“Out of tragedyoften comes triumph”, and this couldn’t be more true when considering the new Haines Hunter SP725.
In early 2010, a fire broke out in the Haines Hunter factory, destroying the fibreglass moulds and almost the business in doing so.
Among these was the immensely popular SS700 mould. When Lionel Sands and Denis Kendall, co-owners of Sea Craft that makes the Haines Hunter boats, took stock and began to repair and replace all that was lost, they decided to take the opportunity to develop an ‘all new’ 7m boat that retained the endearing features of the previous model and move onto something that encompassed modernday technology, materials and design features a little better.
The SP725 was to be the successor to the SS700, retaining all that had made this brilliant boat so popular but taking advantage of the latest materials and technology available. The SP725 was publically launched at the 2011 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in Auckland and was a triumph, picking up “Open Class GRP Fishing Boat Award “ and the much-coveted “Overall Boat of the Show’ award and generating huge public interest.
Lionel and Denis are not the types to go chasing accolades like this, but they saw something special in this new boat and were justly rewarded with the top gong at the show. It really is a ‘phoenix out of the ashes story’. When I was asked to head out with Lionel and his business partner Denis Kendall for a day’s fishing on the Hauraki Gulf, there was only ever going to be one answer. I had grown up alongside Haines Hunter boats, fishing and waterskiing at Lake Tarawera and have always understood why they are such a popular choice for kiwi boaties.
They are solid, well-made, look great and lend themselves to many forms of on-water fun. So I met Lionel and Denis down at the Outboard Boating Club in Auckland, hopped onboard the SP725, Lionel’s personal boat, and had my first look around. It was immediately obvious that this had been built for comfort, speed and practicality.
Rated for HP between 225-300, Lionel’s boasted the impressive Yamaha 300HP 4-stroke, enough to get any man a little bit excited. LAYOUT As with any fibreglass boat, there has been an emphasis put on as much comfort as possible. The SP725 has balanced this out extremely well though and there is still plenty of space in the cockpit to fish from. The seats are handsdown the best I have ever come across on a trailer-boat, there has been a lot of thought put into these.
I like the idea of having a nice, big comfortable seat to rest in during the journey between home and fishing destinations. They also make this model a much more attractive option for children and wives who will no doubt enjoy this added comfort. The helm is spacious and has been extremely well thought of during the design process. The trim on the dash is impressive and continues along the boat’s theme of being robust yet extremely comfortable.
This classic Haines Hunter trim continues across to the passenger’s side and through to the very spacious cabin. Upon entering the cabin, the thought of overnighting immediately comes to mind. It is big and comfortable and very capable of holding two or three sleeping adults. There is a dedicated toilet behind a wooden door at the entrance that the fairer sex would have right at the top of their ‘essentials list’.
The shelving right through the cabin is wide and generous and the cushions are extremely thick and comfortable. I could see myself spending a day or three in this boat very comfortably. There is also a cabinet and fold away hob, containing two gas burners that is then easily converted into a small dining table when the top of the unit is folded down. Brilliant, a great setup to cook all that fresh snapper.
Below the passenger seat is a cooled fridge that is easily big enough to hold enough food and drink for a few days. So after my initial look through the boat we shot out into the Gulf with the hope of finding some of the snapper that had been quickly moving into the area. The day was calm and the sea was flat as we powered our way up past Rangitoto before Lionel gestured me over and gave me control of the helm.
The boat felt big and responsive under me and it was really nice to have 300HP at my disposal to shoot us up out of the hole and onto a quick plane. The beauty of the Yamaha fly-by-wire technology becomes much more evident in a big boat like this and I got an immediate response from even the lightest tweak of the throttle. Whilst making our way up past the Noises at a shade under 30 knots.
What amazed me was the fuel consumption in this setup. The 300HP is no small outboard, yet the gauge showed that we were burning just 29L per hour at 26 knots. Very impressive. I then got to have a play around with the Lowrance HDS10 sounder combo. I love these units, they are easy to use, very responsive and are a great option for a boat of this size.
This model also features the Yamaha digital gauge display that lets you know your speed, fuel consumption, fuel level and a lot more in an attractive little screen. This is beautifully placed in the dash of this boat and I think it’s one of the best examples of electronic integration I have come across. By adding in a compass and a very nautical steering wheel, the helm is a highlight on this boat for sure.
It is sleek, attractive and useful and it is clear that a huge amount of time has been put into making this area what it is. We soon arrived at the 40m mark and were immediately greeted by the gannets we were hoping to see. This was the exact area where people had been catching snapper consistently over the previous week. So we deployed our lures of choice and began what would soon become a reasonably productive session. I found the SP725 very practical to fish out of.
There is plenty of room for four anglers to drop a line and the gunwales are wide and comfortable to rest on while waiting for the bite. We soon got onto the fish, with a few XOS kahawai and snapper added to the bin in a short time. There are options for fish bins here. You have the option of fish bins covered in comfortable squabs that slide out of the way underneath the transom. This obviously adds more seating as well. Or you can just slide in your own fish bins, there is plenty of room under the transom for these.
There is a live bait well incorporated into the design and this can be plumbed as an extra, otherwise it just adds to the massive amounts of storage space. Rods can be placed in the stainless steel rocket launcher, one of the four rod holders or in the storage racks underneath the gunwales. It is all set out very well and makes fishing extremely comfortable. Within a couple of hours we had each caught enough for a decent feed and with the light quickly fading, decided to make our way back towards Auckland.
As a fishing and leisure craft, the Haines Hunter SP725 fits the bill pretty well. It is robust, comfortable and nicely established for fishing from. One of the reasons I have always fancied and supported Haines Hunter boats is because they are a fully- fledged New Zealand company that offer apprenticeships and jobs to many Kiwis. Haines Hunter are well-and-truly entrenched in the marine industry here in New Zealand, and I would like to think that companies like this can continue to thrive for a time to come. Local is always best and Haines Hunter and the new SP725 are perfect examples of this.
NZ Fishing News
written by Sam Mossman