By: Kevin Smith

DSC_0108.jpg DSC_0108.jpg
DSC_0095.jpg DSC_0095.jpg
DSC_0001.jpg DSC_0001.jpg
DSC_0030.jpg DSC_0030.jpg
DSC_0006.jpg DSC_0006.jpg
DSC_0007.jpg DSC_0007.jpg
DSC_0027.jpg DSC_0027.jpg
DSC_0033.jpg DSC_0033.jpg
DSC_0022.jpg DSC_0022.jpg
DSC_0081.jpg DSC_0081.jpg

Signature’s stylish 535BR is the consummate entertainer, writes Kevin Smith.



When I was growing up my family had a multi-purpose skiboat - an all-round family boat, about 16ft long, with a closed bow.

It was the "in thing" at the time and I distinctly recall having an awesome amount of fun on it. Yet there was always someone else with something better, and as a kid it was the latest bowriders that I really envied. They were just so cool and I would have loved the old man to have splashed out on one.

Well, it never happened. I had to wait a decade before I convinced him that a friend of mine could convert our original boat to a bowrider. The job was finally done and it transformed it into the boat I'd always envied and wanted, but sadly by that stage I was living far away, so I managed only one trip on it.

Needless to say, I wasn't surprised when a recent test of the Haines Group's new Signature 535BR reminded me of why bowriders blew my hair back in days gone by, even if today's bowrider designs are far more advanced, as a quick glance at the 535BR will confirm. With a combination of Signature's trademark sharp but flowing lines and a stylish titanium-grey colour scheme, the 535BR is a waterborne equivalent to a cabriolet sportscar.





This style of boat definitely suits those after some comfort on the water for their family and friends. The bow's wraparound seating will happily take two lounging adults, or more if its occupants are content to sit upright. In a traditional boat with a closed-in bow, you'd struggle to fit six people onboard, but with this layout you can comfortably fit two up the front, two in the cockpit and two on the seats at the stern - and you'll still have room left over for the kids.

An optional bow tonneau cover can be fitted on rough days, while other open-bow benefits include extra storage space (beneath the seats) and easy access to the anchorwell.

The cockpit has a massive wraparound screen to protect both driver and passenger. It opens through to the bow, and the screen does a good job of keeping the wind at bay while affording good vision. As the screen is hinged you can have it open or closed, while the aforementioned bow tonneau provides additional protection on foul days.

The driver or skipper has a neat console-cum-dash area with a carbonfibre look. For gauges our test model had a new digital interface linking Garmin's GMI10 to a 140hp Suzuki, displaying speed, revs and fuel usage, to name just a few. Our test model also had hydraulic steering - a must when it comes to motors of this size. It's comfortable to drive and there's heaps of room to stretch out beneath the console.

The passenger side is equally comfor-table and has plenty of protection and space, plus a stereo system and a fair-sized glovebox that also serves as an icebox. Both sides feature the titanium colour scheme, a good thing in my view as it softens the nasty glare that can result from a white dash.

Between the seats is a decent-sized, flush-mount hatch for gear or skis, while there's carpeting to the stern, full-length sidepockets (long enough to take more skis), a full-length rear lounge, plus four Tallon receivers as standard - which are nifty little inventions. Basically, they're small, flush-mounted gadgets that take interchangeable fittings like drinkholders, rodholders, baitboards, dive cylinder racks, and more. They even come in powered versions to suit lights and electronics.

The rear lounge isn't fixed; it can be completely removed to create more space, something which would definitely suit most fishos. You also get also additional storage space below. The stern section is finished off with a skipole, dual boarding platforms with full grabrails on either side of the motor, and a retractable boarding ladder.





On the water the 535BR has the sporty performance to match its racy looks. Fitted with a 140hp Suzuki four-stroke, the 535BR hopped onto the plane smoothly and relatively quickly. If you're more into skiing I suspect a lower-pitch prop would make it a bit perkier out of the hole. In any case, it's always handy to have two props on hand, as it's a simple procedure to change them to suit your needs.

The 535BR also has the Haines Group's "Signature Variable Deadrise Hull". This hull offers a number of benefits including excellent safety and stability, a soft and dry ride, good economy and a lower plane speed. Now that lot might sound more like a sales pitch, but actually it's all true - as taking one of these hulls for a spin will quickly prove.

Although test conditions were calm on the day, I still managed to thrash the hull into tight turns at speed and through whatever wake I could find. No matter what I did, the hull provided an exceptionally good ride and pleasing handling. When I cranked it into turns at lower speeds the hull banked inwards and held on well, while at high speeds it stayed level and smooth.

To simulate rough conditions on boat tests I do a number of figure-of-eight manoeuvres at lower speeds to create a reasonable sized wake that runs in all directions. I then run the boat out and back through the wakes at different angles and speeds. Doing so gives me a fair idea of how a hull handles in rough conditions, and when I put the 535BR through this test its ride and handling were nothing less than impressive.

Also of note is the foam-filled hull - as well as being a great safety feature, it suppresses noise and adds a little extra weight, further softening the ride.





The Haines Signature 535BR is a nice, medium-sized, multi-purpose boat suited to dams, estuaries and bays. At 5.35m and with a towing weight of around 1450kg, you don't need a 4WD to tow it. At $48,205 for the base model - and considering its standard features and general build quality - it's also reasonably priced. Throw in a superb finish and some very smart looks, and it's one attractive package.





Wind: Moderate northerly 8-10kts


Sea: Calm to moderate



On the plane...


Consistently good ride and handling


Great family appeal


Loads of space


Superb finish



Dragging the chain...


A bit slow out of the hole for skiing (easily rectified with a different prop)





Specifications: SIGNATURE 535BR





Price as tested: $57,542


Options Fitted: Bowroller and pop-up cleat, carbonfibre dash panel, rigging of control cables and motor, skipole, hydraulic steering, stereo, Dunbier trailer with upgraded black wheels, transom step with rails and ladder, two-tone hull and deck, upgraded carbonfibre-look vinyl


Priced from: $48,205





Type: Deep-vee family / skiing boat


Material: GRP


Length: 5.35m (incl. bowsprit)


Beam: 2.2m


Weight (hull): Approx. 475kg


Weight (towing): Approx. 1450kg


Deadrise: Variable 21-33°





Fuel: 100lt


People: 6


Min HP: 75


Max HP: 150





Make/model: Suzuki DF140 TX


Type: DOHC, 16-valve, four-stroke


Displacement: 2044cc


Weight: 189kg


Gear ratio: 2.59:1


Propeller: 19in





The Haines Group


140 Viking Drive


Wacol, Qld, 4076


Tel: (07) 3271 4400




First published in TrailerBoat # 274


Find Signature boats for sale.


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.