Along with selling and servicing new and second-hand boats, Sportcraft Marine also manufacture and fit out aluminium boats under their ‘Scorpion’ brand and ‘Bluefin’ range. Working from the angle of making what their market desires, they design and build robust hulls at affordable prices.
Sportcraft’s most popular model is the Scorpion 610HT, so I drove down to the company’s Mount Maunganui yard to meet up with company head Jamie Black and check the model out.
As we move through autumn into winter, one of the reasons hardtop configurations are so popular in New Zealand becomes apparent: protection from the elements. Just staying out of the wind-rush when travelling in winter adds a lot to boating comfort, as does having shelter from rain and spray. In the summer, a bit of shelter from those ultra-violent rays can be a godsend, too, even in an open-back hardtop like the 610HT.
Sportcraft has done a great job in proportioning the layout. The cabin berths (with optional infill) are 1.90m long (6’3”) – comfortable enough for most adults. Likewise, the hardtop is high at 1.97m (6’5”) internally, giving plenty of standing space and making these boats particularly popular with tall individuals.
All this is achieved without chipping too much into the cockpit fishing area. The beam is a decent 2.30m, and from the rear of the front seats to the transom is 1.45m, allowing fishing space for up to four adults.
The build is robust with 5mm bottom plates, six longitudinal beams and 14 cross-braces. Sportcraft quote a reserve buoyancy of 910kg.
I took the 610HT out for a spin with Sportcraft Marine salesman Dave Haley. Tauranga Harbour was like glass but with the tide starting to run out hard against a light wind, we found a bit more lift outside the entrance.
The 610’s hull rides very nicely, cutting through the chop softly, with little spray and no banging. The rig was powered by a Mercury 100hp FourStroke turning an Enertia 17-inch pitch propeller. This is the ‘Command Thrust’ (CT) model with a heavyduty gearbox and a bigger prop, giving more torque and preventing any ‘bogging down’ when cornering or towing skiers and toys. Fuel is carried in tote tanks (allowing more underdeck buoyancy). There is space for two 45-litre tanks under the transom, although we only carried one on test day. See the performance figures on p106.
Starting at the pointy end, the anchor well is not hatched but has coamings around it that run forward to help form the fairlead and in-turned flanges which help constrain the warp. Access to the bow is through the forward hatch.
Inside the fore-cabin, fulllength berths with an optional berth-infill will sleep three at a pinch. The cabin is lined to the deck and there is underberth storage as well as a shelf behind the port-side bulkhead. A porta-potty could be fitted under the forward berth; a privacy screen and the bunk squabs are optional.
Out under the hardtop is a large dash, lined with marine carpet and featuring a grab rail which can also act a backstop for items stowed on the dash tray.
The front screens are 6mm toughened glass with polycarbonate on the sides. The front screens have been drilled (and plugged) so wipers can be fitted if required. Electronics and instrumentation are flush-mounted in the console; this boat featured a Lowrance HDS7 sounder/GPS, Mercury Vessel View 4 gauge and a GME G.Com VHF. The cable steering was quite adequate for the Merc 100 CT. Cabin and cockpit floodlights are fitted and there are two small but sheltered side-pockets, along with grab rails, on the trailing edge of the hardtop.
Seating is provided by a pair of upholstered, rotationally-moulded plastic bucket seats mounted on fibreglass pedestals which have internal stowage and pipe footrests.
The decks are sealed tread-plate and run from bow to transom, draining to the sump under the transom wall from where water is removed by the bilge pump. The battery is protected in a plastic battery box (with isolation switch) and sits on a low shelf above the sump. Side shelves run full length along each side of the cockpit.
A stowage shelf runs across the full width of the transom, tucked away behind a dome-down vinyl cover. Over the transom two tread plate boarding platforms are furnished with grab rails. The port side platform is fitted with a fold-down ‘T’ style boarding ladder, favoured by divers as they can be used while wearing fins.
As mentioned, the beamy cockpit could fish four easily enough. The hull is perhaps a little on the tender side when the crew is all on one side, but this is not an issue with normal loading. The tread-plate deck gives good footing and although toe-room is a bit limited, you can lean forward to get mid-thigh support from the flat gunwale faces when playing fish.
There is a five-position rocket launcher on the hardtop, and a further four nylon through-gunwale holders in ‘fishing’ positions, two to a side. A removable bait board is mounted on the centre transom. Catch stowage is taken care of by an after-market ice bin. Dave Haley had dropped an 80-litre bin in the back of the test boat in case we wanted to check out the boat’s fishing credentials. I considered this to be a fine idea, and after the photo shoot and note-taking were done we threw a few soft-baits around off Matakana Island.
We found the boat comfortable to fish from and it drifted nicely, even without a drogue to help. The fishing was decent too, with some nice kahawai and snapper coming aboard on a regular basis. We hadn’t brought a net and had to swim the best snapper of the day into a half-submerged fish bin to lift it aboard.
The boat was carried on a trailer built by Sportline, an engineering company allied to Sportcraft Marine. These trailers are bolted together, making them flexible and adaptable, with any damaged parts easily replaced.
The trailer under the 610HT is a single-axle model with leafspring suspension, wind-down jockey wheel, dual-ratio manual winch, submersible LED lights and four pairs of wobble rollers per side. Tow weight for the rig is approximately 1170kg and loading and retrieving was easy enough at Tauranga’s Sulphur Point boat ramp.
I can see why the 610HT is Sportcraft’s most popular boat. It is robustly built, travels well, and makes a decent fish-and-dive platform for a family or a bunch of mates. There is reserve buoyancy, the protection and comfort offered by the hardtop configuration, and even basic overnight facilities if you want them – all for a cup-of-coffee under fifty grand. Good deal.
Configuration: open hardtop
Deadrise: 17 degrees
Sides and topsides: 3mm
Fuel capacity: tote tanks 2 x 45 litre
Recommended HP: 90-115hp
Test engine: Mercury 100 CT FourStroke
Prop: Enertia 17-inch pitch
Trailer: Sportline single axle
Tow weight: 1170kg approx
Base price: $49,995 (Merc 90 FourStroke)
As tested: $54,597
Test boat courtesy of: Sportcraft Marine
Mercury 100CT FourStroke
Revs Speed Fuel
(RPM) (kph) (l/hr total)
1000 8 2.2
2000 12 5.4
3000 22 9.6
4000 38 14.8
5000 50 25.2
5300 52 33.0
Prop: Enertia 17-inch pitch
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