Stingray Powerboats
Fine Addition
Powerboat Magazine - March 1999

The new 230LX from Stingray Powerboats provides everything a family could want from a bowrider at an affordable price.

Stingray 230LX

After 20 years at the helm of Stingray Powerboats, it's clear that company president, Al Fink knows what the runabout-buying public wants.

Take the 230 LX, for example, a snappy bowrider we tested during the fall Florida phase of our Performance Trials. For the security-minded folks in the family (i.e. Mom and Dad), the bowrider area was deep, 2'8" from the deck to the gunwale, and that translated into passenger safety.

There was plenty of stowage for all the knickknacks a family totes along, highlighted by a gigantic bench-seat locker that could hold lots of camping gear and several sets of skis. Then there was the fun side, starting with a full-width swim platform and fold-down ladder, a necessity for skiing and other water-toy activities.

Finally, there was the speed element that means so much to the high-performance enthusiasts of the world, even those who have families. The 230LX we tested was equipped with a MerCruiser 350 Magnum MPI powerplant, an upgrade over the base 5.7-liter engine, and so equipped the boat ran more than 60 mph on radar.

The boost in horsepower was an addition we would recommend, even though it pushed the as-tested price to $30,639. With the base engine, the 230LX priced out at $26,555, quite a bargain for a boat that measures 22'8" long with an 8' beam.

INTERIOR
Bowriders are the true play toys of the runabout family, because no matter where passengers are located on the boat they're bound to have fun. Start on the back of the 230 LX, with its wide swim platform, complemented by a fold-down ladder and perfectly positioned grab rail.

230LX sundeck

After a ski run, it was no trouble reboarding from the water and then stretching out on the one-person sunlounge. Moving into the cockpit, passengers entered a new zone for fun with stowage space for goodies of various size alongside fold-down retainers located on each side of the engine or inside the previously mentioned voluminous locker under the bench-seat bottom.

That large locker measured 7' across and was accessed by folding out the three bench-seat bottom cushions on two-position flop-over hinges. While the locker wasn't big enough for a wakeboard, it was large enough so that skis and other items could easily be packed inside.

With the cushions down, the bench seat proved comfortable with nicely contoured padding and a good tilt to the bottom cushion, setting riders back into the boat.

Moving forward, the 230LX had gunwale trays with built-in cupholder, a stereo speaker and a courtesy light on each side. The stowage trays continued alongside the co-pilot and the pilot. In the co-pilot's dash to port there is a glove box with a simulated woodgrain lid and a Sony stereo covered by a flop-over cover. Also ahead of the co-pilot was a snap-down curtain for access to the stowage area in the bulkhead between the cockpit and the bowrider section.

Working toward the driver's seat, our interior inspector found the first of two on-board ice chests (the second is in the bowrider section), which was set into the cockpit sole.

Sitting in the driver's bucket seat mounted on Garelick swiveling pedestal in the same fashion as the co-pilot's, our inspector looked forward at a completely tan dash panel, which effectively limited glare. The gauge lineup included a tachometer (with a built-in hour meter) and a speedometer, and instruments for oil pressure, water temperature, drive trim, fuel and volts. In the center beneath the tach and speedo was a Humminbird depthsounder, and to the left and right of the steering column were accessory switches that illuminated when activated.

On the starboard gunwale was a Quicksilver Series 3000 throttle and shifter in a good position, and at the driver's knees was an opening to access the stowage locker in the bowrider section.

Moving into the bowrider section through a lift-up section of the windshield, our inspector walked through a wide walkway, which was not padded. He decided to kick back there for a while on one of the chaise-lounge style seats that backed up against the bulkhead. Stainless-steel handrails ran atop the gunwale of the bowrider section, and further enhancing that feeling of security, and the aforementioned ice chest that was located in the center of the bowrider. The ice chest was built sturdy enough that it could serve as and anchor locker.

WORKMANSHIP
Stingray didn't skimp on deck hardware on the 230LX. A chrome navigation light graced the nose, followed by a single retractable cleat aft. There was another cleat on each side of the Taylor Made Clear Curve windshield (which was perfectly installed), and two more cleats were set on the port and starboard sides of the swim platform.

230LX cockpit

The ski tow was mounted on the stern with a single grab handle, and the fuel fill was located under a rear-hinged pad on the engine hatch, accessible by raising a small cushion. A navigation-light receptacle was on the rear of the top gunwale.

Looking at the exterior of the boat, Stingray went with a two-tone gelcoat scheme of blue and off-white with a tape line running around. An aluminum rubrail with a rubber insert was well suited to protect the 230LX from dock dings.

The manual engine hatch raised on a pair of gas shocks to a 45-degree angle, opened by pulling on a pair of vinyl loops. When raised, the hatch provided good access to the 350 Magnum MPI engine, which was essentially a Chevrolet-based 350-cid motor. The powerplant was installed using galvanized bolts lagged into the stringer blocks and set on the standard transom assembly.

Stingray finished the bilge area with chopped fiberglass mat covered in black paint, which made for a shiny finish. Engine compartment wiring left our inspector wanting a little more, because the battery cables were unsupported and much of the other wiring systems were loosely supported down by tie wraps of contained in conduit.

He did appreciate that the fuel-tank level could be both evaluated electronically at the dash or visually through the engine compartment by looking at a manual sender.

PERFORMANCE
Stingray's Z Plane hull was designed to give its boats excellent stability and a smooth ride, and the 230LX was no exception to that plan.

The Z Plane bottom started with a slightly radiused keel with four full-length strakes that were 1 1/4" wide but increased to a 1 1/2" wide taper as they extend back on the boat.

As has been well chronicled, Fink designed the Z Plane with strakes that appeared cut into the hull, rather than built up on it. There was no vertical section on the strakes, and the chine was a couple of degrees negative about 2" wide.

The bottom design made for predictability on the water, another key element when manufacturing a family bowrider.

Slalom turns at 20, 30 and 40 mph earned our top scores, as did the left-hand 230LX bow circles at cruising and high speeds. Because of a little extra propeller influence, the grades were just slightly less in circles to the right.

Backing off the throttle caused no wavering or unsteadiness in the boat's ride, while tracking was good at low and mid speeds, but was a bit wobbly near the top end. The boat was also somewhat sensitive to weight shift.

Evaluating the numbers, the 230LX's 350 Magnum MPI turned a Laser 13 7/8 x 21 stainless three-blade propeller through a Bravo One drive with a 1.5:1 gearset, and reached a top speed of 61.3 mph at 4850 rpm.

Speeding toward that number, our test boat hit 7 mph at 1000 rpm, 8 at 1500, 15 at 2000, 27 at 2500, 37 at 3000, 42 at 3500, 52 at 4000 and 58 at 4500.

On the stopwatch, the 230LX reached 18 mph in three seconds, 27 in 5, 45 in 10, and 55 in 15. Time to plane was 5.2 seconds, while the boat went from 20 to 40 mph in 5.1 seconds, 30 to 50 in 6.4 and 30 to 60 in 16.2 seconds.

Fuel mileage was excellent and should provide good range with the 230LX's 60-gallon aluminum fuel tank and numbers of 4.1 mpg at 25 mph, 4.3 at 35, 3.5 at 45, 2.8 at 55 and 2.7 wide open.

OVERALL
At first glance, the 230LX appeared to have it all for families: deep freeboard, good gas mileage and plenty of stowage. After driving it, we found the 230LX offered even more-dependable handling and a true top end of 60-plus mph. That made it one well-rounded bowrider.

Powerboat Magazine
March 1999




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