Whitehaven Harbour Classic 40 - Boat Review

Whitehaven – Harbour Classic 40 Boat Review

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Whitehaven Harbour Classic 40 boat review

Yesteryears practical design gets a modern transformation that takes the humble Lobster Boat and turns it into a sophisticated and elegant cruiser. The original incarnation of this style of boat was for hauling lobster traps onboard, this twin engines IPS version is made to haul arse and wash lobster rolls down with a glass of bubbles in the cockpit.

The design from which this boat derives its heritage was built to handle the challenging north Atlantic seas, and much like the original sports cars of yesteryear, they were constructed for their handling capabilities. Being kitted out for luxury and comfort weren’t boxes that required ticking on the build spec.

Sports cars went through a transformation, deviation from the single-minded focus and saw the emergence of slightly more substantial and infinitely more comfortable versions. These sports cars, made for covering greater distances in much greater comfort, garnered the Grand Tourer appellation or GT for short.

Lobster boats also changed in size and performance and evolved into the more gentile Picnic Boats or the Down Easter style as it is known in the USA. Brisbane based Naval Architect Misha Merzliakov, known for his Superyacht designs, was tasked with elevating this tried and tested platform from New Zealand designer Bill Upfold. He’s intricately woven style, premium comfort and luxurious finishes together to create Harbour Classic 40.

Retaining critical characteristics of the design heritage and complementing the design lines with an attentive fusion of function and elegance, Whitehaven Motor Yachts has seamlessly transformed the retro-styling into a premium GT of the Sea.

The proud sheerline sweeps aft from a high flared bow and beautifully rolls into a low freeboard aft with the curved hips completing the pleasing flowing lines. Aesthetically influenced by necessity to easily haul traps over the sides the design inadvertently incorporated some of the most pleasing curves that mimic the shapes of marine animals and inspire the boundless roaming in a swift, fluid package.

Typically I prefer to focus on the personality of a boat, how it functions and benefits the user from the way it is designed. Still, in the case of the Harbour Classic 40, it’s hard to look beyond the aesthetics without pausing to admire. It is s stunning looking vessel, it’s timeless and has such universal appeal as if it’s used the Golden Ratio to determine the pleasing dimensional relationships. It also seems to draws inspiration from the Art Deco period with recognisable shapes and features from the wooden fashion plates to the Spitfire like exhaust styling below, the subtle curves and proportions achieve a timeless charm with a distinct contemporary crispness. 

It truly is a beautiful design with flowing lines and svelte colours. To borrow a line from car advertising from the early ’60s, it’s “Trim Taught and Terrific.” At 40 feet it feels as agile as a sports cruiser, shore footed like a sports yacht, with luxury refinements that make it the Grand Tourismo of the Sea. 

Something far more comfortable than your average sports cruiser and packing the ability to take significant strides along the coast, this boat is there to fill the void of individuality and uniqueness that a production boat buyer can sometimes find themselves in. 

This boat is definitely one you buy for its looks, but it is particularly well suited to any boat owner that’s second-guessed a decision to head out for the day, due to the effort involved to prepare and the effort required upon return. This boat dispels the second-guessing and replaces it with spontaneity. 

Enjoying the freedom this boat enables, our Friday afternoon escape out the Gold Coast Seaway for a couple of hours on the water, is what this boat was built to do. The sea state of this time of year has us heading north along South Stradbroke Island. The pocket openings of clouds are allowing the late Autumn light to cast colours from the same palette as subtly understated hull and topsides. The beautiful afternoon light, the roll from the ocean swell and the curvaceous hull lines meld into the surrounding seascape.

An easterly swell is hitting us on the beam, a westerly wind is blowing at approximately 10 knots our tanks are about 1/4 full. The empty waves closer to shore with feathering peaks are a reminder the swell at is a reasonable one at 1.5 metres. The opposing wind to swell cleans up the surface sufficiently to run at speed, combined with the Zip Wake, (Dynamic Trim Control System) the HC40 is doing an exceptional job of maintaining a good ride even at top speed, which is averaging around 28 knots.

The running attitude, the quick out of the blocks sensation and balanced feel on the plane, is the Sum of the equilibrium built into this boat. Rather than position the engines under the cockpit sole, Whitehaven has maintained the stable yet supple ride by placing the heavy machinery under the saloon as per the original hull design by Bill Upfold. By running the longest jack shafts possible to the IPS drives, little in the way of changes are needed to accommodate the different drive system from the single-engine version introduced last year. 

For their first IPS incarnation in the Whitehaven range, the result is commendable. The twin D4 IPS 400 engines produce 300 hp each and have no trouble propelling the boat to high speed without draining the tanks. At 28 knots the engines were consuming a combined total of 110 litres per hour which is not much compared with similar-sized vessels. Fast, maneuverable and manageable, it makes for end of day outings, day trips, and long weekend escapes, badges of honour that this boat will wear with pride.

The cockpit has been optioned with the shorter hardtop, the entire area can be covered by the Sureshade, an extendable electric awning concealed flush into the hardtop, a big tick for sun protection with absolutely no assembly required. Hold the button and extend the coverage as far you need.

Set to port is a corner seat for three to four people with a table that can accommodate more by adding movable seating or lowered for a more sun lounging setup. The hopper window opens the saloon out to the cockpit with handy refrigeration and freezer units below. 

Inside opulence is dialled down to subtly chosen sophisticated leathers on the headlining, and supple leathers on the seating and textured leather highlights of the helm seat.

The formula is a simple tried and trusted layout that is particularly suited to day-tripping and entertaining with contingencies. The focus is on indoor-outdoor living with ease and acknowledgement that a change of mind is always on the cards. On a day boat, the galley is often lightly used, rather than have it as a barrier between indoor-outdoor interaction by putting it down from the helm simplifies the saloon layout, creating a fluid flow between the entertaining spaces. If you want a good support act for entertaining this galley can turn it up with size and usability. There’s a two-burner electric cooktop which is hidden away by the flush bench lid that lifts and holds on a gas strut. No bench space is lost when you fill in the sink too. Airconditioned, dish drawer, convection microwave and an upright domestic style fridge freezer meet the needs of the entertainer nicely.  

Catering to the escape artist and reluctant to return home, the HC40 has the gear to stay out and not come home for a few days. Water storage is 450 litres which is a little above average for this size and plenty for a few days of living aboard. Generous volume has been donated to the bathroom space, motivated by the desire for more convenience and practicality for both entertaining in comfort and catering to longer stays. Extra floor space in front of the vanity creates a convenient area to don the swimmers or change clothes for dining ashore in privacy. This arrangement also affords the shower cubicle more space enough for a full pirouette if you’ve got the balance.  I like the idea of this bathroom because in real boat usage it will be utilised a lot more than the forward cabin, so in my view the right choice. 


The flexibility of the space down below allow for flexibility of plans. If you have some extra bodies on board, there is extra space by way of the double berth under the forward part of the saloon and helm. Full-sized cosy spot amidships is accessed aft of the galley and will actually allow for very comfortable sleeping for kids or adults.  

After feedback from customers, Whitehaven has made the main berth fully private, doors can close off the cabin if needed. To open it up one door opens fwd and then other aft. The forward opening one ensures access to the fridge is not inhibited when open. , there’s not much need for the doors considering its suited to the couples market, but it’s nice to have the option when more bodies do stay overnight.

The helm has a good view from the double seat, sightlines to the galley, and through the transom gate aft. The dash is laid out well, differing from the single-engine version we last reviewed is the inclusion of the joystick and the dual throttle controls. By combining the Volvo Penta IPS with Garmin Electronics, you get easy to operate and intuitive glass bridge system that allows the navigation and engine monitoring to be integrated into the multifunction display. You’ve also got easy to control digital switching thanks to the independent C-Zone control and intuitive automatic trim a recipe for opening up this boat to people with little or no experience to learn the intuitive operation quickly, especially with the training the team at Whitehaven provide their customers. 

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this design will entrance many who cast their eyes over it. The curves, the colours and the design exude a sleek and anti-traditional elegance that symbolises wealth and sophistication in a stunning yet subtle design. Summer afternoons, long weekends or coastal escapes board blending staying ashore at hotels and dropping the pick in secluded anchorages. Whitehaven has created a vessel that is made for couples, escape artists and people who enjoy hitting the salty road for their natural therapy.

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