by Shane Mensforth

Plate aluminium is certainly riding a wave of success right across the Australian trailer boat market. Most manufacturers now offer a great range and the general standard is first class. Stacer, one of the brands under the giant Telwater umbrella, manufactures a terrific series of plate boats, including the new 539 Sea Runner.
This is a half cab that is well suited for family use and offshore fishing. It’s built with the same level of precision and attention to detail that’s common to all Telwater craft and is far removed from where the Stacer brand used to be. It comes with most of the features you would expect in an all-rounder, as well as a couple of little extras that enhance its user-friendliness.
Sports Marine in Adelaide supplied the test boat, which had been fitted out to suit SA’s often difficult summer boating conditions.

WHAT YOU GET
As a genuine all-rounder, the Stacer 539 Sea Runner provides a useful blend of cockpit space and cabin accommodation. There’s enough room out the back to fish three guys quite comfortably and, with the inclusion of a V-berth in-fill cushion, reasonable overnight accommodation up front. There’s oodles of dry storage space beneath the cabin bunks, one of which comes with a hinged lid and the other with a lift-off cover.
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 14Stacer 539 Sea Runner 13
The Sea Runner’s dash is one piece with a cut out section that provides easy cabin access. While the helm station is quite basic it seems to work well. The pedestal-mounted seats are relatively tall but can be modified to suit the stature of the usual driver. The test boat was fitted with a Garmin EchoMap 75DV GPS/sounder display mounted on the top dash panel at eye level for the seated operator. Directly beneath that there were smart gauges and, to the right of the steering wheel, toggle switches and VHF radio.
A three-piece, wrap-around windscreen provides reasonable protection, but there’s no doubt the bimini top (standard) and clears come in handy in choppy, offshore conditions. The bimini fitted to the test boat also carried a six-rod overhead storage rack, which has become a popular, and virtually essential, accessory these days.
The Sea Runner’s cockpit layout also is basic, but functional. The three-quarter-length side pockets are deep enough to handle gaffs, tag poles and paddles while the collapsible aft bench seat would be useful for when the family is on board. Dropping this seat or erecting it again takes all of ten seconds, and when it’s in the down position, it provides a comfortable padded support for those fishing across the back of the boat.
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 5
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 11
Fuel capacity of 95 litres seems a little on the light side, particularly for offshore fishing, and this would have to be taken into account by prospective buyers. Having said that, however, a tank of this size would suffice for general family use, particularly with motor installations at the lower end of the recommended horsepower range.
Stacer offers an extensive inventory of extras for the Sea Runner package, some of which would definitely be worth considering. There’s an optional live bait tank, the bunk in-fill already mentioned, dual battery system, berley bucket and ‘mega-chopper’ cutting board. None of these would add significantly to the package price, but all would make a good boat better.

POWER
Stacer recommends four-stroke outboards of between 60-130hp for the 539 Sea Runner hull, which is an extremely wide variation and, to be honest, somewhat puzzling. The test boat was fitted with a 100hp Mercury four-stroke, which seemed to be a pretty good choice for everyday use. I could see some buyers opting for maximum horsepower, especially those who consistently carry two or three mates and a mountain of fishing tackle, but the 100 Merc, which is an 8 valve, SOHC in-line four cylinder engine with a 2.1 litre displacement and is equipped with electronic fuel injection. It weighs in at just 165kg, making it one of the lightest four strokes in its class. I also was a fine performer on our test run.
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 9
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 7ON THE WATER
South Australia’s fickle summer weather has made organising boat tests something of a nightmare so far this year. It has either been 40C and blowing hard from the north or half that temperature and blowing even harder from the south. Jagging the odd reasonable day has certainly been more challenging than normal.
We dropped the Stacer in at the local ramp under bright early morning sunshine but with a dodgy forecast for the remainder of the day. It was puffing consistently and obviously building, so the early start had been a wise decision.
Right from the outset it was obvious that the 100hp Mercury was made for this boat. Acceleration from rest was pretty good, and the Sea Runner climbed effortlessly onto the plane under moderate throttle. We had a calm stretch of water immediately north of the marina entrance, providing the opportunity to push up to near full revs and a measured top speed of 36 knots (66km/h). The tacho read only 5300rpm at WOT (wide open throttle), indicating the need for a slightly smaller propeller to achieve the optimum 5800 revs.
I was impressed by the way the 539 Sea Runner handled tight corners over flat water. Pushing hard into a series of turns at around 30 knots (55km/h) there was minimal loss of momentum and, with the motor trimmed well in, no hint of cavitation. The hull loves plenty of out-trim in a straight line, and was very predictable to drive at speed.
Stability at rest was about what I’d expected, and is best described as average to good. Stacer doesn’t quote an actual deadrise figure among the 539’s specifications, but I would anticipate around 19-20 degrees. It’s quite a beamy boat, which definitely helps with stability, but you’d have to load bodies and gear thoughtfully when heading offshore in a hull that weighs a modest 550kg.
We found some gulf swell and moderate chop as we headed further offshore, where the Sea Runner performed very well. It’s surprisingly quiet on the water for an alloy boat, and we travelled comfortably at around 30 knots over the obviously building sea. The hull feels solid and secure under foot, and I was impressed by the total lack of rattles and bangs that come from some plate aluminium boats.
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 4
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 6ON THE TRAILER
Sports Marine supplies the Stacer 539 Sea Runner on a single axle C-section trailer with 13-inch alloy wheels. I was able to drive the boat off with no fuss for the launch and power it back on just as easily when we had finished out on the Gulf. It’s a basic, yet easy to manage, trailer that was set up perfectly for this hull.
While I’m not a huge fan of single axle trailers, there’s no doubt this rig would be a snack to tow behind an average family sedan or mid-sized SUV.

OVERVIEW
As far as general purpose family/fishing boats are concerned, Stacer’s 539 Sea Runner is a very good one. It’s built strongly, fitted out well considering its market niche, and is certain to appeal to a broad cross section of prospective boat buyers. Fitted with a 100hp Merc four- stroke and driven sensibly, you could look forward to exceptional economy – a factor that’s becoming extremely important in today’s world of volatile fuel prices.
I would have no hesitation in taking the Sea Runner well offshore on a reasonable day, and towing it across the state for a fishing vacation would be about as simple and economical as it gets.
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 10
Stacer 539 Sea Runner 2POSITIVES
First class build and finish.
Right mix of cockpit and cabin space for an all-rounder.

NEGATIVES
Fuel tank on the small side

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (as tested) $49,950.
Construction: Plate aluminium
Length: 5.61m
Beam: 2.36m
Hull weight: 550kg
Recommended HP: 60-130
Engine Fitted: 100hp Mercury four-stroke
Fuel Capacity: 95-litres
Aluminium gauge: Topsides 2.5mm, bottom and transom 3.0mm
Maximum load: Seven adults