Barry Thompson went north to check out StabiCraft’s all new, wide bodied 509 WXR Sport (replacing the 509 Fish’r) and discovered the reason why the dealers are saying this is probably the company’s best ‘small’ boat ever.
According to Marine North’s Dave Cochram, the Stabicraft 509 WXR is about as perfect as you could ever get a pontoon boat of this size and is a vast improvement over the previous 509.
“The old 509 was a great boat, but I always felt it was a ‘small’ 5m and suffered from lack of space, especially if we were trying to sell into the family boat market. Great for two mates going fishing, but not really suited to a family of four.
“The wide bodied 509 is something else and really it’s a whole new package that we can market to the family buyer”, said Dave.
This had not gone unnoticed by Invercargill-based builders Stabicraft.
Last year Stabicraft put a lot of effort into its top-of-the-line SuperCab range, so this year it wanted to provide more choice in the entry-level market.
The introduction of the Australian Builder’s Plate Standard this year has really focused that market on safety – but the word was coming back from Australia that Stabicraft’s small boats were just too small.
Stabicraft gave that feedback to its design team, and the 509 WXR was the result. About the only thing the WXR has in common with its predecessor is its length.
The 509WXR is available in two versions, the basic 509 Fish’r and the more highly spec’d WXR. The difference is extra paint on the hull, 100-litre underfloor fuel tank, ski pole, glove box, lining in the cabin and extra upholstery.
The big difference between the previous 509 and the 509 wide body is that the all-new hull is 280mm wider in the beam, which has dramatically changed not only the working room of the boat, but also the appearance. “It’s a big volume boat that now looks like a 5m boat” says Dave.
The 509 now has a fibreglass cabin top, as opposed to all-alloy in the previous models. This is available in a choice of colours and graphics on the XR model and with the option of upgrading to Stabicraft’s metallic palette. It also means that there is softer styling forward that has done a lot to enhance the appearance of the boat.
The alloy construction has also changed with the hull and pontoon strengthened to carry additional loads – with a 4mm hull and 3mm pontoon. The stepped moulding of the generation II pontoons creates a cushion of air that allows the boat to plane over rough water giving a soft ride and positive handling.
The deadrise has been altered from 18 degrees to 17.5 degrees and the planing area has been extended. The result is a much improved balance between stability and ride.
The 509 is now a lot more practical, with great foredeck access via a walkthough windscreen and folding deck hatch which means you can go right forward for your anchoring. The side decks are very narrow and not easy to walk around, but the overall beam in the cabin has benefited because of it. During the test I utilised the forward access area to get on and off the boat for filming and it certainly made things a lot easier.
The space under the cabin top of the 509 is left open, with just a couple of pipe frames to hold gear from sliding into the cockpit. Should you require it there are various berth arrangements that can be included, although the area isn’t that large.
Dedicated storage is available in forward side trays and full-length cockpit shelves. Underfloor is all buoyancy compartments and a 100 litre fuel tank that was made possible due to the extra space in the cabin. The battery is mounted on a raised shelf under the rear seats with an open area to port that is ideal for a large fishbin. Cellphone and car keys have their own glovebox in the dash. The standard seating layout is twin swivelling pedestal seats forward and two jump seats aft.
This is a boat that will really suit fishermen, both from the spaciousness and practicality of the layout. Things such as the legendary stability at rest of the Stabicraft rigid buoyancy hull design, the non-skid chequer plate floor and the fact that no matter where the blood & guts end up in the boat, you can easily hose it all out, are all fisherman-friendly!
It’s also a neat little dive boat with an optional drop-down ladder, designed so a diver can climb back aboard easily. Dive gear stowage is either on the cockpit sole or under the foredeck.
The previous 509 was a good performing boat in its own right and with the narrow beam handled moderate to rough water very well. However, the wider bodied 509 WXR is even better. Our test day at Whangarei Heads provided the usual sloppy water conditions with wind against tide. Uncomfortable in any small boat and to be honest when I pushed the 509 too fast, especially in a quartering sea, it wasn’t pleasant. However when I dropped back to around 25 mph @ 3750 rpm the ride was comfortable. You have to remember that at 5.2m overall length this is still a small boat.
I found the boat ran best at about ½ trim, especially in the following sea and is very responsive to down trim. Trim the engine hard in and you can feel the hull ‘dragging’ as the sponson surface meets the water. The ride may be soft, but the spray off the chines increases and it’s probably not good on the efficiency of the engine. Back to ½ trim and it was great.
The 90hp Evinrude ETEC is a good match for the boat and with a top speed of around 40mph, it more than does the job.
With a 17” prop, the 509 WXR has quick response from idle to maximum rpm. It’s an ideal package for all-round boating, be it trolling, towing water toys, skiing or cruising. While a 75hp would be okay, a 115hp would, in my opinion, be an overkill, although the hull is certainly more than capable of handling the extra horsepower and speed. Interestingly one of the first 509WXR hulls built was fitted with a waterjet unit.
The driving position is excellent when seated, with the screen and clears offering plenty of protection, while not inhibiting the visibility too much. I did have an issue with the throttle box being too far forward and getting in the way when turning the wheel, plus the non adjustable seat base meant it was too far forward for me to stand and drive comfortably. Both these issues could be adjusted when you order the boat, with a variety of seating options available.
The fibreglass dash has been designed to mount a couple of electronic displays, although a single multi-purpose unit such as the Lowrance LSM 337, a combination fishfinder and GPS is ideal. There was still enough space alongside for a BEP switch panel. A Uniden VHF was mounted below the dash and above a three instrument black and white multi function display.
Kamo Canvas had done a nice job on the bimini and clears, mounted off the very sturdy rocket launcher and high enough to stand under. The long windscreen base allows you the versatility of leaving just the bimini top up for sun protection or encasing it all with clears. The whole lot folds back and is stowed in a sock against the rocket launcher, which is designed to be able to be folded down should you have a height restriction when parking the boat.
The 509WXR I tested had an all-up retail price of $50,369 drive away. This compares to a 509 Fish’r with a 90hp 2-stroke outboard, canopy, fish finder, VHF etc., on the road for around $37,000.
The Stabicraft 509 WXR is nicely proportioned and whilst internal volume is always a challenge, recognising the space you lose because of the pontoon design, this boat has managed to balance that rather nicely. Compared to the previous 509, it’s a major improvement and certainly puts the boat back into the ‘big’ boat league.
- Model: Stabi-Craft 509 WXR Sport
- Priced From: $37000
- Price as Tested: $50,369
- Type: Cuddy Cabin
- Construction: Alloy 4mm/3mm
- LOA: 5.20m
- Beam: 2.15m
- Deadrise: 17.5 degrees
- Trailerable Weight: 940 kg
- Engine Capacity: 75 – 100hp
- Power Options: Outboard
- Fuel Capacity: 100 litres
PERFORMANCE – Evinrude 90 ETEC
|800 rpm||3.0 mph|
|1000 rpm||4.5 mph|
|1500 rpm||6.0 mph|
|2000 rpm||8.5 mph|
|2500 rpm||13.5 mph|
|3000 rpm||19.5 mph|
|3500 rpm||23.5 mph|
|4000 rpm||26.0 mph|
|4500 rpm||33.0 mph|
|5000 rpm||37.0 mph|
|5200 rpm||39.5 mph|