Author: Freddy Foote
It’s not often that Haines Hunter builds a new boat, but when they do, it’s worth taking note. So when they announced in the last quarter of 2020 that they had developed an all-new model for the 6m segment, the market took note. Freddy Foote jumps aboard the all-new SF635.
I’ve always been a Haines Hunter fan. I have been lucky enough to do all of my leisure boating aboard a SF535 that we’ve had in the family since new. It’s been a fantastic boat for general family boating, like all Haines Hunter models it performs well in the rough, and of course has that famous Haines build quality.
So when the opportunity came to get aboard the all-new SF635, I couldn’t wait.
The all-new SF635 is essentially a replacement for the workhorse of the Haines Hunter range, the SF600. While, a wildly popular boat with family boaties and serious fishermen alike, it was time for an update, and was in need of modernisation. But Haines asked themselves the question, do we try upgrade it, or start afresh?
Rather than trying to refurbish an old model, steps were taken to develop and all-new model, with a revised and fresh look, with modern construction methods and modern materials whilst still retaining, according to Haines Hunter that famous build quality and finish that the brand is renowned for.
And so, after an extensive 24-month development process, Haines Hunter unveiled its new 635 model in September last year, in the SF635 soft top configuration we see here, with a 635 hardtop model to follow this year.
Haines Hunter owners are a passionate and diehard bunch, so much so that over 200 potential buyers pre-registered their interest in the new model, with a number of confirmed orders now on the books and in build at the Ellerslie factory and many eagerly waiting for the hardtop version to be finished.
The SF635 has a hull length of 6.35m with an overall length of 6.76m and still carries the brands legendary 21-degree deep-vee via an all-new hull from the design team.
“It’s a complete new model, it’s bigger than the 600. Comparing it to a 600, the 635 carries a little more beam on the chine aft, and it still retains the 21-degree vee, and is very similar in the entry – it will still deliver that legendary ride that we’ve been famous for while being stable at rest,” says Haines Hunter CEO Denis Kendall.
The hull is hand laid and according to Haines Hunter this results in superior strength, rigidity and longevity. This new 635 also features a moulded composite structural floor that’s bonded to the hull, creating watertight chambers that deliver reserve buoyancy.
The decks and bulkheads use a foam core sandwiched between an inner and outer skin. This technique reduces weight compared to other construction methods – with the benefit of improving fuel economy without compromising on strength and durability.
While an all-new model, Haines Hunter haven’t forgotten what has made their boat a favourite with Kiwi boaties for generations, they’ve added a reverse sheer giving it a modern and stylish look without losing the classic Haines profile and on the inside is still packed with renowned Haines Hunter features.
“The 6.0m range is important to us, this boat has evolved from demand and feedback from dealers, and the customers.”
Classic Haines Hunter Layout
Stepping aboard the SF635, I was pleased to see the general layout and seating configuration has been retained.
To the portside, is the Haines Hunter King/Queen style configuration. Haines Hunter have modernised the seats themselves slightly to make them even more comfortable and they now look even more ‘race car’ like with ample padding and support to keep you snug in the seat when underway. Lift up the seats and there is a cavernous storage locker that provides plenty of room to be able to access large and bulky items.
To starboard at the helm is a single pedestal seat that is adjustable forward and aft. This seat is now mounted on a base, which provides storage underneath for an Icey-Tek chilly bin. The chilly bin can slide in and out, and can be opened by using just half the lid. Handy when you quickly just want to reach in and grab a cold drink. There is squab on top of the Icey-Tek, which provides an additional passenger seat.
In the aft of the cockpit are removable bin seats for passengers. Simply slide them out of the way when not in use under the transom and it frees up a sizeable amount of space for fishing and allows you to fish right into the corners of the boat. Lift up the back supports of the seats themselves, and it provides access to additional storage and where the battery is located.
On this boat, hull #1, Ultralon flooring is finished on the floor throughout. While this is an option, you can also opt for domed clip in carpet. There are two through-coaming stainless steel rod holders per side and additional four-rod holders across the transom.
Haines Hunter have raised the side shelves up off the floor, giving plenty of toe room. Across the transom there is provision for a bait board, which mounts via two poles. Remove this, and there is a separate hole to mount a ski pole.
Access into the boat is via a walk through in the port corner. And there is an option to put in a live bait tank here.
Lots of extra niceties have also been added throughout. Haines have elected to install more modern and stylish stainless steel pull out cleats, which add a nice finish to the exterior of the boat.
There are plenty of sizeable cup holders or what they should now be called ‘bottle holders’ – large enough to accommodate modern drinking bottles. And there are USB and 12V sockets on hand to keep devices charged and there are handy stepped side shelves either side of the helm area that stops items like keys and phone sliding backwards while underway.
Speaking of modern tech, the SF635 is packed full of it. The dash is eye catching and stylish. Yamaha’s CL5 touch-screen engine instrument display is mounted beautifully into the acrylic fascia, while above there is an enormous 12-inch Simrad NSS evoIIIS display. Matching the Simrad is a Total Scan Transducer, that features structure scan, down scan, and high and low chirp. It sits on the centreline at the transom for best visibility through the water column.
Additionally there is also a Fusion stereo system that sits below, while the Zipwake interceptor controls are down to the left of the steering wheel. Various switches are either side of the dash with a Uniden VHF also fitted.
Forward in the cabin, there is plenty of headroom, more so than on the previous 600 model. There is provision for an electric flush toilet should you wish, and the addition of an infill squab makes a sizeable berth if you need. Add to that there is additional side shelf storage, and further storage lockers against the forward bulkhead.
Plenty of Power
Rated for outboards from 150hp to 200hp, our test boat was powered by Yamaha 175hp, which seemed to be the perfect match for the hull. The motor was responsive and lively, and with calm conditions on Auckland harbour we managed to see close to 42 knots.
We found a comfortable cruise of 24 knots at 3500rpm, which gave the best fuel economy from the 175hp Yamaha fourstroke. Using 20.5L/H which combined with the 195L underfloor fuel tank would give the SF635 a range of 200 nautical miles. Flat out we hit 42 knots at 5500rpm, with the Yamaha using 62 L/H.
Seated at the helm, there was great visibility forward, and enough headroom with the targa bimini fitted for me to stand. We ran the boat with the clears fitted to the top of the windshield, should you wish they are easily removable, and a viewing window can be unzipped immediately in front of the driver if you didn’t want to take it all off. The stainless targa bimini can collapse down if you want to store the boat in a garage.
Zipwake trim tabs were installed, and can be used manually or in its fully automatic mode as we used them on our test day. The Zipwake system is fantastic, and takes so much of the guess work out of trimming the boat and makes the driving experience that much more enjoyable.
The hull was quiet and held on in the turns. Though we didn’t experience any super rough water on the Hauraki Gulf during out test day, the ride feels soft, dry, and will deliver that famous Haines Hunter ride when you need it.
Overall, a fantastic boat, and Haines Hunter have a great job producing an all-new model. Keeping the core of what makes a Haines a Haines and I’m sure will keep the brand a favourite with Kiwi boaties for generations to come.
- Model: Haines Hunter SF635
- Price as tested: $130,000
- Priced from: $118,000
- Type: Cabin Boat
- Construction: GRP
- LOA: 6.76m
- Beam: 2.34m
- Deadrise: 21 deg
- Trailerable weight: 1800kg
- Test Power: 175hp Yamaha Fourstroke
- Power options: Outboard
- HP Range: 150hp-200hp
- Fuel Capacity: 195L
- Trailer: Tandem Axle
- Manufacturer: Haines Hunter