by Steve Lague

The Chianti 585 Cuddy Cab is one of many boats on the market today that are referred to as all-rounders. Most boats that carry the “all-rounder” tag can be successfully used for a variety of activities yet compromises have to be made. The Chianti is no different. If you are going to use the boat only for fishing, there are better options on the market. Same goes for watersports activities. If you want a boat capable of fishing, watersports, family fun or entertaining then it is worth consideration.

The boat we tested was primarily set up for family use with seating for five and features like built in eskies, tables and cup holders in the making it an ideal boat to take to your favourite bay for a picnic. Fitted with the right motor, it can also be used for towing tubes or even water skiers. The hull design also makes it a pretty good offshore vessel too.

And with Hi-Tech Marine, which has exclusive rights to sell the Chianti brand in Australia, setting them up as drive-away packages that start under $55,000 they represent a pretty good value for money proposition.

The New Zealand designed and Chinese-built Chianti is one of the few fibreglass trailer boats on the market today that offers a 10-year structural warranty. chianti-585-4
chianti-585-7They are also a well-finished boat with fully-lined cabins and good quality fittings and fixtures throughout.

As I said earlier, Hi-Tech Marine are marketing the Chianti range as a drive-away proposition that means they are fitting the boat out with everything you need, including all safety equipment and electronics, to get out on the water.

The standard equipment also includes a well-built stainless steel canopy with bimini and clears that create a well protected, dry helm area.

The biggest asset of the Chianti 585 Cuddy Cab is its cockpit area that is quite roomy, despite its 5.25m beam.

Standard equipment in this area includes seating for four people, the two helm seats, which swivel 360 degrees in the standard set-up, and two removable seats in each corner of the transom.

The boat we tested had a back-to-back seat fitted on the passenger side instead of the standard seat. I have previously tested boats with this setup and said I would not put in a boat myself. After this test, longer than our normal test, I have changed my mind, but more on that later. This seat also provides the built-in esky I mentioned earlier.Chianti 585 7

The two rear seats are situated either side of the large engine well and each have easily accessible built-in cupholders. The locker door hiding the batteries and isolation switch in the middle of the transom has drop down legs attached so it can also be used as a table. The whole set-up makes a comfortable spot for lunch or a drink.

For those times you are looking for more room, the two rear seats can easily be removed.

There is also plenty of storage in the cockpit with a big underfloor locker as well as enough under the gunnel storage for ropes and other bits and pieces. There is also a small locker in the transom.

The helm of the Chianti 585 provides enough space for two 9-inch screens and the usual array of gauges and switches. The skipper gets a very comfortable wrap-around bucket seat with footrest. The seat is far enough away from the dash so that you can drive standing up or sitting in comfort.

The dash on the passenger side is cut-away to create an opening into the cabin.
The cabin is quite open but on the test boat a canvas blind, with a door opening, had been fitted. The blind provides privacy for those wanting to use the standard chemical toilet and those who may just want a rest.
The bunks in the cabin are long enough for most adults to lie on, just. With an in-fill fitted it would make a reasonably good size double bed for the occasional overnight stay. The cabin would be more suited to families with small children who enjoy a lay down during the day. It also makes a good dry storage area for your equipment.

There is also a large roof hatch in the cabin providing easy access to the front of the boat but I would be ticking the option box alongside the electric anchor winch to eliminate the need for anyone to go up the front.

A split stainless steel bowrail runs along the sides for those who want to access the bow from the outside.


The Chianti 585 is rated to carry engines between 115 and 150hp. The boat we tested was fitted with the smallest recommended horsepower, which, in most circumstances, will provide enough performance. If you are planning to use the boat to pull the kids around on water toys or want to go offshore regularly I would consider opting for a few more horsepower. That said, we used the Chianti for a days fishing off Jurien Bay, about 200km north of Perth, venturing about 30kms off shore with three on board. The 115hp Mercury four-stroke on the back performed really well.

Over the day we travelled over 70kms averaged 0.7nm/litre (1.3km/litre). At cruising speed of 22 knots (40km/h) its consumption was a very economical 2.2kms per litre. On the way home we even got to test it flat out reaching speeds of around 35 knots, though fuel consumption dropped to 1.0km/litre.

Because the four-stroke engine is so quiet we did not shut it down all day.

We don’t very often get to test a boat for as long as we spent in the Chianti 585. A full day of offshore fishing provided an opportunity to really put it through its paces, and in conditions that were far from perfect. We left the Jurien Bay marina in about a 10knot easterly (offshore) breeze. It was here I came to appreciate the back-to-back seat. With three people on board the third passenger used the rear-facing part of the passenger seat. He found it so comfortable we could not get him out of it. Because it is up near the front under the bimini he also stayed nice and dry. He even fished from that spot all day. While it does eat into the cockpit space a little it proved to be a real asset.

Jurien is located in a big bay surrounded by reef and small islands creating a large area of protected water. According to the locals it can still get pretty rough. Running with the breeze at our back the Chianti 585 had little trouble handling the conditions while inside the reef. On the outside of the reef there was a rolling two-metre swell and again, for the most part, it remained stable and handled predictably. Though I did feel it was a bit nose down, even with the engine tilted up as much as it could and on a couple of bigger swells we did cop some water over the bow. For most of the journey we were able to sit on around 15 knots in comfort.

At the fishing grounds the combination of the wind and swell made fishing a bit of a challenge but I was impressed with the stability of the hull. The portifino design transom that creates two pods at the back of the boat helps this. The pods do eat into cockpit space but its easy to understand why they are so popular in New Zealand designed boats. With the rear seats removed there was enough room for the three of us to fish comfortably. This was despite using the flip up table as the base for our cutting board, which is not ideal and further restricts space.  You can fit an optional bait board over the engine well. This is another option box I would tick if planning on fishing from the boat.

The test boat had four rod holders in the gunnels and a six across the back of the bimini providing plenty of storage for rods. We used the under floor locker, filled with some water and ice, to keep our catch fresh.

On the trip home we had to head into the wind and swell. Initially, we travelled at 10 to 12 knots, we’re all at an age where comfort is more important than speed, and the hull cut through the waves nicely. The flare in the bow did a great job of keeping the spray well away from the cockpit. We drove all the way back to the marina with the middle section of the clears rolled up. There were plenty of times when the hull crashed over swells hard but there were no shudders. There were not even any rattles from the bimini.

The Chianti felt really solid in the water and the ride was soft enough for all three of us to remain comfortably seated throughout the journey. The hydraulic steering was another welcome feature on a day when we were constantly manoeuvring to get back to fishing spots.

The Chianti 585 we tested was sitting on a Boeing multi-roller dual-axle trailer with mechanical brakes. It was set up so you could either drive the boat on and off or do it manually. Either way it was a simple two-person operation. We towed the boat with an Isuzu D-Max 4×4 LS-U Crew Cab with a towing capacity of 3500kg. With a towable weight of around 1500kg you could easily tow the Chianti 585 with a medium-sized SUV. On the 500km trip the trailer sat perfectly behind the Isuzu. Travelling at 100km/h on a road where the wind can be an issue, there were no problems with trailer sway.
The Chianti 585 is an impressive boat that all the family can enjoy. It also looks good, is well finished and performs well.

During the test period I picked up a couple of issues. The front hatch leaked and the bow rail was flared, I presume to create more foot room when walking around the side of the boat. The problem was it was flared to such an extent it was wider than the rubbing strip making it the first point of contact with the jetty posts when pulling alongside. Being quite springy they tend to bounce you back off the jetty.

An upgraded version of the 585 will be released next month.  It will make its debut at the 2016 Mandurah Boat Show, and both of those issues have been addressed.

Test boat supplied by Hi Tech Marine, Wangara, WA

Good Value
Well built and finished

Bow Rail design
Front hatch design

Price: (as tested) $54,000
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