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Tested by Kevin Smith
AT A GLANCE
Flotation: Foambead-filled bottles
Boat weight: Forward console — 500kg (excluding engines)
Fuel capacity: 90 litres
Rated max hp: 2 x 70hp
Rated min hp: 2 x 50hp
IN the previous issue we tested the two Supreme Craft 520s. In addition to these two models, A&G Marine also had the forward- and centre console versions of the 530s up for test. As I mentioned then, I sympathise with those wanting to purchase boats nowadays, as the range to choose from is endless. A&G Marine in Port Alfred have four cats of similar sizes, and seeing as each one is unique in her own way, it’s even tricky to choose between these boats.
The A&G Marine team, consisting of Andrew Reynolds, Ryan Reynolds, and Gerrit Cloete, went one up on the 520s and designed the 530 range, and although similar, they are in a completely different class.
I have to admit that when I first viewed these craft at the A&G Marine factory in Port Alfred, I was automatically drawn to the the 530 Baysport centre console and the 530 Executive forward console models. These boats have a modern look and design to them which I like. Both models have sharper lines incorporated with more modern curves and features, which really make them stand out.
Conditions for the test were similar to those of the previous day, with the sea relatively flat off Port Alfred. However, there was a large swell pushing through and a south-wester picking up, making the exit from the Kowie mouth quite interesting and good for the test.
530 Baysport CC:
LAUNCHING AND TRAILERING
The 530 Baysport CC comes standard on a sturdy galvanised breakneck trailer manufactured by A&G Marine at their factory. The design is slightly different to that of the usual cat trailer. Like for the 520, this trailer’s front is tapered like that for a monohull. I quite liked that aspect because it was more streamlined and reduced the weight factor on the trailer.
Port Alfred has slipways into the Kowie which made launching and trailering very simple, but judging by the breakneck system on the trailer, I am positive that it would also be fairly simple to beach launch with these craft.
MOTORS AND CONTROLS
These boats are being promoted by Suzuki SA, and Heath Mitchell from Suzuki South Africa was assisting us with the tests. The 530 CC was fitted with twin Suzuki 70hp four-stroke trim-and-tilt motors. The days of four-strokes being exceptionally heavy and bulky are definitely something of the past; even the 70s are nice, compact motors and are rated to be very economical.
The controls were the binnacle-mount type with dual trim switches enabling you to trim the motors simultaneously or one at a time. This is a handy feature to have on any size motors. The steering system was hydraulic, which made handling smooth and simple.
On craft of this size you can still run cable steering systems, but like I always say, rather fit hydraulic. It really makes a difference to the handling in all areas, and it won’t break the bank.
Launching through the surf is a good way to check many aspects of performance on any craft, which is exactly what we did. Gerrit was at the helm of the 530 CC, and to begin with he had to fight against the outgoing tide in the river mouth and keep dodging the stopper waves over the nasty, shallow sandbanks. He achieved this with ease, and in no time at all he had us safely through the backline. Simulating a surf launch was thus not necessary for me.
Once I took over from Gerrit, my first check was the acceleration from stationary. Out the hole the acceleration was no issue with the 70s. Although extremely quiet, the motors had a lot of grunt on pull-off, and still plenty extra available once on the plane.
In my opinion, the 70hp Suzukis were well matched to the 530. At high speeds between 20 and 30 knots the motors revved nice and low, and one would only be sitting around the half-throttle mark. This is good for fuel economy and general wear and tear on the motors.
By this time the south-wester was really starting to pump, creating a very short, bumpy chop on the ocean. Running the 530 CC into the chop was comfortable at speeds between 15 and 20 knots. Running side-on to the chop the 530 was again comfortable and stable on the ride, with a bit of spray coming over the windward sponson. Then again, in choppy conditions most boats are going to throw a bit of spray. If it bothers you, then trimming down your outer sponson to the wind and the inner one up will help eliminate most of the spray on any cat.
Running her with the swell and chop, the ride was again good, and pushing out of the troughs was effortless with the brute power of the 70s.
The 530 CC has a neat, spacious layout, considering the many extras on the boat. On the transom all fittings are precise and neat. One area that I found especially interesting was the low false transom flowing off the non-slip deck in the stern. This allows the skipper to flush the deck quickly if the boat was swamped for some reason.
I was a bit unsure when I first noticed it, but once I saw how buoyant she was, I thought it was quite a good idea, especially if you launch often in serious surf. Between the motors and the dual roll bars, which have rod holders incorporated in them, there is a sizeable step-up area. Then there’s a solid hatch section that has a built-in livebait well and plenty of space for stowage of gear. It also serves as a seat for the skipper.
The console has a really good, modern design to it, incorporating plenty of stowage space, separate mounting sections for the well-positioned controls, ample space for gauges and sounders of most sizes, a fibreglass windscreen shield and a T-top for protection and rod stowage. There’s also a built-in fuel box in the front of the console, which also serves as a padded seating area.
In the bow there are two easily accessible anchor hatches, and all- round stainless-steel rails complement this craft.
Being a centre console, this model automatically gives you a good 360-degree walkaround area for fishing. Deck space is plentiful and there’s also plenty of hatch space for the stowage of tackle, fish and other gear. At high- and low troll speeds, the stability and tracking in the larger swells and chop was good for her size.
On the drift she was again fairly stable for her size. This model has higher gunnels, which is a feature that I prefer as they are more comfortable to balance against when fighting fish and generally keep the boat drier.
As with all of the Supreme Craft, the 530 CC is a well presented boat with a good general finish to it. A&G Marine pride themselves on manufacturing their own boats and the majority of the trimmings. At the end of the day they produce a genuinely customised product, with this model having many cleverly thought out extras and fine touches.
530 Executive FC:
LAUNCHING AND TRAILERING
The 530 Executive also comes standard on a sturdy, galvanised breakneck trailer manufactured by A&G Marine at their factory and has the same unique design. The only difference you might find would be the weight factor.
With this boat being a forward console model, it would obviously be slightly heavier on the hitch of the trailer. If this was a problem, simply moving the axle forward slightly would lighten the load. As previously mentioned, it was a simple task to launch and trailer the boats off the slipway.
MOTORS AND CONTROLS
Like the 530 CC, the forward console model was tested with the new Suzuki 70hp four-stroke trim-and-tilt motors. The 70s had absolutely no trouble getting the slightly heavier 530 Executive going. The controls were also dual- and single-trim binnacle mounts, and the steering system hydraulic. I found everything to be positioned correctly, which added to the smoothness and simplicity of operating her.
Andrew Reynolds was at the helm of the 530 Executive FC and in the same position as us — he also had to fight against the outgoing tide and a large surf in the river mouth. Andrew pushed her through with great ease, having plenty of power to play with.
After testing the centre console version, I changed over to the forward console. It always makes a test interesting when you’re comparing two versions of the same hull. Generally, the forward console models are heavier and this can produce totally different rides — as was the case with these boats.
The 530 FC was fast when pushed out of the hole and onto the plane by the twin 70hp Suzuki four-strokes. Pushing her up to higher speeds was effortless, and with a few small adjustments on the trims you could comfortably run into the chop and swell at speeds around 20 knots. The ride definitely felt softer than on the centre console, and with her having a nice built-up console area, you stayed dry most of the time considering the rough conditions. Her stability was also good.
Running side-on to the swell and chop, the ride was once again stable and relatively dry. Running with the swell on the stern she again performed well, powering out of the troughs with ease, and showed no major signs of broaching or ploughing with the motors trimmed up slightly.
Although I had watched the 530 FC performing well in the surf zone, I still did some standard checks. From stationary again and full locking into turns to starboard- and port side, the 530 FC held firm and tight, with the only signs of cavitation coming when I forced too much power.
When running at medium speeds and putting her into turns, the 530 FC again held firm and stable. All round, on the performance side, the 530 handled well and had a good feel to her.
This is another area that was very interesting — the 530 Executive really does have an “executive” design to go with her modern looks. In the transom area everything has been fitted in a compact manner and is well tucked away. There is a step-up area between the motors that leads onto a false transom area which runs flush with the high gunnels. This area houses all sorts of things, from the batteries and live–well to special built-in bait- and hand-washbasins and flush-mount rod holders.
The deck has a non-slip finish and runs forward, incorporating flush-mount fish hatches, built-in fuel tanks and recessed rod racks in the gunnels before stepping up to the console area.
This area has an adjustable swivel seat for the skipper, and a corner seat for crew or passengers. The cockpit has ample space for all the electrics, along with a full wrap-around windscreen that opens to the bow section through cabin doors (pictured above).
This section is quite unique as it has a toilet section on one side and a bunk section on the other, as well as an anchor hatch area where the anchor line runs through and into the tunnel on the bow, but stays mounted on the outside.
Stainless-steel rails and many other extra features all complement the layout of the 530 Executive.
As mentioned, I found this boat to be very spacious indeed. The general handling of the 530 was good at low speeds suited to trolling and just as good when on the drift. Some might think it’s practical, others not, but I thought that it was a good combination of fancy looks, comfort and practicality. The 530 Executive is sort of like a mini sportfisher in design.
It’s obvious how much pride A&G Marine take in their products — even more so with this executive model which has many fine-tuned little finishing touches creating a very good looking boat.
Craft of this size and style are nice all-rounders, suitable for a number of applications from dam and estuary to general offshore fishing. They handle well for their size and are easily manageable on the water and off when towing.
With both of the 530s’ modern looks and features, they are definitely worth a look. These boats will suit the whole family and are reasonably priced for what you get.•