By: John Ford

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The Crestliner 1700 Super Hawk has just arrived Down Under and — according to John Ford — it’s set to shake up the local tinnie market in a big way.




For even the staunchest of "plastic tragics" I suspect this American import is about to change our perception of tinnies. In fact, the Crestliner 1700 Super Hawk is such a revelation, perhaps the biggest surprise is the fact that it's only until now that we've finally seen one around.

While American-made fibreglass models have flooded our local showrooms and waterways for years, we've seen very little in the way of aluminium boats from the USA, leaving Aussie builders to battle it out among themselves in this lucrative market niche. Indeed, Australians like to look on tinnies as a creation all of their own, but American brand Crestliner has in fact been producing such boats since 1946 - and it's just one of many metal boatbuilders to be found on the other
side of the pond.




So what's all the fuss about? For starters, in my opinion the Super Hawk has one of the best finishes ever seen on an alloy boat in this country. Add versatile seating arrangements, super-smart storage options and roughwater handling that rivals the best similarly-sized 'glass boats, and its appeal quickly becomes clear.

The Super Hawk has something of a dual personality, but both sides of its nature are equally likeable. It can serve as a comfortable, all-round family boat to seat up to six, or it can just as easily be a dedicated fishing platform for a crew of three. It achieves this through clever design - converting seating to fishing platforms in seconds, and in such a way that both configurations are without compromise.

The hull is constructed of aluminium sheet joined with a "tongue and groove" method that's fully welded on both sides. All welds are ground down to a totally smooth finish, which is enhanced by baked enamel paint. All surfaces inside the hull and in storage areas are painted or lined with marine carpet, so there isn't a hint of bare metal.

The Super Hawk has a low-profile, bowrider-style layout with a central windscreen and a starboard helm. Access to a forward raised section, with padded seats each side of the walkthrough, is gained via a lifting centre-section in the screen. This area converts to a full-width casting platform by folding the seats into the floor. The same happens at the stern, where the lounge folds forward to make another full-size casting deck.




The ease of the transformation from family boat to fishing machine is surprising, but what's more surprising is that Crestliner adopted these bow and stern conversions back in 1986 - yet nothing like it has filtered down to our shores in the years since.

In family mode there are seats for driver and passenger, a rear lounge for two and the bow section with seating for two more. There are also two pedestal seats, which can be positioned on the casting platforms.

In fishing mode there are the two cockpit pedestals and two casting platform perches, which can be moved around the boat to the desired location, with provision on each casting deck for two seats.

The boat is driven from a seated position behind the Taylor Made Systems tempered glass windscreen, which wraps around in a continuous curve for clear vision forward and to the sides. A Jensen waterproof sound system sits to the right of the metal spoked steering wheel. Analogue Faria gauges are tucked in a neat arrangement beneath a shading brow and give readouts for speed, revs, volts, trim and fuel. On the dash is a Lowrance HDS-7 colour-sounder / plotter.

The passenger gets a deep glovebox atop the dash and a large slide-out drawer built into the bulkhead. Each sidedeck has a small storage shelf and drinkholders; in fact, there seems to be storage in every conceivable space. Between the driver and passenger is more lockable rod storage with tubes for rods up to 6ft6in, while to port you'll find a five-rod rack. To keep livebait right at hand there are 80lt aerated wells at each end of the boat.

The engine bolts straight to the transom and there's a shallow well coming forward. It doesn't look deep enough to the naked eye, but at no stage did water enter the boat other than in the well, and then only in small amounts. However, engine noise was more noticeable for lack of a high transom to absorb sound.




Across flat water the Crestliner was as surefooted and stable as might be expected, given the built-in reverse chines, the hull's smooth lines, and the very sharp entry running to 17° at the transom. Into turns it drove cleanly and surely, with some cavitation on exit. It was very trim sensitive, with only small taps on the lever required to achieve optimum drive.

Vision through the screen was good and the wind flowed high over the seated position - on this test outing I was well protected from the wintry blast.

Despite our best efforts to find fish, we were beaten by a sudden drop in barometric pressure that put the fish off the bite. Well, that was the excuse of the Avante Marine crew, who, despite getting us on the water at dawn, had only a couple of baby snapper to show for the day's efforts. We were, however, able to confirm the boat's fishing suitability and versatility. There were certainly no complaints about its stability, which made it a breeze to move around and cast from either end.

If good flat-water performance was anticipated, its ability in the ocean across a nasty wind chop east of Sydney Heads was a surprise bonus. This is no bone-jarring, noisy tinnie. Its handling is up there with that of any decent 'glass boat, with soft landings over waves and a very quiet and stable ride. We were able to sit on 28kts (52kmh) in the slop with confidence and in comfort.

But let's not get too carried away. This is a low-profile boat with a shallow transom - it's not going to take you gamefishing to the shelf. However, it is capable of more than estuary fishing, and it will get you out of rough conditions should you find yourself caught by changing weather.

Australian alloy boatbuilders have had a competitive field all to themselves for a long time. Now the tide is turning, and they are on notice. The Crestliner has raised the bar, and the Aussie builders had better start jumping.




On the plane...

Thoughtful design

Quality finish

Comfortable ride and handling

Good stability



Dragging the chain...

No rodholders / anchorwell (but they're coming)

6ft6in rod storage may be a bit short





17kmh (9kts) @ 2800rpm

25kmh (10.5kts) @ 3000rpm

32kmh (13.5kts) @ 3500rpm

33kmh (18.7kts) @ 4000rpm

39kmh (21kts) @ 4500rpm

50kmh (27kts) @ 5000rpm

58kmh (31kts) @ 5500rpm









Price as tested: $42,490

Options fitted: Lowrance sounder, 90hp Mercury OptiMax

Priced from: $38,590 (with 75hp engine)




Type: Sport / fish monohull

Material: Aluminium

Length: 5.2m

Beam: 2.25m

Weight: 590kg

Deadrise: 17°




People: 6

Rec. HP: 90-140

Max. HP: 140

Fuel: 125lt




Make/model: Mercury 90hp OptiMax

Type: Three-cylinder, direct fuel-injection, two-stroke

Weight: 170kg

Displacement: 1526cc

Gear ratio: 2.33:1

Propeller: 16in stainless steel Vengeance





New York Mills, Minnesota

United States





Avante Marine Silverwater

210 Silverwater Rd

Silverwater, 2128, NSW

Tel: (02) 9737 0727



Originally published in TrailerBoat #271.


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