Haines Signature 600BR Review
While that popular song about a 'Volvo driving soccer mom' associates Volvos with the mundane, how wrong that attitude can be when you're talking about boats, was demonstrated by Haines Signature's award winning 6m bowrider every time it passed our cameras. A throaty undeniably V8 bellow announced each pass as the 600BR rocketed by with most its hull held clear of the water by sheer engine torque.
Under acceleration the 600BR had been even more impressive. It seemed as if the hull was being lifted bodily from the water at the throttle's command, planing in a blink and powering away. Every one of the Volvo V8's 320 horses is delivered to the water via the Volvo Duoprop sterndrive. Were we having fun ? Actually, we'd already had our fun, now it was time to shoot the images for the magazine. And it was funny how in every frame shot the faces of Greg Haines at the helm and Melissa, a friend who had come along to model for the day, were wearing enormous grins.
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you fun is the 600BR's middle name. We also couldn't help grinning about how this fair dinkum Aussie boat takes on some pretty impressive imports on equal terms either. But ol' Hainesy has been around forever and it is history how much new ground he's trodden for the Australian boating industry. And now the reins have (largely) been handed to his sons Greg and John Jnr, it's apparent they are also chips off the old block. One of the latter innovations to come from the Haines family is what they call 'Nexus'.
This unitises the inner and outer hull mouldings and foam filling between with a bond so strong the fibreglass laminates would separate before it does. In other words, it ain't gunna break! On the water, as you'd expect given the above, the hull moves singularly with little flexing and movement. This was soundly put to the test during our run, because the normally balmy southern Queensland weather had done a runner, it was a rotten blustery day with plenty of nasty wind chop about.
The 600BR treated the conditions with contempt to a point where the rattle of the chop against the hull at speed sounded like muffled machine gun fire. What we could hear of it over the 10 (yes 10) speakers incorporated into the sound system of the test boat that is. Two big sub woofers hidden away underneath the windscreen bulkhead pounded our ears from one direction and the subdued rattle of water against the hull from another. And the testosterone-stimulating chortle of that V8 tucked away under the sunpad across the stern underpinned it all like the drummer in a rock band. Who, us, having fun ?
The wakeboarding tower you see in the photos was an option many of these boats are going to be ordered with, because 'boarding and skiing are very much a part of this boat's job description. Between the seats ' the ones immediately behind the windscreen ' there's a ski locker set underneath the deck. This is quite big and it will swallow all the skis and wakeboards required leaving the boat's interior clean and clear for socialising in comfort between runs. The drivers and observer's seats swivel. Naturally, the passenger one needs to so they can be the observer while skiing, but that's not entirely what this boat is about. The full width aft lounge is luxuriously upholstered and would be the seating of choice for an extra couple on longish journeys.
Up forward, the bow lounge is hardly Spartan and we were pleased to note the grab handles strategically situated nearby to brace yourself against during sudden direction changes. At the helm there's a big footrest for the driver to brace against. The passenger's seat also has one and both the bucket seats low slung and wrapped right around your hips to keep you in place during turns. Once seated in either there's really no need to hang on, so well supported are you in an upholstered cocoon, with your legs pressing you back into the seat.
Behind the wheel the test boat had a cool carbon fibre instrument panel featuring Faria instrumentation. The passenger was also well catered for. They have the music system to drive and what at first you might take to be a glove box lid lifts to reveal a drink cooler. Beneath the both bow and stern lounges, there's more storage and plenty of it and that's without mentioning the big pockets along each side of the cockpit. The aft lounge can he lifted out of the boat completely if desired.
As all Haines Signature upholstery tends to be, the trim work was neatly done and the colours chosen for the 600BR certainly looked good to us. There is a tow point set centrally on the stern and that's probably an unsung advantage sterndrives have over outboard power under the circumstances.
Also on the stern was a boarding ladder stowed beneath a neatly hinged cover and, would you believe, another control station for the sound system, so it can be adjusted without clambering from the water or dropping sand over the stern lounge. At the bow's apex was an anchor locker any offshore fisho would be proud of, as would the moulded bowsprit, split bollard and fairlead. We only noticed that the bow had an anti-slip surface moulded into it when we disembarked over the bow onto a beach at one stage during our time on the water.
It was necessary to disembark over the bow, because the slope of the beach was too shallow to bring the boat in stern first. There were two recessed pop-up cleats aft on the transom area and two just in front of the windscreen that made sense when we tied up at the marina after our test. An outboard powered version of the Haines Signature 600BR is available with a power rating between 140 and 200hp, while the sterndrive version is rated from 180 to 320hp. The test boat was powered by a Volvo 5.7GXi V8, pumping out 320hp ' the hull's maximum. And didn't we love it.
With a top speed of almost 54 knots this powerplant and the superb power delivery of the matching Duoprop sterndrive leg, would have to be the heart's desire of everyone wanting to use the 600BR as a tow vehicle. The lesser power options may not be so much fun, but we expect they would be more than enough for people not so intent on travelling around at warp speed, or not needing the ultimate performance offered by the throaty Volvo.
To park one of these beauties on the front lawn will set you back around $63,000, which considering the handling, performance and standard of finish represents excellent value for money.
Words by Warren Steptoe