By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford, Coastcolour

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The Funship 224 is a typical American deckboat from Four Winns which aims to please its intended party crowd with more of everything, and some surprising attributes beyond its call of duty, notes David Lockwood




You know the saying: less is more. Well, the Funship 224 is all about more being more. You get more beam, more seating, more swim ladders, more storage and, in short, more boat for your buck. Which, ultimately, means more fun in the summer sun. As the name suggests, that's the intent of this wide-bodied dayboat.
The 224 is the second smallest Funship in the four-model range from the big American, Four Winns, which is one of the leading brands of multinational Genmar Holdings. As such, it's a boat for the masses and, at 7.21 metres or almost 24 feet overall, it aims to please a crowd.
The 224's beam is the maximum trailerable (with permit in NSW). It measures 2.59m but it's the way the beam is carried so far forward that identifies this as more of deckboat or pontoon-orientated craft than a point-and-shoot performer.
Need I tell you that in America, deckboats are popular platforms from which to stage watersports on big lakes. While we haven't the accommodating lakes of North America - more a dry outback dam - we have our share of flat-water estuaries, harbours, bays and rivers.
Pick your days, pack the family aboard, load lunch and the watertoys and you're set for some fun running.




The base engine is a 260hp 5.0 MPI MerCruiser with Alpha One sterndrive, however, the Sydney Four Winns dealer did the right thing by upgrading to a MerCruiser 350 MPI pulling 300hp and a Bravo One drive with more bite in the bends. So add more bang for your buck to a list of attributes as well and some sprinkling of sporty spice, too.
Thanks to an optional electric engine room hatch lift, access to the V8 inboard was simple. All the servicing items fell to hand, you could also access the freshwater tank, the boat's dual batteries and, I noted, there was sound insulation.
Additionally, there were optional bow scuff plate, pop-up cleats, removable ski pylon, bow infill cushion and forward table, pump-out head instead of the chemical number, stereo remote at the transom, canvass and covers, and an upgraded saltwater-standard dual-axle braked trailer.
Together with what Four Winns calls its Extra Value Standard Features - things such as fore and aft freshwater showers, a big boarding platform and deep reach ladders - plus the standard inclusions such as docking lights, the 224 Funship is a very complete boat. Mind you, that's reflected in the $87,856 price tag. But remember this isn't a diminutive dayboat but, rather, a maxi platform that looks big on and off the water.
The Sure-Load trailer manufactured by Four Winns is tailored to suit the 224 Funship and its wide-beam hull. Made from closed box-section steel, the trailer was upgraded to include galvanising and Gatorhyde, which is an additional protective coating. The trailer also had an optional heavy-duty towing kit including electric brakes, bigger tyres, plus a spare wheel.
Meanwhile, Four Winns backs its hulls with a lifetime warranty for all structural components of the hull and deck, and two years for non-structural parts. Construction is plain old fibreglass, with fibreglass stringers and moulded fibreglass cockpit and engine room liners. The rub rail has a stainless steel insert and, in fact, there is a good deal of stainless steel aboard this boat for saltwater and not just lake use.
Along with all the aforesaid creature comforts, which extend to the enclosed head/change room, mum and the kiddies will appreciate the stability of the 224 Funship. During the course of our testing along a calm Pittwater and out around the ocean headlands, the boat didn't feel overwhelmed. As such, consider the 224 Funship necessarily seaworthy for traversing big bays and harbours. Freeboard is nice and high, too, and we didn't ship a drop aboard.




With bow and stern ladders, the 224 Funship is a great off-the-beach boat. I came aboard via the big swim platform, noting the lift-off rubber mat on the platform for extra grip when pulling on your wakeboard, the wet well for storing the togs, the freshwater shower and the two-three seater aft facing lounge for hanging out at anchor. A transom remote for the Sony sound system lets you crank up the volume or vice versa when the mood strikes.
A drinkbox is located near the entrance to the cockpit where, with an infill section, you can create a big C-shaped seating plan around a moulded lunch table. Swivel the helm bucket seats aft and there's room for six to sit and converse under the bimini top. With infill you can turn the lunch setting into one big sunpad or daybed.
Stainless steel drinkholders and grabrails are nearby, the supports for the windscreen are stainless steel, the carpet is a clip-in number, and you'll find a portable Igloo icebox under the seat base. There's dry storage in a hatch behind the helm, with room for stashing all the covers and tables when not in use, plus a massive rubber-backed underfloor ski and board locker, as well as sub-seat storage holds.
Ahead of the co-pilot is the generous moulded WC compartment with loo, sink and handheld shower, and portlight. Though obviously small, the compartment is big enough for an adult to change and use the head should nature call.
Back outside, the helm seats are deluxe models with flip-up bolsters and good supportive wrapround mid-sections. There's room at the helm to stash personal items, and a neat dash with trick stainless steel switches for things like the docking and courtesy lights. The Sony CD player keeps company with a full spread of Faria gauges in the low-glare dash that doesn't reflect in the windscreen. You also get a built-in depth sounder that will come in handy when moseying into the beach.
A gate can be swung across the companionway to the bow, creating a windbreak in winter. Left open, you get walkthrough access to the bow, which goes beyond what your average bowrider offers. Concealed are a garbage bin, icebox, sink with freshwater, an optional table to create a second lunch setting and, with infills, you can also create another sunpad. 
While kiddies can dive off the bow and climb the forward ladder, it will come into its own at the beach. Pull up the bow, step off and join the landing party without getting your feet wet. So there's great front and back access to and from the 224 Funship.




The hull has an expectedly moderate vee to make the most of stability, however, with 17 degrees of deadrise at the transom it's not entirely flat. But with a lot of the wide beam taken forward, the boat tends towards flightiness. To cross bumpy water you will need to glue the bow to the water by putting passengers in the bow - it mightn't be so comfortable for them - and using all of the available negative trim on the Bravo One leg.
While it isn't the charter of this boat, we took the 224 Funship offshore for a brief photo shoot. This revealed that the hull has is a good amount of lift and freeboard and, as touched on, we didn't ship a drop. As such, consider it a safe family boat for crossing the bay and harbour where you might have to come off the plane to cross big ferry or cruiser wake.
Where the 224 Funship excels is cruising along calm water, tracing the shore and arcing off the back of protected beaches, either towing tykes on tubes or boards, or hunting for a suitable anchorage, picnic possie or lunch ashore. The boat is willing to plane at 2200rpm and 8.6kts, holding a level low-speed cruise of 20kts at 2800rpm with a touch on leg-in trim, and producing a cheerful cruise of 24 to 25kts at 3000rpm where the V8 is purring.
Plant the throttle while mid-range cruising and there's plenty in reserve. The 350 Mag produced 30.5kts at 3500rpm, 36kts at 4000rpm, a maximum continuous fast cruise of 39 to 40kts at 4600rpm, and a top speed of 46.4kts at 5100rpm whereupon the canopy in the canvas sock worked its way open. Note to self: make sure those zips are fastened properly.
Of course, the real test of a boat is whether it meets its design parameters. In this regard, and in typical American fashion, the Four Winns is an especially accommodating boat with the lot. You can add a factory fitted deluxe wakeboard tower package with board racks, tower speakers, Clarion amplifier and subwoofer, but all you need for a fun time on the Funship as tested are friends and some fodder. More the better.




Very complete dayboat
All the good gear and luxury options
Head and double freshwater showers
Abundant seating including a clever transom lounge and twin sunpads
Upgraded 300hp inboard for a fast getaway
Stable at rest
A great watersports platform
Established American brand with national dealership




Big ticket dayboat that will require love and care to keep looking its best under the harsh Australian sun
Boat is flighty
Ride is a tad choppy across bumpy water and big boat wake
A fair lump of boat to tow and park on city roads
While the finish was good, it wasn't exceptional
Now's the time for Four Winns to invest in a big model redesign





Specifications: Four Winns Funship 224




Price as tested: $87,856 w/ MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI, select options, trailer, safety gear and registrations.
Options fitted: Engine upgrade, bow scuff plate, pop-up cleats, removable ski pylon, bow infill cushion and forward table, electric engineroom hatch lift, pump-out head instead of the chemical number, stereo remote at the transom, canvass and covers, upgraded saltwater-standard dual-axle braked trailer, delivery, shipping and regos.



Material: GRP hull and stringers, and vinylester resin
Length overall: 7.21m
Beam: 2.59m
Draft: 0.79m
Deadrise: 17º
Weight: Approx 1910kg (hull and motor only)




Rec. max. HP: 260 to 300
Fuel: 189lt
Water: 43lt
Passengers: 862kg max. capacity
Accommodation: Camp on deck



Make/model: 350 MPI MerCruiser
Type: Injected V8 petrol four-stroke
Rated HP: 300 at 5800 to 6000rpm
Displacement: 5.8lt
Weight: Approx 420kg
Drive (make): Bravo One
Props: Stainless steel



Sydney Power Centre,
97 Darley Street,
Mona Vale, 2103, NSW
Phone: (02) 9997 7797



Originally published in TrailerBoat #225

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