Author : Doug Dukeson
THE RIGHT REFLEX
At last the time had come – we had been waiting for an opening in our hectic boat test schedule – to test Reflex Products’ latest creation, the multi award winning Reflex Chianti 585.
I had admired the Reflex Chianti 585 as it sat across from our stand at this year’s Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show – there were many climbing over it and many questions asked. Even more after the 585 took out the ‘Boat of the Show – All Purpose under 6m’. Another trophy followed shortly, by winning the ‘New Release – Boat of the Show’ at the 2008 Christchurch Boat Show.
The 585 Chianti has come, following the success of the introduction of the other Chianti models, the 515 in 1999, 615 in 2000 and 485 in 2002. Russell Cull, General Manager of Reflex Products, explained: “After listening to what existing Chianti owners had to say about their boats and what they were wanting – it became clear that they demanded a big brother to our award winning Chianti 515. The answer was simple really – listen to the customer and set the design team the task of creating a bigger boat, which retains all the features that made the 515 so successful. The resulting Chianti 585 is not only bigger, with a massive 36% increase in cockpit area, but also more refined with enhanced levels of comfort and security”.
There is no doubt about it, the new 585 is a true multi purpose boat, with a large cockpit offering plenty of space for family, fishing or storage. Storage is aplenty; within the transom port there is a self-draining locker in the transom with hinged lid – ideal for bait storage or ice to drain away from the cockpit. To starboard there is good access to the stainless boarding ladder. The thickly padded rear corner seats can be removed for better access to the transom area when out fishing, as can the carpets.
Between the two rear seats there is a well thought out door that flaps upward with a pole that swings down and instantly the flap becomes a very handy table for entertaining. The flap/table also provides access to the battery, fuel filter and oil reservoir.
Under these rear seats and the transom area there is more storage space that could be used for the tote tanks. In our application the tote tanks were stored within one of the two underfloor lockers. There is an option to have an 86-litre underfloor fuel tank installed –at the cost of one of these lockers.
Losing the lockers would not be significant, as there is storage all over the place, including the huge cavity within the generously upholstered king and queen seat portside, in addition to the two multi-level pockets that run almost the entire length of the cockpit. Storage on the 585 will never be a problem!
Within the side pockets Reflex has mounted rod racks and brackets to store the navigation lights and an emergency oar. Lighting has also been fitted to the pockets to illuminate the cockpit area.
The cockpit has been thoughtfully outfitted with grab handle and rails throughout – whatever position; there was something to hang onto.
The driving position is comfortable, both when standing and when seated. The screen deflected any windage effectively. There was plenty of room for electronics; the Rogers Boat Shop model we tested came standard with an Eagle GPS and Eagle Fishfinder, all fitting easily and complementing the Yamaha gauges, all easily viewed when either standing or seated. The pedestal seat was universal, able to move forward up, down and swivel around to socialize with the team, once anchored and able to cater for skippers of all sizes.
Generous storage is provided in cabin side pockets down each side, offering dry storage for the more precious items. Additional dry stowage is offered within the cavities underneath each of the cabin bunks. The cabin windows provide sufficient light within the cabin and the large cabin hatch, provided plenty of through ventilation and easy access to the foredeck when at rest. Generous head room gives the cabin area a spacious feel – at five foot eight I could fully stretch out, but if I’d been any taller I would have to have curled up slightly for a nap, but add an infill and a couple could overnight comfortably.
Out on the Water
With time running out before the deadline for this issue, we did not have a whole lot of choice on the day we had scheduled for venturing out to put the Reflex Chianti 585 through its paces.
We collected the 585 from Rogers Boat Shop Albany on a reasonable Sunday morning with four kids in tow, aged seven, eight, nine and ten years of age. We filled up the two 25-litre tote tanks (an 86-litre underfloor fuel tank is an option) and we were off to Westhaven for the complete 585 Chianti family test – mum, dad and four kids – a typical application the Chianti 585 had been designed for.
As we left Westhaven the team all took up their positions – there was plenty of room for all as we headed out through a typical washing machine type Auckland Harbour. There were a few wide-open eyes in the back as we negotiated some reasonable sized ferry wakes, but the Chianti ate up the Auckland slop with ease. The 585 shares underwater sections of sister Chianti models, featuring a 20-deg deadrise hull with a running plank, quite full bow sections, and double chine spray rails.
By the time we were approaching more predictable seas, eyes in the back had changed from dinner plate size to a more normal shape, as we all settled in to the less than perfect family boating conditions of a 15-knot westerly and half-metre following sea, through which the 585 maintained a steady line. At times, I thought there might have been a need for a set of trim tabs to optimize the ride, but keeping in mind it was a particularly windy day, with a little attention to relocation of weight onboard the boat generally sat nicely.
The next job of the day was to meet up with our photography boat to find a tranquil bay for some family beach shots to illustrate this article. Woody Bay on Rakino was just the spot – a lovely sandy bay protected from the rising westerly. A split bow rail made it easy to climb back aboard from the beach, particularly for the last on to push off the beach.
With the westerly looking as if it was becoming more ferocious rather than the predicted dying out, I thought it was time to make a run for home – I would drop the team off at Gulf Harbour – not too far from Rakino – and head back to Westhaven on my own. That was until we took the westerly and the metre-plus chop beam on. Sorry team, for comfort’s sake, we were all going to make the trip down to Auckland. No disrespect to the 585 – any other boat of a similar size would have experienced an equally uncomfortable journey.
Heading back up the Waitemata at about 30mph, head-on into the increasing westerly and a metre to a metre and a half chop, the 585 Chianti’s 20-degree deadrise carved up the treatment the elements had thrown at us. After about half an hour, I decided it was still a little more comfortable in the standing position. It was at this point that I turned to check on the crew and gauge the enjoyment of the ride by the size of their eyes, to my disbelief we saw seven-year-old Holly, in the rear starboard seat with her head resting on her life jacket – asleep!!! I did not know whether to tie her leg to the seat or move her forward to where the others were having a great time – in the cabin. We kept an eye on her and all continued happily – surprisingly for the conditions – on our journey back to Auckland.
The screen did a great job of keeping us sheltered, deflecting the wind up and over our heads, and the high canopy kept us dry from rogue spray the wind threw back at us every now and then. However, I found the canopy where it dropped down to the screen presented a bit of a blind spot, especially once we entered the busy Auckland Harbour and I found myself continually having to look around the wide strip. This could be easily remedied by making the canopy with a much narrower strip.
During the course of our day on the water, in circumnavigating Rangitoto and various other islands, we experienced almost every sort of water Auckland Harbour could have thrown at us. At all times the 585 felt secure and sturdy, thanks to the Reflex design team who have created a hull which has been stiffened through an inner liner, incorporating the stringers, floors, bins and side braces in one unit. The resulting internal cavities under the sole are injected under immense pressure with high-density, closed cell polyurethane foam – Reflex’s own PuFF system, which adds both strength to the hull and quietness through the water, as well as the positive flotation qualities the foam has to offer.
Once the well-matched 115hp Yamaha 585 Chianti combo delivered us safely back to Auckland, we hitched up for the tow home. Behind the Ford Explorer the boat and trailer towed well. For any smaller tow vehicle an owner should seriously consider adding brakes to the trailer.
The Reflex Chianti 585 is a full-bodied family cabin boat, an all-rounder, designed to be enjoyed by all. Whether for family cruising and picnicking, fishing or towing water toys, the Chianti 585 would be suitable.
Reflex Chianti 585 Specs
- Make: Reflex
- Model: Chianti 585
- Price as Tested: $48,500
- Packages from: $45,000
- Design: Reflex Design Team
- Material: GRP
- Type: Cabin Runabout
- LOA: 6.2m
- LOH: 6.0m
- Beam: 2.25m
- Hull Configuration: deep V
- Deadrise: 20 degrees
- Trailerable Weight: 1500kg est.
- Height on Trailer: 2.2m
- Engine Capacity: 115 -150hp
- Power Options: Outboard
- Fuel Capacity: Tote tanks or optional 86L underfloor
- Make: Yamaha
- Model: 115CETOX
- Horsepower: 115