BAR CRUSHER 610HT REVIEW

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: ELLEN DEWAR


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In a bold move, Bar Crusher grafted a sleek hardtop onto one of its most popular hulls. So does the 610HT live up to its potential, or is it all too, well, hard? Angelo San Giorgio finds out...

BAR CRUSHER 610HT REVIEW
The Bar Crusher 610HT. It ticks all the boxes for a 6m plate-boat.

"Bar Crusher". Now there's a name loaded with promise, if ever I've heard one. Plaster such brazen claims about crushing bars all over the broadside of your boats and you'd better be able to back them up, that's for sure. Luckily, Bar Crusher can.

The day of the test saw some typically overcast Melbourne winter weather, with rain threatening as team Bar Crusher arrived with not one but two boats in tow. "Must be in case I break one," I thought grimly. It always pays to have a backup when I'm around. On closer inspection I discovered they weren't the same boat, after all. The 610HT had been joined by its big brother, the 670HT. One would act as a camera boat while I piloted the other. Sweet - so they weren't worried about me breaking it! But they certainly seemed keen to see me try. Needless to say, I obliged…
 
GETTING HARDER

The most recent addition to the hardtop line, Bar Crusher's 610HT will no doubt polarise opinions. Firstly, it's not a clean-sheet design. Rather, Bar Crusher has taken a really successful hull (arguably the brand's most popular), left all the good bits in place and simply fitted a crash helmet to it. Apart from the obvious benefits to its occupants, I personally reckon the rakish, cab-forward appearance creates a silhouette that is more integrated and harmonious than the cuddy-cab version.

While some might dismiss it as being too aggressive or severe, others will love its edgy, almost stealthy presence. Peel away the distinctive exterior and you'll find one very focused and well-sorted fishing boat. This is the very essence of Bar Crusher's design philosophy; after all, the company builds fishing boats, not sofas. Curves and radiuses are kept to a minimum and only exist where they actually add functionality. Similarly, gratuitous use of padding is avoided to keep the interior fairly maintenance-free. Having said that, my shins didn't like some edges on the footrest but I suppose I'll just have to learn to be more attentive.

While a growing number of fibreglass manufacturers now offer a hard lid as an option on some models - usually over 6.5m, I might add - aluminium boat manufacturers were certainly ahead of the game. Interestingly, Bar Crusher has resisted the temptation to make an optional, hard targa-style lid with conventional front and side clears to fill in the holes. My concern with this was the lack of ventilation, but that's a minor gripe and easily addressed with the installation of a small dash fan. On the other hand, the roof provides an excellent posi for mounting a compact radar dome or spotlights.

DRIVING AMBITIONS

Bar Crusher refers to its hardtop range as "fishing weapons". That may be, but you've got to get to the fish before you can wage war on them and I must confess, I had some initial doubts as to how a relatively light 6m boat with only 2.25m of beam and a deep-vee hull would handle. Particularly one with a tall glass tower which, while offering undeniable protection and unrivalled visibility, had me worried it might fall over in a sharp turn or work as a spinnaker in a stiff breeze. And a breeze is what the Bureau of Meteorology had predicted - 20kts worth of icy gale.

To test its fire power we headed south to play in the building slop between Somers and Balnarring, a potentially treacherous expanse of confused water located in the western entrance of Victoria's Western Port. Here ocean swell rolls in from Bass Strait and collides with a maze of shallow banks and snaking gutters that define this productive region. Bar Crusher's "Waveslicer" hull would certainly have its work cut out for it.

I offered the wheel to Bar Crusher's managing director, Peter Cleland, to see how he did it and he flung the rig around like a man possessed. It really inspires confidence when a manufacturer feels comfortable letting the boat do the talking rather than waffling on about why it doesn't do the things the brochures promised. It's also reassuring that the guy in charge obviously uses his product, rather than just marketing it.

So how'd it go? Well it didn't fall over, for a start, although we gave it plenty of opportunity to. I used the optional trim tabs for long straight runs leaning the 610HT into the wind, but neutralised them during close-quarter manoeuvring and rapid turns. And I mean rapid. This thing turned like a monorail, without any excessive lean. I'm not sure what sorcery was at play here but damn, it worked. On that note, Bar Crusher supplies excellent rubber floor matting as an option. I would definitely consider this as I occasionally found it a little hard to retain my footing on the tread plate as I made the boat do silly things.

After spending a bit of time with the 610HT I found it beneficial to dial in plenty of positive trim and I left the motor trimmed up, even in tight turns. The boat just grips and hangs on without washing off much momentum - it's quite different from most other hulls I've played with recently. The only time I tucked the nose in was when accelerating from standstill. As the nose began to lift and settle I tickled the trim button and up she came.

The lightweight 140hp Suzuki four-stroke provided plenty of low-down grunt, a spirited mid-range and a pleasing top-end just shy of 34kts (62.9kmh). Plane was achieved in five seconds at 14kts (25.9kmh), and we were hauling three guys, three-quarters of a tank of fuel and all our fishing gear. If regular bar running is high on your agenda, then an upgrade to the big-displacement 150hp Suzy might be a worthwhile consideration, but if an all-rounder is your thing or the budget just won't stretch, the combo as tested is a ripper.

One last point remained and that was to test the boat's stability. Like all Bar Crushers (save for the 535 Series) the 610HT utilises a "Quickflow" ballast system, which allows around 300-odd litres of water to flood a keel cavity. And it actually worked - with a couple of us leaning over one side at rest, the boat hardly moved. With two leaning over the side and me hanging from the hardtop support, we still retained 600mm or so of external freeboard. Then, whenever we took off, it simply emptied without any noticeable lag.

THE WRAP

Intentionally sparse yet eminently practical and workable, the Bar Crusher 610HT ticks just about every box on a big bay and offshore fisherman's wish list. Constructed of quality marine-grade, pre-stressed, DNV-certified, 4mm 5083 alloy with 3mm topsides (trust me, it's the good stuff), the entire package hits the scales at around 1600kg - well within the scope of a big family sedan or compact 4WD.

The big glass house created by the hardtop teamed with the five-piece toughened glass screen isolates you from the prevailing conditions and keeps everyone onboard. Importantly, it keeps junior crew snug and dry, regardless of what Mother Nature might chuck at you.

Every Bar Crusher is delivered on a custom-engineered Easytow trailer. Low slung for less windage when towing, it also allows for easier launch and retrieval, particularly on shallow ramps. Bar Crusher's unique "Bar Catch" launch and retrieve system also speeds up solo operations.

It'll come as no surprise that this premium rig is going to cost a bit more than the contents of your kid's piggybank. In fact, it'll empty your wallet to the tune of $75,000. However, it's loaded to the gunwales with fishing features and in my opinion it represents great value. The Bar Crusher 610HT is a rig I would be proud to own.

FISHING WEAPON

Okay, so it rides well and is sound at rest, but how does it cut it as a fishing boat? Pretty close to perfect, in my opinion.

It would seem the 610HT has been genetically engineered with a dominant fishability gene. You see, while some fishing boats are defined by their ride or stability or an uncluttered workspace, a really good one like this manages to harness all of those conflicting aspects into one cohesive blueprint. You get a big, open dance floor, wide coamings, practical seat boxes, cast alloy rodholders, 770mm of internal freeboard, a big, sturdy baitboard at an appropriate height, aerated livewell, decent underfloor killtank, standard berley bucket all topped off with a genuine Stress Free anchor winch. Only the Raymarine C Series combo unit caused me a bit of frustration due to an overly sensitive jog control. I would spend the extra bucks and upgrade to the Hybrid Touch unit if I was forking-out the deposit for one of these rigs.

What cannot be understated is how easy it would be to clean this boat on the way home. It has a sealed floor without carpet, so you can simply rinse and run. Trust me, there is nothing worse than wasting mind-numbing hours after a big day on the water trying to return your pride and joy to a glimmer of its former self. If, like me, you've recently developed a thing for squid, this applies doubly to you.

On the plane...
* Easy to tow
* Hardtop safety and comfort
* Unebelievable ride
* Bar Catch and Easytow trailer make for easy use
* Quickflow ballast works really well

Dragging the chain...
* Sharp edges on footrests
* Lighter alloy prop might be better (and save a few bucks)
* How the hell do I go back to my open side-console after this?

Specifications: Bar Crusher 610HT

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $75,000
Options fitted: Baitboard, std CTEK battery charger, cockpit LED lighting, pedestal seat boxes, swimladder, Stress Free anchor winch, SARCA anchor, twin battery installation, 27Mhz radio, VHF radio, Raymarine C97 multifunction display and transducer, safety gear, Victorian registration
Priced from: $65,000

GENERAL
Type: Hardtop fishing boat
Material: Aluminium
Length: 6.1m
Beam: 2.25m
Weight: 1580kg (dry BMT)
Deadrise: 20°

CAPACITIES
People: 6
Rec. HP: 115-150
Max. HP: 150
Fuel: 140lt
Water: Ballast only,
around 300lt

ENGINE
Make/model: Suzuki DF140 XL 25in leg
Type: Inline four-cylinder
four-stroke
Weight: 194kg
Displacement: 2044cc
Gear ratio: 2.59:1
Propeller: Suzuki 14.25x20 stainless

MANUFACTURED AND SUPPLIED BY
Bar Crusher
5 Quality Drive
Dandenong Sth, Vic, 3175
Tel: 9792 2999
Web: www.barcrusher.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #285, August 2012.

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