By: Kevin Smith

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Got a need for speed in the rough? New Zealand’s Osprey 650HT is built to perform, writes Kevin Smith.




You've got to hand it to the Kiwis, they sure know how to build tough boats. Given the heavy seas and harsh conditions that regularly batter the small island nation, that's not surprising, and subsequently we're seeing increasing numbers of quality Kiwi battle tanks on our Aussie waters.

TrailerBoat had previously tested the Kiwi-built Osprey 560HT (#272) and what a little pocket rocket that was. However, I also had the opportunity to check out its bigger brother, the 650HT - and I didn't need to be
asked twice.

The new Osprey 650HT is the latest in a long line of heavy-duty and hardcore rigs from across the pond. Its modern military lines may not be to everyone's taste, but the look does grow on you, and I have to say that the more I see of this style of boat, the more I like it.

Before we press on, I should mention that this boat wasn't ever intended as a test boat. A stock-standard craft devoid of any bells or whistles, it was originally meant to be used purely as a camera boat to assist with another TrailerBoat water test. However, after spending some time onboard it was deemed to be worthy of a test in its own right.






A heavy-duty construction is appealing on any boat. The end result may not be the prettiest thing on the water, but it generally means the boat's build is exposed, so you can see exactly what's on offer.

The 650HT has a heavy-duty, marine-grade alloy-plate hull married to its outer pontoons. The pontoon configuration isn't just a cosmetic gimmick; it's there to add strength and buoyancy to the hull while also boosting performance, aiding stability and creating lift.

The pontoons have several air-tight chambers separated by baffles. The extra buoyancy they afford means the boat can carry a larger load. It also means only one chamber will flood if you're unlucky enough to suffer a puncture - a big safety feature, in my opinion.

The rest of the boat's construction is on the money, too. Decent welds can be found throughout; nothing rattles and the finish is neat. However, it's that hull and its pontoons that provide the bulk of the Osprey's strength - it's clear this boat has been built to last and handle heavy going.






Mooloolaba, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, is a top place to test boats because it only takes a few minutes to reach offshore grounds, and that's exactly where a boat like this should be put through its paces.

The crew from Dolphin Marine, who supplied the boat, was quite clear on the ideal test conditions for this vessel: the rougher the better. However, "luck" wasn't on our side in this instance - it was relatively calm, although thankfully there was enough of a chop and swell to get a fair idea of its handling.

A 6.5m boat fitted with twin Yamaha 115hp four-strokes definitely means business. Knock the twin hammers down and you literally fly out of the water onto the plane. Now that's all well and good in a straight line, but what about those bar crossings, when turning hard and fast is a necessity? Well, the motors on this Osprey were set up well in this respect, and there were no issues when cranking the hull into full-lock turns, both out of the hole and at speed.

When I test offshore boats I just don't think outright speed is a priority. Indeed, there's nothing worse than someone going for Mach 1 on a boat that isn't built to handle it. However, far from being smashed all over the place, the Osprey can handle above-average offshore speeds while you sit in comfort behind the helm.

The 23° deep-vee hull cuts through the chop with ease, maintaining a soft ride throughout. When powering in and out of swells there was no sign of ploughing or broaching regardless of the extra weight of the full cabin. The hull reacts nicely to trim so keeping the bow up presents no problems.

Excellent stability both underway and at rest is another welcome trait of boats of this ilk, and I put that down to the pontoons. Typically a heavier deadrise means you lose a bit on stability, but the pontoon design negates this. Adding stability, strength and safety, the pontoons also create lift and deflect the spray, delivering a dry ride. The air in the pontoons also creates extra buoyancy when at rest.

The stability at lower speeds, from idle through to a fast troll, is really good, and with the twin motor setup you can maintain constant tracks. Overall the 650HT ticks all of my boxes as far as performance and comfort at sea is concerned.






The enclosed cab is very well suited to colder and rougher coastal areas, but that even applies for much of my home state of Queensland - we might have the heat up here, but it still gets pretty chilly in winter. Another bonus is the cab can be locked, making your gear a harder target for rogues.

The cab section has a sliding door that could do with an anchoring point to keep it open. On the inside it's open and spacious, with a massive full screen and sliding windows on the sides. There's not much chance of your vision being blocked with this screen but on the bad offshore days you would probably need a set of wipers to keep it clean.

Ventilation is handled by dual sliding windows plus an opening hatch up front in the cabin, although personally I'd be looking into putting something into the cab's roof for extra air flow, rather than travelling with that hatch open.

The 650HT has an open-plan cabin with bunk, which is fully enclosed with rear doors. There's good access to the anchorwell as well as the electronics. It's also carpeted throughout, with a bunk that's long enough to stretch out on.

The console or dash has plenty of space for electronics and controls, and it's set at the correct angle. Seating comprises dual pedestal seats for the skipper and passenger, and there's a ton of space behind for extra passenger seating and storage.

Bow access is via the side-pontoon footrail or through the cabin hatch, but due to the design I don't think many people would spend much time up there. However, the addition of a non-slip surface on top wouldn't go astray. The grabrail also needs to run the full length of the hardtop, as it's a bit of a stretch to the next holding point, which is the bowrail.






Out the back there's plenty of fishing space. The first thing to catch my eye here concerned the low gunwales, a result of the raised wet-deck. They may make it easier for commercial operators to haul in fish or pots, but recreational boaters would definitely appreciate something higher. If it bothers you, the simple solution is to go back to the standard deck, which gives you higher gunwales.

I also noticed there's no non-slip material on the gunwales - not a concern until you have to step or walk on them. Again, an easy solution is to simply stick some on. Further to that, the bottom sections of the sidepockets in the gunwales stick out at a bit of an angle. This could cause discomfort over a long day's fishing, so some type of toehold would be handy. The transom has raised compartments for batteries, filters and plumbing and enough space for livewells and baitboards, as well as a transom door that leads to the wide boarding platform.






As far as the layout is concerned the small niggles are just that - small -
and for each there's a simple solution. Like many of today's plate-boats, Ospreys are customised to suit the client, and this is a big plus over standard moulded setups. This was a base boat, so I couldn't expect it to have everything onboard.

Just the Osprey's performance and handling alone blew me away - longer distances and rougher conditions won't be a problem - and I'd love to sample one of these boats set up to suit the serious fisherman. Choosing between the previously tested 565HT and the 650HT is no easy task, but at the end of the day I reckon a fully-packaged 650HT would do it for me, because of the longer deck, and its ability to handle long-range trips with ease.




On the plane...


Superb stability at rest

Overall neat and sturdy construction

Spacious enclosed lock-up cab

Impressive high-speed ride when offshore

Full-length footrail / guard around pontoons




Dragging the chain...


Extra-low gunwales due to selfdraining wet deck (could also do with some form of toeholds)

Lack of non-slip surfaces on gunwales and bow

Grabrail needs to run around the front of the hardtop roof





Specifications: Osprey 650HT






Price as tested: $106,000

Options fitted: Raised selfdraining deck, walkthrough transom, enclosed hardtop, king / queen seats, hydraulic steering, VHF radio, twin 115hp four-stroke Yamahas

Priced from: $86,000
(with single Yamaha 200hp four-stroke)






Type: Deep-vee plate-alloy pontoon-style

Material: Aluminium

Length: 6.5m

Beam: 2.5m

Weight (hull): 950kg

Weight (BMT): Approx. 2200kg

Deadrise: 23°






People: 7

Rec. HP: 150

Max. HP: 230

Fuel: 150lt






Make/model: 2x Yamaha F115AETX

Type: Fuel-injected four-stroke

Weight: 197kg

Displacement: 1741cc

Gear ratio: 2.15:1

Propeller: Yamaha stainless steel 17in






Osprey Boats

105 St Vincent Street

Nelson, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 548 7887







Dolphin Marine Sunshine Coast

2 Glen Kyle Dr

Buderim, Qld, 4556

Tel: (07) 5479 0866



Originally published in TrailerBoat #275.


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