BOAT TEST: STINGRAY 208LR

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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The Stingray 208LR is an American-made bowrider specifically designed for the Aussie and European markets.

BOAT TEST: STINGRAY 208LR
The Stingray 208LR is an American bowrider re-designed to suit the Australian and European markets. For example, it has a reduced 2.5m beam.

Think of the word "stingray" in design terms and what does it conjure up? Maybe visions of a classic American muscle car with sharp looks and exhilarating performance? Yeah, that's it. Now try to imagine it's a boat. What would it look like? Maybe a sporty vessel, made in the home of muscle cars, but sporting a more refined V6 engine instead of a thumping V8.

It's boats like these that George Klapsis from Nowra Powerboats on the NSW South Coast has been importing for eight years. Nowra sits on the banks of the expansive Shoalhaven River, so naturally that was the destination for our test.

Our mission was to put a new 208LR bowrider through its paces but as the day approached, a strong westerly had kicked up steep chop at the ramp. George wasn't fussed, however, and he promised us that we'd find flatter water amongst the gorges upriver. So we launched and sought out a sheltered position in which we could better inspect this boat on the water. The day had begun…



FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The 208LR has a bowrider layout with capacity for nine and is powered by a 4.3lt Volvo V6. On the trailer it looks sleek and well-proportioned, with high quality paint and fibreglass mouldings giving a look of quality. The EZ Loader aluminium trailer is custom made for Stingray and manufactured to Australian standards. These trailers have an extended draw bar for easy reversing and a hinged section for storage. The trailer bunks are covered in marine carpet, which George says allows for easy loading when wet, while also providing better grip and support when dry.

Construction is fibreglass with an overall length of 6.3m and a beam of 2.5m - right on maximum unrestricted towing width. This width, says George, came about after he and the European dealers managed to convince Stingray to reduce the beam to better suit local towing regulations.

The hull is filled with closed-cell flotation foam, and the floor is reinforced with timber. The latter is used for its flexibility and sound-deadening properties.

Driver and passenger seats are very comfortable buckets with great grip and lumbar support. Both have 200mm of longitudinal travel and rotate a full 360°. Each is fitted with a bolster for better vision when towing, while the lower position gives a good all-round view. There's also a long footwell that allows you to stretch out comfortably.

All upholstery is Nautolex 36oz vinyl with "PreFixx" treatment for abrasion and stain resistance. It is backed with memory foam padding and triple stitching to reinforce the upholstery in high wear areas. Protection from the elements is provided via a folding bimini, which covers the helm area.

The stylish driver's dash has readouts for speed, revs, fuel, voltage, water temperature and a compass, all of which are easily viewed. Steering is through a Dino Italian sports wheel with Volvo power assistance. Passengers get a deep, carpet-lined glovebox and a grabrail. There's an MB Quart premium Nautic Audio system with no less than eight speakers scattered around the boat, with controls at the driver's dash and at the rear swim platform.

The screen is a seven-piece Taylor Made unit with support struts. The cockpit also has opening quarter vents on each side to allow air to flow - an unusual feature on a contemporary boat.

In the centre of the floor is a carpet-lined locker with a gas strut for easy opening and loading. A clip-in, one-piece carpet covers the floor throughout the boat. On the sidedeck, a 50mm fuel filler flows to the 132lt underfloor tank.

At the bow is a neat setup for boarding. The anchorwell cover acts as a boarding platform, and lifts up to reveal a slide-out ladder and shower. The comfortable, three-seater lounges have contoured backs, and there are drinkholders, grabrails and bulkhead backrests on each side. The deep hull helps keep the kids safely onboard too. There's an icebox with a drain, while the bulkhead houses carpet-lined storage bins and water ballast tanks. The bow cover has a lifting pole to keep it in shape.

Up the back, the full-width lounge has space for three along with more drinkholders and a recess for the fire extinguisher. A picnic table complements this lounge area and is stored in the vast engine bay. Over the motor is a sunpad and starboard walkway, while a full-width swim platform at the transom has a storage bin and a remote for the engine trim.

Under the engine hatch are dual batteries, a 100mm bilge blower, LED lights, and an automatic, solid-state 1100 gallon-per-hour bilgepump. There's ample room around the motor for easy service, while an optional portable toilet can also be stored in the engine bay.



HANDLING AND RIDE

The 208LR is powered by a 4.3lt Volvo direct-injection V6, a motor that starts life as a GM block before it gets "marinised" by Volvo Penta. Producing 225hp, the engine delivers power to an SX-A Volvo sterndrive through a conical clutch, with the high-flow exhaust exiting through the cavitation plate. All engine bay electronics have an ignition protection / no-spark system for safety.

George explained that the secret of the boat's performance is its patented "Z-plane hull". It has smooth lines as well as tapering sides for extra buoyancy at the edges. Three stepped planing strakes run along the hull, allowing for the smooth passage of water while sending non-aerated water to the prop for better drive.

The motor sits on a stepped transom, which means it can be set higher for better drive. Interestingly enough, Stingray claims its hull design gives a minimum 15 per cent speed advantage and 20 per cent better fuel economy over similar sized boats using the same motor. Unfortunately, we were unable to test this claim on the day.

During the test, there was a wind chop of up to half a metre in the open stretches of the river but the Stingray just lapped it up, charging across the wind waves with glee. Even at speeds of around 43kts (80kmh) the boat felt stable and safe. The hull felt stiff and was rattle-free and everything stayed in place.

Out of the hole we settled quickly into a flat ride. There was no feeling of transition to the plane and acceleration to top speed occurred quickly. The 225hp motor got us to 44.8kts (83kmh), or 50mph in the old money, but at around 2500rpm we managed a comfortable cruise doing 20mph. Once I opened the throttle the boat could happily run at any speed.

At 4000rpm and 36kts (66.6kmh) it felt great, with the sound of the V6 echoing off the cliffs of the Shoalhaven River.

Handling was also predictable and smooth. Into sharp turns in flatter water the hull chattered across the chop, but it stayed true to course and remained flat and stable. During our photography session George threw the boat around into full-noise sharp turns with spray flying skywards, but it stuck on course and did all it was asked.



THE WRAP

The Stingray is a classy and refined family watersports boat. There is abundant speed to blow out the cobwebs and provide plenty of fun in a boat that does everything in style. It also does things safely thanks to its great handling and well-matched power. The finish is superb and the quality of fittings mean this is a boat that will last and perform well into the future.





WEATHER CONDITIONS

Wind: 10-25kts

Sea: 0-0.5m





On the plane...

  • Great handling
  • Very safe
  • Loads of space
  • Quality fittings and finish



Dragging the chain...

  • Nothing comes to mind





Specifications: Stingray 208LR bowrider

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $59,817

Options fitted: Alloy trailer upgrade, two-tone paint, stainless upgrade package, full canvas covers, dual batteries, snap-in carpet and more

Priced from: $57,599



GENERAL

Type: Monohull bowrider

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 6.3m

Beam: 2.5m

Weight: 889kg (hull only, no engine)

Weight (BMT): Approx. 1692kg

Deadrise: 19°



CAPACITIES

People: 9

Rec. HP: 225

Max. HP: 225

Fuel: 132lt

Water: 23lt (optional)



ENGINE

Make/model: Volvo Penta 4.3GXI with SX-A sterndrive

Type: Multi-point, injected, V6 four-stroke

Weight: 415kg

Displacement: 4300cc



MANUFACTURED BY

Stingray Boats

South Carolina, United States

Web: http://www.stingrayboats.com/



SUPPLIED BY

Nowra Powerboats

6/10 Central Ave

South Nowra, NSW, 2541

Tel: (02) 4422 1999

Web: www.nowrapowerboats.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat magazine #278, February 2012.

Find Stingray boats for sale.

 


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