By Warren Steptoe Facts of publishing life mean our first look at Stacer’s new Barra Pro boats came some weeks after my story about the evolution of modern sportfishers (see NAFA15) went to bed. But that didn’t stop me smiling mightily when I saw their rod storage. We actually looked at three new boats, the 519 (5.2 metre) shown here, a 489 (4.9 metre) and a 459 (4.6 metre) model. With two versions of rod storage, the 519’s fully lockable “locker,” and a simpler open rack.. After badgering Aussie boat builders about a glaring lack of rod storage, here it is. At long last he says… Being the eternal critic I am, I have to say that Stacer’s new rod locker/rack isn’t perfect. Expensive reels are still left chattering against a painted aluminium surface, and the actual rack holding the rods is too shallow and crowded. Put more than a couple of rods in there and each time you undo the strap holding everything in place, something falls out. Length issues for fly rods are being addressed already. There’s room under the bow casting deck to allow tips to poke through the bulkhead into there, and Stacer’s R&D department were already onto this. They may have already looked at my other points too when actual production commences. Glued on carpet would save reels, although how my comments about the rack itself go remains to be seen. Nonetheless, this is a monumental step in the right direction. I don’t want to focus on rod storage because it needs be said that all 3 new Stacer Barra Pro models are truly outstanding in other ways, but before getting away from the 3 or so rods people take fishing these days, there is a vertical rack across the front of their new console. This holds 4 rods in an immediately accessible position. With 2 aboard, probably the ideal number, this facilitates an instant choice of two ready to go outfits — with more rigged outfits ready to go in a few seconds . Thus in real terms, the new Stacer Barra Pros make significant steps forward in fishing convenience. And there’s more… The new console has a solid grab bar which, for someone my height (170cm,) secures someone standing at the wheel to negotiate tricky situations. These do happen in fishing — and all the time!!! A sexy new steering wheel is merely icing on a pretty sweet cake here. The Barra Pro casting decks are spot on, and Stacer’s new transom is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It maximises deck space while keeping the whole transom neat and tidy. Great stuff! Did I mention piano hinges on the hatches? We who habitually fish barefoot (that’s a lot of us eh!) need never chew chunks from our feet with casting deck hinges again. More great stuff! Underneath the decks; aft, there’s a central 70 litre plumbed livewell standard in all Barra Pro models — with batteries, oil etc. stowage each side. I mentioned I’d personally rather utilise the livewell’s rotomoulded liner for an insulated ice box and the R&D blokes just raised their eyebrows. Come on guys; you’re sooooo close here… Yeah I know, lots of people do like plumbed livewells. Up front are no less than 4 lockers. Paired anchor wells in the bows, another pair of lockers beside a big lined central compartment big enough to contain a good size fish. You’d actually fit a fair size barra in here without getting slime all over the carpet and the only thing I didn’t like was that it didn’t drain overboard. I know, I know, plumbing it’d be a pain (and expensive) and yes I’m nit picking again, but… An electric motor mount is on Stacer’s options list. A 75 litre underfloor fuel tank comes with the 519 model, 65 litres in the smaller models. Moulded seat spigot mounts are set to keep the boat balanced with two aboard, with the passenger easily able to shift forward and face aft for trolling. And if you haven’t already noticed, the hull sides feature a distinctive new pressing — which I thought looked great too. Underneath the new Barra Pros is a new stretch formed “Evo” hull. It looks similar to Hornets of a generation or so back and when I got behind the wheel, it had me big time. Barra Pro hulls ride at least as softly as any of their genre, and way better than most of them. And when it comes to running them about, the 519 model I put through its paces is absolutely nothing short of pure fun —only partly to do with a 43 knot top speed provided by the 115 hp EFI 4 stroke Merc powering it. I pushed the test boat so hard through various maneuvers fishing boats really don’t need to cope with that things were getting silly. Meanwhile, Stacer National Sales Manager Damien Duncan sat there and grinned like a kid having a very good time. Not just for a tinny; as a fine-handling, extremely fun boat to run, the 519 Barra Pro was quite something special. Three words which sum it up nicely. Quite something special. STACER’S NEW BARRA PRO MODELS AT A GLANCE Basic flotation, non return mechanical steering std, hydraulic steering opt. sports steering wheel std. lean seat opt.Navman 4331 DST sounder std, Navman upgrades opt. electric motor mount opt. stereo opt. 2 seats std. extra seats opt. premier seats opt. VHF radio opt. bimini shade top opt. two tone paint opt.
Model 459 489 519 Length (metres) –4.59 4.9 5.2 Beam (metres) – 1.96 1.96 1.96 Hull Weight (kg)– 440 460 480 Fuel Capacity (litres) – 65 65 75 Rec. Power (hp) – 40 75 70 Max Power (hp) – 60 80 100 Max Motor Weight (kg) – 162 203 203 Ideal People - 2 2 2 Max People - 4 4 5