Hot Hunter

Rick Huckstepp | VOLUME 31, ISSUE 5
This boat oozes speed and performance even when parked on the trailer.
Haines Hunter surprises with the remake of its iconic speedster, launching its 2100R performance skiboat at this year’s Melbourne Boat Show.

Back in the 1970s, the name Haines was on everyone’s lips around the boating fraternity, especially among offshore racers. The Haines brothers, John and Garry, led the flotilla, gracing the podium in many events.

Now producing predominantly fishing and family boats, racing and skiing was the grassroots of the Haines Hunter brand and was never far from the minds of its designers. One of those boats was the 2100SO, known in its heyday as the ‘Esso’. Haines Hunter has redesigned that model and launched its new 2100R, which sports a new hull. It’s wider at the transom for increased buoyancy to float heavier outboard motors, while redesigned running strakes offer improved hydrodynamics.

Aesthetically, this boat oozes speed and performance even when parked on the trailer, its sleek and menacing appearance further enhanced by the black and red colour scheme and that big, black Mercury Verado on the back. There’s absolutely no way even a boating novice would mistake the 2100R for a fishing boat or weekend cruiser.

NEW ALL OVER

The cockpit has been redesigned, too, with a spacious lounge area that seats seven adults comfortably on plush cushions. These sit snug on low-profile bases that are moulded as part of the deck and have stowage space in their tops. The cushions and backrests provide a comfortable wraparound ‘security blanket’ that comes up past the shoulder blades of an average-height person.

Initially, I looked for a grabhandle when seated in the rear lounge, but that was forgotten when underway as the boat had a knack of being at a list during turns that varied as speed and tightness of turn increased or decreased, leaving your body anchored in one spot with no undue effects from inertia. I’m sure that design aspect wasn’t accidental.

A skipole rises from the rear bulkhead, anchored in the hull and rated to tow 500kg. The aft corners host flush-mounted hatches either side of the engine well, with the port hatch opening to a cavernous compartment that’s lined with carpet. In all likelihood, you’ll need a hook of some sort to reach gear down in the bowels of this roomy compartment … could be a good reason to carry a gaff on a predominantly towsports boat.

The hatch in the starboard corner hosts the crank battery and what little plumbing is required onboard, along with the power-steering pump for the big Mercury – which is not much larger than a small car battery.

The pop-up cleats on each aft corner will stay out of the way while skiers slide over the sides, and small boarding platforms either side of the outboard will come in handy when clambering back onboard.

The observer’s seat in the cockpit’s forward port corner is an L-shaped lounge with removable cushioning covering stowage compartments below. A drinkholder is recessed into the moulding and a grabhandle fixed to the inside of the coaming; the latter takes into account that the observer will be seated looking directly aft, rather than being wedged into a corner and looking at an angle across the boat.

The backrest against the forward bulkhead can be removed to reveal the ski locker, which extends into the bow of the stiletto-style fore hull. Full-length skis – lots of them – will fit in, along with many other items, which might get pushed to the nose and be difficult to retrieve. That gaff might come in handy here, too. An LED light inside would also be handy, as the black carpet lining the hull’s insides and the locker floor makes it difficult to see inside.

In the opposite corner, the skipper has a swivelling bucket pedestal seat. At the helm, there’s the option to switch the handle gearshift with incorporated throttle to a foot throttle, while still operating forward, neutral and reverse by hand. Those who already push boundaries with performance boats would know the system, but for those who don’t: both hands are on the wheel when the foot is flat to the floor, and there’s no need to remove the right hand when taking evasive action and correcting the boat’s speed to suit the situation.

Mercury’s engine management system is compact, with engine functions viewable when looking straight ahead. The displayed data is bright and clear, even with direct sunlight on the screen and with polarised sunglasses donned. The curved helm station also hosts a Bluetooth Rockford Fosgate stereo system with two speakers.

SLICK AND QUICK

Coming from the bow point, the topside gently rises then sweeps up in front of the skipper, directing wind upward and over one’s head. Clean, smooth lines without the need of a windscreen make for a very smart profile.

The 2100R is slick and lightning fast, but safely controllable in the right hands. It’s not a speedboat for learners – although, having said that, it is very responsive, even at higher speeds, so a novice under the guidance of an old hand would enjoy the experience. With the throttle wide open, you will appreciate having both hands on the wheel and a gas pedal underfoot, rather than using the optional throttle nearby at the shoulder. There’s not much hull in the water at 65 knots (121km/h) and things happen quickly at that speed.

Backing off to a skiing speed of around 26 knots (48km/h) the 2100R’s hull does all the right things in terms of agility and is very responsive to turns. Turns at higher speeds have the hull hanging on to the surface with no side slippage or aeration at the screw, and no torque is transmitted to the helm whatsoever.

While I was very impressed with the performance of this hull, I was surprised at the performance of the big 300hp Verado. How can so many horses be so quiet? As well as being super-quiet and smooth at idle, the fly-by-wire gear shifting is like cutting butter with a hot knife – as smooth as. Hole shot is as neck-breaking as you want it to be, with the hull jumping out and laying its long nose down onto the plane in the blink of an eye.

At 26 knots, I lost sound contact with the Verado … all I had was wind in my ears that was swirling behind the upswept deflector and, listen as I might, all was quiet on the engine front. Most impressive.

Those already acquainted with this style of boat will appreciate the cost of fine equipment, so the 2100R’s price tag will come as no surprise. It’s a basic package designed for maximum performance with minimum fuss.

HAINES HUNTER 2100R

LOA: 6.8m

Beam: 2.3m

Weight (towing): 1500kg (approx)

Capacity: 7 persons

Fuel capacity: 200lt

Power (as tested): 300hp Mercury Verado

Price from: $71,000 with 225hp Mercury Optimax

Price as tested: $94,000

More information: Haines Hunter, tel: (03) 9394 1540. Web: HainesHunter.com.au.

Or: Tweed Coast Marine, tel: (07) 5524 8877. Web: TweedCoastMarine.com.au.


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