By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp

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The strengthening Australian dollar is making US imports more affordable and the family looking for a practical sportsboat will find Sea Ray’s 175 Sport an affordable option, writes Rick Huckstepp



On a gloomy pre-storm day on Nelson Bay just north of Sydney, the only bright factor in sight was the Australian dollar as it crept higher against the greenback. Bright that it is for those wanting to buy imported boats, but not too good for those who are manufacturing on home soil.
The Sea Ray 175 Sport is one of those value-for-money imports and, at just under $34K, it is pretty good value to the buyer looking for a family bowrider from which to ski and which won't break the bank at the fuel bowser.
It is fitted with an economical four-cylinder 3lt petrol engine generating 135hp and with an overall weight of around 1300kg, the family six-cylinder car can stay in the garage rather than be traded up to do the towing. A big four-cylinder family sedan might well get the job done also.
Out on the Bay, it was disappointing that the engine had difficulty idling without cutting out and when underway, exhibited vibration that will require mechanical remedy. Some noise was also emanating from a bearing on one of the pulleys at the front of the engine which will need attention also. Although not operating to its optimum, the engine revved out to 4800rpm with the speedometer reading 48mph which converts to just over 77kmh.
Holeshot as tested was good, but it was hard to evaluate its potential and how any loss of low-down torque would affect its performance when pulling up a wakeboarder or skier.




Fitted with hydraulic steering, the boat was easy on the helm and although there was no breeze to push spray around, the hull ran dry as far as moisture onto the windscreen was concerned.
For a small boat, the 175 has a good sized bowriding area with a fully cushioned bench seat that covers stowage below. There is a curved backrest in each aft corner of the area, as well as a curved backrest on the most forward end. The grab handles each side of this area may be reached from any seating position and cleats for securing ropes are installed well down from the gunwales on the outside of the hull so they do not contact the arms when lounging.
The carpet in this boat is installed in three pieces and snaps in place. It is a loop type and appears to be berber which is nicer on the eye and softer on the feet than standard marine carpets.
The wraparound windscreen is hardened glass and has an opening above the walkway between the two helm bulkhead modules that can be shut off with a folding hardened-glass centre piece.
While the helm chair has a swivel and sliding base, the passenger chair is a back-to-back affair, the rear section being the seat for the skier observer. It is mounted on a sturdy base, and both base and backrest are adjustable so that they lay almost flat into a lounge or makeshift bed.
As the enginebox protrudes forward into the cockpit from the transom bulkhead, it makes two coves which are padded at the base and back for single-passenger seats. That on the starboard side secretes the battery underneath. This makes for secure seating for children who will have high support on three sides when seated here.




Lifting the enginebox, the motor is tucked down low on the stringers and all of the pulleys at its front are easily accessible for maintenance. From here one can view the fuel tank under the bulkhead behind the portside aft-corner seat which is a nylon type through which the fuel level can be seen.
This boat is fitted with a bilge blower to disseminate fuel vapour before starting and there are plenty of large air vents running from this area to feed fresh air.
There is also a semi-blocked aperture next to the enginebox through which the nozzle of a fire extinguisher can be inserted and its contents emptied into the compartment should there be a fire. This makes good sense, as lifting the box on a bilge that is alight creates a rush of oxygen that accelerates flames dangerously quickly, usually burning those that are close-by.
Aft of the transom bulkhead, a short boarding step runs beam width with a rebated collapsible and extendable boarding ladder installed on the starboard side.
The 175 sports large, long stowage pockets on each side of the cockpit and in the deck between the two front seats, is a large hatch which opens on gas struts into a cavernous area for stowing skis, boards and wet gear.
We're sure the 175 Sports could have put on a better performance had it been mechanically up to scratch but time is not on our side to revisit this boat. We will leave that to you; it's worth a test and if it is performing well, it's worth the low price tag.




Value for money bowriding
Light and easy to tow
Should be cheap to run




Boat not prepped for the test, engine ran rough and refused to idle without shutting down





Specifications: Sea Ray 175 Sport




Price as tested:                         $33,990
Options fitted:                           Nil




Material:                                   Fibreglass
Length overall:              5.33m
Length on trailer:                       Approx 6.7m
Height on trailer:                       Approx 1.9m
Beam:                                       2.13m
Deadrise:                                  19º
Weight:                         Approx 1300kg (BMT)




Fuel:                                         79.5lt
People:                                     7 (to 408kg)




Make/model:                      Mercury MerCruiser
Type:                                        four-cylinder four-stroke twin-throat carburetor
Rated HP:                                 135
Displacement:                           3lt
Weight:                                    288kg
Leg:                                          Alpha One
Propeller:                                  14.25 x 21in




Lifestyle Marine,
Shop 7 Sunset Boulevard,
Soldiers Point, NSW, 2317
Phone: (02) 4984 7570

Originally published in TrailerBoat #229

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