Bonito 485 Sprint

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Bonito 485 Sprint

It’s not often you find a production boat building company that pursues the smaller size end of the fibreglass boat market. The trend today is certainly towards bigger models, and while Bonito do have plans to get into the 7m camp, they haven’t forgotten the entry-level buyer. The Bonito 485 Sprint is a new boat based on the same hull as the 485 Chico. But that’s where the similarities stop.

The all-new 485 Sprint follows the same opening foredeck arrangement as the Bonito 522 Sprint, which was discontinued in 1998 when the moulds were sold to an Australian builder. Designer Peter Johnson felt that the new hull was too small to be a bowrider, but wanted to be able to offer the same benefits and ease of anchoring that the original 522 Sport offered.

“We were also looking for a runabout style boat that didn’t require you to stoop down and crawl up through a deck hatch or have to lean over the top of the screen to do your anchoring.

“We also wanted a boat that was small enough for one person to handle, be light enough to tow behind a medium size car and not need big horsepower to achieve a reasonable performance”, said Johnson.

When I tested the Bonito 485 Chico back in late 1999, Johnson said he would love to build a sporty runabout version. He felt that there were those buyers out there that still wanted a small, no-nonsense boat for sheltered waters, and favoured fibreglass over aluminium. When you are looking for a fibreglass runabout under 5m, there isn’t that much choice. The 485 Sprint is a big little boat that makes maximum use of the allowable beam, without making the lines of the boat look  short and stubby.

The hull incorporates a 19-degree vee at the transom with multiple strakes and overhanging portofino stern either side of the outboard. There’s a 200mm wide gullwing style chine that carries well forward, that is designed to give the boat its stability and nice riding attitude. This isn’t a rough water boat, far from it. But it does present a comfortable ride in light to moderate seas and as my kids found out, is neat to ski behind. Single or slalom skiers found the 90hp Mercury offered plenty of low down grunt and with the speedo nudging 44mph, the boat wasn’t lacking for top-end speed.

At wakeboard speed the hull drags a good clean wake that our wakeboarders felt was ideal. I gave the 485 a good hard full speed run on relatively calm water and did find the boat very tender to trim. Too far in and it dragged by the bow, too far out and I could the boat a little out of shape. With this particular set-up about 3/4 was fine. With the speed back in the mid range, the boat was easy to drive, and with the top end 90hp power option, certainly a lot of fun. A 50hp will still give a top speed of 36mph, with 70hp – 80hp probably being about ideal.

You will find that to make the boat really handle best you need to lift the outboard high on the transom, something that is a trait of all late model Bonitos.

Big Storage Space

While you would probably do most of your driving seated, there is still plenty of space to stand, with both the wheel and throttle controls well placed. Seated, you have the protection of the acrylic screen and a generously sized fascia with instruments at the right level. In the test boat we had just the necessary gauges, such as speedo and tacho, and there was still space in the centre for a small flush mounted sounder. There is little space above the helm although plenty of room on the port side for a bracket mounted unit. A recessed area on the port side has a non-skid carpet infill that I used to stow the keys, mobile phone and portable GPS.

The cockpit layout is not unlike the 485 Chico, with the same pedestal moulded seat bases with swivelling buckets, wide side trays and central storage bins. Back to backs could be fitted but I would be conscious of the amount of space they would take up. Underfloor storage is exceptional with the volume to take skis, wakeboards and fishing rods. You could fit a 45-litre underfloor fuel tank if required, but in a boat this size it’s probably not really necessary. Upholstered foam coaming pads are ideal for bracing your thighs against when stand-up fishing and it’s not too far to lean over the side with the net or gaff.

The transom has been altered from the 485 Chico and gone are the twin moulded steps, replaced with a single step either side. Twin rear removable seats take the place of bin seats, so there’s an increase in cockpit space over the cabin version. Ideally you remove both the cushions when you’re out fishing to maximise the workable cockpit area. If you don’t like getting your carpet covered in fish guts, then being only clipped-in you can also leave that behind. This is a boat that takes kindly to a serious hosedown.

The area under the transom is too low to take the tote tanks so these are stowed forward under the deck area in side storage bins. The battery and oil tanks have their own moulded platform below the engine well and above the deep bilge. You’ll need to take out the central floor panel if you want to remove either. Any water that gets into the boat is quickly and easily channelled to the bilge pump for a quick exit.

The Bonito 485 Sprint has full bulkheads with recessed footrest mouldings either side and a very wide opening screen and foredeck arrangement. An opening panel in the centre of the foredeck not only gives access to the deep anchor locker, but also to the storage recesses either side. There is an  antiskid pattern on the split-level sole and it’s generously wide enough so you don’t need to struggle to get items from the storage lockers. This allows maximisation of the useable space and does away with the space wasting solid deck. In our test boat we had a 25 litre tote tank to port and our safety gear opposite and there was still loads of space left for another tote tank and extra dry gear.

This is an ideal entry-level boat for someone who wants to go down the fibreglass road. At under $30,000 tow away it’s a well-priced package and comes with the right construction and performance credentials. It’s a fun boat that offers just as much for the recreational skier as it does for the keen fisherman.


  • Model: 485 Sprint
  • Price (Boat only): $16600
  • Price As Tested : $29,500
  • Designer: Peter Johnson
  • Material: grp
  • Type: runabout
  • LOA: 4.85m
  • Beam: 2.23m
  • Deadrise: 19 degrees
  • Hull Configuration: medium V
  • Trailerable Weight: 900 kg (approx.)
  • Engine Capacity :  50hp – 90hp
  • Power Options: outboard only
  • Fuel Capacity : Tote tanks


  • 500 rpm               @  2.5 mph
  • 1000 rpm            @  4.5 mph
  • 1500 rpm            @  5.5 mph
  • 2000 rpm            @  7.0 mph
  • 2500 rpm            @  11.0 mph
  • 3000 rpm            @  20.5 mph
  • 3500 rpm            @  25.5 mph
  • 4000 rpm            @  30.0 mph
  • 4500 rpm            @  33.5 mph
  • 5000 rpm            @  40.5 mph
  • 5500 rpm            @  44.5 mph

Speeds are recorded on an Eagle GPS and rounded off to the nearest 1/2mph.

Notable Standard Equipment

Five year hull warranty, CPC rated, stainless rod holders,

Notable Options on Test Boat

Ski pole and road cover


  • Make: Mercury
  • HP: 90
  • Model: 2-stroke
  • Cylinder Type: 3-in-line
  • Displacement: 1386cc
  • Max RPM: 5500 rpm
  • Propeller: 20” Laser II
  • Retail Price: $10942


  • Make: Hosking
  • Braked: No
  • Suspension: Springs
  • Rollers: Multi roller
  • Std Features: Submersible lights, wind-up jockey wheel.
  • Price: $3300


Bonito Boats Ltd,

Box 534, Kumeu, Auckland,

Ph 09 412 8948, Fax 09 412 8949.

Boat Supplied By

Bonito Boats Ltd.

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