There's something to be said for making progress toward perfection. While absolute perfection itself is elusive, to
strive for it year after year can't help but make things better. This is what we were thinking while touring Stingray's
manufacturing facility in Hartsville, South Carolina, and after putting its 2006 250LR bowrider though the motions at
the nearby lake.
Stingray owner Al Fink is a curious fellow who has a passion for building boats and making them better each year.
Usually it's the simple things. At one point dealers were complaining that they kept getting boats with slight scuffs
in the cap rails. Fink walked the production line looking for the culprit and finally discovered the vacuum hoses used
for the final cleanup before delivery were causing the problem. Now, those vacuums are mounted on head-high platforms
so the hoses drop into the boats without having to be slung over the side.
After more than 25 years of building boats, Fink still delights in doing whatever he can, small or large, to make
his boats better. A builder that puts this much effort into sweating the details can be counted on to deliver in the
critical areas like performance, reliability and comfort as well. And the 250LR is a good example.
The 250LR is the largest runabout available from Stingray (a cuddy version is also available) and, like all other
Stingray craft, performance is at the heart of its mission. Another chief characteristic of the 250LR is an upscale
notion of standard features, some of which we're used to seeing as expensive options on other boats. We were glad to
see items like the enclosed head with holding tank and pumpout, cockpit table with floor mount and magnetic compass
We were also glad to see the large integrated swim platform, which was a new addition to the 250LR for 2005. A
center-line step-through transom gives you easy access to the platform, where you'll find a step that will double as
a seat while strapping into a wakeboard or skis. There's also a top-folding boarding ladder, a couple of stainless
steel grabrails and a small storage trunk in the step, which has room for towropes, fenders, gloves and other small
In the cockpit you'll find a huge U-shaped conversation pit in addition to a pair of Avenir Sport Bucket seats
with flipup bolsters and a refreshment center. Optional filler cushions allow you to create a large lounging platform
in the cockpit. The same touch of comfortable space is carried forward to the bow, where you'll find storage, an
integrated cooler and another set of optional filler cushions to create another lounging pad.
In our case, with the 250LR we had one person aboard for the test, a third of a tank of fuel (about 23 gallons or
144 pounds) and a 300 hp 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser with a Bravo III drive spinning a 24-inch stainless steel prop set.
Acceleration was peppy with a time to plane of 4.1 seconds and a 0- to 30-mph time of 6.5 seconds. Our peak speed
was 54.1 mph, which will give you a top-speed range of about 143 miles. Our most efficient cruising speed was 29.6
mph at 3,000 rpm, which would yield a cruising range of about 204 miles.
In terms of handling we could easily tell the difference between Stingray's patented Z-plane hull and conventional
hulls. First, the 250 needed very little trim to air it out for top speed. And it only took a slight touch of trim to
push the nose down for aggressive cornering.
One of the ideas behind the Z-plane hull is to eliminate vortices associated with conventional lifting strakes,
which can increase prop blowout while turning. According to Fink, the Z-plane lifting strakes provide the needed lift
while eliminating these vortices, which gives the prop a clean, undisturbed flow of water to bite into. Taken
together, this allows Stingray to mount its outdrives .75 to 1 inch higher than normal, which reduces drag.
In terms of cost we'd say the 250LR is competitively priced, and it might even top many other craft in this range
in terms of standard features.
No boat is perfect, but Stingray keeps trying, and its boats keep getting better.
Some of the items on the list for the 250LR include custom engine vibration dampers, pressurized water with a
transom shower, a Sunbrella Bimini top with a boot and a Kenwood high-power AM/FM CD player with remote. All together
there are 18 items in the Convenience Package that Stingray figures would cost a total of an additional $3,302 if they
were to be sold as separate options. It's nice to see a builder this straightforward about standard features and
You'll also be glad to see a standard refreshment center, which consists of a sink with a pressurized faucet to
port behind the helm seat. The sink cover sits flush to make a large countertop area, and there's dedicated room for
the included 25-quart carry-on cooler. To starboard behind the driver's helm seat there's a large integrated cooler
with a lid that also doubles as a countertop area. Below that is a storage area with an included trash receptacle.
Some of the options worth considering include Lenco trim tabs with indicators, full or partial canvas, snap-in
carpet, a digital depth sounder, a transom stereo remote and a Kenwood stereo/speaker upgrade.