McLay 611 CrossXover HT Boat Test

Forged on the rough waters of New Zealand’s far south, the McLay 611 CrossXover has been built safe and strong to get you out there and then home again, no matter what the ocean throws at you.

McLay 611 CrossXover HT Boat Test

Boat Test McLay 611 CrossXover HT: KIWI CROSS-OVER
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 128 of BlueWater magazine – DEC 2017 – JAN 2018  

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

McLay Boats is among New Zealand’s largest boatbuilders and has been operating for over 25 years. Their Milton factory is located at the south-western tip of the South Island, where seas and weather conditions can be treacherous. This is one of the reasons the McLay’s team were inspired to build very strong craft that perform well in the rigors of the open ocean.

With their eyes now set on the Australian market, McLay Boats has gradually been expanding their outlets on Australia’s eastern seaboard.

The 611 CrossXover on test sits in McLay’s range of boats between 4.4 and 11m, all built on a sturdy plate-aluminium hull designed to tackle tough seas, while still maintaining comfort and safety.

Shelter From Elements

Boasting an eye-catching marlin wrap, our 611 CrossXover had been well set up for gamefishing conditions in Australia’s southern waters, where the enclosed hardtop would be a welcome refuge from the cold and sloppy seas. Fortunately, the weather was kind on the day of our test run, offering up a perfect blue sky with warm conditions. The cover more than proved its worth, providing good protection from the sun’s rays while out on the water.

The 611 looks sharp, and that’s not purely a reflection of the fine bow entry. The lines are neat and well proportioned, with the swept-back Portofino-style transom lending a sporty and modern edge.

The advent of vinyl-wrapping hulls has helped add visual appeal to many boats over the past few years. The test boat’s big fish design also fitted well with its clean lines and is bound to attract attention wherever it goes.

Sturdy Plate Aluminum

The 611 is built from 5mm plate aluminium bottom sheets, with 4mm sides and 4mm in the hardtop. A wide keel protector runs down the full length of the hull to give a total of 11mm thickness along the bottom, providing great protection against rocks or when running the boat up on a sand beach.

Inside the hull, stringers are welded to the 5mm bottom section, with laser-cut slots in the floor to receive tabs from the stringers, which become welded when the deck is lowered into place. The treadplate floor is then fused to the 4mm sides to make a sealed compartment and integrate the hull into a single unit.

Hundreds of litres of closed-cell foam floatation are then pumped in under the gunwales from the transom to the anchor well, creating a stable floating platform should you ever get swamped. Company founder Steve McLay says that the addition of this floatation high in the hull will ensure the boat remains floating upright –although happily we didn’t have to put this to the test.

Stable And Spacious

Two planing strakes are pressed into the bottom plates each side of the keel, while a spray rail extends from the bow to amidships along the line of the deep chines. When combined with a moderate 17-degree deadrise, these features provide excellent stability at rest and underway.

High freeboard and a swept-back cabin with a smoothly curved windscreen hint at a boat more significant than its 6m length might suggest. However, this feeling of size is no illusion, as I found once I stepped aboard.

The roomy cockpit flows seamlessly through to the cabin, providing plenty of fishing space. This is augmented by a set of quirky cages at the stern, which converts the platforms either side of the engine into safe fishing positions.

Rodholders are welded into the corners of the enclosures, with fold-down rearward gates providing wharf access, while also serving as dive ladders. Access to the cockpit from the rear platforms is though cutouts in each corner of the transom, which can also be closed off with simple slide-in plates.

Cockpit Design

While a livebait tank with Perspex window has been built into the portside transom step, this would probably be more practical if it were higher, leaving the starboard step as an exit for anyone unable to clamber over the raised livewell.

The central section of the transom includes a high bait table with raised sides, two rodholders and a neoprene cutting board with drain holes to the engine well. A tackle drawer below has rubber gaskets to keep it rattle-free and is large enough to store plenty of tools, knives and tackle. Lower down, a padded seat folds out of the way to reveal a hatch for twin batteries, which are raised high above the floor. In the lower bilge, a 2000L/ph pump takes care of any water that makes its way on board.

Gunwales are wide and reassuringly high, with deep storage bins running along the sides. These are raised off the deck, leaving room for toeholds below so you have stable footing while fishing in a rocking sea.

Covered Helm

Set onto the back of the hardtop is a stylish rocket launcher with eight rodholders and an anchor light. Grab rails are also provided along each side to assist access to the bow where a Lone Star GX2 drum winch connects to a MMX3 Mud Magnet anchor on a short bowsprit.

Two alloy seat bases in the wheelhouse have space below for a storage bin and large icebox, clad in the same stand-out vinyl wrap as the hull. The seats are plastic buckets with vinyl padding, and although they are somewhat basic in appearance, they were surprisingly comfortable and supportive when underway.

The helm and hardtop are lined with dark grey marine carpet, helping to soften the look of the alloy build and dampen noise levels from the engine and hull.

Quality Workmanship

Although the CrossXover isn’t the premium model in the McLay range, the finish is high quality and touches like the carpet and Nyalic coating of the raw aluminium show a pride in workmanship that is to be admired.

The use of a different background material around the instrument panel would most likely enhance this image even further. However, it’s a small detail overall and the non-glare carpet is entirely practical.

Ahead of the driver, the raked dash sports a Garmin EchoMap 95sv 23cm combination GPS/Sounder and a smaller Garmin screen for readouts from the 150hp Honda engine. However, the dash would easily fit one of 51cmor a couple of 30cm screens if the budget allowed.

Storage bins are recessed into the sides of the cabin, with footrests moulded into the floor for skipper and passenger. Side windows slide for fresh air, providing adequate circulation even without a roof hatch.

Honda Power

Honda’s BF150 outboard has been in production since 2003 and boasts some high-tech features derived from the company’s experience in building performance sports cars. Its 2354cc in-line 4-stroke motor uses chain-driven, double-overhead cams to operate eight valves per cylinder.

Honda’s V TEC system varies intake valve timing to introduce extra air at peak revs, while their BLAST technology advances valve timing for better acceleration. Oxygen sensors also help to determine the optimum fuel mix for improved economy and power.

The McLay 611 CrossXover’s hull weight is 930kg, with the 150hp Honda proving a good match when combined with the weight of 160L of fuel. This produced an energetic holeshot and a wide-open-throttle speed of 62km/h (33kts). At trolling speeds, the engine ticks over at 2000rpm, consuming 5.4L/ph for a range of 496km. That’s pretty economical fishing!

If you’re feeling the need for speed, you can option up to a 200hp engine for quicker performance and a few extra knots.

The big chines and moderate deadrise helped us onto an efficient plane of 22km/h at 3000rpm. A slow cruise of 35km/h at 4000rpm returned 21L/ph and a range of 248km. Even at 47km/h, we saw 38L/ph and a decent range of 184km.

Smooth Running

Although the test day’s mild conditions off Eden didn’t challenge us too much, the boat still performed well with precise and safe handling whenever we found some rougher water. By keeping the motor trimmed right out at speed, the landings over larger swells were soft, with the hull well supported by the prominent outside chine to help keep lean to a minimum when making sharp turns.

The package from the Eden dealer comes with a great-looking Trans Style alloy drive-on trailer, with rubber torsion bar, independent suspension and electric stainless-steel disc brakes.

The McLay is a well-constructed plate-aluminium boat with good sea manners and eye-catching appeal. Boasting a five-year warranty on boat and seven years on the motor, it’s also a very safe bet too.


  • Solid construction and quality finish.
  • Soft ride and predictable handling.
  • Good weather protection.
  • Five-year warranty on the hull.
  • Seven-year warranty on the Honda outboard.


  • People: 7
  • Rec. HP: 115-200hp
  • Fuel: 165L


  • Type: Monohull hardtop
  • Material: plate-alloy
  • Length: 6.1m
  • Freeboard: 0.72m
  • Beam: 2.3m
  • Weight: 930kg
  • Deadrise: 17 degrees


  • Make/model: Honda BF150
  • Type: In-line, four-cylinder, fuel-injected 4-stroke
  • Weight: 220kg
  • Displacement: 2354cc
  • Gear ratio: 2.14:1
  • Propeller: 45cm Solas

Options fitted: Baitboard, drum winch, anchor, rear cage, rocket launcher rod rack, paint and vinyl wrap, transom seat, electronics, trailer upgrade, plus more.  

McLay 611 CrossXover HT Boat Test

Boat Test McLay 611 CrossXover HT: KIWI CROSS-OVER
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: Sapphire Marine and Automotive  

This boat test ran in ISSUE 128 of BlueWater magazine – DEC 2017 – JAN 2018  

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

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