ANOTHER CANTERBURY WINNER
BY BARRY THOMPSON
There’s probably no more appropriate name than Crusader if you come from Canterbury and reckon you have what it takes to be a winner. CSB Huntsman’s all new 6.5m full-cabin boat certainly has the right pedigree and credentials to be as much a winner as Canterbury’s victorious Super 12 team.
The Crusader has been designed to be the new flagship of the company and takes its place alongside the very popular series 6000. In fact, if you put the two boats side by side you immediately see a significant difference in not only size, but also external styling and hull shape.
The Crusader is longer, higher in the sides and provides more useable internal volume. It simply looks like a much bigger boat than the Series 6000. And it is! There is more flare in the bow, height in the cabin, a higher windscreen, space in the cockpit and the deck coamings are far higher than those of the Series 6000.
Whilst the hull is scaled on the basic 5.5m Dorado hull, it took CSBs Geoff Robinson and Shane Grace, with plenty of input from the whole CSB team, three years on design and meticulous plug and mould making to arrive at the final product. But then why not! As the Dorado has proven an outstanding success for CSB since it was first released, they have sensibly made use of the fact it has a great hull and the result is a ‘new’ stretched version that already comes with a proven pedigree.
This is not simply a case of ‘elastic plans’, as there is a different strake pattern from the smaller Dorado to compensate for the extra weight carried forward. The Dorado’s strakes follow the chine line. The Crusader’s run parallel along the length of the boat before cutting up into the chine. This has been done to help keep the boat dry and give the hull more forward lift.
In achieving the ultimate layout for the Crusader, the design team at CSB Huntsman talked to a lot of Series 6000 owners.
Geoff Robinson, co-owner of CSB Huntsman Boats, said that they felt it was important to get the customer feedback and find out what they liked or disliked about their boat. Comments were made regarding the lack of the need for side decks, more height in the cabin and a wider access forward to the cabin and deck.
Like all CSB boats there are plenty of seating options, it just depends on what you want. I liked the standard package of an adjustable pedestal helm seat on a Softrider base, deluxe king/queen and a 3/4-rear bench seat aft. This gives you dedicated seating for five and leaves you lots of cockpit space. Even with twin back-to-backs forward you’ll still find plenty of workable area in the cockpit. Removing the two rear bins, which form the base for the bench seat, can further enhance this. The adjustable helm seat also means you can place the seat exactly where you want it, be it for driving seated or standing. With most back-to-backs, there is only one position and that doesn’t suit everyone.
Storage in the Crusader is good both above and below the cockpit sole with a wet locker forward of the 150-litre stainless steel fuel tank large enough for dive bottles, wake boards or water-skis. If you want a 200-litre long-range fuel tank then the locker is shorter accordingly.
When the Crusader becomes available with a sterndrive option, the locker area will all but disappear due to the repositioning of the fuel tank and the extra space taken up by the inboard engine.
Side trays provide storage for rods in individual rod racks, or you can fit a rocket launcher or more rod holders if you like your fighting sticks out for all to see. There are also shorter upper storage trays either side forward for the likes of the cellphone, wallet, keys and handheld VHF. A small glove box on the passenger side provides yet another dry area for gear.
There is huge storage in the fully moulded bins that form the base of the back-to-backs as well as the rear bench seat. Twin lockers in the transom area keep the battery and oil tank off the floor, or you can use the space as another dry locker. The internal volumes of the lockers are much greater than those on the Series 6000 and provide enough space for not only twin batteries and an oil tank, but still leave space for a gas bottle and extra gear.
So much space is provided under the portofino stern and transom area that tote tanks and tackle boxes are hardly noticed and there’s still room for at least a couple of fish bins. Any water in the cockpit drains to a deep sump and bilge pump.
Although this is in no way a serious fishing boat, the design caters well for fishing, with wide flat side decks, dedicated fish board with rod holders and deep toe rails either side of the cockpit. You can also fit a small gas barbecue on top of the bait board and the boat can be plumbed with either a full freshwater or saltwater pressure system.
If you are into diving or swimming from the Crusader, then a drop-down ladder helps with access onto a large rear platform and a walkthrough transom that also includes a drop-in acrylic door.
With no side decks forward the internal cabin beam and area around the helm has been taken out to the maximum and the extra space has been concentrated in the cockpit area. Although the actual cockpit internal width aft is much the same as the Series 6000 there is a noticeable difference forward. The Crusader is 100m wider overall than the Series 6000 and internally there is an extra 250mm forward without the intrusion of the side decks.
The helm position is such that your right arm doesn’t rub on the side of the Taylor Windscreen extrusion and the gap between the forward seats and the moulded steps to the foredeck is a lot wider. If you need to go forward, there is an excellent arrangement with steps built into the sliding cabin door and an opening screen. However, a fully automatic anchoring system operated from the helm eliminates any need to even leave the cockpit.
The first Crusader was fitted with a VDO instrument cluster, with Lowrance X9 fishfinder and Lowrance Globalmap 2400 below on large flat areas especially designed to handle flush mounted electronics. If you prefer bracket-mounted units then there is limited space available. The VDO cluster is only an option and again the helm has been designed to handle a traditional instrument arrangement and control package. The leading edge of the dash is cut-away and gives you the feeling of walking into it. This is repeated on the passenger side also and both forward seats have footrests below on the bulkheads and handily placed drink holders and handrails.
Space To Move
If you step from a Series 6000 and straight into a Crusader you immediately appreciate the extra volume that the cabin area offers. The layout is very similar with the traditional side berths and central infill to form a double, wide side trays and an overhead opening hatch. Traditionally Huntsman use a fibreglass moulded hatch but in this case have gone for a weaver safety glass an aluminium extrusion hatch. Sitting headroom is excellent and the test boat came with an optional Porta pottie under the central forward squab.
The sliding door provides the necessary privacy and it’s also a great place to keep your gear secure should you have to be away from the boat. If you plan to use the Crusader for overnighting, then the optional lighting package would be a good inclusion in your list. The berths are almost 2m long and the squabs reasonably comfortable.
Test day varied from mirror smooth waters within Lyttelton Harbour to a 15-20 knot breeze and low ocean swell off New Brighton beach. The calm water gave me a good opportunity to run the Crusader at wide-open throttle and play with the trim settings. With no trim indicator it was all by feel. In contrast to the Series 6000, which runs quite flat, the Crusader can be trimmed high with the water peeling off about midway down the hull.
For the test the boat was set up with a Yamaha 150 HPDI and we did have a little trouble getting the propping right. Prior to the test, the boat had run 47mph @ 5000 rpm swinging a 19” 3 blade Yamaha propeller. As this was probably about 500 rpm down on what was expected the 19” was swapped for a 17” to achieve the higher rpm. But while it increased the rpm to 5200, it lowered the top speed to 45 mph. Ideally the engine should run 5500 rpm in light load trim, so some more work is needed in getting the correct engine height and prop combination.
With the throttle just slipped into gear, the lowest trolling speed was 3.5 mph @ 600 rpm and at 2500 rpm @ 16 mph that the boat got onto the plane. It rises up very smoothly and tends to stay very flat during the transition stage. I found 4000 rpm @ 34 mph was a comfortable cruising speed in the choppy water, but in the calm it was WOT all the way!
When we did leave the calm waters of the inner harbour there was still little rough water further offshore to test the big Crusader 21 degree hull. I drove down past Taylor’s Mistake, Sumner and past the New Brighton Pier, but this wasn’t going to be a day of testing sea conditions. Heading straight into a 0.5m swell the Crusader ran level with about 1/2 trim at 4500 rpm and the bow sections really did the work of pushing the water and spray aside. We took no spray on the deck or on the side of the screen. Running back into the harbour it was much the same and I found I was nudging the throttle forward all the time, until it would go no further. At 45 mph, the Crusader provided a great ride in a short following sea, but I would really like to try this boat in some big swells.
The Crusader has come at the right time for CSB Huntsman who really needed a bigger boat than the Series 6000 to boost their line-up and compete against a growing market. It has already been compared by some potential buyers to the Buccaneer 635XS, Tristram 661 and Haines Hunter SF650.
The Crusader is both stylish and well conceived, with a hull shape that should not cause any concern to even a novice driver. The layout caters for a broad base of users, from divers and fishermen to family cruising and even overnighting. CSB Huntsman have been very successful with their designs to date and I am quite confident that with the Crusader they have again produced another winner.
- Model & Model: CSB Huntsman Crusader
- Price as tested: $NZ81000
- Priced from: $NZ61,000
- Type: Cabin
- Construction: GRP
- LOA: 7.00m
- Beam: 2.40m
- Deadrise: 21 degrees
- Height on trailer: 2.30m
- Trailerable weight: 1810kg (incl fuel)
- Test Power: Yamaha 150
- Propeller: Reliance 17″
- Power options: Outboard only
- HP Range: 150-225hp
- Fuel Capacity: 150 litres