Author: Barry Thompson
ROBUST & PRACTICAL
Following the success of the Bluefin 620 Centre Console, Bluefin has now added the 525 Centre Console, to their range. Essentially a smaller version of the 625, the 525 Centre Console is still a big open fishing platform that is built on a well-proven formula used by the builders now for several years. Barry Thompson went to Tauranga to check out the first of the new model.
Bluefin Boats are built by Sportcraft Boats, from their factory in Mt Maunganui and sold through both the Mt Maunganui and Morrinsville Sportcraft Marine shops. They offer an extensive range of models, from open runabouts to large hardtops, which include four standard models in the centre console range. However, being an aluminium boat, every hull, no matter what size is available with a centre console.
“We had several clients who told us they liked the 620 Centre Console, but it was just too big for what they wanted, and our 470 Centre Console was too small, so it was a logical step to offer something inbetween”, said Sportcraft Boats, Jamie Black.
He added that while the Bluefin 525 CC is shorter than the 620 Centre Console (5.25m v 6.20m), the 2.30m beam remains the same. It has a significant volume boat for its size and offers a massive fishing space from the bow to the transom. The overall package price also comes down by about $5000 for the smaller model.
“We also kept the hull sections the same, with a wide gullwing design with a heavier 5mm bottom, with 3mm swaged sides and a relatively high freeboard. The wide gunnels have also been retained, so apart from being a bit shorter, you are getting everything the 620 Centre Console has but in a more compact package”, says Jamie.
The 5mm bottom, supported by a solid stringer and grid system under the cheque plate sole, certainly helps to give the boat a robust and solid feel. I ran the boat in a 15-18 knot gusting Tauranga Harbour, and I found I could drive it at around 20-25 knots without any unpleasant bumps or hull noises. The boat certainly feels stiff, and there was no movement anywhere from the vast open cockpit. Apart from the centre console, and a small forward bow step, there are no other fixed structures.
Now with power steering as standard, it is a straightforward boat to drive, especially with the 60hp. You do have the option of going bigger horse power with 75hp, 80hp and even 90hp outboards available, but if you are going to use the boat for sheltered inshore fishing, I reckon the 60 CT is enough. I was generally surprised at the excellent performance of the 60hp CT on the 525 Centre Console.
Power options are outboard only with our rig running a Mercury 60hp 4S with Command Thrust. While we didn’t have a speedo or any fuel data gauges, I did see 28 knots (32.2 mph) on the GPS on my phone. I would estimate that at WOT, the 60hp would burn upwards of a 20-litre tote tank an hour, but bring that rpm back to around 4500 rpm and the fuel usage would drop to about 13 lph @ 24 knots.
The Command Thrust or Bigfoot model is designed for pushing heavier weights at lower speeds, so the lower gears mean that the motor doesn’t work as hard down low in its torque band, but you need significantly more rpms to achieve the same “speed” as a 60 horse that is “non-bigfoot”. The bigfoot produces 40% more torque than the non-bigfoot at WOT, so if you are planning to carry heavy loads in this boat, such as in a commercial situation, the advantages of having Command Thrust is obvious.
Jamie says they can fit an underfloor tank if a customer requests it, but they find a couple of 25-litre tote tanks under the aft deck is more than enough for most people’s average day on the water. There is space to increase those to a pair of 45-litre tanks.
The overall layout of the Bluefin 525 Cuddy Cabin is simple yet practical with places dedicated for all your fishing gear. The centrepiece is the console which while reasonably wide still provides easy access to and from the bow. Jamie points out that customised consoles are available and as the console is only bolted to the sole, you can also change its position.
The standard unit has a mid-shelf which in our boat housed the battery, and a wide flat facia for the binnacle-mounted controls, steering and VHF. If you plan on fitting a fish finder/depth sounder, you have the choice of flush or bracket mount. A nice feature is the large flat screen is hinged so when towing or storage this can be dropped to lower either drag or height. With the screen dropped, the overall height on the trailer is only 1.9m
Rod storage is in wide side trays and rod racks for the longer rods, but if you add a hard or soft bimini, there is also the addition of a rocket launcher. Four gunnel rod holders come with the boat.
How you configure the transom is your choice. While our boat had a flush aft deck with full-width storage tray under and central boat board, you can add features such as a live bait tank and transom cut-outs for access to the boarding platform. You leave it open or add a transom door. A drop down folding ladder is standard. There is a generous size bilge pump in the sump to handle any water that comes aboard.
At the other end, there is a small step to assist you when anchoring and an open anchor well. There is space for a small drum winch, or if you prefer, there is room on the foredeck for a capstan. Grab rails around the bow are standard.
Seating is a large fishbin with a squab, which for most of my time aboard, we had in the bow and as I did all my driving standing. I found the box seat a little low, and if I were to add a seat option, I would go for a couple of swivelling pedestals. If you need more seating, than you can add a bench seat aft.
The hull is the same as the 525 Cuddy that we featured a few years ago, but it has taken until now to see a centre console version. The Bluefin 525 Centre Console is a very practical, easy to use boat with a simple layout, that is an easy clean after a good day’s fishing. The standard package includes everything you need and then you can add some extras. At around 900kgs tow weight it also an easy boat to tow on an unbraked single axle trailer. It is a big volume boat that can have 3-4 rods working at once, without infringing into each others space.
- Boat Design Name: Bluefin 525 Centre Console
- Year Launched: 2020 / New Zealand
- Builder: Sportscraft Boats
- Price as Tested: $34950
- LOA: 5.50m
- Beam: 2.30m
- Deadrise: 17 deg
- Trailerable weight: 820 kg
- Height on Trailer: 1.9m
- Power Type: Outboard Only
- Max Horsepower: 90hp
- Test Power: Mercury 60CT
- Propeller: Spitfire X7 13”
- Max Speed: 28 knots
- Construction: 5mm/3mm Aluminium
- Fuel Capacity: Tote Tanks