By: Rick Huckstepp

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Haines Hunter's sexy 16ft bowrider has hot performance on tap, plenty of room for the family and, best of all, you can buy one brand new for just over 30 grand. Sound tempting? Rick Huckstepp has more.

Haines Hunter 535 Carnival

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #177, March 2004 



CARNIVALS ARE PLACES you go to let your hair down, have fun and give the kids the time of their lives. Haines Hunter's version lets you do the same, but take the whole show on the road… or in this case, the water. At 5.35m, this boat is in the middle of the bowrider range size-wise and well away from the top of the market in dollar terms. While it is modest on waterline length and pricetag, it's big on performance, comfort and handling.

Just as the bowrider lounges wrap around you snugly, so do the helm and passenger seats. Viewed from above, the neat little bowrider looks shorter than its actual length - an illusion created by the very beamy and seemingly-bulky stern compared to the fine entry of the bow, both below the waterline and above.

This fine entry results in what seems to be a more compact bowriding area compared to similar boats; however our six-foot-tall passenger Kaz seemed happy up front, so again the physical dimensions of this boat are deceptive.



Under the front lounge cushions you'll find dry-storage space with more under the companionway - both areas are easy to access. The latter compartment will swallow a wakeboard and ropes without any worries, but waterskis will not fit here.

Two grab handles in the bowpit area provide security for the riders and their drinks, and stubby holders sit snugly in two flush-mounted receptacles nearby. That's a bonus - everyone I know hates hot Coke.

The quality split bollard and solid stainless bowroller assembly will be appreciated by those who enjoy anchoring up for a fish or picnic, but pop-up cleats might be a better alternative if you climb in and out over the bow a lot. The tinted, hardened glass windscreen is very solid with an opening centre section above the companionway to the bowpit.

The dash layout follows the same practical theme, and it was good to see the Yamaha instrumentation set to one side, leaving the area directly in front of the helm clear for installation of other electronics like a depthsounder or GPS.

You sit low in the seats, which adds to feelings of security, and it's reminiscent of driving a high-performance speedboat. The chairs slide forward and back according to your height. There's even more dry storage in the helm area.

Sidepocket storage is featured along each padded cockpit liner. This liner works on a number of levels: it lifts the appearance of the interior dramatically; makes moving about the cockpit more comfortable; and when seated on the rear lounge, you can wedge your leg against it to support yourself during high-speed turns.

The backrest of the lounge assembly is hinged and lifts to reveal two screw-in inspection ports in the bulkhead so you can get to the fuel filter, skipole mount and primer bulb.

With additional space below the lounge and side sections of the stern, there is plenty of stowage for wet and dry gear to keep it from getting under your feet.




Our test boat was powered by a Yamaha 130hp two-stroke, and the grunty V4 pulled our wakeboarder effortlessly out of the water.
This rig enjoyed a lot of trim out on the engine leg, dancing over the chop on its hindquarters at impressive speeds. A bit of positive trim also helped produce a nice, chunky wake, while full in-trim was prudent when throwing the boat into high-speed turns.

The Carnival is a very dry boat no matter where you sit. Nice high sides, hull strakes and the shape of the hull itself work together to throw the spray low and wide.

With a touch over 3000rpm on the tacho, the Carnival cruised on 35kmh according to the GPS, which should see you eating the miles with a nice, low fuel burn. With the throttle jammed all the way forward, the Yammie was spinning out to 5600rpm for a top speed of 76kmh.

Re-pitch the prop to get the engine redlining at 6000rpm and you should see top-end speeds into the low 80s, which is great for a boat of this size.

Bear in mind that you'll lose low-end torque and holeshot with a prop built for speed. I reckon the 18in stainless model supplied worked well for a good mix of power and long legs at redline.

If you're not satisfied until there's more boat out of the water than in it, or you regularly carry heavy loads, then consider fitting a 150 two-stoke - the maximum this hull will handle.



If you're in the market for a beach boat but quail from the 40-grand price plateau, the Haines Hunter Carnival 535 should be right at the top of your list of potentials.

For $36,000 you're getting a quality fibreglass boat that looks great, is finished well both inside and out and carries a reasonably comprehensive list of standard features. This means you shouldn't have to spend thousands more to get the boat how you want it after you've decided to buy one.

That said, there is some room for improvement. Not being able to fit skis in the locker is one downside, while not fitting hydraulic steering as a standard item is not the best way to go in my opinion. While most blokes won't have any trouble steering this boat, the trouble-and-strife or girlfriend might struggle a bit should she be towing you around on a ski.

Hydraulic steering really does take potential stress and strain out of driving boats with more than 90hp on the back. Spend the extra $500-odd and have it installed.

The Carnival does represent good value for money in this section of the new fibreglass bowrider market, and while it might not have every conceivable bell and whistle aboard, at the end of the day the price reflects that. It looks great, goes great and is built to a very high standard. What more could you ask for?





Price as tested: $36,000
Options fitted: Clip-in carpet, skipole and two-tone hull
Priced from: $34,000   w/ 130hp Yamaha two-stroke




Material: Fibreglass with 'glass-encapsulated timber stringers
Length (overall): 5.35m
Beam: 2.28m
Deadrise: 21°
Rec/max hp: 130/150
Towing weight: 1150kg




Fuel: 125lt
People: Six adults
Water: n/a




Make: Yamaha
Type: Carburetted two-stroke
Rated hp: 130
Displacement: 1730cc
Weight: 167kg
Gearbox ratio: 13.26 (2:1)
Propeller: 18in stainless




Boatarama Gold Coast, Labrador, tel (07) 5537 5412, e-mail or visit




Sweet-handling, forgiving hull
Dry, soft ride
Good helm setup
Plenty of dry storage
Competitive price




Sub-floor locker won't take skis
No hydraulic steering as standard
Compact bowrider section


Story & Photos: Rick Huckstepp 
First published in TrailerBoat #177

Find Haines Hunter boats for sale.


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