Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review

By: Norman Holtzhausen, 2007

Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review
Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review
Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review
Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review
Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review
Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review Looking back: Challenger 595 boat review

Check out this review of the Challenger 595 (first published in Trade-a-Boat magazine in 2007).

The Challenger 595 projects solidity with robust construction and excellent hull rigidity. Although it’s equipped for a bit of rough, it’s still ideal for everyday use.

Bulletproof design

From the outset Challenger boats have been professionally designed. For the 595, Challenger went to Tauranga naval architect, Terry Read. The brief was for a strong hull that would slice through waves rather than pound over the top of them.

The resulting design was powerfully engineered by High Modulus and the polyester resin is up to 12mm thick in places. This means the hull is slightly heavier than comparable designs, but the difference in the ride is immediately evident.


The boat is 5.95m overall, with a spacious 2.3m beam with an 18.5° deadrise
It features a cuddy cabin layout with two bunks, formed by a one-piece moulded inlay.

A full-length parcel shelf runs along both sides of the cabin, providing easy storage. Under the squabs is extra flotation, giving the boat positive buoyancy. A useful stainless steel grab-rail runs all around the cabin doorway.

The cockpit is fitted with two pedestals sporting fixed back-to-back seats. The rear seats lift up to expose a large dry storage area, and there is the usual side-shelf running the full length of the cockpit under the gunwales.

Full carpeting in the cockpit area identifies this as a family boat rather than flat out fishing machine, although it has four rod holders as standard, and padding along the sides of the gunwale making them comfortable to lean against when fighting big reds. Bright-white LED lights are fitted into the padded sections at knee-height, enabling the cockpit to be lit at night.

Two hatches in the transom provide access to the twin batteries in their own compartment, and additional storage space. Two optional extras are traditionally available: a bait station or a pumped, fresh-water sink unit.

The test boat was fitted with a Honda BF135 4-stroke outboard, developing 135hp at 5500rpm. This engine, a four-cylinder 2.3-litre block, weighs 217kg and is at the top of the recommended horsepower range. An 80-litre, fuel tank underfloor provides the boat with a reasonable fuel mileage range.

Challenger _595_3

Helm setup is clean and simple. Honda instrumentation provides confirmation of RPM, speed, fuel, engine trim and charging voltage. A VHF radio and a GPS/Fishfinder are well positioned and easy to operate.

The positioning of the helm seat in relation to the steering is excellent as many boats set up the seat too close to the wheel. Not so here.

Up front, the boat has a hatch providing anchor access. The hatch folds back up towards the windscreen, but stops upright, preventing damage to the window. The anchor locker is hinged either side. A stainless fairlead and a robust bollard offer solid anchor mounting.

Tough day for a test

The trial was done in typical snotty Auckland weather – rain squalls gusting up to 40 knots. The water was choppy and a swell was running – not pleasant for an open-cabin boat – but we kitted up and pressed on.

The first thing that impressed was the "solid" feel. The boat felt robust. The "seriously well-made" build quality is visible everywhere. The boat is well balanced and at rest it scarcely heeled over when all three on board leaned over one side, and the trim at rest is just about perfect.

Once out in the elements proper, the design brief held true, with the boat genuinely slicing through the waves. We found the wake coming off the fast ferry and had great sport jumping this a few times, with the boat holding its line and landing smoothly. There was no flexing of the hull,and none of the usual "bang" that many lesser fibreglass hulls make.

Further out we tested the boat ‘out of the hole’- planing in seconds, with none of the tail-squatting prevalent in poorly balanced boats. The boat tracked dead straight with hands off the wheel, easily coping with the nasty chop. Once we were under way, we were perfectly dry, with the chines keeping spray well away from the boat.

Manoeuvring at a nearby high wharf in the testing conditions was not easy, but the boat was nimble even at low speed and we achieved transfers without incident.

The verdict

Overall, this boat is very impressive. It is very well designed and built, and the finish is excellent. The ride is one of the best on the market and the handling is superb.

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