Bonito 535

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Bonito 535

Author : Barry Thompson

Growth Spurt

The recently released Bonito 535 is more than just a larger version of the 522 – it is a completely new boat, and while retaining some of the features of its forerunner, has a lot more besides. Barry Thompson spent some time testing both the Calais and Profisher versions on Auckland Harbour to experience the differences. 

Peter Johnson, Managing Director of Bonito Boats Ltd says that the new 535 is a replacement for the 522 and not just a revamp. “The 535 has a totally new deck, with a larger hatch and builtin bowsprit, plus the hull has undergone significant changes to make it even better than its predecessor”. The two models in the new 535 range, the Profisher and Calais, differ only in some of the standard trim and finish, with everything else absolutely identical. The Profisher is the more basic model with vinyl coverings, flo-coated surfaces and only limited upholstery, with the Calais offered with teak on the coamings, fully upholstered side panels in the cockpit and carpet trim, but like the Profisher is also available with a variety of seating options.

In the models I tested the Calais was fitted with the two-Softrider pedestal seats forward, with just the drivers one fully adjustable (as it should be), and the Profisher with fixed fiberglass pedestals. A popular set-up will be the king/queen and single pedestal forward, which, with the two aft bin seats, still gives seating for five. The standard package in both boats is fixed pedestals. The bin seats have been designed to slide away under the aft deck when not required which opens up the cockpit fishing space. The fiberglass bins also make a great place for the bait.

Day Cabin

Recognising that a cabin in a boat this size is really only ever going to be a place to stow gear or get out of the weather, Bonito have kept things reasonably simple. The 535 cabin offers enough headroom for a couple of adults seated and the side squabs whilst being narrow forward are still nearly 2 m long. There is the option of an infill if you particularly want to turn the space into a large double, but it’s hardly worth it in a boat this size. Storage space is divided between three dedicated spaces under the squabs and also in very wide side trays behind thickly padded backrests. Don’t think about fitting a small head, as there’s simply not enough space. A large TaylorMade Sandbrook deck hatch provides excellent access forward when anchoring, with the deck locker within easy reach. There’s room for a small capstan and Bonito have not skimped on the size of the fairlead or bollard, plus the stainless steel chain plate stops any damage to the fiberglass deck. With the extra pods moulded onto the transom the cockpit of the 535 is fractionally longer than the 522 in the rear corners, although the internal beam remains the same. The cockpit now offers more storage areas, with twin hatches opening to a hefty wet locker under the floor. This area is reduced in size however when you fit the optional 100-litre fuel tank, but one added bonus is that due to the floor being raised (compared to the 522) there is now room enough to drop in up to four tote tanks instead. There are wide side trays with space for rod racks and they are long enough for skis or a wakeboard. A smaller compartment beside the driver provides a dry area for the cellphone, wallet, keys, etc. The windscreen is a little lower than on the 522 and the redesigned facia allows for more and larger flush mounted electronics and a full array of instrumentation. I liked the driving position, as well as the fact that I could slide the seat base out of the way when standing. The footrest is a good feature to aid comfort when seated. Bonito has now built a moulded floor section that runs chine to chine and part way up the side of the hull. This moulded infill is also used on two of Bonito’s other models, the 585 and 635 and will soon be incorporated in its full range. Interestingly, the construction still includes a plywood cockpit sole, with the fiberglass liner sitting on top, rather than replacing it altogether as is common with other manufacturers. “Not only does the liner decrease production time, it presents a cleaner and more durable surface, that owners will find easier to maintain” said Peter.

Strake Changes

Peter Johnson describes the 535 hull as “loosely based on the 522, with a modified strake arrangement”. “The strakes are now staggered, shorter and the bow sections are a little fuller, to give more bow lift,” said Peter. The changes have achieved a drier ride than the 522, which had a trait of picking up the bow spray and dropping it in the cockpit. The result is a boat with more bow lift, which rides flatter and is drier than the 522. The added length comes from the new pods on the transom, with the actual waterline length remaining the same as the 522. The Scott Robson designed Bonito 522 always had an enviable reputation for its rough water handling, more so than just about any boat of its size. With the changes to the hull lines and a little extra overall length the ride has got even better. The 535 rides higher, is a pleasure to drive and is more than capable of handling its maximum recommended horsepower. Even with the strakes shortened at the rear of the running surface the 535 still turns sharp and digs in hard on corners without the hull letting loose. For a boat of its size it will surprise you at just how good it handles a short harbour chop or breaking swells. It’s a boat that you might be prepared to venture further than usual and know that you can get back home in reasonable comfort. When I first took the 535 for a run and photo session on Auckland Harbour I had the benefit of comparing two engines, a Honda 90 and a Suzuki 115. I was especially interested in the Suzuki as it was the first of the 2003 models I had trialled. As expected the Suzuki’s extra horsepower gave it the edge in speed (45mph compared to 37.5mph for the Honda), and it was quicker on acceleration from idle and had a sharper mid range response. When it came to perceived sound, the Suzuki was quieter at the lower rpm, but in the mid to top end the Honda took over. Mind you they were both reasonably quiet anyway, as is the trait of most 4-strokes. The Bonito 535 replaces the 522, which has served the company well since first introduced in 1988. With over 800 on the water, the 522 proved to be one of the company’s most successful boats. However Bonito Boats needed a model a little bigger than the 522 that would compete in the highly competitive “5.5 m” market. Will the 535 carry on that same tradition? I reckon so and with plenty of orders – 60% of which have been for the Profisher – since its release at the New Zealand Boat Show, it’s off to a great start.


  • Price As Tested: $46190 (Calais/90hp Honda) $ 47795 (Profisher/115hp Suzuki) Price Boat Only: $24995 (Calais) / $24331 (Profisher)
  • Designer : Bonito Boats
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Cabin
  • LOA: 5.50 m
  • Hull Config: Moderate vee
  • Trailerable Wght: 1080 kg (est)
  • Height on Trailer: 2.10 m
  • Engine Capacity: 90 – 140 hp
  • Power Options: Outboard only
  • Fuel Capacity: 100 litres (Opt)
  • LOH: 5.35 m
  • Beam: 2.24 m
  • Deadrise: 21 deg


Suzuki 115  Honda 90 
800 rpm 2.5 mph 
1000 rpm 3.5 mph 
1500 rpm 5.0 mph 
2000 rpm 6.5 mph  
2500 rpm 8.0 mph  
3000 rpm 12.5 mph 10.5 mph
3500 rpm 22.5 mph 17.0 mph
4000 rpm 27.5 mph 23.0 mph
4500 rpm 33.0 mph 26.5 mph
5000 rpm 36.5 mph 32.0 mph
5500 rpm 40.5 mph 35.5 mph
6000 rpm  40.5 mph 35.5 mph

Speeds recorded on a Magellan GPS and rounded off to the nearest 1/2 mph

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