REVIEW: HAINES SIGNATURE 575RF

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Kevin Smith and the crew stared down Mother Nature in the face of some awful conditions when they tested the new Signature 575RF. But who would blink first?

REVIEW: HAINES SIGNATURE 575RF
HAINES SIGNATURE 575RF

Who would say no to a weekend of sun on Queensland’s Stradbroke Island, especially when it includes taking part in the annual Haines Group Fishing Classic and testing a few of the manufacturer’s latest offshore fishing machines? Not me, I can assure you.

I was supercharged at the thought of spending a few days fishing way offshore, in just the environment for which these boats are designed. I was especially excited at the idea of the Signature 575RF getting a thorough shakedown across the weekend.

Unfortunately my excitement levels were somewhat tempered as the competition kick-off grew closer, and some particularly foul weather moved in — a system wild enough to scare the bravest (or maybe wisest) of mariners off the water. Winds of 25-35kts in all directions and a 3-4m offshore swell were on the cards and for once the weather gurus were spot on. Not that it deterred us angling addicts; we were going fishing and boat testing no matter what.



SIGNATURE 575RF FISHING BOAT

On seeing the Haines Group’s 575RF for the first time those legendary flowing Signature lines are easily identifiable, even from a distance. But upon closer inspection I noticed the cab section to be a bit further forward than on other models, and the cockpit to be far larger. This was immediately appealing to me because, as far as I’m concerned, more workable fishing space is always a good thing.

As we started boarding, all the gear we were packing in made me realise this was not just a little fishing trip — it seemed we were planning on taking out every fish species in the competition. Light marlin tackle, plastics outfits, bait rods, crab pots, extra eskys, the list went on.

A 10-rod rocket launcher and plenty of rod holders in the gunwales stored the armoury, and all tackle was safely stowed away in dedicated, out-of-the-way areas.

The gunwales are super high on this boat, which is something I like not only for fishing against, but also for kids’ safety. In addition, the inner-gunwale panels are moulded which, besides looking exceptionally neat, actually works very well for storage. Speaking of storage, rather than just an open sidepocket there are little racks and compartments to put your gear in, which is a nice touch. And the small moulded step thoughtfully included by the designers is a welcome help when climbing in and out of the boat.

The transom is then set up with a fancy baitboard, more rod holders, door, livewell and a rear lounger. The lounger is recessed rather than protruding, which actually makes a huge difference when working up against the transom section. This type of design keeps the area neat and compact and maintains maximum fishing space.

Such a wide-open deck space makes getting in the way of a fellow angler and / or tangling lines a lot less likely; I reckon this boat could even fish four on-board without much trouble.



BIMINI PROTECTION

Up front the console and dash were snugly protected by the bimini and because the clears are mounted to the wraparound screen we didn’t have worry too much about getting wet in the rough conditions.

Perched in the soft captain’s seat, I quite liked the dash setup — it’s neat and compact, in keeping with the rest of the boat, but still with enough space for large flush-mount electronics and other gauges. I thought mounting the trim-tab switch to the flat panel alongside the controls was a particularly good idea. Simple but effective.

Entry into the cab is neatly centred with a portable toilet, small sleeping quarters and more storage space.

Overall I quite liked the layout on the 575RF. The designers have done a great job in maintaining maximum space while incorporating a lot of storage and maintaining a professional finish throughout. It works as well as a fishing boat as it does a family cruiser.



SIGNATURE 575RF ON THE WATER

Once we were finally loaded up and underway the 575RF was initially put through its paces in the bay because no boats were allowed to launch through the south passage bar due to the dangerous conditions.

Winds of 25-35kts and at least 1m of solid bay swell and chop were the entree to the competition — and probably the most comprehensive boat testing I have ever done.

As we left the little harbour I quickly realised why I probably should not have over indulged in a few drinks the night before. The 575RF was unleashed and it abused the foul conditions from get-go. The skipper was trying to be polite by initially driving a bit like Miss Daisy’s chauffer, but these hulls work better when the throttle is knocked down, and that’s what he soon did.

The boat’s plank design creates extra lift and a soft cushioning effect when laying into the chop and the hull works very well; we were able to maintain speeds of 25kts (46.3kmh) in the rough without being battered. You do need to hold on but it was still a comfortable ride considering the brutal conditions. Trim tabs also made a difference in that they allowed us to manipulate the ride to suit.

Stability was also good considering the conditions, as was the dryness of the ride. The clears meant there were no worries about getting wet, but either way the hull throws off spray nicely.



CROSSING THE BAR

The final test for the 575RF was a bar crossing the following day which, when I first surveyed the conditions, made me want to head back home to catch up on some chores. It was that bad. A 6ft swell from the north-east in short intervals growled at us, but being the hardcore anglers we are we were determined to get out and slay the marine life.

A good kilometre run through the surf had us running at all speeds, with some cool wave-carving needed in order to make our way out. Once past the surf the day was spent running long distances in far-from-ideal offshore conditions, as well as trolling and bottom bashing — not that any of it helped the zero on our score card. Incidentally, the photos we took in the rough simply weren’t worth publishing, so we headed for calmer inshore waters to get the shots you see here.

Head on, side on and running with the swell, the 575RF runs smooth and has a very safe feel to the ride. I also found it an easy boat to drive because you can set comfortable speeds without having to be on and off the throttle the whole time. No quibbles with this one.



THE TRAILERBOAT VERDICT

The 575RF is one of the Haines Group’s classic fishing weapons. This was really the ultimate in boats tests — extreme boating, really — and I was super impressed with the way the 575RF handled it all, especially considering it’s not exactly a huge boat.

Top-class finishes throughout with a very ergonomic fishing layout, it’s perfectly matched to the 175HP Suzuki four-stroke. While the 575RF is obviously geared towards serious offshore anglers it is also very well suited to family boaters. This one is a keeper.

In terms of price, you always get what you pay for and in this instance that is a well-built boat made to last, plus all of the abovementioned on-board gear. It’s one hell of a package.



ON THE PLANE...

· Classic fishability with good space and storage systems

· Ability to handle extreme conditions — very extreme

· Superb finishes throughout



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· After surviving those conditions how could I fault it?



SIGNATURE 575RF

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $78,000

Options fitted: Engine upgrade; targa; cockpit lights; sounder; toilet; bunk cushions

Priced from: $62,000



GENERAL

Type: Fishing boat

Material: GRP

Length: 5.95m (LOA)

Beam: 2.38m

Weight: 1900kg (BMT incl. fuel)

Deadrise: 21-33°



CAPACITIES

People: 7

Berths: 2

Rec. HP: 125-175

Max. HP: 175

Fuel: 220L



ENGINE

Make/Model: Suzuki DF175

Type: Four-stroke

Weight: 220kg

Displacement: 2867cc

Gear Ratio: 2.5:1

Propeller: Three-blade stainless steel



MANUFACTURED AND SUPPLIED BY

Signature Boats

The Haines Group

Wacol

Queensland 4076

Tel: (07) 3271 4400

Web: www.signatureboats.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #297, July 2013.

Find Haines Signature boats for sale.

 


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