REVIEW: SPORTSMAN 232 OPEN

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

As american centre consoles continue to grow in popularity, the Sportsman 232 Open refreshed our weary Kevin Smith with its focus and value.

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REVIEW: SPORTSMAN 232 OPEN

HIGHS

• Crossover family/fishing features

• Performance and handling characteristics

• Quality finishes throughout

• Good value

LOWS

• Could do with separate Yamaha gauges as standard

• Aussie baitboard option would be good to have

Northside Marine in Brisbane took on the American Sportsman brand of centre consoles last year, and what a good move that was. Competing against the numerous brands of American centre consoles closing in on the Australian market they most certainly have done their homework and have chosen a brand of centre consoles loaded with high-end inclusions and features, are high performance, well suited to Aussie conditions, and finished to high standards.

A while back, Trade-a-Boat tested their first entry-level Sportsman Island Reef 19 centre console, and that, in my opinion, proving to be one of the top riding and value for money centre consoles around at under 60K.

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Stepping up in size to the Sportsman 232 Open, well it’s no surprise that this centre console is one of the most popular sizes sold in the States. Aside from still being easily manageable on and off the water, this 23-footer boasts stylish looks, bigger and further offshore handling characteristics, as well as an ergonomic layout that’s well balanced between comfortable offshore game fishing and family boating alike.

At a glance 232 Open is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with an internal layout looking high-end when it comes to finishes. From the glossy finished gelcoats, to refined stitching on the vinyls, quality alloy and stainless steel fixtures, a hard-topped T-top, and an exceptionally stylish console with flat screen dash panels, it most certainly takes the general centre console boating experience to a whole new level.

As a family and offshore fishing crossover centre console the seating onboard caters for 10 comfortably, having a fold-down transom bench, dual-seat leaning post, front console seat, and port and starboard bow seating with forward-facing backrests that are removable.

Storage is also plentiful on the 232 with the hatches below the bow seating housing gear, or as dedicated insulated fish boxes with external drains. The consoles side door leads to a drop-down storage compartment, or head (with Porta Potti in this case). The front console seat is also insulated and can be used as a dedicated icebox or again for gear storage, and in the stern there’s another small deck hatch and the dedicated tackle storage below the leaning post seat.

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The upgraded Platinum Package is well worth the extra spend and includes the upgraded T-top with LED lighting, LED underwater lighting, freshwater washdown, misters, helm-pad and compass, to mention a few.

The T-top makes a massive difference when it comes to protection from the sun, as the insulated fibreglass has zero heat transfer below. It has a large storage box, LED lighting, antenna and outrigger mounts on top, has dedicated speaker mouldings, and even micro sprays fitted to cool you off on the hot days.

The console layout is another well thought out feature, with the dual Simrad NSS9 touchscreen GPS/sonar systems flush mounted into the stylish black dash and in full view when standing and seated. Having the touchscreen and dial feature to navigate menus is great, and fitted with the Airmar SS60 through-hull transducer you get super clear readings at speed. The Simrad structure/down-scan transducer was also installed on the test boat and is another great feature/system to have.

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The electronic switch panels, adjustable hydraulic steering helm and throttle control are also well positioned to maintain an uncluttered and comfortable drive experience at the helm.

OFFSHORE FISHING

There’s always a bit of compromise when it comes to combining serious offshore fishing with family boating, however, Sportsman has refined a good balance between the two.

For the fisho’s, the deep livewell holds good-size or plenty of baits, along with the upgraded leaning post having the huge tackle drawer system with rodholders incorporated. The standard option includes an open frame that takes an esky below, however I must say the tackle station is a preference of mine.

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The high gunwales with full-length bolstered coamings, moulded rod racks and stainless steel toe-locks on the port and starboard sides are other good features on the 232, adding to rod storage that’s out of the way and comfortable to lean into.

FISHING

Three beacons fished, five hook-ups on good fish, and five nil to the fish due to hooks being straightened, pulling hooks at the boat, general tackle failure, and the tax-man indulging on the fish before being boated. The guide for the day assured me we would go home with fresh fillets; however, it was just bread with no butter for dinner that night.

PERFORMANCE

Aside from the ergonomic layout, the biggest highlight for me is the handling and performance on the 232. Having previously tested the Sportsman 19 Island Reef and being super impressed with the ride, my expectations of ride quality on the 232 was high, and as expected it lived up to the expectations and then some.

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Although the 232 was not tested offshore, Moreton Bay generally provides more than enough swell and chop to get a good idea on how the hulls handle. In fact, with the wind over tide the bay ends up being far messier than offshore at times, and on the day we had light variable winds with leftover northerly swell pushing over the banks.

The 232’s typical American big flared bow parted the swell and chop with ease, the ride is nice and dry at all angles to the chop and swell, and a highlight for me was no doubt the softness of ride.

Setting her up, I found a bit of tab down to suit the conditions allowing for a very comfortable 28 to 30 knots cruise speed while seated at the helm, without being on and off the throttles. The hull is also quite nimble when it comes to handling and while tucking into turns at speed she’s smooth, but also responsive. For the gangster drivers, these hulls can handle even higher speeds in choppy conditions, if that’s what blows your hair back, and top end on this machine is around 46kts.

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Off the throttles and at rest the 232 is nice and stable, and I reckon it would be comfortable when trolling offshore, or even at rest when bottom fishing in fair swell.

Overall, the 232 is the kind of hull that’s well suited to handling rough conditions comfortably, and one that I would have no issues doing the long-distance offshore runs aboard, without the worry of wind or harsher conditions chasing you home.

THE WRAP

When it comes to offshore fishing, a decent soft-riding hull at fair speed is paramount for me – layout configurations are not that serious as you can always work around what you have. The Sportsman 232 Open’s ride is superb and as a family boater the layout works exceptionally well for me, having that good combo between fishability and fishing accessories, as well as comfort to suit the family onboard.

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Priced from $117,858 and $145,000 as tested, it’s a big boat with big features, a big performer, and overall most certainly represents good value for money. 

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$145,000

OPTIONS FITTED

Yamaha F250, Platinum Package upgrade, Offshore Package upgrade, extra Simrad NSS9 evo3 with structure scan and map-card, Simrad VHF radio, fibreglass learning post with tackle centre, deck hose, fender pack, 6-person safety gear, Road King aluminium dual-axle trailer, and registration.

PRICED FROM

$117,858 includes: Road King aluminium dual-axle trailer, Yamaha F200, Simrad NSS9 evo3 GPS/sounder, numerous standard inclusions, and registration.

GENERAL

Material Fibreglass

Type Planing monohull

Length 22ft9in

Beam 2.59m

Weight 1247kg hull (dry)

Deadrise 18°

CAPACITIES

People 10

Rec. HP 200

rec. Max HP 250

Fuel 389lt

Water 56lt

MANUFACTURED BY

Sportsman Boats, USA

SUPPLIED BY:

Northside Marine

2294 Sandgate Road,

Boondall, QLD, 4034

Phone (07) 3265 8000

Email billh@nsmarine.com.au

WEB northsidemarine.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #503 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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