld, 4216
Phone: (07) 5537 2444
Facsimile:  (07) 5528 9333

Originally published in TrailerBoat #208


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