CSB Huntsman 500 – Cabin

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CSB 500

The CSB 500 may simply be a stripped out La Plata, but it lacks none of the quality finish and performance characteristics of its more highly speced out host.

In 2004 CSB Huntsman released the CSB La Plata and since then have sold over ?? Throughout New Zealand and Australia. It arrived as the replacement for the also popular Huntsman Executive. While the La Plata has certainly proven a success for this Christchurch based builder, the downturn in the market in recent years saw a significant drop in sales. With the recent upswing in the economy and boat sales starting to move again, CSB Huntsman’s Geoff Robinson felt the time was right to re-package the La Plata into a more affordable model, so welcome the CSB 500.

“Where the La Plata was kicking off around the $36000 – $38000 mark, the base package CSB500 with a 2 stroke 90hp is targeted at just under the targeted $30000”, says Geoff

“It’s even cheaper if you bolt on a 70hp and with some of the outboard engines that are now available you could quite easily put the CSB 500 on the water for as little as $25-26000, so it’s a pretty good package for a 5m grp cabin boat”, he added.

Geoff felt that there was very little available in the grp boat market at this entry level and although it was well serviced by the alloy boat market, not everyone wants to go with aluminium. The CSB5000 comes with all the same warranties of the La Plata and there have been no changes to the construction schedule of the boat.

Subtle Changes

So what’s different? CSB Huntsman’s Geoff Robinson explains: “ The boat is missing a few of the more expensive extras such as the underfloor ski locker, more expensive upholstery package, the perspex hatch, external decals, the standard seating option and a variety of other subtle changes”. What Geoff was wanting to achieve was to take what was already a well proven hull and layout and simply make it cheaper! That he has certainly achieved. “We are now presenting a very basic boat package and allowing the clients to add on all the extras, which we previously had as standard in the La Plata”, says Geoff.

While the La Plata is still listed as a model in the CSB Huntsman stable of boats, Geoff feels it’s days are numbered as it’s going to be cheaper now to spec up the CSB500 to get to a similar La Plata level. “We need to give owners the option of what they want to spend on a boat of this size and not force it on them because we have already included so much in the base boat. Plus it’s making them too expensive at that level of the market and that’s where I feel the CSB500 will certainly take over.

This boat is not only about getting people into a cheaper boat, it’s also about getting them into the CSB Huntsman brand”, says Geoff. The first CSB500 was launched just prior to Christmas 2013, with four sold, three locally and one to Australia.

Familiar Territory

I first had the opportunity to test a La Plata back in late 2004, during a rather cold and blustery day in the Marlborough Sounds. Conditions varied from mirror smooth to a short sharp swell with 15-20 knots of Southerly breeze around Endeavour Inlet.

Interestingly the power for that test was a 90hp Yamaha 2 stroke, one of the three engines I used for my more recent trip to test the CSB 500 on Lyttelton Harbour. And just as with the La Plata, the CSB500 handled the chop with ease, although still remembering this is only a 5m boat, so you need to drive for the conditions. Sitting the boat on 34mph @ 4500 rpm and we got a reasonably comfortable ride in the choppy water. This is not a bluewater boat in effect but it certainly rides exceptionally well and I would have to say better than a lot of small grp boats of this size I have been in. Underneath there’s a variable deadrise hull with the same fine entry bow section as the bigger Dorado that certainly keeps the spray off the deck and screen.

However where it differs from the Dorado is there is the addition of a ski plank running well forward which assists in the boat’s ability to get quick and easily onto the plane. The CSB 500 has a 20 deg vee and 2.15m beam at the transom so the plank is designed to not only settle the boat a little deeper in the water at speed but also at rest. The bonus is better stability both at rest and underway.

For the test of the CSB 500 on Lyttelton Harbour I was able to try out three different 90hp engine options, a Parsun 90 and Yamaha 90, both 2 strokes a 4 stroke Suzuki 90. The Suzuki topped out at 44 mph @ 6000 rpm with a 17” 3bld stainless propeller, the Yamaha was the quickest of the 2 strokes at 42.5mph @ 5300 rpm with a 17” 3bld alloy and the Parsun came in at 36.5mph @ 5500 rpm, also throwing a 17” 3bld alloy prop.

Fuel figures for each varied right through the mid range and top end with the Parsun 90 using 33.5 lph, the Yamaha 90 burned 30.4 lph and the Suzuki 90 was the best at just over 27 lph at wide open throttle. As the total engine and performance figures were being done as part of out 90hp Shoot Out for the next issue (May/June) you’ll have to wait until then to see the difference between the three engines, plus five more. The driving position is fine either standing or seated, with the low profile screen effective in keeping the wind off your face when sitting down.

The powder coated extrusion around the top of the screen also makes a convenient handhold. It’s a boat that is very predictable to the wheel and certainly doesn’t need anymore than 90hp. Bolt on 70hp (the CSB 500 is rated 70-115hp) and you’de still have a boat that you can tow water toys behind.

Surprisingly Spacious

The small forward cabin is surprisingly spacious with two full length squabs and sitting headroom for at least two adults. There’s no storage under the three berths as these spaces are used for buoyancy, making the CSB 500 compliant with the latest CPC Floating Specifications. There are wide side trays with back cushions to stow some smaller items. The self-draining sole recess has the option of an infill should you want to make one large berth. Even though this is the budget package you still have a fully lined interior as part of the standard fit out. While the La Plata had a clear view Perspex hatch, the CSB 500 comes with a straight fibreglass lid. 

It’s huge and any anchoring can be easily and safely done standing in the opening.  A deep forepeak anchor locker with its 600mm drop is designed to not only take plenty of anchor tackle but has provision for capstan or a fully automatic windlass should you want to do all your anchoring from the helm.

There’s an open flow from the cabin to the cockpit with a pair of moulded footrests either side, ahead of the single Springfield seats on pedestals with fore and aft sliding capability. There is the option of back to backs or a combination of both should you require more seating.

Aft either side of the outboard well there’s a couple of jump seats with removeable seat bases. This gives better access to the battery and tote tank and offers a litt;e more space when your fishing. Storage in the standard boat is limited to a couple of side shelves either side under the coamings, but again you can have the optional under floor locker which provides you with a huge locker for wet gear, water skis, wake boards etc.

In our test boats we had two tote tanks which slid in out of the way under the Portofino stern and if you remove a centre floor panel you can in fact stow three tote tanks. The 70 litre underfloor stainless fuel tank is another option.

CSB Huntsman have not skimped on the space for electronics and instruments on the split level helm, with up to a 7” MFD screen. The eyebrow moulding above is the place for a couple of multi purpose instruments, with the single screen in the centre below. In our test boat we had a 7” Lowrance flanked by a Fusion 7000 and BEP switch panel, plus still plenty of free space for whatever else you wanted to add.


As a replacement or even addition to the CSB Huntsman fleet the CSB 500 is certainly designed to fit a niche and hopefully as Geoff says, to offer a viable alternative to alloy boats of a similar size and style. It’s a boat that can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it, but whatever path you choose the excellent performance and handling doesn’t change. It’s all a matter of how much you do or don’t want to spend.

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