Mako Craft 530 Trophy Review

Issue: January/February 2006

Raise The Trophy. It may be the new kid on the block but Mako Craft has a long pedigree.

When Alf Stessl retired, his son Tim and daughter Nicola discussed taking over the long established family boating business (Stessl Boats), but decided to start all over again with a new range of aluminium boats under the Mako Craft banner.

Mako Craft is a Stessl family company and, although notionally retired, Alf remains in the background as a consultant.

Mako Craft’s 530 Trophy is a definite ‘no frills’ centre console. Tim Stessl came along during the test to drive the camera boat. I took the opportunity to ask him why, when the trend is now towards fully fitted-out boats?

He said he’d found there are two types of people that buy pure fishing boats like the Trophy line. Those who want their boat to come ready to fuel up and go fishing and those who don’t want any bells and whistles, because they want to fit-out their boats themselves.

Obviously, the 530 Trophy is one of the latter. It’s a pure fishing boat without even a solitary rod holder! I have to agree with Tim, because I’m one of those who prefer to give important things like rod holder placement some thought-before fitting them myself.

The only option on this test boat was what Tim called a ‘half’ paint job. This involves painting the hull’s sides and topsides. It makes the boat quite presentable, while leaving the bits that go grotty in a hard fished, fully painted boat au natural.

There is also a deluxe version of the 530 Trophy. It comes with a full paint job and graphics on the sides, making it quite a handsome boat. But wait, there’s more, including a fish box seat behind the centre console. It has a flip-over backrest, plus another storage locker/seat in front of the console and rod holders. Both versions include the console with bimini.

The wide acrylic screen on the test boat surprised me, because it provides good shelter from the slipstream at speed. It was also big enough to duck behind to avoid any spray blown inboard from the opposite side of the boat (spray coming from the side is something you’ll wear in any centre consoles). The stout grab rail around the windscreen also comes in handy when things get a tad rough.

Designing centre consoles is an art and you’d be surprised how many boats I test with consoles apparently designed by people who don’t spend much time in centre consoles. But this is definitely not one of them.

The placement of the steering wheel and grab bar are all-important while travelling across rough water. Ergonomically, the 530 Trophy’s console is a perfect example of just how good a console can be.

With that console to revolve around, what the 530 Trophy offers is an excellent fishing workshop with a completely flat deck from bow to transom. The sides are high and, except for where the bow pinches in, overhanging side decks provide that essential leg support required when fighting a big fish, even at the transom. Here, a shelf supports the battery and stowage area, so your feet can go underneath easily.

However, the side pockets do compromise the leg support. I don’t know what to say about it; because I dislike the way your lower leg meets these darn things before your upper leg meets the side deck. Me, I’d order my boat without them. However, every boat builder I’ve mentioned my dislike of side pockets to, comes back immediately with the comment their customers insist on them.

That dealt with, this no frills version of the Mako Craft 530 Trophy is without doubt the basis of a very good fishing boat. All the essentials are in place and from there it’s up to the individual to fit it out to suit themselves.

One look at the bow will tell you not to hope for more than what an ordinary aluminium hull can conceivably provide. Standard deadrise angles at the bow mean this boat will ride like any aluminium hull in rough water with all of a tinny’s good and bad traits. Aft, the 530 Trophy hull utilises some Alf Stessl innovations by way of a pair of 100mm deep longitudinal rails fixed along each side of the hull’s bottom.

These have been on various Stessl boats for long enough to rate as a proven design.

For a 400kg, 5.3m-boat, a Mercury 75hp four-stroke is not a lot of horsepower. To make things even worse, the motor on the test boat was literally straight out of the box and, like all good four-strokes, performs better with a few hours under its belt. With all this in mind, how well this one performed was a real eye opener.

Acceleration out of the hole was impressive and we recorded a top speed of more than 32 knots. It’s reasonable to conclude this boat will perform well with less power than you might expect.

This is no surprise to me, because I’ve seen the effects of Alf ‘s innovative rail system (which eases the water tension between hull and water’s surface) many times before. We couldn’t test it on the day, but if this hull does what it’s designed to do (and previous experience shows it will), it should prove economical to run.

The Trophy hull has a 4mm bottom and 3mm topsides. Below decks longitudinal stringers support the hull’s skin, in what is commonly termed a ‘plate’ hull. Above decks there’s a system of ribs along the sides similar to the ‘frame and skin’ style of most aluminium boat construction.

On the water, the boat acted and felt like a plate hull, because the sides are 1mm thicker than most competitors. I reckon we’ll be hearing a lot more about Mako Craft .

According to the team at Mako Craft, its boats offer great value for money, superb handling and performance and innovative designs from the more than 30 years of expertise from the Stessl family. The company is the longest running family owned and operated aluminium boat manufacturing business in Australia.

Mako Craft’s strong, rigid hulls and technologically advanced designs offer extremely soft riding, stable boats that are great for fishing and family cruising.

Excellent tracking and planing abilities are also features on all Mako Craft boats. Both families and fishermen will love Mako Craft boats, because of their practical layout, easy to handle trailing features, low maintenance, quality and inherent safety.

A Mercury 75hp four-stroke powered the Mako 5.3 and proved to be an efficient match for this 400kg hull.

With two adults onboard the 5.3 Trophy had impressive acceleration out of the hole and recorded a top speed of more than 32 knots. Obviously, this hull will perform well with less power than one might expect.

LENGTH: 5.3m
BEAM: 2.3m
DEPTH: 1.45m
SIDES: 3mm
MAX HP: 120hp
WEIGHT: 400kg

CONTACT: (07) 5564 7742 (Fax)

+ Top centre console; High gunwales 
– Side pockets