Stingray 220CS/CX
Lakeland Boating - January 1996

NOTE: the 220CS/CX were previously the 659zp

220CS link ('96 model) When Al Fink founded Stingray in 1979, he had a vision that faster, more efficient sportboats would find a natural audience among boat owners who valued performance and state-of-the art design innovation in their vessels. With 11 employees and a smallish 15,000-square-foot production facility, Fink introduced two models that quickly caught on with boat buyers. Today, the plant has mushroomed to 200,000 square feet, and the product line has grown to 14 award-winning models ranging from 16-foot bowriders to 24-foot mid-cabin cruisers.

Excellent performance is a hallmark of every Stingray model. Each one incorporates the patented Z-Plane hull form, a unique idea conceived by Fink to produce an undisturbed flow of water from entry to transom. After studying the hydrodynamics of countless boat bottoms and untold numbers of strake and chine combinations, Fink realized that the conventional strakes used on many hull bottoms cause vortices as water runs aft. This reduced the efficiency of propellers caught in turbulence and caused a loss in potential speed, fuel efficiency and handling capabilities.

Z-Plane strakes are designed to produce an undisturbed flow of water to the lower unit of the stern drive, increasing the bite of the prop, improving handling by minimizing slip and blowout, and transferring more power to the water, adding economy. To increase the returns on this new design, Fink opted to use notched transoms on all his "zp" hulls, allowing engines to be mounted higher for less drag, improving both fuel efficiency and top speed.

The precision required to design and produce a hull that takes advantage of the Z-Plane is daunting, but Stingray has a strong commitment to the computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) techniques that make it possible. Every new Stingray model is formed and refined electronically in three dimensions to fit specific performance and styling criteria. Once the concept and shape is approved by the Stingray design team, then structural components, such as stringers, floors, and bulkheads, are added and checked for positioning and strength.

It's a fascinating process to watch, particularly when engines and drive trains, electrical and hydraulic systems, furniture and other standard components are added and checked for fit. Theoretical 3-D people magazine quote are then placed in the boat sitting, standing, or reclining to optimize human factors that include optimal cabin headroom, comfortable leg clearance and correct seating position, among others. Minor changes are quickly and inexpensively made, a world apart from the costly, time consuming physical mock-ups that were once the primary tool of boat engineers and designers.

With the accuracy of the computer model, we can tool all of the various parts -- hull, deck, liner, etc. -- simultaneously, said Fink, and know that they will fit together properly at assembly time.

From design, data is downloaded to computer numeric control (CNC) machines that can mill the model for a new deck mold or a slightly modified bottom surface in a matter of hours. Their five-axis water jet precisely cuts thick layers of upholstery parts nested for efficient use of material in one operation. CNC routers perform similar operations with wooden parts, ensuring accurate shapes and minimal waste for production-cost savings.

Fink is quick to tell you that Stingray employees make this whole process possible. Besides doing their own design and marketing, they make their own upholstery and canvas. And they keep the records-their extensive database contains the records and history of each boat, from the mold number in which the boat was built to the names of the employees who built it. If you lose your key, they know what you'll need to replace it.

One of the keys to efficient performance is building the lightest, strongest hull you can that will extract the best speed and fuel consumption possible from a given engine. Stingray laminates their hulls and decks with top-quality fiberglass and resins, with Coremat and Klegecell cores sandwiched in between, to produce the highest strength-to-weight ratios they can achieve. On the 659 zp, as on most Stingray models, an all-fiberglass foam-filled stringer system is bonded to the inner hull for stiffening and long structural life. Every effort is made to keep wood, which has the potential to absorb water and add weight, to a minimum. Where wood must be used, such as in the transom, it is carefully fabricated and thoroughly encapsulated in fiberglass to prevent water intrusion, rot and delamination. Stingray is so picky about this point, they leave a solid fiberglass pad for installation of the screw-in drain plug on the transom, the same way that solid fiberglass pads are left for the attachment of deck hardware.

The 659 zp and its sister ship, the 609 zp, are the third-largest boats in Stingray's family of performance-oriented runabouts, sport boats and compact cruisers. The 659 zp measures an easily trailerable 8'1 wide and weighs between 2,460 and 3,270 pounds dry, depending on the engine you choose. Stingrays are built exclusively with MerCruiser power. The range of engines available for the 659 currently includes the 180-hp, magazine quote four-barrel-carbed 4.3LX Alpha One; the 210-hp, two barrel-carbed 5.7L Alpha One; and the 250-hp, four-barrel-carbed 5.7LX Alpha One. Additionally, the 5.7LX is available with electronic fuel injection and/or a Bravo Three outdrive. Only the 4.3LX Alpha One is available for the 609. Stingray publishes "Powerboat Performance Reports," a compilation of performance and engineering data that shows that the 609 has been clocked between 54 and 56 mph with the 4.3LX, while the 659 touched 56.9 mph in one test using the 5.7L.

Measure the cockpit of the 659 zp and you begin to see that careful planning of dimensions pays off. From the helm console to the beginning of the transom, and from side to side, the 659 measures 115 by 77 for an enormous cockpit that four or more can enjoy in comfort. A cockpit depth of 40 inches at the center means there's plenty of space for the children to move about, protected by high sides, but only when the boat is still, of course.

Compared to the standard cockpit layout of the 609, which has twin jump seats flanking a padded motor box, a reclining sun lounge to port and an adjustable swivel bucket at the helm, Stingray's 659 zp is a more utilitarian version with a carpetless, easy-to-clean fiberglass cockpit liner, removable jump seats aft, fishing-style pedestal seats forward and optional under-gunnel rod holders for young families who want a boat that can do it all. There's also an XL layout for the 609 with a wide, comfortable sunpad over the engine compartment, a comfortable three-person bench seat, and two swivel seats forward (the helmsman's is adjustable fore and aft). Parents will appreciate the cockpit's well padded bolsters, and the grab rail for the passenger seat.

Docking and anchoring needs are carefully considered on the 659 zp. Six 8-inch stainless steel cleats with plenty of clearance for large docklines are standard, and they are placed well-outboard for fair leads and reduced chafing potential. A clever swing-away step allows the crew to walk forward through an opening center windshield panel to deploy or pull aboard the anchor. There's a flush foredeck locker designed to hold both the anchor and rode, with a notch that allows the rode to be deployed at anchor while the lid remains closed. Good non-skid and welded stainless steel handrails all around the foredeck edges provide an added measure of safety for the crew.

Access to the integral swim platform is over the bolster, under which the convertible top is stored when it is not rigged upright for use. Two large stainless grab rails and more good non-skid aid the swimmer, skier and fisherman when they are moving around back there, and a 36-inch-deep stainless swim ladder helps get family and crew back aboard. A ski-tow eye is standard on the centerline.

220CS cabin The cabin is compact and complete. Open the three-panel folding doors, fasten them out of the way, and you can enter the cabin without having to squeeze through a narrow entrance. Immediately to port, there's a comfortable seat with backrest - a perfect place to sit and get out of the sun briefly, read a book, or put together a little lunch. For galley duty, you'll find a recessed single-burner alcohol stove with butcher-block cutting board top, a sink with 10-quart cold water supply tank, and an easy to maintain Formica counter top on which to spread the fixings for a light lunch or a quick snack.

A V-berth for two takes up the majority of the cabin's room. Concealed under its removable center cushion is a self-contained portable MSD, which can be easily transported for maintenance. For small families, the sun lounger on the standard layout could double as a single bed just add the camper canvas option. Stingray backs its quality construction with a five-year limited warranty to give new owners peace of mind. The Stingray 659 zp is meant to satisfy a typical young couple's or family's performance needs, from overnight accommodations to features for a variety of on-water sports. Base price on the standard layout 609 zp is $20,112. Base price for the 659 zp is $23,506. If you want the 659 zp model with fishing package, which includes a fiberglass liner, fishing chairs, rod storage and four rod holders, suggested retail is $24,650. If you think your free time has been slipping away a little faster all the time, wait til you get behind the wheel and hammer the throttle on this Stingray. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Lakeland Boating Magazine
January 1996




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