Haines Hunter 760R Limited Boat Test

Haines Hunter 760R Limited

Boat Test Haines Hunter 760R Limited: HIGH SEAS ACTION
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 92 of BlueWater magazine –  JULY-AUG-2012 

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

We were 65km out to sea from Portland in Victoria. Bob McPherson was driving the boat and wore an evil grin on his usually taciturn face; we already had three fish hooked-up, but he kept driving. Another ratchet started wailing, and another. “That’s enough,” pleaded John Haber, the owner of the boat. By now we had six fish on and Bob looked like he had no intention of backing off.

“It’s gunna be an awful mess”, I thought to myself, but secretly I was delighted with thescene playing out in front of me. I knew John had a great deal of respect for Bob, but by now the first fish was a good 200m behind the boat, and potentially creating a god awful mess with John’s expensive tackle. We hooked another, and then finally all eight rods were buckled over. As Bob clicked the big Yamahas into neutral, I looked back at a cobweb of mono and braid that seemed an impossible challenge to untangle.

That we got seven of the eight fish onboard was testament to the boat as much as anything. In 4.5m of swell and 1.5m of sea, whipped up by an 18kt breeze, the deck stayed still enough and provided enough room for four of us to land those six southern bluefin and a striped tuna. With that mixture of braid and mono it was a miracle we got more than a few, but at the end it was smiles all around as John’s 12-year-old daughter Chelsea and I helped in the catch. During the excitement, my biggest fear was dropping expensive tackle 700m to the bottom as we passed rods across each other in the effort to untwine the mess. I did not relish the thought of being the forever-remembered boat-tester who dropped John’s favourite big Stella in the drink.

It’s not often that I would go to such lengths to test a boat, but when John Haber, owner of Haines Hunter, suggested we do the test on his own tricked-out 760R, in the sort of conditions that it was designed for, it seemed like a good idea. At that stage, I had little idea of the distance required to drive to Portland from Melbourne, or the sort of sea that Portland fisherman consider normal. But by the time we got those fish onboard it didn’t matter; it was all worthwhile.

Spaceous Flagship

By any measure of a trailerboat the Haines Hunter 760R is big, and at around 3.5t on the road it requires a gutsy vehicle to haul it around. At first sight on the boat ramp at dawn it was impressive both in size and pleasing lines, and despite its bulk it retains the classic look of many smaller Haines models.

Two years in design and testing before its release, the 760R is the latest model from the Haines Hunter factory and is the pinnacle of their boat development that goes back some 50 years. From a factory that specialises in pure fishing boats, the 760R is the flagship of a fleet comprising some 25 models.

With a hull weight of 1750kg there is a lot of material in a 760R. This follows the Haines Hunter philosophy that a safe, seagoing boat needs weight and the associated strength to be successful. A recent visit to the Haines Hunter factory convinced me that every effort is made to ensure the boats are built to the highest standards using the best materials available. Both vinylester and polyester resin are used for the best possible strength and finish. The hull is built around a complicated marine-grade plywood underfloor grid. This is fully encapsulated in woven-rove fibreglass by hand so that all timber is fully sealed. The grid is glassed to the hull, and Divinycell and core matt are laminated to the sidedecks for strength. A moulded floor liner is dropped into the hull and the two sections are bonded together to create a boat that is both well-finished and supremely strong.

Space is left under the floor towards the front for the fully-sealed fuel tank and a monster fishbox at the rear. All other voids below deck are foam-filled to give even more stiffness to the boat and provide level flotation. All 760s are built to survey standard, even if the customer does not wish to incur the extra expense of certification.

The general layout is a forward cabin design with the majority of the space devoted to the cockpit in true fishing style. The cabin floor is recessed into the hull so there is good head height and a feeling of space. Bunks and a toilet offer camping options, and there is lots of rod storage and wide sidepockets. The padded upholstery is in white with red trim – a colour theme carried throughout the boat.

Customised Seating

At the helm there is just the single driver’s seat, allowing an uncluttered entrance to the cabin and maximum space for passengers to shelter under the bimini. We were able to put that to the test on our way to the shelf, as the wind kept blowing spray, sent flying by the boat, back over us, but the passengers stayed dry under cover. It does seem strange on such a big boat to have only one seat, but that was John’s choice for his own boat. Customers can have any seat combination they desire, and the bimini can also be customised. This boat is designed more for action than relaxing, and to be fair, extra seating was available on a large padded esky. There is a huge amount of dry storage on either side of the helm area, due to the space created under the sidedecks running alongside.

As a true bluewater boat without compromise, there is plenty of electronic hardware on display. A pair of Yamaha Command Link instruments gives readouts for the twin 225hp motors, while the 12-inch screens of the Furuno FCV 295 sounder and Garmin 7012 GPS provide navigational information. Controls for the Lenco trim tabs and Haines Hunter electric anchor are well-placed on the dash. There is plenty of volume from the Rockford Fosgate sound system, with an amp to power four speakers and twin sub-woofer.

The bow can be accessed through a hatch in the cabin or along the surprisingly wide sidedecks, aided by a stainless steel rail and the sturdy windscreen support. The bow has a huge moulded fibreglass bollard that houses an underslung anchor.

Fishing Cockpit

Behind the helm, the 2m by 3.8m cockpit is broken up only by a central leaning post –a space that under most circumstances, when fighting a fish, would be a godsend. In the mayhem that ensued on our trip there wasn’t much time to settle back on the post. Underfoot, the cork flooring looks sensational and offers great grip and cushioning. Moulded recesses provide space for the portside deckwash and dedicated starboard fender mounts. Long storage pockets hold gaffs or rods and a stainless-steel vertical rodholder runs along the port deck. A lift-out door on the starboard side is a good option for diving and hauling big fish onboard, with a second, lighter panel that slides in as a quick but temporary safety measure.

Everything is neat and well-thought out in the transom, with 65lt livebait tanks to either side, a monster rigging table, enclosed battery compartments and switches with wiring that’s neat and individually labelled. The biggest fishbox I have ever seen on a trailerboat is set into the floor at the rear; our eight 20kg bluefin hardly made a dint in the space available. After the excitement of catching the fish was over, we tidied things up and the self-draining deck quickly cleared away the wash-down water.

High Speed

The two 4-stroke 225hp Yamahas fitted to the engine pod are the maximum for the vessel’s upgraded hull, and they have more than enough power to make this boat an exciting ride and take it to a top speed of over 50kt. From rest, fast acceleration is accompanied by a gutsy wail from the exhausts and only a slight lift from the bow. In practical terms the boat will easily accelerate out of tricky conditions and has the power to effortlessly climb up the back of huge seas.

Across one- to two-metre seas the ride at 22kt was soft and predictable. In an almost 140km journey over these unkindly seas, the boat banged down only a couple of times as we came off the back of some rogue waves and nearly three tonnes of Haines fibreglass fell to the ocean. But otherwise the boat steamed through waves with grace and style, maintaining a safe, predictable passage. Sure it could go faster, but it was the right speed for the conditions, particularly with the owner’s 12-year-old daughter on board.

In more sheltered waters we were able to give the boat a more traditional workout, and it proved to be safe and relatively sporty for its size, with heaps of power. At 5500rpm it will pull 95km/h (51kt), which is really moving for a big boat. A more realistic cruising speed is 62km/h at 3500rpm, and on a good day the shelf would only be an hour’s easy cruise from many ports along the East Coast of Australia.

The 760R Limited is a pleasure to drive and fish from. We got to see it in some pretty ordinary conditions, particularly close to shore when wind, tide and current were making things very untidy. The boat handled all these things safely and never gave cause for alarm. Its hefty weight dominates through rough water, confidently brushing the sea aside, but it can get up and show a remarkable turn of speed given the chance.

John Haber is proud of his boat and he has a right to be, but it’s essentially the same one any customer can order from their local dealer. There have been a lot of Haines Hunter boats that over the years have grown into icons of the Australian boating scene, and there should be no reason that the 760R won’t become an enduring classic. It already is for me, as I doubt I will forget the day we hooked-up eight tuna at once and little Chelsea Haber caught her first bluefin.

Highlights

  • Safe sea handling.
  •  Lots of fishing room.
  • Awesome power.
  • Good resale value.
  • Catches fish.

Capacities

  • People: 8
  • Recommended Power: 350hp
  • Maximum Rated Power: 450hp
  • Fuel: 500lt
  • Water: 120lt

General

  • Material: Fibreglass, vinylester and polyester
  • Hull Type: Fishing monohull
  • Hull Length: 7.6m
  • LOA: 8.2 metres
  • Beam: 2.5 metres
  • Weight: 1750kg (hull only)
  • Deadrise: 21°

Engines

  • Make/model: Yamaha F225F
  • Type: 4-stroke DOHC V6
  • Displacement: 4196cc
  • Weight: 253kg
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.75:1
  • Propeller: 19 inches

SPECIFICATIONS: Haines Hunter 760R Limited
Options fitted: Furuno FCV-295 sounder, Garmin GPSMAP 7012 touchscreen sounder/plotter, 3 x thru-hull 3kW transducers, Garmin GHX 10 autopilot, Lenco trim tabs, Garmin 200i VHF radio, Ritchie compass, 2 x LAN gauges for the 225s, stop/start panels and synchronised binnacle controls, remote control Guest spotlight, 3 x Ultimate gel mat batteries, manual bilge pump, lean post with sturdy rod holders – seat can be removed. STANDARD FEATURES Cork floor, Rockford Fosgate stereo system with twin subs and four speakers, self-draining, anchor winch, 700lt insulated and plumbed underfloor fishbox, twin 65lt livebait tanks with waterproof lights, moulded coamings with portside sidepockets for rods and/or gaffs, custom-designed fender holders starboard side, 6 x custom stainless steel 130lb-rated plumbed rodholders, dive door, foam filled. 

Haines Hunter 760R Limited

Boat Test Haines Hunter 760R Limited: HIGH SEAS ACTION
Author and photography: John Ford
Manufactured and Supplied by: Haines Hunter

This boat test ran in ISSUE 92 of BlueWater magazine –  JULY-AUG-2012 

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here