With the totally new Haines Hunter SF700, Haines Hunter has announced its serious intention to once again carve out a big slice of the lucrative 7m boat market. Although visually a very different package, the new model incorporates a number of features that made the original SF700 so successful.
The advent of the SF700 in 1988 was the first of the new generation 7m boats on the market and sales were exceptional. Managing Director of Haines Hunter and designer of the SF700, Lionel Sands admits that he probably rested on the laurels of the first SF700 too long and whilst demand on production of other models in the SF range (SF535, SF600 and SF650) was being attended to, he let the 7m market slip away to other manufacturers.
A couple of years ago he made a conscious decision to get back into the big trailerable boat market and so the idea behind the totally new SF700 was born.
“We felt it was important to offer our large loyal base of current SF700 owners a boat that was an improvement on their previous model and something that not only took on board owners’ comments, but would be in vogue for at least another five years”.
If there was one particular attribute of the previous SF700 that sold it, it was its rough water capabilities. In an article by Geoff Green (NZ Powerboat/May 89) he said “The weather deteriorated during a day’s diving and fishing at the Hen and Chickens twelve miles offshore, but we were unconcerned. We knew that aboard the Haines Hunter SF700, the trip home would be relaxed, comfortable and relatively dry”.
The important thing when designing the all-new hull for the SF700 was not to compromise the boat’s rough water capabilities, but Haines Hunter were conscious that in certain sea conditions the boat was a bit wet. The new hull retains the same deadrise and basic underwater profile, but the hull is now slightly fuller in the bow below the chines. The narrow aft plank is gone, and the two planing strakes per side have now become three. Their configuration is somewhat different. On the old model they were more or less parallel to the chine, whereas on the new model they sweep upwards, and the outer two meet the chine. The SF700 now has a little more bow lift and consequently a drier ride. With an increase in freeboard (75mm forward and 50mm aft), the hull is taller, beamier and carries a deeper flare forward. Compared to the original SF700, it rides and handles more like a sports boat than a small cruiser. Negative trim is about 1/3rd trim out on the engine, which is significantly better than the previous SF700. With identical horsepower the new SF700 is also faster across the water.
For our first photo session on Auckland Harbour I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to try out the first of the new Evinrude 225 Ficht engines in the country. I found that like all of these new direct injection engines the start was instant, the smoke at idle was zero and the throttle response instantaneous throughout the range.
Top speed on the SF700, with a 17” three blade stainless propeller was 49 mph (79 km/h) @ 5900 rpm. Our speed tests were carried out with five aboard, but according to Haines Hunter, they have seen 52-53mph on the GPS with only two aboard and a light fuel load. On a reasonably calm Auckland harbour the boat cruised effortlessly at around 40 mph @ 4500 rpm and had the ability to get down to 2.5 mph @ 750 rpm for trolling.
Although I didn’t get the opportunity to spend much time with the SF700, I spoke to the owner of our test boat, who testified to the new boats improved sea keeping and ride in moderate to rough water. The SF700 is a blue water coastal cruiser and as such is destined to be used extensively by those who don’t just go boating when the sun’s shining and the wind wouldn’t ripple a flag. This is a boat that you will feel comfortable in if you have to dash back from the Barrier or Mayor Island with the wind blowing 30 knots and the sea up your stern.
Weekender or Day Tripper
The topsides now offer a taller boat with more room in the cabin area, an integrated bowsprit, curved glass windscreen and softer lines across the deck and cabin areas. A lot of what was optional on the old boat is now offered as standard on the new SF700, such as hydraulic steering and the long range 225 litre underfloor fuel tank.
A 100% waterproof Weaver hatch gives forward access to the anchor locker, although with a fully automatic Simpson Lawrence system all that work is now done from the helm. A specially moulded cover keeps the winch out of sight and the deep locker is capable of holding 85m of anchor tackle.
Storage areas in the cabin are plentiful in wide side trays and under the squabs, plus the very unique forward compartments either side of the anchor locker. It was nice to see the “Sands” touch with teak locking clips and handles, a trend that radiates throughout the boat. It’s simple things like this that remind you of the company’s roots that go back over 50 years when building boats was all about copper nails and timber planking.
There’s more headroom in the cabin, better lighting and provision under the forward squab for either a plumbed or portable head. To port is a spacious storage locker that is also designed to handle the optional fridge. Again the use of a teak louvered door and mouldings gives a warmth to the cabin. If you want privacy or to simply close off the cabin, double teak doors and a sliding top hatch do the job nicely.
The large v-berth has an optional infill that transforms two already large single berths into a very generous double.
If you are going to market a boat as a weekender then you have to offer enough of the necessities to make staying out overnight enjoyable. The SF700 has a surprisingly large double burner stainless steel gas stove well concealed in the port side fascia area. Although this is an option and the space can be utilised as a deep self-draining chilly bin, every boat sold to date has been fitted with the cooker.
Having the cooker outside is more congenial as no one likes to cook inside in the heat, fumes and odours, and unless exceptionally well vented they make a mess of your nice fabric cabin top lining. This is primarily a day boat with weekend accommodation that is very comfortable.
With the trend today to keep out of the sun, bimini tops or hardtops are becoming the norm on boats of this size. Haines Hunter were one of the first to offer a soft top bimini option, that incorporates clip-on clears and some very fancy waterproofing of the zips, so you don’t get dripped on during a heavy rain squall. If space is a problem when garaging, the whole assembly can be simply folded down below the screen level.
In designing the fascia, Haines Hunter were also very conscious of current trends with better facilities for the new breed of flush mounted sounders, plotters and GPS’s. The split panels allow for a full array of instruments and plenty of areas for your extra electronics. The SF700 incorporates integrated wiring looms that are all hidden from view. The throttle/gearshift control is the flush mounted version. Other utility pieces such as a cigarette lighter, auto winch controls and overload switch are within reach. Visually the layout is very practical and there’s no trouble seeing everything at a glance.
Moulded footrests on the bulkheads are standard and the driving position is excellent, either seated or standing. Haines Hunter seats are a very special feature of all their models and although refined over the years, their basic styling dates back to the first V198s. They are extremely comfortable and you soon find yourself settling in and enjoying the ride. The king/queen (upper/lower) design incorporates an upper locker under the forward squab and deep space in the base.
Other cockpit storage is generous with a deep forward floor locker large enough for dive bottles and plenty of wet gear, with the 225-litre stainless fuel tank filling up the remainder of the cavity behind. There are also storage bins in the top coamings and shelves either side with triple rod racks. The two removable fish bin seats further enhance the seating capabilities and with the lids off can be slid under the portofino stern area out of the way when fishing. Lockers in the aft deck area provide off-the-floor storage for the batteries and oil tank, plus a little extra space for bits and pieces.
Completing the weekender theme, the SF700 has a moulded sink unit in the aft deck with a handheld fresh water system. Haines Hunter have stayed with the central walk-though transom on the new SF700 rather than the conventional side option as used by just about every other manufacturer of boats in the 6m – 7.5m range. All fuel and oil fillers are positioned to drain overboard and there is even a bait tank built into the port side of the moulded boarding platform. This can also be plumbed up as a live bait tank for the serious fisher.
Being a boat designed by a keen and very active fisherman and diver, the SF700 is well set up for both sports and it’s quite obvious that much knowledge and thought has been put into making certain that the boat is practical, functional and above all user friendly. From the rocket launcher and special bait board mounts to the moulded fishing tackle storage bins in the side coamings, the SF700 honestly earns its sportfishing title.
The experience and reputation of the builders is legendary and with the all new SF700, the company has announced firmly that it is back in the 7m market. Interest has been such that since the first SF700 left the Ellerslie, Auckland factory in November last year, fifteen have been delivered, 50% of those to previous SF700 owners.
As Geoff Green said of the first SF700 “With the marriage of their established boat building skills and sporting knowledge, the Haines Hunter SF700 has gained an excellent mix of performance, quality, practicality and functionality”.
The only difference with their latest version is that it has just got a whole lot better!
- Model: SF700
- Price (Hull only): $37500
- Price As Tested: $87,000
- Designer: Lionel Sands
- Material: GRP
- Type: Sportfisher
- LOA: 7.0m
- Beam: 2.45m
Hull Configuration: deep vee
Deadrise At Transom: 21 degree
Trailerable Weight: 2100 kg (100 ltrs of fuel)
Engine Capacity: 150 – 300 hp
Power Options: Outboard only
Fuel Capacity: 225 litres
Water Capacity: 50 litres
750 rpm @ 2.5 mph ( 2.2 knots)
1000 rpm @ 5.5 mph ( 4.8 knots)
1500 rpm @ 7.5 mph ( 6.5 knots)
2000 rpm @ 9.0 mph ( 7.8 knots)
2500 rpm @ 12.0 mph (10.4 knots)
3000 rpm @ 18.0 mph (15.6 knots)
3500 rpm @ 24.5 mph (21.2 knots)
4000 rpm @ 29.5 mph (25.6 knots)
4500 rpm @ 34.0 mph (29.5 knots)
5000 rpm @ 41.0 mph (35.5 knots)
5500 rpm @ 45.0 mph (39.0 knots)
5900 rpm @ 49.0 mph (42.5 knots)
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
CPC approved, hydraulic steering, toughened curved glass screen, teak locker in cabin, built-in fish/bait tank, compass, wiring loom and brass keel band.
NOTABLE OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Simpson Lawrence electric anchor winch, rocket launcher and bimini top, cooker, Lowrance Global Map 2000, Lowrance Global 250, Searanger VHF, pressure water system, 2 burner gas stove, lenco trim tabs, and cockpit flood lamp.
- Make: Evinrude
- HP: 225
- Model: Ficht
- Cylinder Type: 90 degree V6
- Max RPM: 6000
- Propeller: 17” three blade stainless
- Retail Price: $23730
- Make: DMW
- Model: Premier Series
- Braked: Yes – 4 wheels
- Suspension: Duratorque
- Rollers: Multi-roller
- Std Features: submersible lights, jockey wheel.
- Retail Price: $8320