HUNTSMAN 525 DORADO

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Huntsman 525 Dorado

Standing in the centre of an active volcano with the roar of steaming fumeroles reverberating in my ears and the smell of sulphur burning my nostrils may sound a tad unusual when related to boat testing, but when you’re 28 nautical miles offshore, walking over White Island, with a landscape that looks more like Mars or the Moon, with a couple of new CSB Huntsman’s anchored in the only sheltered bay between Whakatane and Chile, you’d understand why.

I had the opportunity of testing the first of the new Christchurch built, CSB Huntsman 525 Dorados and after talking to CSB’s boss, Geoff  Robinson we decided to do something different with his new boat. A quick call to his Whakatane agent, Hart Marine and we had organised a trip to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Yep that was going to be different!

            The Dorado uses the same well proven 525 Executive Sports hull (over 150 built) but from the gunwale up is all new and follows a similar form to the Series 6000. The change in the deck and cabin top also meant a complete new layout and apart from sharing the same hull, both boats are very different. The coamings are a lot higher than the 525 Executive, the side decks are wider,  the rear seats are deeper, the fish bin is built in, the screen is higher and the dash is completely redesigned.

Robinson is quick to point out that the 525 Dorado is not a replacement for the 525 Executive, rather, it’s a whole new model that whilst sharing the same hull, aims at a different market. The 525 Executive will be down spec’ed to cater for the more budget conscious buyer who still appreciates quality finish and good handling characteristics, with the 525 Dorado having the added value of modern stylish lines and improved features for an extra $2000 on the price tag.

            If you have ever boated out of Whakatane, you would appreciate that saying you’re going to White Island and actually getting there are two different things. Weather plays a huge part and often a well-planned trip is thwarted by vicious seas that make even crossing the infamous Whakatane bar a suspect manoeuvre.

            We didn’t have any of those problems and whilst the sea state was far from kind, it wasn’t any more than our trio of small boats could handle. Along for the ride was a CSB Huntsman 6000 and a Lazercraft 560, so if we got into trouble at least there was some comfort in numbers.

Whakatane to White Island is 28 nautical miles straight out and although you pass Whale Island a few nm offshore it’s a very open run all the way. After crossing a moderate bar at low tide, we met with a very confused 1.5m – 3m swell with a 15 knot wind flicking the tops off and making for a very cautious trip. Right until we were in the shelter of White Island after 1hr 15mins it was hard on the nose and with the Johnson 90 tucked right in we were only able to maintain 3500-4000 rpm. The Dorado handled it better than I expected, given the size of the boat and the condition of the sea. To be honest we did take a few hard knocks, plenty of spray and had the prop spinning in mid-air a few times, but no more than most and better than many other boats.

            My first impression of White  Island was the desolation of the place and the awesome grandeur of nature. After anchoring the boats alongside the ruined cement works, we strolled past boiling pools, steaming fumeroles and the acrid smell of sulphur to the crater lake. Peering down into the depths, your view of the lime green waters change as the steam clouds walk every-which-way across the surface

Once there you understand why man’s attempts to mine the sulphur and set up any sort of industry was futile and a lost cause before it started.

            On the return trip the wind had turned slightly and we had a quartering following sea all the way home. The Dorado loved it and with just over a quarter trim wewere able to maintain 4000rpm in the 1m -2m seas.

            Damp but not soaked we stopped on the way home in the shelter of Whale Island for a few more photos and some speed runs with the radar gun, before a quick trip to Whakatane and an easy high tide bar crossing.

CABIN

The high profile deck means you have plenty of seated room inside for three/four adults, and enough length in the cabin for at least one of you to lie down. It’s longer than the 525 Executive due to the forward bulkhead and the helm bulkhead moved out. If you toss in an optional infill to make a double bunk then unless you’re under 165cm tall don’t expect to stretch out. Storage is available with twin wide side trays and a small top opening locker under the forward hatch. The space under the side squabs is eliminated due to a different form of construction only leaving limited space.

            Following on their quality finish and presentation found in all their boats, CSB offers the new Dorado with a fully lined cabin interior, deeply padded removable back cushions and comfortable squabs.

            A big moulded forward hatch (larger than the Series 6000) is held in place with a rubber spring clip and you don’t have to put your feet on the squab when standing to anchor.

COCKPIT

Like most boats this size there are a number of seating options available, with any possible combination of twin back-to-backs or single buckets. Our test boat had the standard arrangement of a back-to- back to port and single sliding bucket opposite. There are also twin removable jump seats aft, so you can get up to six seated.

            Cockpit storage is available under the back-to-back seats, accessed by removing the top cushions, in four wide side trays and a massive1.76m long area under the cockpit sole. This area offers  room for water-skis, spare tote tanks and dive gear. There is also provision for a 70 litre fuel tank behind the underfloor locker so you don’t lose any storage.

            The rear seat bases double as fish bins and although they are only wedged into the space, they don’t seem to move around. Take them out and you have the advantage of more fishing space, as well as giving you good access to the two tote tanks, battery and oil tank under the portofino stern. Between the seats the moulding is designed to take a couple of recessed drink holders and a slide away bait table with a Teflon cutting top. Fisherman will like the standard rod holders, bait board, flat coamings, high kick rails and open workable space.

Like most boats this size there are a number of seating options available, with any possible combination of twin back-to-backs or single buckets. Our test boat had the standard arrangement of a back-to- back to port and single sliding bucket opposite. There are also twin removable jump seats aft, so you can get up to six seated.

            Cockpit storage is available under the back-to-back seats, accessed by removing the top cushions, in four wide side trays and a massive1.76m long area under the cockpit sole. This area offers  room for water-skis, spare tote tanks and dive gear. There is also provision for a 70 litre fuel tank behind the underfloor locker so you don’t lose any storage.

            The rear seat bases double as fish bins and although they are only wedged into the space, they don’t seem to move around. Take them out and you have the advantage of more fishing space, as well as giving you good access to the two tote tanks, battery and oil tank under the portofino stern. Between the seats the moulding is designed to take a couple of recessed drink holders and a slide away bait table with a Teflon cutting top. Fisherman will like the standard rod holders, bait board, flat coamings, high kick rails and open workable space.

CONCLUSION

CSB Huntsman has been building fibreglass boats now for four years and with current production around 150 boats annually are right up there with the top echelon of manufacturers. A recent factory change gives them the capability of 5 boats a week, twice their previous capability and with plans for the future including  either a new Series 5000 or Series 7000, they are working hard on establishing their future.

            The new Dorado shares the best attributes of a hull that has a proven track record under the 525 Sport and Executive, but comes with a new look and livery. Built to the new CPC standards, the  construction and finish have met an approved criteria and after my exciting trip to White Island I  have no hesitation in giving it  my personal stamp of approval  for both handling and ride. This was one test that I would love  to do again!

HULL

  • Model: Dorado
  • Price: $16600
  • Price as Tested: $32000
  • Designer:  Geoff Robinson / Shane Grace
  • Material: grp
  • Type: cabin runabout
  • LOA: 5.50m
  • LWL:  5.25m
  • Beam: 2.15m
  • Deadrise: 19 deg
  • Hull Configuration: medium vee
  • Trailerable Weight:  960kgs
  • Engine Capacity: 70 – 150hp
  • Power Options: outboard only
  • Fuel capacity: 70 litres
  • Cockpit LOA: 2.90m
  • Cabin LOA: 1.55m

PERFORMANCE

1500 rpm 6.6 mph

2000 rpm 7.8 mph

2500 rpm 13.5 mph

3000 rpm 21.9 mph

3500 rpm 25.0 mph

4000 rpm 29.5 mph

4500 rpm 35.4 mph

5000 rpm 40.1 mph

5500 rpm 45.5 mph

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Marine carpet, navigation lights, deck hardware, two rod holders, CPC certified.

OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT Bowrail and ski pole

ENGINE

  • Make: Johnson
  • HP: 90
  • Model: TSL
  • Cylinder Type: V4                 
  • Maximum RPM: 5500
  • Propeller: 17” alloy
  • Retail Price: $10230

TRAILER

  • Make: Dancraft
  • Model: WR500
  • Braked: No
  • Suspension: springs
  • Rollers: Multiroller
  • Std Features: submersible lights.
  • Retail Price: $2650        

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