Boat Reviews

Harrier 505 Need for speed

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Built by Austral Marine in KZN, the Harrier 505 is a blend of efficiency, ease of use, and fun. If you’re looking to get on the water without over-burdening the bank balance; the value for money and long term saving this package offers is certainly worth every penny.

The Harrier model is built from the tried and trusted hull of the Legacy – for those that remember it. Having done its proving years, the design has been changed up just a bit and repackaged for the entryto mid-level buyer with a close eye on value for money.

The biggest change in creating the Harrier was putting it on a diet. Wasted weight has been stripped out and the hull’s engineering has been simplified. It maintains its strength, and while it’s probably not a good hiding place for anyone ‘wanted’, it will be lighter, more efficient on the fuel, and more fun to play with! We met up recently with Honda Marine Knysna for an exclusive of this craft.

Deck layout
Measuring in at 5.1 metres overall (16.7 foot), the Harrier is a small but nimble craft, good for five onboard and pulling kids on the tube or skis behind. The designers have done the most with the usable space onboard to maximise where possible, concluding with a layout that offers the very best of fitments.

Starting aft, you’ll find boarding platforms fitted as standard on either side of the motor. At the stern is a stainless folding ladder (port side platform) as well as a quality mini ski wing for towing kids behind the craft. Inside the boat there’s more than enough evidence to show she’s well constructed. A great style runs through the craft; fibreglass work has been done perfectly; and even the stitching in the seats looks as though it has been done to the highest degree! Seat cushioning is adequate and the comfort really does surround you as padding lines the full length of the gunnels. The bow seating (which, notably, has got decent hinges – as we tend to see nowadays!) has its own set of cup holders and storage below the seats. As does the stern – where you will find the fuel tank for the craft which holds 25-litres (standard) or 80-litres built in (optional extra).

The co-pilot’s chair is reversible which allows mom to watch the kids behind the boat. The manufacturers opted not to have the skipper’s seat do the same, nor give it the ability to slide forwards or backwards, which I would’ve liked to have seen – but, nonetheless, the helm is relatively comfortable for the average height person.

The binnacle shows Austral Marine’s ability to make a great fibreglass product – and for me, I like the minimalistic, uncluttered look and feel the helm presents to the skipper. The deck is covered in carpeting and provides a comfy feeling underfoot. A large ski hatch built into the deck shows that this craft is made for watersports.

The Harrier 505 is said to weigh in at around 445 kg dry as per her manufacturer’s specs. They also recommend motors from 60 – 115 HP, but place special emphasis on the choice from 70 to 90 HP. As reviewed, she was fitted with a Honda 90 HP 4-Stroke motor which weighs in the region of 163 kg (dry). This outboard houses Honda’s latest technology, such as EFI, LeanBurn, VTEC and BLAST – which comes together as about the closest you could get to a speed demon for the recreational boater – especially when it’s on the back of a light craft, such as the Harrier.

The 505 which we reviewed is probably geared more towards those in the mid-level market, with confidence in their skippering abilities or really looking to load her up for the weekend on the water. The 90 HP is great if you want to have that extra oomph, and it makes the boat lively at the top end. The ‘get up and go’ on this craft is just short of whiplash, getting onto the plane in around three seconds and bulleting on to a maximum of 79 km/h. More conservatively, expect to do around 35 km/h (3 100 rpm)

Arguably, the best part about this package is the motor. But, Honda motors do tend to have a rather large kick. I’d opt for the 90 HP for my own needs, but I would strongly suggest going for a Honda 60 HP (even a 75 HP if you don’t want to miss the grake weekend of thrilling entertainment that will give you a smile from ear to ear for the next week back at work! The Harrier is said to have 440 litres of high density foam under the deck. The hull is pretty solid, judging by the lack of water banging on the hull, but you will have to slow down some when the chop starts getting a bit rough; anything less than two foot of chop and you’re in for a truly pleasant ride.

The locally built Harrier is certainly a neat package, well finished off and adequately equipped for most buyers. Like good rum, she’ll go great with most things – from tubing and skiing to leisure river trips and fast-paced thrill. If you’re on a budget and have that ‘need for speed’, then the Harrier would certainly be highly prized. Pricing of the Harrier 505 with a 90 HP is R235 000. Opting for a Honda 60 Hp would put you in for R190 000. Probably the best package deal would be with a 75 HP and will cost you R215 000. For more information, contact Honda Marine Knysna on (044) 382 4090 or Honda Marine Somerset West on (021) 851 7710.


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