Chianti 585

Chianti 585 Boat Test
Boating New Zealand - January 2009

"Southern Fizz"

- Story and Photos by Mike Hunter

Lake Wakatipu provided a postcard perfect backdrop for Boating New Zealand's exclusive review of the multi award-winning Reflex Chianti 585.

Occasionally Boating New Zealand gets the chance to go somewhere out of the way to review a boat in the company of the men responsible for her from conception to launch.

Such occasions allow us to brush up on our social skills, and so it was when we caught up with general manager Russell Cull, marine production manager Mike Thomas and logistics/inventory manager Don Hanson from Reflex Boats in Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu recently.

We came away mightily impressed with the Christchurch manufacturer's latest release, the charming Chianti 585, and the stunning weather they somehow squeezed out of a sullen southern winter.

Less impressive was their collective post-boat test pool skills on the sole table at the Glenorchy Lodge, with the A-team of Boating general manager Tim Porter and editor Kent Gray - under instruction from yours truly as technical adviser - wiping the floor 11-zip. Clearly the team at Reflex are much better at boats as their success at May's Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show and last month's Christchurch Boat Show highlighted.

The 585 took out the Boat of the Show All Purpose under 6m title in Auckland, as well as the New Release � Boat of the Show award in Christchurch, gongs that reflect the versatility of the design for fishing, cruising or water sports towing.

The 585 highlights Reflex Boats' willingness to listen to previous owners and potential buyers - the result saw the designers puff out the interior capacity of the cock-pit area. A ski pole, decent anchor light set up, two vee berths and plenty of storage and range under the floor for both petrol and fish come as standard.
The build

The hand laminated hull is stiffened by an interior liner, incorporating the stringers, floor bins, and side bracing in one unit. The two are chemically joined using a methacrylate adhesive which is stronger than the fibreglass itself.

The internal cavities are then injected with foam adding strength to the structure and obviously quietening any water slap and hull noise.

Boating was given the opportunity to sea-trial two of these boats, numbers four and nine out of the mould, on the pristine waters at the top end of Lake Wakatipu.

Contrary to the forecast, test day dawned bright and cheerful, with hardly any wind. Under the threat of incoming snow and blizzard conditions we launched the two boats at daybreak and took off down the lake for Pidgeon Island. The power was from a 115hp Mercury Optimax on one of the boats, representing the lower end of the power scale suitable for the design. The other, powered by a 150hp EFI, represented the top end of the power range.

Although the throttle controls were very stiff - which we put down to our adjustments of the friction control - both boats were nimble off the mark and handled the dead calm conditions with aplomb. Even a bit of wake jumping didn't upset the inherent stability of the design, which we know from past performance is a very safe and strong boat in the rough, looking after its users very well. In a turn the hull gripped the water like it was on rails with no cavitation.

The driving position was a case of one size fits all with plenty of adjustment available from the well set-up roto-moulded swivelling driving seat. Visiblity all about was good and when underway a hat could still be worn by the driver thanks to a nifty little curve at the top of the screen deflecting the wind up and away from the driver's face.

At rest the boat was very stable, tested to the maximum by big, heavy, winterclad boaties leaving and entering the cockpit via the adequate side decks. Boating in this part of the world of lakes utilises split bow rails and side decks for easy access over the bow to the beach. Another feature of this boat - which was a plus for this beach landing business - was the wide and accommodating forward hatch.

Even though anchoring is something that's not big down south, the anchor locker and moulded bow sprit and bollard seemed more than up to the job.
Interior intelligence

The interior of the boat has some really nice finishing touches. The grab rails for the passengers are substantial; the plastic liner on the bottom of the side pockets not only looks good but is functional. Underneath the side pockets there is good toe room for the angler, who also has a very well finished live bait tank.

The kill locker between the front seats has a large, one-piece lid with its own tie back. The side pockets - with ski pole and anchor light - have them secured also with tie downs in their individual brackets.

Fuel is carried in the boat either in an 86-litre underfloor tank, or as was the case in one of the boats, the same space is taken up with three tote tanks. I personally like this idea because of an inherent distrust of fuel gauges. By lifting the fuel tank cover it is easy to see how much fuel is on board and how much has been used. In areas where there are no fuelling jetties close to the water it is a simple task to take the tote tank to the pump, rather than the whole boat.

Reflex produced the first Chianti 515 in 1999 with a 615 model in 2000. In 2002 the 485 was introduced to the boating public. The latest 585 is a further improvement in the use of technology in a small boat and is built to exceed CPC requirements, with five-year hull warranties and the PuFF (polyurethane foam filed buoyancy) as standard. The construction is designed to give a long life and safety to the boat user and to be functional in all areas of small boat use, whether fishing, diving, cruising or skiing.