McLay 571 Sportsman
Not everyone wants that 6m-plus offshore fishing boat, which can be expensive to run, especially launching every day during the whites run come cray fishing time. BARRY WISEMAN reports on a great smaller option at Searano Marine.
Who doesn’t want a safe, nimble, spacious, and economical fishing boat? One that you can easily tow up north chasing the winter sun, sand, and aquatic species.
Consider if you will, the latest offering from New Zealand manufacturer McLay Boats.
The 571 Sportsman is an upgrade on the company’s best-selling model, the 550 Fisherman.
It sports the same build specs as all McLay vessels such as a reinforced keel, underfloor buoyancy, level flotation to the gunwales (meaning it’s unsinkable), checker plate aluminium deck for added strength, a spacious work area and well-appointed transom fish station.
This rig delivered a great ride on our test day off Hillarys Boat Harbour. You could not fault the stability and the economic Honda BF100 outboard on the transom makes it perfect for offshore fishing, pulling rock lobster pots and diving, and let’s not forget the family fun.
At 5.71m in length, the rig comes on a Dunbier EZ-Loader single-axle trailer, making it easy to manoeuvre at the ramp or at home.
Designed as a day boat, there are no forward bunks which means you have greater rear deck cockpit space.
There is ample room for at least four anglers, deck space to carry four craypots or bring the crabbing dropnets aboard, with rear-facing dickie seats for divers when rigging up, plus large marlin boards and port-side ladder.
The beam measures 2.2m, a smidge less than our popular WA-made boat benchmark of 2.5m but 30mm is neither here nor there and does not affect performance.
With 4mm plate aluminium on the bottom and 3mm sides from the chines upward, the deck is also 3mm thick, giving the boat a dry weight of 1050kg, which is excellent.
That translates to a hefty sub-beam structure under the deck, aiding its performance through the water.
Take off is most noticeable, with little bow lift when the throttle is applied. As the speed increased, there was steady lift as we reached planing speed. The bow spray was well back and in no time at all we were sitting on 4000 revs doing 25 knots, using 14 litres of fuel per hour.
I must admit, it had been a long time since I reviewed a vessel sporting a Honda outboard on the back and I had forgotten how quiet they are.
I recall about 15 years ago when Honda was pushing ahead of the other major manufacturers with its massive redevelopment, the weight factor and quiet running were among its major platforms.
While expanding on its thrust and power capabilities, Honda’s bigger engines were lighter and quieter than previous models, making it an extremely popular brand.
The McLay 571 Sportsman has a power rating to 115hp and the Honda BF100 was more than capable of shifting this mover-and-shaker with power to spare, plus it was quiet enough for Searano Marine Manager Johnny Lupu and I to have a conversation without yelling. Remember too that Honda offers a full seven-year warranty and was the first manufacturer to introduce four-stroke technology to Australia.
ON THE MOVE
With fuel prices heading up these days, towing costs are a major consideration when thinking of heading north or south with your rig.
Boat sales have been a major plus since COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions came into force, with many new boat registrations for vessels around the 5m mark.
At this size they take less power to run and are cheaper and easier to tow, while boat and trailer registrations, plus insurance, costs are less than with bigger craft.
The McLay 571 is a breeze to pull behind the average family sedan or SUV.
Our review boat was without a bimini or canopy and clears, however most owners would opt for some form of shade in our climate.
It you were heading away, folding down the structure is not a problem, meaning less drag behind your vehicle.
In addition, the sloping foredeck, hatch and curved windscreen give the rig that aerodynamic feature you look for making long-distance travel a little less stressful.
As previously mentioned, the 571 does not feature sleeping in the bow and instead there’s cavernous space under the foredeck.
This is perfect for storing your camping gear if you do plan any offroad adventures.
There is raw evidence of the solid underfloor beam construction in the bow, with storage between the beams and the bottom plates, plus room to fit your ice cooler or mobile fridge/freezer and tackle boxes.
In true runabout fashion, the helm and windscreen are at the shoulder of the vessel, leaving space aft for whatever action you are chasing.
As on other McLay vessels, marine carpet lines the plate aluminium behind the screen and dash, and it also continues along the skipper and passenger side walls.
This reduces glare from the sun reflecting off the aluminium plate while also adding a bit of a sound barrier.
The review vessel was fitted with a GME marine radio plus Garmin engine management panel, while there was still room for a cradle-mount GPS/sonar combo.
The co-pilot’s dash is fitted with a lockable glove box with inbuilt drink holders.
Deluxe swivel seats are mounted on seat boxes featuring storage space beneath and dickie seats behind, facing the cockpit.
The kill tank is located between the seats.
READY FOR ACTION
Being a keen fisher, I confess one of the first things my eyes are drawn to on any boat is the amount of deck space.
You can never have enough and even though my 6.5m plate boat has a good working area I keep telling my deckies “I need a bigger boat!”
Of course, it all depends on how you plan to use the craft.
You can pull your crab nets at Mandurah from a 3m dinghy or 4.5m runabout and I have been there and done that.
However, these days it seems I am never satisfied and I often find myself calling for more deck space.
If I ever do downsize though, I reckon this 5.7m boat from New Zealand would be a good contender.
Across the transom you have twin lockers plus a live bait tank with viewing window.
The lid is fitted with very solid factory-built hinges, not the sort that are likely to rattle off.
There is a good-sized drainable baitboard, while two rod holders are welded into the side deck, port and starboard.
I would have liked to see additional holders on the baitboard itself, plus along the sides of the vessel. I am sure the team at Searano Manager would soon fix that.
There are port and starboard marlin boards for divers/snorkellers to offload their gear and these are great for dangling your legs on a balmy evening while watching the sunset with a drink in your hand.
It is good to see McLay Boats include a small but important feature that I had fitted to my custom-built rig to help keep the interior dry.
When you get green water coming over the bow or are out in a rainstorm, water runs down the side decks and past the helm or cabin.
I have been on several boats where the water has nowhere to run except into the cockpit or rear deck.
Even though you might have a self-draining deck with scuppers I do not like the idea of having a wet, slippery deck.
People can fall over and if you and the family are camping out for the night the kids are not happy about sleeping on damp carpet.
The McLay 571 Sportsman has a small strip of plate aluminium welded to the side decks acting as a barrier to redirect any water from the bow back over the side.
It is quite simple but effective, plus it prevents water coming inside the boat where you may have wiring for your electronics; good thinking from McLay Boats.
The 571 Sportsman is a zippy boat to manage and one that would provide many hours of safe boating for any keen boater/fisher.
It’s certainly worth calling in to Searano Marine at Malaga to check one out.
Phone first to make sure they have stock on the floor though, as the demand for new boats is still strong and dealers are experiencing delays of one sort or another.
NUTS & BOLTS
- MODEL: McLay 571 Sportsman
- LENGTH: 5.71m (hull 5.65m)
- BEAM: 2.2m
- FREEBOARD: 700mm
- HULL WEIGHT: 1050kg
- TRANSOM HEIGHT: 625mm
- POWER: Honda BF100
- FUEL: 130 litres
- MANUFACTURER: McLay Boats Ltd., Milton 9220, Otago, New Zealand.
- W.A AGENT: Searano Marine; 791 Marshall Road, Malaga 6090; Phone: (08) 9248 2242 or Johnny Lupu on 0438 181 640; www.searanomarine.com.au; email@example.com
- Price: As tested $67,999.00. From $61,990.00.
Thanks to the Morgan family for providing their new vessel for this review.
PROS & CONS
- Small enough for towing and easy handling, yet big enough for offshore work.
- Forward helm, creating lots of cockpit space.
- Nyalic poly coating protection inside.
- Quality of welding easily visible.
- Rated to 115hp, but 100hp is plenty.
- An upgrade of McLay’s best-selling boat, the 550 Fisherman.
- Agile performer.
- Side deck drainage.
- The review boat did not have one, but a bimini and clears are recommended for protection against the elements.
- I would like to see more rod holders in the gunwales and bait station.
- No transom door. Live bait tank instead.