By: Mark Bracks

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Sure, seventy large is a significant amount to pay for a 21ft bowrider. But Sea Ray's 200 Select has the horses to challenge Holden's HSV and is every bit as exhilarating to drive. The difference is that you can let this thoroughbred have its head and not risk a speeding fine.

Sea Ray 200 Select

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #179, April 2004  



There is no denying that pleasure craft have come a helluva long way. Every year the bar is raised a little higher as manufacturers all over the world come up with contemporary ideas to tempt those that haven't yet discovered the joys of boating.

One of the latest releases from major US boatbuilder Sea Ray is no exception. A boat like a Sea Ray is a bit of a paradox: its attributes
can make it harder or easier to make a final decision about where to spend your hard-earned.

Take a gander at the range of boats on offer in the Sea Ray stable - there are four different classes comprising sportsboats, sportscruisers, sportsyachts and yachts - plus in its 2004 Sport Boat category, the company has 16 different craft starting at the 180 Sport through to the 270 Sundeck with a multitude of power and accessory options.

The choice of a new boat is difficult enough within this one manufacturer's product lineup, let alone all the rest of the competition in the ultra-competitive Australian market. Trailer Boat decided to climb aboard a boat that sits roughly in the middle of the "sports" category, and sourced a 200 Select from Hirecraft Marine in Toronto, NSW.

The 200 Select is a 6.4m (21ft) family bowrider, and the one we tested is the top-of-the-range variant fitted with a 5.7lt fuel-injected MerCruiser sterndrive pumping out 300hp and including a variety of extras, priced at $69,990. The 200 Select range starts with the standard 4.3lt 220hp fuel-injected MerCruiser engine with a $64,990 pricetag.



Trailer Boat used this Sea Ray test boat as its camera boat for a PWC high-performance shootout featured in issue 178. It not only has a pool full of power, but its handling and manoeuvrability are just superb.

Photo duties required us to skate around behind the surf as well as on flat water, and the boat proved it's not averse to mixing it in the rough stuff. Due to testing the PWCs, I didn't get a chance to sample it outside, but once we finished with the smaller craft I had my opportunity to focus on this sleek-looking 21-footer.

Aaron from Hirecraft Marine - who piloted the craft during the PWC photoshoot - was motoring at a fair rate across Lake Macquarie when I casually asked: "What's she steer and turn like?"

I should have known better after watching his antics alongside the PWCs. No sooner had the words left my lips, he spun the wheel and launched us in a dramatic turn to port, digging in the gunwale as the stern spun around 180° in a massive shower of spray.

I was out of the seat and was flung onto the deck like a shot bird, head-butting the vinyl-upholstered pilot's seat on the way down, floundering around the deck like an oversized kingfish.

"Yeah, not bad mate," I muttered as I dusted myself off. Of course I should have been hanging onto something when I uttered the fateful question, as there was a grabrail beside the front passenger seat. It certainly demonstrated what a confidence-inspiring handler it is.

It also demonstrated amazing responsiveness when pushed, and it tracks as true and turns as sharp as the PWCs I was riding earlier.
I managed to wrangle the controls from Aaron for a while so I could have a play on the lake (and the thought of a payback did cross my mind), but seeing as I give away about 30kg to the big fella, I thought better of it.




My first impressions confirmed that performance-wise, the 200 Select is everything you could ask for in a top-of-the-line leisure boat. It was very responsive in the steering department and rode through the chop generated by a summer-afternoon noreaster with little buffeting.

If you enjoy being the centre of attention, this style of craft should be right up your alley. You'll feel like a million bucks as you charge across the surface with the lovely throb of the 350ci marinised Chevy V8 ringing in your ears.

As expected with 300hp underneath the sunpad boot, it gets on the plane in an instant as the mill goes from a burble to that lovely sound that only a small-block exudes as the revs build.

That said, it's striking how quiet it is considering the engine is mounted right behind you. The insulated engine cover does its job well.

The craft features plenty of luxury, which is to be expected considering the pricetag. It comes standard with quality vinyl-upholstered seats, beautifully moulded storage compartments and a wood-grain dash. It can cater for up to eight passengers, and it is an exceptionally well-engineered and finished boat.

The power-assisted steering has a tilt feature for personal adjustment, and the driver's seat is adjustable fore and aft. It offers good vision out of the tinted screen when sitting down and a panorama when standing up.

There's also plenty to look at on the wood-grain dash, with a four-instrument cluster featuring tacho, speedo, a four-in-one gauge showing fuel level, oil pressure, volts and water temp. There's also an onboard computer that displays water depth, fuel consumption and idiot lights.

And to keep you humming, the driver's area has separate speakers for the stereo directed straight at you.

The sterndrive's trim feature is well thought out in regards to wakeboarding, and with the push of a button you can increase the wake to allow boarders to jump and execute stunts better than a freestyle motocrosser.



It's not all show and go, however, as there are plenty of practical additions to help make the interior livable.

Alongside the engine, under the sunpad lid, is a massive storage bin with enough room to hide a few bodies to keep the fussiest of hitmen happy. There is also underfloor storage with vinyl matting for skis and wakeboards with a gas strut as well as a separate chest for ski ropes, jackets and a few six-packs.

There are side panels in the bow, sidepockets in the cockpit and the floor is covered with removable snap-on carpet - a boon for post-boating cleanups.

There is also an ice chest below the lockable passenger-side glovebox where the single CD stereo is hidden. There are eight drinkholders situated around the craft.

The engine cover also doubles as a sundeck with another seat situated beside it. There is a generous landing platform at the back with
a retractable ladder and a walkway through to the bow with a lockable, retractable door.

Grab handles are located beside the passenger seat, but I think they would be better situated in front of you to give a firmer grip -
that's about the only criticism I could find during my time aboard.



Burbling along, the 200 Select will chew about 50lt/h cruising at 3500rpm, while at full noise and 5200rpm it consumes gas at around 100lt an hour. But with a 140lt fuel capacity and a top speed well over 100kmh, plenty of distance can be covered between top-ups if you limit the time you spend with the pedal to the metal.

Hirecraft Marine includes a compass, full hull colour, stereo upgrade with subwoofers, a watersports tower for wakeboarding that features a ball-and-socket mount for easy attachment and removal, rego for the boat and trailer as well as safety gear (anchor, rope, paddles, lifejackets and flusher and pre-delivery) in the price.

Other touches to personalise your craft include a Corsa exhaust to take full advantage of the throaty V8 burble, and for pure indulgence a stereo remote control on the transom adjacent to the swim platform so you don't even have to get out of the water to adjust the tunes!

So, is just shy of 70 grand too much to pay for a 300hp 5.8lt luxury speedboat? It depends - are you rich or not so rich? Even though I am of the latter species, I'd have to say that the price is not too much. Why? You can pay that much for a luxury car, but the way things are going on the roads - besides a European autobahn - the water is the only place left where you can use all
that power, comfort and luxury the way it was intended.

A craft like this is more a passion than a pastime, and it gives you the perfect excuse to get out of the office, off the highway and onto the water.

It's generally accepted that Sea Rays like this model retain excellent resale value, and if properly looked after they will hold their price better than a luxury sedan or coupe. Now, where's a friendly bank manager?






Price as tested: $69,990
Options fitted: Two-tone hull,
wakeboarding tower, engine upgrade, safety-gear pack, registrations, compass, stereo upgrade with subwoofers, bowrider cushion, deluxe trailer

Priced from: $59,990 with 4.3lt MerCruiser sans options




Hull material: Handlaid fibreglass
Length: 6.4m
Beam: 2.57m
Deadrise: 20 degrees
Rec/max hp: 260/300
Towing weight: 1610kg (dry, w/ 4.3lt engine sans trailer)




Fuel: 140lt
Water: n/a
Passengers: Eight adults




Make/model: MerCruiser 5.7L MPI
Type: Fuel-injected V8 four-stroke inboard
Displacement: 5.7lt
Rated hp: 300
Weight: 427kg
Drive: MerCruiAlpha 1
Prop: 17in stainless three-blade




Hirecraft Marine, Victory Parade, Toronto, NSW, tel (02) 4959 1444 or visit




Exceptional manoeuvrability, performance and handling
Well-thought-out interior layout
Good value for money




Passenger grab-handle setup need refining
Can drink a lot of fuel toward the upper end of the rev range
Tinted screen might affect vision when driving at night


Story: Mark Bracks Photos: Barry Ashenhurst
First published in TrailerBoat #179

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