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Haines Hunter 520R Reviewed

Hitting the Water

In the trailer-boat world, anyone that knows anything about boats most certainly knows the Haines Hunter brand name. Luckily for me, I have a local dealer up the road (Marine Care Queensland) that’s now distributing them. So, that means I get to hustle tests away from the southerner journos and put the boats through their paces in a real state, the state where everybody now wants to live — Queensland. 

Now, unlike the normal high-end and big dollar boats we test, one of the little Haines Hunter 520R runabouts with a Yamaha Vmax 115hp caught my eye recently. At 5.2m in length, weighing in at just over 1 tonne loaded and priced around the $60k mark, it could suit as an ideal upgrade for small families, or even the ideal decent quality starter boat for the newcomers to the out-of-control C19 boating game. 

At a glance, the 520R’s design has been around for some time, sporting the typical Haines Hunter smooth and curved recognisable lines, and designed to suit small families or fishos frequenting dams, estuaries, and bays, whilst keeping the runabout simple and practical to suit. 

The open cockpit includes swivel buckets seats at the helm, moulded port and starboard transom passenger seats for the kids or mates, carpeted deck, twin transom live-wells/storage bins, open access to the bilge, a flush-mount deck hatch for gear, decent size side-pockets with rod-racks, split dash, low profile bimini, under-bow open storage, and a wraparound screen with walk-through to the bowsprit. 

Again, it’s pretty simple and straightforward when it comes to layouts, however, there are numerous factory options available to trick it up to suit. For those wanting a multipurpose boat for the family, you could add the ski-pole, back-to-back seating, cockpit lighting, rear lounge and table, clears for added protection, sound system, and upgraded trims to mention a few. 

As it is, I don’t mind it simple as it keeps the deck open and spacious. Adding a few waterproof bean bags in for the kids and a ski-pole for dam days takes care of the family, along with a few extra rod holders, a bait board attachment to fit on the ski-pole, and a decent GPS/sonar unit on a gimble taking care of the fisherman. I will say, the dash could do with a redesign down the line as it doesn’t suit the new larger gauges and GPS/sonar units. 

classic haines hunter lines

On the water, well, the larger Haines Hunters are renowned for their soft riding hulls, and the little 520R is no different. The 21-degree transom deadrise to sharp bow entry provides a nice comfortable ride through chop and moderate swell. In a side-on chop with wind, the hull does throw a bit of spray, however, it’s a small compromise for a good soft ride. If it really bothered you, just add clears to the screen and bimini. Considering the 2.1m beam, the stability is not bad either, and having high gunwales with bolstered padding, it’s safe for the kids and comfy to lean into when fishing. 

I purposely left the performance side till last, as it certainly needs a worthy mention. The 520R is rated to a maximum of 130hp, along with 115hp as the recommended. As tested, this one had the Yamaha Vmax 115hp SHO (super high output) fitted, standing out like a sore thumb, and for good reason at that. The metallic black, silver, and grey colour scheme with trendy graphics are far from the standard Yammy colours, however, the Vmax styling most certainly appeals to me. 

So, aside from aesthetics, what else makes the Vmax so special? Simple, it’s a souped-up 1.8L/16 valve version of the standard F115. The ECU has been remapped, the throttle is electronically controlled, and the camshaft revised to produce higher performance, whilst still maintaining good efficiency. Aside from that, everything else is spec’d the same as a standard F115. 

Tuned to maximize top-end performance, I found the Vmax version to be an animal throughout the rev ranges. Propped with a stainless 13¾ x 15in, the hole-shot was ridiculously potent, hopping the 520R onto the plane effortlessly and well suited to having a heavy load onboard, or even yanking a big fella out of the water on skis. 

From on the plane through the mid rev-ranges, the acceleration is again perky and super-quick for a 115hp. The ideal cruise speed is around the four grand mark, producing 24 knots speed, and sipping a gentle 14.8L/h. Smacking the throttle down unleashes the beast to 6300rpm and it feels like it's supercharged. Flat stick is pretty exciting at just under 40 knots, and the fuel burn is still economical at 43.2L/h. 

Now, what also impressed me was the 520R still producing a good ride at high speed in the chop. I’m still baffled at the exhilarating performance shunted out of this little 115 Vmax. It honestly feels more like a 2-stroke, but it’s a 4-stroke on steroids. They weigh in at 171kg, are available in 20 or 25 inch, and don’t cost too much more than the standard Yamaha F115. I must say, I do like the Vmax range, and they definitely suit those looking for a bit more punch and excitement on the water. They are a good option for ski-boats, smaller bass boats, and beneficial to those limited by horsepower ratings. 

On another Vmax note, I tested the Yamaha 150 SHO Vmax recently, and that was insane — so much so, I was keen to chuck one on my centre console, however, they don’t come with the new digital fly-by-wire control which I wanted. 

access to the bow


Like all Haines Hunters, the 520R is most certainly not a budget boat, however, they are competitively priced and a legendary Australian brand that holds a decent resale value over the years. A prime example is the old V17 and V19s that have turned into well sought-after collector’s items.

A recap on the little Haines Hunter 520R — it's decent quality, and a nice easy to manage and store fibreglass runabout. For the size, they have a decent soft ride and with numerous layout options available, you can keep them simple to suit budget, or trick them up nicely to suit your boating needs. 

As mentioned earlier, the little 520R suits the small families chasing a multipurpose boat for skiing and tubing the dam, fishing in the creeks/bays/estuaries, even offshore on the good weather days, or just as a simple runabout that can handle a comfortable trip to the local bay islands for a bit of fun. Watch this space for tests on a few of their larger models from Marine Care, QLD.  

Facts & Figures

Haines Hunter 520R

Price as tested 

$62,390, including registration, safety kit, anchor


Oceanic ELS Trailer 

Yamaha VF115LA, Digital LAN Gauges, Side Remote Control

Boarding Platform x 2

Colour – Two Tone Deck

Padded Coamings


Lowrance Hook 5 Sounder

Priced from



Type Runabout

Material GRP 

Length 5.2m (17ft 1in)

Beam 2.1m (6ft 11in)

Weight 560kg (Boat Only)

Deadrise 21°

People five
Rec. HP
Max. HP


Make/model Yamaha VF115LA

Type 4-Stroke, 16 Valve DOHC Direct Action In-line 4

Weight 171kg

Displacement 1832cc

Gear ratio 2.15 : 1

Propeller S/S 13¾ x 15


Haines Hunter


Marine Care Qld

30 Gordon Rd

Redland Bay Qld 4165


Ph 07 3186 5270