When you have a large, extended family of boaties, the best way to celebrate special occasions is on a comfy, spacious platform that accommodates everyone’s needs. The Leopard 43’s a sleek solution.
- Strongly built and well finished
- Hull and pontoon design is unique
- Custom features enhance the boat's appeal
- Vinyl wrap looks sharp
- Custom trolling motor bracket on the boat's centreline
Game On was a special project for Jake, the DNA 570 XHT’s Taupo-based owner, replacing a smaller DNA 4.5m centre-console. The new boat had to fulfill a broader, more family-oriented role, fishing and boating on Lake Taupo and around East Cape, where Jake spends time with his family.
DNA Alloy Boats NZ builds a range of aluminium pontoon/chamber-style boats, from dinghies to eight-metre-plus hardtops, as well as conventional plate aluminium models. They are all built to a high standard using computer-aided design (CAD) and the latest CNC profile cutting tools at the company’s Nelson facility.
Build capacity is growing, as is the range DNA offers, which encompasses dinghies, centre-console, cuddy cabin and hardtop pontoon styles, as well as plate-aluminium centre-console, cuddy and hardtop models to more than eight metres. DNA also offers a range of alloy jetboats.
One of the company’s strengths, says founder Jason Elvines, is the ability to fully customise a boat while it’s still a 3D model in the computer. This aspect appealed to Jake, who had approached several aluminium boat builders with his ideas, but none were as accommodating as Jason at DNA.
“He was fantastic! Nothing was too hard and I really appreciated his team’s efforts to give me the boat I wanted,” enthused Jake.
Stable & safe
Game On is a DNA 570 XHT (hardtop), with a modest degree of customisation. This is a pontoon design offering the advantages of a dry ride, excellent stability at rest and superior safety. DNA boats are built strong, incorporating a well-engineered lattice of interlocking full-length frames between the hull plates and the floor. The sealed underfloor chamber is pressure tested, as are the pontoons, divided into separate sealed compartments for additional security.
The 570 features DNA’s X-series hull with pontoons that taper towards the bow, which gives a sleeker appearance. DNA’s design team has sought to increase internal beam, always at a premium in pontoon boats, without increasing the wetted surface by making the hull beamier. They’ve achieved this by adding tapered, downturned chines to the hull, which trap a cushion of air and deflect the spray down and away before it contacts the pontoons. The pontoons themselves are stepped out, to provide more internal beam, and lifted slightly to minimise drag when the boat is planing.
For a modest-sized aluminium pontoon hardtop, Game On is roomy inside. A flat floor and enough toe-room to hook your feet under the raised pontoon is a DNA feature Jake particularly likes. Generous use of black Seadek on the cockpit sole, swim steps, coamings and side decks adds warmth, style and comfort and Hella marine LED cockpit and foredeck floodlights complement LED lighting inside.
The cockpit is roomy: the boat feels beamy and stable underway, but the hull is still relatively easily driven. Game On has a white Honda 150hp bolted to the transom pod, but the same hull performs very well with 115hp, as we confirmed on the Hauraki Gulf at a later date.
Jake is into fishing, so Game On is well set up for it. The transom layout works well, with a bait station in the middle, including a handy drawer under the bait board, a live well under the port-side walkthrough (with drop-in door), a washdown to starboard, and switches and sight bowl safely tucked away inside twin transom lockers. The T-section boarding ladder is on the port side, with wide treads to accommodate divers’ swim fins, and the fuel filler is outside the cockpit on the transom.
Game On’s bait station features storage for up to five rods, knife slots and a PVC cutting board that drains overboard to the rear. Additional rod storage is by way of a nicely canted rocket launcher (six positions), side pockets and cuddy berths while four angled through-coaming rod holders are set up for trolling duties. If it were my boat, I’d specify a thicker cutting board so the bait station’s lip wouldn’t interfere with fish filleting.
Custom features on this boat relate to how Jake likes to fish – and also his situation when it comes to storing the boat. The biggest deviation from standard is the hardtop, which is marginally lower than usual. There’s still plenty of headroom under the carpeted ceiling, but for Jake to be able to store the boat, the rig on the trailer had to be considerably lower than standard.
To lower the hardtop profile further, DNA added a custom removable rocket launcher and low-profile tyres for the DNA aluminium trailer. So equipped, Game On just squeezes through the doors to Jake’s shed.
Other custom features include 5mm hull plates, a full length doubled keel strip (10mm thick), a lockable compartment in the bow under the berths for valuables when the boat is left unattended and a modified seat base to accommodate Jake’s Icey Tek cooler. With the bin slid home under the seat base, what sticks out into the cockpit serves as an aft-facing seat.
The most visible modification is to the vessel’s bow, on which is mounted a Minn Kota Ulterra 24-volt trolling motor. DNA has designed and fabricated a custom mount for it above the fairlead so the Minn Kota can deploy directly over the bow on the boat’s centreline, where it’s most efficient. Two deep-cycle trolling motor batteries are housed under the v-berths inside the cuddy cabin.
The only downside of this arrangement is that the forward hatch cannot be opened fully when the trolling motor is stowed, but access to the foredeck is also possible around the hardtop via relatively wide side decks. There are handrails on the hardtop roof to grab onto, unusual bowrails to aid launching and retrieving and robust beltings to protect the pontoons when coming alongside.
The Maxwell R6 capstan is mounted on a plate under the foredeck, which has been cut out to expose it. The rode feeds into the anchor locker beneath, accessible via a hatch in the forward bulkhead. Attached to the chain is a Rocna 4 anchor located permanently on the fairlead under the trolling motor bracket.
Controlled from a handheld remote, Jake intends to use the trolling motor to position the boat when jigging for trout on Lake Taupo or fishing for kingfish and hapuku around East Cape. He wants to be able to hold the boat in place over a pin or above fish visible on his 12-inch Simrad NSSevo3. A Chirp transducer sends the signals to the unit’s fishfinder/sounder module.
Honda engine data can also be routed to the Simrad MFD, but Jake has opted for a separate Garmin display in lieu of analogue gauges. The VHF radio is also a Simrad unit, mounted overhead alongside a Fusion stereo.
Seating is courtesy of a pair of black vinyl-upholstered swivel seats on aluminium bases. They’re adjustable fore and aft with bolsters to support stand-up driving. The dash is a simple, white-painted affair with room for a large-screen MFD, the Garmin digital display, various switch panels, Maxwell anchor winch control and reset, plus a double USB outlet.
The open bulkhead provides easy access to the forward cabin. An infill creates a double berth, which Jake will use with his family, and there’s provision for a toilet under the squabs. The hardtop extends far enough aft to provide good weather protection without impacting too much on the cockpit’s overhead working space. Drop covers are an option.
Soft and dry
I liked the driving position and especially the excellent vision though the windscreen. The foredeck slopes away so you get a good view of the water in front of the boat, which is only slightly compromised by the Minn Kota on the bow. The electric trolling motor is easily removed and either left at home or stowed on board if not required. A single windscreen wiper keeps the driver’s side clear of rain and spray, of which there was none on a calm and sunny Lake Taupo spring day.
Although the water was mostly flat, we contrived enough photo boat wake crossings to confirm the 570 XHT cuts through the swells cleanly, lands softly and deflects spray well away from the boat. The recommended horsepower range for this model is 115-140hp, but Game On has 150hp on the transom.
The Honda is a quiet outboard, throughout the rev range, but especially at idle, while hull noise was muted for an aluminium pontoon boat, perhaps something to do with the Seadek flooring. These observations were confirmed a few days later aboard a second 570 XHT with a 115hp Honda on a much choppier Hauraki Gulf. Without the Seadek the hull was considerably noisier.
There wasn’t a huge engine trim range to work with, and Game On began to bounce her nose a little once the trim gauge approached the halfway mark, despite the weight of a trolling motor and a couple of batteries up front. Perhaps the engine height requires adjustment. Certainly, there was ample trim range on the other 570 XHT we tried subsequently on the Hauraki Gulf, so it must be down to set up.
Performance with the 150hp Honda is strong. Hole shots are snappy and Jake expects to reach speeds well in excess of 35 knots once the trim is sorted. The hull extends past the transom, partway under the swim steps, increasing the waterline length. This helps the boat to feel bigger than 5.7m, an impression reinforced by its roomy interior.
Game On is a smart-looking boat. Its high-quality construction is evident at a glance. There’s not a single spotty weld, the railings, handholds and footrests are well-positioned, and the black vinyl-wrapped hull not only looks great, it should also wear well. Boats are supplied on a single-axle custom alloy or galvanised steel trailer.
Excellent build quality and DNA’s ability to individually customise vessels on request should appeal to customers like Jake with particular requirements, as well as to anyone seeking a stylish and capable aluminium pontoon/chamber trailerboat in this size range./>