BOAT TEST: STESSCO SUNSEEKER FS540

By: RICK HUCKSTEPP, Photography by: RICK HUCKSTEPP


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The Sunseeker FS540 from Stessco has the correct mix of aluminium and fibreglass, writes Rick Huckstepp

BOAT TEST: STESSCO SUNSEEKER FS540
STESSCO SUNSEEKER FS540

Mixing fibreglass and alloy components in trailerboat construction has been a manufacturing feature for some years with various manufacturers, and one that has got a good balance of the two is Stessco with their Sunseeker FS540.

This boat measures 5.35m from the bow to the transom yet the design of the fibreglass cabin that sits atop the gunwales makes for a seemingly larger boat with plenty of room to move therein.
The sides of the cabin are joined approximately at the centre of the gunwale which leaves a narrow walkaround outside should one need to get to the bow other than accessing ground tackle via the hatch in the cabin room. On the inside, Stessco have stitched another strip of inner gunwale alloy extrusion on top to form a full wraparound stowage pocket.
Still in the cabin, a deep leg well may be covered over with an optional infill to make a double berth and there is stowage under the V-berth cushions. The cabin roof hatch is elongated to allow close proximity with the torso over the bowsprit for maximum leverage when retrieving the anchor.
Rather than dragging the wet rope, chain and anchor back into the cabin and depositing it in an under-berth pocket, a large fishbin with Velcro patches on the bottom could sit on the carpeted fore section of the berth, when that cushion is removed, and remain there in rough seas.
There is a rebate in the bottom lip of the hatch aperture to allow rope to pass through when the anchor is deployed, but leaving a retrieved anchor in the lockable bowsprit chain roller will cause the chain aft of that to damage the cabin fibreglass. It would be practical for some sort of stainless steel receiving plate to be installed here so that anchors could be left in the bowsprit roller.
There is ample head height while seated on the V-berth and the inside of the cabin is neatly finished with a fibreglass shroud covering the looms and connections behind the helm station.
Large, flat footrests extend from the aft end of the berths for both swivel-chair occupants. They are the same width as the berths so small cushions on these would extend the V-berths for those not vertically challenged and needing to stretch out.

 

HELM HIGHLIGHTS
The full wraparound windscreen features an inside grabrail across the front and around the corner to the side of the Perspex. Below this, the dash top is flat and very large in front of the passenger where a deep rebate will hold goods and items preventing them from sliding about and in front of the skipper this gives way to a rebate that slopes away toward him.
As can be seen, the Humminbird depthsounder GPS is gimbal mounted, but should you wish to flush-mount a medium to small cabinet, the shapes of the moulding behind the Humminbird will give you the correct angle.
Should you wish to use large-screen electronics, there is a stack of room across the flat dash top to gimbal mount other units. Oddly, the antenna for the GPS is the closest installation to the helm, in the shadow of the headset rather than on top of the dash.
The Sunseeker was fitted with Teleflex manual cable steering. While in a trim mode for cruising it was smooth and torque free, but with the leg trimmed in for hard turning at other than high speeds it was impossible to handle comfortably. You may have brutally large biceps that can handle this, but the mechanical system inside the steering hub is not designed to and will eventually fail. Hydraulic steering is called for here.
Both swivel seats sit atop stowage boxes that run to the gunwales and a large vertical hatch in the aft end accesses the space inside.
The inside of the coaming in the aft corners and across the back of the transom bulkhead is padded as a backrest for those seated on the full-width bench seat which is a padded, hinged-top stowage box. The box itself is hinged and can tip forward to allow people to stand with thighs against the padded coaming while fishing. Removing six screws holding it to the deck will allow for easy removal to free up the cockpit.
A pocket is welded to two structural ribs on each side under the coaming, well aft next to the rear lounge base.
Cockpit drainage is via the aft and side edges of the screw-down deck where water can run down into the bilge which is fitted with a switchable pump.

 

COCKPIT ADD-ONS
The battery shelf is a raised section under the transom bulkhead. It has a checkerplate top and the fuel filter is also located here. There is room for further batteries or tackle racks to be installed if so desired.
The top of the bulkhead has plenty of room for downriggers or aftermarket livebait tanks. You can buy these with lids and the full plumbing kit, similar to what Johnson Pumps market in Australia.
Superimposed over the rebate in the transom bulkhead for the tilted engine is a practical bait rigging board with a couple of rodholders. It is optional and may be unbolted if need be.
Over the back a dropdown ladder sits at a user-friendly angle for boarding onto the short transom deck where good hold may be taken on the grabrails.
The transducer bracket welded to the transom was in need of a redesign. It sat too high above the bottom edge of the hull, and with full downward travel of the transducer adjustment bracket, the face of the transducer was still well above that edge. This equates to no depthsounder operation going forward due to turbulence under that face.

 

ETEC SWEET
Evinrude's E-TEC 90hp is fitted, which is the maximum horsepower for this model.
It performed nicely swinging a 17-inch Viper three-blade propeller although WOT achieved only 5000rpm. These engines are designed to have an operating range of 4500 to 5500 rpm so there is room to move if looking for a change in performance of this hull fitted with this motor. As tested, we were happy with the top end speed of 60.5kmh on a handheld GPS.
It planed at 3000rpm and 28kmh, and at 3500rpm it loafed along at 42.2kmh. This should give you good economy at a reasonable closing rate to your next drop.
Manoeuvring with the correct trim was easy on the arms and holeshot was excellent with the E-TEC.

 

HIGHS
Nice balanced power to weight ratio
Roomy cabin
Handy rear lounge system

LOWS
Transducer bracket unsuitable
Hydraulic steering a necessity with this rig (as tested)
A metal lip on cabin roof aperture required so anchor can be left in the lockable bowsprit roller
GPS antenna moved to under the windscreen

 

 


Specifications: Stessco Sunseeker FS540

 

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested:   $34,990
Options fitted:   Lounge cushions, canopy, and depthsounder/GPS,
Priced from:    $31,990    

GENERAL
Material:    Aluminium, 3mm bottom and sides; fibreglass     cabin 
Length overall:   5.35m
Beam:    2.26m
Deadrise:    14.5°
Weight:    500kg (hull)

CAPACITIES
Fuel:     80lt
People:    6
Rec. max. HP:   90
Rec. min. HP:   75
Max transom engine weight: 200kg

ENGINE
Make/model:    Evinrude E-TEC 90
Type:     Three-cylinder direct injected two-stroke outboard
Weight:    145kg
Rated HP:    90
Displacement:   1295cc
Gearbox ratio:   2:1
Propeller:    17in three-blade Viper
VELS rating:    3-Stars

SUPPLIED BY
River City Marine,
133 Sandgate Road,
Breakfast Creek, Qld, 4010
Phone: (07) 3262-7666
Fax: (07) 3262-7688
Email: rcm@bigpond.net.au
Website: www.stessco.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #240

Find Stressco Sunseeker boats for sale.

 


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