CSB Huntsman Dorado 3rd Gen

by admin
CSB Huntsman Dorado

Text by Barry Thompson

As in the automotive industry, the boat building industry is constantly fine tuning existing models and often introducing new models to keep up with the demand for better performance and to keep in step with current trend. You just have to look at the current model Holden Commodore for example, to appreciate how far it has come from the Commodore we enjoyed in the 1980’s.

At the recent Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show, Christchurch boat manufacturer CSB Huntsman Boats, released its third generation CSB Huntsman Dorado, an already popular 5.5m cabin boat that has been further developed  and refined over the past decade or so, similar to the Commodore.

Having had a great deal to do with the Dorado over the years, (having used three for magazine camera boats at different times) I was eager to climb aboard and check out the new changes to the recently updated third generation Dorado.

As in the automotive industry, the boat building industry is constantly fine tuning existing models and often introducing new models to keep up with the demand for better performance and to keep in step with current trend. You just have to look at the current model Holden Commodore for example, to appreciate how far it has come from the Commodore we enjoyed in the 1980’s.


The evolution to the Dorado of today has taken place over a period of 10 years, with the hull and deck having revamps at different times. Our first Dorado camera boat was the original model. We just had to have it after an impressive 30-mile trip offshore to White Island off Whakatane (Johnson 90hp powered, with a top speed of 45.5mph). This Mark I version not only performed and served its purpose well as a photography platform for the magazine, but we also had much fun on the water as a family. In 1999, designer Geoff Robinson had supplied us with our second photo boat of the same model, powered with a 130hp Yamaha (pushing us along at speeds up to 50mph).

It was only a few months after delivery that Geoff rang and asked for the boat back. What the heck, we thought!!!  Then Geoff continued to explain – he had made some major hull modifications and would prefer us to have the current model. Hmmm I thought – a Dorado Series II, I saw the opportunity to experiment a little with engines. This time up we fitted a Yamaha 150hp V Max, which allowed us to get to where we were going at an exciting 57.5 mph. The hull modifications on the Series 2 included increasing the deadrise from 19 degrees to 20.5 degrees, introducing a finer lead-in at the bow and removing the inside planing strake – all combining to improve the ride without noticeably losing any stability at rest.

Generation 3

In 1999 it was the hull’s development and enhancement. For 2008 the deck has had the attention. The changes to be made were so diverse from the existing model; it was not a matter of changing the existing deck, but starting again from scratch. The differences between the new and old models, summarized in a couple of words are probably best described as ‘pumped out’.

The carpeted cockpit has been stretched, making it longer and wider. Sitting at the helm you have good visibility and great protection while seated. The new screen is wider and lower than the previous model’s but the increased height of the cabin has maintained the overall height, deflecting the wind nicely over the helm position. A larger, more spacious dash allows room for more electronics, VHF, stereo and gauges, which were clearly visible from either the seated or standing driving position. The adjustable helm pedestal seat slid back, making it easy and comfortable to stand while driving. Being a family boat, the sliding seat option also allows different sized members of the family to comfortably enjoy their spell at the helm. One of the few things I would look at with the family in mind is the possible extra outlay of about $1000 for hydraulic steering, as the supplied non-feedback steering was so heavy that the ‘less stronger’ family members would find it a little laborious.

On the port side, seating arrangements have changed, with the introduction of a moulded king and queen back-to-back seat with generous storage within This configuration is available both port and starboard. Included in the new seating changes comes a new style upholstery package, right through to the rear removable seats which are now deeper, making them firstly, height wise, a little more comfortable than those on the last model and secondly, providing more space for storage. The area between these rear seats shows some of the more unsightly but very necessary equipment – oil tanks, etc. – which is not very attractive. In the past I have had an upholsterer make up a small curtain that velcros on, to hide this area– an economical and effective method of hiding one of the less attractive ‘must have’ storage areas.

Cockpit storage is plenty, a hungry 1760mm-long under-sole locker will fit skis, fishing rods or dive gear without a problem. There are split-level side shelves down each side. The test boat had rod holders fitted in the larger pockets – great to keep your fishing gear safe and free of potential damage. The smaller of the split-level pockets are ideal for your loose items – sunscreen, sunglasses, keys, phones and the like.

The cabin has also been ‘pumped out’ and is now both wider and higher, offering more cabin space and more headroom right through the fully lined cabin. With the raised deck line there is extra headroom from that of the previous model. There are two bunks that, with the addition of an infill, convert to one large bunk – large enough, for the adventurous, for two or three to crash for a night. The volume under the bunks has been sealed to meet CPC flotation criteria. There is a generous pocket running down each side of the cabin for storage. The cabin does not seem claustrophobic due to the windows and good-sized Maxwell Offshore hatch, which can be opened from the inside as well as from outside – great for times when you board from the bow. While at the bow – CSB Huntsman has changed the fairlead which is now able to accommodate a fixed anchor and an auto capstan.

Standing back and looking at the boat, the changes are obvious – a more modern look with chiseled lines, complimented by modern fixtures including LED navigation lights and classy pop-up cleats lifting it a notch or three above the previous model. Cosmetically, a new, more aggressive decal kit and new Huntsman font has been introduced to complement the structural changes.

On the Water

Although the day we tested the boat the conditions were almost mirror smooth, I can however attest to the great sea handling character of the hull, which remains unchanged on the Third Generation Dorado. I recall one adventure in the previous model photo boat was a Poker Run from Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa to Pauanui on the Coromandel Peninsula, a trip of over 100 nautical miles. We experienced almost every imaginable sea condition that a 5.5-metre would want thrown at it – the hull handled the testing conditions well. For peace of mind the CSB Third Generation Dorado measures up and proudly displays a CPC plaque and carries a 5-year hull warranty.

With no mentionable change to the boat’s weight or weight distribution, the Third Generation Dorado continues to provide the same great ride as the previous model.


So where to from here? Designer Geoff Robinson scratches his head and comments: “How do you improve on this? We have spent many hours using the last model Dorado ourselves and asking existing owners what improvements could be made. We believe we have taken the comments and suggestions, digested them and from those produced the new Third Generation Dorado.” Geoff adds that future changes and options may include a wash-out internal liner and a larger under floor fuel tank.

I believe the Third Generation Dorado to be a good performing 5.5m family cabin boat – with good looks to match. CSB Huntsman will continue to do well with the Dorado. Being comparatively economical to operate and easily towed behind a 2-litre family car, the Generation 3 Dorado should definitely be considered when shopping for a 5.5m cabin boat.


  • Make: CSB Huntsman
  • Model: Third Generation Dorado
  • Packages from: $38,000
  • Designer : Geoff Robinson
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Cabin
  • LOA: 5.5m
  • Beam: 2.15m
  • Deadrise: 20.5 degrees
  • Trailerable Weight: 1060kg
  • Height on Trailer: 2.0m
  • Engine Capacity: 70-150hp
  • Power Options: Outboard
  • Fuel Capacity: 70L (larger available)

Performance – EVINRUDE 115 E-TEC

700 rpm 2.7 mph
1000 rpm4.6 mph
1500 rpm6.6 mph
2000 rpm8.0 mph
2500 rpm17.3 mph
3000 rpm24.4 mph
3500 rpm29.1 mph
4000 rpm36.4 mph
4500 rpm41.0 mph
5000 rpm45.2 mph

Speeds recorded on a Lowrance GPS


related articles