by Steve Lague

When it comes to buying a boat, like any major purchase, it is a tough decision. Before you even start looking you need to know how you are going to use your boat. Cruising, entertaining, fishing or water sports? Or do you want to be able to spend weekends away? How big does it need to be? These are but a few of the all important considerations you have to make, and part of the reason boat manufacturers offer various sizes in particular model lines.
We tested two New Zealand designed Chianti trailerable boats that are aimed at first time boat buyers and both intended for similar use. They are cuddy cabin designs packaged so you can take them out of the dealership and drive them straight to your nearest ramp and start enjoying your new purchase. Offering similar, the most significant differences were overall length, power and price.
One was the manufacturers award winning 530 (formerly the 515) powered by a 90hp Mercury four-stroke outboard, which HiTech Marine, the exclusive dealer for Chianti in Australia, offers for $42,990 while the slightly bigger 585 with a 115hp Mercury on the back will cost you an additional $7000.

Chianti boats are designed and distributed by Reflex, a world leader in fibreglass and composite products, in NZ and are manufactured at a purpose built factory in China. The Chianti brand has been around since 1999 with the 515 the first model.
All Chianti boats come with a 10-year structural warranty and are stiffened with a specially designed liner that incorporates stringers, floor bins and side braces in one unit. The two components are chemically bonded using a methacrylate adhesive that produces a bond stronger than fibreglass. The hull is then injected, under pressure, with high density, closed cell polyurethane foam resulting in a structure that is strong, stiff and virtually unsinkable.
Both the 530 and 585 come standard with moulded rear ports – a design element of the portifino hull, and port and starboard swim platforms with a ladder on the port side.
Chianti 585 12
Chianti 585 7In the cockpit area both boats have gunnels wide enough to accommodate built-in rod holders (they come standard with two each side standard), storage under the gunnels as well as on the port side of the transom and a kill tank under the non-slip floor.
The helm area, which has a dash that is large enough to fit two seven-inch multifunction display screens as well as all the engine gauges, switches and audio equipment you may want on board, is shaded by a stainless steel Targa bar with overhead rod holders on both boats. Helm seats sit on gas pedestals and come with an adjustable bolster that enables you to drive sitting or standing in equal comfort.
Internally, the cabin is fully lined and comes with two bunks and an infill that converts them into a double bed. While the bed is big enough for two, at a squeeze, the cabin would be better described as nice big dry storage area. There is also space for a chemical toilet, which is part of the standard equipment, though you would need to add some type of screen to offer some privacy.Chianti 585 13
Chianti 530 5The bow of the boat is accessible via a hatch in the cabin but an electric anchor winch dramatically reduces the need to send anyone up to the front of the boat.
For those times you do need to make the effort there is a solid stainless steel rail, split at the bow, to help keep you safe.

As I mentioned earlier, the 530 is powered by a 90hp Mercury Command Thrust four-stroke engine and the 585 by a 115hp Mercury Command Thrust four-stroke. Both engines use the same 2.1-litre inline four-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection.
They are both fitted with all the same electronics, same cooling system and both are tuned to rev up to 6000rpm. They even weigh virtually the same, 165kgs. During the testing, in ideal boating conditions, both boats had similar top speeds of around 40 knots (75km/h) but the 585, with the 115 on the back got there a lot quicker.
Chianti 530 12
As I have already said the two boats share largely the same hull design, come with the same features and are intended for the same type of use – fishing, cruising and family fun.
So what does differentiate them?
The larger 585 can accommodate a larger engine as we’ve already looked at, so the next most significant difference is the overall length. The 585 is 550mm (21 inches) longer. They are exactly the same width with a maximum beam of 2.25m. This extra length means the 585 is licenced to carry one extra passenger over and above the 530, so if you need to consistently fit 6 on board, this is the boat for you. All of the extra space is in the cockpit, adding all 550mm between the rear of the helm seat and the transom seat. This makes this an extremely usable space for anyone with a definite slant towards fishing or regular entertaining. But it also means that the cabin on the 585 is the same size as the smaller 530. While it is a reasonable size cabin for the smaller vessel it is on the small side for a boat that has an overall length of 6.1m.
The 585 also has a bigger kill tank, more under gunnel storage and couple of handy little features like side steps to make getting out of the boat easier and a central locker door in the transom providing easier access to the battery than the 530 where you need to reach in from under the side seats. It has also been hinged to swing up and has a fold up leg so it can be used as a table, which is a pretty nifty feature for those times you just want to sit back and relax with a drink a bite to eat.
At the end of the day, the all important price tag is also a critical factor in these decisions. The 585, priced at $49,990, will cost you $7000 more than the keenly priced 530 at $42,990 as tested.
Chianti 585 14
Chianti 530 6ON THE TRAILER
Both boats sit on Boeing aluminium trailers with multi-rollers and keel rollers. They are also fitted with mechanical brakes, LED lights and plastic mudguards over the 13-inch wheels. The 585 is about 200kg heavier than its little sibling but it is still light enough to be pulled by a medium sized SUV. Because of its extra length and weight it sits on a dual-axle trailer, which makes it a bit more stable to tow and easier to reverse, while the 530 comes on a single axle trailer.

Performance was another telling consideration. It was out on the water where you also started to notice the difference between the two boats. The extra length and weight of the 585 also made it a more pleasant boat to drive. As I mentioned earlier both boats had a top speed of just under 40knots though when accelerating hard from a stand still, even in the calm conditions, they did feel a little skittish, probably because there was too much hull out of the water. That could have been caused by the bigger gearbox used in the Command Thrust engine, which is designed to provide a heap of low down power, making it ideal for water sports or heavier boats. The standard Mercury four-stroke would probably provide the same top speed — it would just take longer to get there — and elmimate the skittishness.
While the conditions were near on perfect, not great for boat testing, you could still feel the difference in the way the two boats landed when running over chop, or in our case the wake of the other boat. The 530 tended to jar more than its bigger sibling and provided a harder ride. They both turned nicely digging in with predictable lean with virtually no sign of sliding. And they were both well balanced, even when hitting wash from a big 40ft cruiser at speed. At rest both hulls were nice and stable, helped by the portifino pods, even with two or three people standing on one side.
Chianti 585 6
Chianti 530 14From a driving point of view the 530 and 585 are set up identically. I love the big dash and the controls and switches were all within easy reach whether standing or sitting, though with the latter I did find the windscreen frame was right in the wrong position for me. I could have adjusted the height of the seat but then it would not have been as comfortable. The hydraulic steering was nice and responsive and provided a good feel which enabled you to manoeuvre, both at speed and when docking, confidently.

On pure comfort, space and performance I would go for the bigger boat every time. The extra space in the cockpit makes it better suited for both fishing and entertaining. And the additional low-down power of the 115hp also makes it better suited to water sports. But with the cabin only the same size as the smaller 530 it really is a boat that has been designed for day use.
If you intend to use your boat mainly inshore, and it will normally only carry two or three people then save the money and go for the smaller, 530, which you can get into for under $40,000 if you swap the 90hp outboard for a smaller 70.
It will also be slightly easier to tow, making it a better option to take away on holidays and easier to handle single-handedly if need be. And, depending on which motor option you choose you could save yourself up to $10,000.
Chianti 530 9
Chianti 530
Price: (as tested) $42,990
Overall Length: 5.65m
Beam: 2.25m
Fuel: 85-litres
Max People: 5
Deadrise: 20deg
Power: 70-115hp
Engine Fitted: Mercury 90hp four-stroke
Trailerable weight: 1250kg

Chianti 585 8Chianti 585
Price: (as tested) $49,990
Overall Length: 6.2m
Beam: 2.25m
Fuel: 100-litres
Max People: 6
Deadrise: 20deg
Power: 115-150hp
Engine Fitted: Mercury 115hp four-stroke
Trailerable weight: 1465kg