BOAT TEST: STACER 549 SPORTSTER
Stacer’s revamped 549 Sportster hull still shows the classic lines of models past. And that, says Admiral Huckstepp, is not a bad thing.
TEST: 549 SPORTSTER
Stacer has been dabbling in the inboard market for some time now and continues to make "behind closed doors" improvements. Well, some at least; others are more noticeable. The latest 549 Sportster offering retains a few traits of old while subtle modifications are to be found elsewhere. This boat is an update on the Sportster 539 that was a finalist in the TrailerBoat Boats Of The Year - Alloy Production Family Boats category in this issue.
Of note is the alteration to the bow entry on the keel line, which is now sharper, producing a deeper vee. While this makes for a smoother ride when cutting through chop, the chines from the forequarters aft to the stern have been flattened to provide better stability at rest compared to earlier models. Coupled with the inboard engine's low centre of gravity, these changes produce a flat-hull attitude when turning hard.
The topside retains gunwales with a wide profile along their length. While this might look a little old fashioned, it helps you with boarding or alighting from the craft when pulled up on a beach. The forward bowrails, while short, have been trimmed back to the forequarters to further aid people traffic over the bow.
A new release from MerCruiser in the form of the 3.0 MPI complements this hull, sitting low in the bilge to reduce the centre of gravity. The resulting stability when under power in tight turns is very noticeable compared with similar-sized outboard-powered boats. Ambient noise is also very acceptable, thanks in part to noise insulation in the enginebox.
The enginebox is quite snug around the motor although access to the belts and pulleys would be a little tight without unscrewing the box from the floor. A fence either side, fixed to the deck forward of the box, provides stowage back to the transom.
The top sunlounge lifts up on hinges and gas struts. Whether by accident or design it provides a good backrest for those sitting on the transom and dangling their feet in the water. It also provides the perfect wind break when sitting at anchor and fishing off the transom.
The boarding platform also runs full beam and gives a certain amount of protection to the Alpha leg, which is armed with a 19in three-blade aluminium prop. A telescopic fold-down board ladder is situated here, while a standard tow-eye for skiers or boarders sits midway on the transom.
The cockpit liner has an aperture each side for storing goods. The voids run fore and aft, away from the opening, so some items could occasionally get lost down there. It's no big deal though because jamming in a foam chock would soon block their escape.
The swivelling helm and passenger seats have a rocking backrest for kicking back and relaxing or to help the ski observer stay on the ball.
A carpeted gate opens below the split-windscreen to access the bowriding area which is large enough to comfortably take three people, or four in a squeeze. There's stowage in boxes under the plush upholstery and an optional false deck-infill can be deployed over the hatches to convert the bowriding area into a forward casting platform when the cushion bases are removed.
Typically of Stacer, this boat has had plenty of rotomould treatment. The passenger dash insert, as well as that at the helm, is nicely moulded. The bilgepump compartment and the anchorwell are also rotomould-lined. In the deck between the two main seats, running along the keel line, is a full length ski locker that'll hold heaps of rope and skis. It's also bunged to drain to the bilge for washing.
Throughout the Sportster's internals you'll notice smooth, curved lines in contrast with the hull which, but for heavy pressings in the aft hull sides, is squarish. This is an "aluminium thing" derived from a manufacturing processes in which the materials have to be bent rather than rolled, and the result might not appeal to everyone. It does give the Sportster a "classic" look though, which is not a bad thing at all.
The boat performs nicely on the run. At 3000rpm, fuel consumption is close to 14.3lt/h while cruising at 20kts (37kmh). At 4900rpm (WOT) it burns about 43.3lt/h at around 35kts (66kmh), which is more than acceptable.
While it needs full trim-in on the leg to avoid cavitation on tight turns, it has plenty of grunt out of the hole. On the throttle during turns, you'll see why people like inboards in play boats. Torque, and lots of it up and down the rev range, keeps you on the plane in tight corners when pulling wakeboards and skiers - and as far as stability goes, it sits like a brick.
On the plane...
Rock solid stability
Plenty of grunt
Dragging the chain...
Items might get lost in cockpit storage
"Classic" look may not appeal to everyone
Specifications: Stacer 549 Sportster
Price as tested: $42,550
Options fitted: Boat cover, bowrider pit-cover, two-tone paint, two extra rodholders
Priced from: $40,100
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Length (overall): 6.09m
Weight (hull only): 630kg
Max load: 945kg
Max. HP: 135 (fitted)
Make/model: 135hp MerCruiser 3.0 MPI
Weight: 315kg including Alpha leg
Propeller: 19in three-blade alloy
53 Waterway Drive
Coomera, Qld, 4209
4/133 Coreen Avenue
Penrith, NSW, 2750
Phone: (02) 4731 6250
Originally published in TrailerBoat 261.
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.