By: Kevin Smith

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For fishing, diving or simply cruising in supreme comfort, it's hard to top Haines Hunter's 760R Limited, writes Kevin Smith.




I only moved to Australia from South Africa three years ago, but it didn't take me anywhere near that long to realise that Haines Hunter boats hold a very special place in the demanding Aussie trailerboat scene.

Everyone I know praises Haines Hunter's products, and in my travels I've come across countless examples - many with plenty of years under their hulls, too. The older craft underline the brand's exceptional build quality, and it was no surprise to discover they also hold their resale value incredibly well. Haines Hunter is one of the most respected names in fibreglass boats in this country, and for good reason.

Needless to say, when I recently had the opportunity to test a Haines Hunter 760R Limited - and the personal boat of the owner of Haines Hunter, John Haber, no less - I didn't need to be asked twice. A Haines Hunter 650R took out TrailerBoat's Australia's Greatest Boats shootout last year, and so the bigger and higher-spec 760R Limited promised to be something truly special.




As the head of Haines Hunter, John Haber has spared no expense in kitting out his own 760R Limited, a boat that represents a totally fresh take on the old 760 format. This boat basically has it all: a top-quality finish from bow to stern; twin 225hp V6 Yamahas; a dash packed with high-grade electronics; trim tabs; a thumping sound system; masses of storage; a huge cabin; loads of space in general and just about every other gadget you could wish for.

John has a passion for fishing and diving and so this boat's been configured to meet both those needs. As such it bristles with gear to suit both pursuits: rods, reels and tackle for when fish is on the menu, and an assortment of snorkelling and SCUBA gear for when it's time to get wet.

In a past life I've worked as a dive instructor and a dive charter operator, so I was amped to sample this boat in that role. Well, at least I was until I did a bit of research - and learned that the water at our dive site near Sorrento, Vic, would be a "refreshing" 13°C, and was home to numerous varieties of shark, including that legendary "tax man" of the sea, the great white. Still, it takes more than that to put off a TrailerBoat tester!

I'd flown down from NSW for the outing and so I hired my dive kit from one of the local dive centres on the Mornington Peninsula. With a dive team comprising myself, three ladies and TrailerBoat's Ed, Tom Prince, this was no small task, and it ended up taking just over an hour to get everyone fitted up with their SCUBA and snorkelling gear.

Finally, after reaching the launch site at Martha Cove, I got my first glimpse of the new Haines Hunter 760R Limited. Moored on a slipway pontoon and ready to go, it looked like it meant business, and it definitely came across as a boat built to tackle some serious conditions. That's a good thing - Port Phillip Bay is a massive body of water, and with a brisk 20kt breeze forecast we were definitely going to need something that could handle a bit of stick.




The new 760R Limited has a semi-walkaround design. Simply superb when viewed from a distance, the moment I stepped aboard I was impressed with its spacious and uncluttered layout. It's clear from the stern all the way to behind the console seating, making for a great platform for anglers and divers alike.

We boarded via a pull-out side door on the starboard gunwale. The gunwales on the 760R Limited are high, so a side door is a big plus - it makes boarding and loading the boat that much easier.

Instead of a standard non-slip deck this 760R Limited has a teak imitation deck made of cork. I just love this finish; it looks fantastic, it's easy to maintain and it definitely adds to the 760R Limited's executive feel.

The selfdraining wet deck is wide open from gunwale to gunwale to suit diving and fishing applications. So yes, there's plenty of room to move, but where do you store all the gear? In either or both of the two massive hatches flush-mounted into the deck, that's where.

We managed to fit all our gear plus more of John's gear with space to spare - around 500kg-worth.

At the transom, the gunwale height is constant, and there's a livewell, a baitboard, a deckwash and easy access to all the plumbing. There are two extra side-hatches, too - one in the port side gunwale and one in the starboard side gunwale. These house the batteries, and the setup certainly makes life easy when it comes to charging and maintenance. John's boat was also fitted with a dive ladder, although personally I found it easy enough to use the gunwale door when getting in and out of the water.

The recessed moulded sections in the gunwales are another nice touch.

The port side gunwale has rodracks while the starboard side offers a perfect storage solution for fenders. Fenders always seem to be out of place on a boat and they can look tatty when lying around - on this boat they're neatly stowed flush into the gunwale.




The main console dash sees a wide array of instruments set into a non-reflective surface rather than the standard white gelcoat - a nice idea that reduces glare. As you'd expect, this boat featured an impressive array of quality electronics, including Yamaha's dual digital Command Link control systems, Garmin's GPS Map 7012 chartplotter, Furuno's FCV 295 sounder, a VHF radio, trim tabs, a windlass anchor control and switch panels.

Fitted with hydraulic steering and digital controls, the boat was smooth to operate. The full windscreen is at an average height and would suit most while seated or standing. The skipper has a comfy, adjustable seat but there was one thing missing - the passenger's chair. Instead, John had personalised his boat with a large and removable padded Esky-type cooler, which doubled as a second seat. As a space saver it's a good idea, but personally I'd prefer a fixed seat or bench - something that wouldn't be a problem for any prospective buyer to specify.

For protection there's a sturdy bimini (with built-in rocket launchers) and full removable clears. Somewhat unusually, I found I could get to the rods for a change without having to climb onto the gunwales. That's because this bimini has been customised to suit the owner's height. Life is a bit tricky on this boat for anyone over 6ft - but it's great for anyone who isn't…




From the outside the cabin appears to be of a fairly standard size, but once you step inside it's amazingly spacious. The deck of the cabin drops right down into the hull and this will allow anyone of an average height to stand up straight. There's ample space for sitting or sleeping, as well as storage, a toilet, access to the electronics behind hidden panels and even rodholders in the sidepockets. Having rodholders in the cabin is great as I don't like leaving my rods in rocket launchers all day long.

Access to the bow is via the gunwale side of the cab or through the cabin hatch. This 760R Limited had a windlass anchor system so there's no real need to get onto the bow anyway, but it's still an accessible and usable space.




Sporting twin Yamaha 225hp V6 outboards, this 760R Limited has 450hp of pure grunt to shunt it around, and in a hell of a hurry at that. I reckon one of these new V6s would do the trick on its own, let alone two. The new Yamaha V6 range is power packed, offering a heap of grunt right through the rev range, but coupled to electronic controls and the new digital Command Link control systems, all that fury is easily tamed. It's quite an extra expense to run two motors, but it does provide added peace of mind over those longer offshore runs.

Haines Hunters are renowned for their soft-riding, high-speed hulls. I'd recently fished offshore on one of the earlier 760 models, and so I was interested to compare it to this new one. I'm told the hull has been completely redesigned, with high-tech computer programs harnessed to optimise its performance, economy and strength.

We had the perfect test conditions on the day - a 20-30kt wind combined with a 1m bay chop. You couldn't really hope for worse; it was the sort of day that would see most boaties stay home and mow the lawn.

With 450hp on tap I shouldn't really have to tell you what happened when the hammers went down, but I will anyway. Needless to say, with this sort of grunt it's vital you brief your passengers on the importance of holding on - tight!

The digital electronic controls are ultra sensitive and it's very easy to knock it down to full throttle, but regardless of that fact they're great to drive with. The holeshot power of these twin Yammies is simply fantastic - within split seconds we were flying over the rough conditions at a speed I wouldn't normally consider. John wouldn't either, but as a demonstration of what the boat was capable of it was an impressive display. I think we hit 40kts (74.1kmh) in the rough conditions, but I can't be sure as I was too busy holding on.

In seas like these most of us would typically cruise at a comfortable 20-25kts (37-46kmh). That's an average speed for anyone who wants to save a bit of fuel and get home without feeling beaten up. On the 760R, maintaining 25kts (46kmh) head-on into the chop and wind was comfortably achieved, likewise easing it up to closer to 30kts (55.6kmh).

Running side-on and with the following bay swell the boat handled superbly, while its trim tabs allowed me to fine-tune the ride to suit the conditions.

It did throw a bit of spray off the bow when dropping into swells or chop, so we did get a bit wet, but fitting the clears would have eliminated that, and of course most ultra-soft-riding, deep-vee hulls invariably throw a bit more spray. Of course trimming up the bow would also reduce the spray, but that would restrict vision a touch and it would slow things down because the deep-vee at the bow wouldn't be slicing through the chop as it should. It's a compromise - the alternative would be a slower boat that probably bangs a bit.

Compared to the old 760 I'd fished off previously, the new 760R was far more stable, both underway and at rest. This makes it a great option for fishing and diving, and in general I couldn't help but be impressed with the top ride it delivered in what were particularly nasty conditions.




At $179,000 as tested, the new Haines Hunter 760R Limited is not the cheapest of boats out there, but take another look at exactly what you're getting - then the numbers quickly begin to make sense. The overall workmanship and finish is superb and it has a hefty bank-account's-worth of electronics; this isn't a toy, it's an executive trailerboat to satisfy the most demanding divers and game fishos.

This boat can take one hell of a load, and as it's rated for eight people rather than the standard six it's perfectly suited to larger families. For boating, diving or fishing in style, Haines Hunter's 760R Limited is surely worth a close inspection.


On the plane...

Spacious layout
Superb finish throughout
High performance
Built to Survey spec



Dragging the chain...

Lack of seating
Fair price tag but quality never comes cheap
Could possibly do with a touch more angle on the dash
Requires a fair-sized tow vehicle




Specifications: Haines Hunter 760R Limited



Price as tested: $179,000
Options fitted: Garmin GPS and sounder, electric toilet, rocket launcher, bimini top, front and side clears, Haines Hunter baitboard, trim tabs, VHF radio, seat box with tackle locker, upgraded premium Rockford stereo with extra sub-woofer, compass, remote light
Priced from: $139,000




Type: Deep-vee monohull
Material: GRP
Length (hull): 7.6m
Length (LOA): 8.2m
Beam: 2.5m
Weight (hull): 1700kg
Weight (BMT): 3400kg
Deadrise: 21°




People: 8
Rec. HP: Single 250 or twin 150
Max. HP: 450 (Ltd model)
Fuel: 500lt
Water: 120lt




Make/model: Yamaha 225hp four-stroke V6
Type: 24-valve, DOHC, 60° V6
Weight: 253kg
Displacement: 4169cc
Gear ratio: 1.75:1
Propeller: Yamaha 19in




Haines Hunter
56 East Derrimut Crescent
Derrimut, Vic, 3030
Tel: 1300 424 637


Originally published in TrailerBoat #276.


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