Aficionados of the breed know Stingray boats well. These hot, flashy
little runabouts have put Hartsville, S.C., on the map as the home of
speed-plus-panache. It does not surprise me, then, when the speedo on a
brand new 230LX wraps around past 65 mph at 4900 rpm. I don't know how
accurate that was, but the shoreline was a blur.
What really amazes me, though, is how secure the ride feels at this
ear-flattening scream across the pine-pollen flecked waters of Lake
Robinson. Chad Fink, younger son of Stingray founder and chairman Al
Fink, is grinning. I think he's pleased with my reaction. It could be,
however, it just could be he's contemplating the new batch of barbecue
sauce he's planning to make. Mustard-based, please. South Carolina
style. Chad and I are kindred spirits and when the talk doesn't center
around boats and fishing, it's southern food. Maybe that's what they use
for a fiberglass catalyst in these boats: mustard. Might help explain
their explosive acceleration.
Chad's father said it best last summer when I came here for a ride (and
a plate of fried chicken): "It's like a fighter plane," he said. "Just
point it where you want to go and it'll do it instantly."
The muscle in this classy waterborne Deuce Coupe is a 300-hp 350 MAG
MPI Alpha. Mated to Stingray's Z-Plane hull, it is a thrill-a-minute ego
booster. The hull itself is the product of Al Fink's long-standing
romance with technology and a determination to produce the perfect hull
shape. This is done through constant testing, using a five-axis router
to tweak the bottom.
Stingray, in fact, has a long list of "firsts" in the boating
industry, including the first company to use a CAD-driven CNC flat bed
router to cut production parts precisely.
Back at the dock at the Finks' lakeside summer cottage, I examined the
230LX a little more closely. The seats are all very comfortable, helm
and companion, and a rear bench that could accommodate three or four,
depending on the size of the bathing suit you're filling out (watch
the fried chicken). And stowage is remarkable, including excellent dry
space under the front seats. A rope locker doubles as a cooler and there
is a 36-quart cooler in the center of the cockpit. (The rear bench flips
up for ski stowage.)
The sunpad lifts quite easily on hydraulic rams and reveals a roomy
compartment for even such a hairy engine. There is more stowage outboard
of the block, separated from it by padded dividers.
The walk-through to the bow is comfortably wide, as well.
The helm is as handsome as they come, with dark, faux burl and
stainless steel bezels around the instruments: oil, temp, rpm, mph,
trim, fuel, and engine hour meter. A Sony cassette player is one of the
standard items, as is a tilt steering wheel and a compass. Engine
control is the classic Quicksilver 3000 throttle/gear shift. Switches,
for a blower, nav and cockpit lights, et al., are easily at hand.
An integrated swim platform has a stainless steel boarding ladder and
there is an ss ski tow ring, too. Really good, useful stainless
grabrails abound, in case you hit a wave or a big wake. It's OK to muss
a Sweet Thang's coif, you just don't want to get it wet.
Among other considerations, Stingray's five-year owner protection plan
is good reason to give this boat a serious look. Also, with Al's new
database, you can order any part for this boat right over the Internet.
In fact, you should visit their web site and see what this company is
all about: www.stingrayboats.com.
I've said it before, I'll repeat myself: If you want to be king of the
lake this summer, here's your boat.
Motor Boating & Sailing