Stingray Powerboats
Making Waves

Popular Mechanics - March 2001

New boats break the mold with fresh concepts and innovative designs.

Stingray 200MS

Boating has been roaring along at full throttle over the past few years, just like everything else in this supercharged economy. Dealers have been selling out to the bare walls. The future, however, may not be as rosy, as the high tide of money ebbs to a rocky bottom. It’s going to take innovative products inspired by thinking outside the box to attract powerboaters, and innovation is exactly what we’re seeing in some of the new boats and engines for 2001.

D.U.D.E.’s Spartan helm houses motorcycle-inspired gauges in keeping with an active-feel cockpit. The most remarkable boat to break over the horizon is the D.U.D.E., which stands for Doin’ Ultimate Design Experiments. Designed by Peter Granata for the Marine Design Resource Alliance and Cobalt Boats, the D.U.D.E. is a fully functional, full-size prototype (27 ft. long with an 8 1/2-ft. beam) that is production-capable in whole or in part. As a matter of fact, that cool Bimini arch has already been adapted to the new Cobalt 263 Cuddy.

The main mission of this boat is to offer an alternative to “couch potato” boating—a floating world of entertainment, amenities, drink holders and coolers at the ready—that is, a more athletic boating lifestyle.

Back in the old “speedboat” days, the most exciting seat in the house was up on the foredeck. Fun, yes. Safe, no. Bowriders try to recapture some of that excitement, but they bury you so low in the hull (for safety) that you’re practically in steerage. D.U.D.E. raises the bow seats and relegates them to the loungers, separating them from the active boaters and opening up huge storage areas underneath the bow seating for all kinds of activity gear.

The instrument panel is the marine interpretation of a motorcycle cockpit, a bike being one of the most interactive vehicles for the environment and rider. The design is minimalistic, with a few large gauges that indicate more than one function (i.e., one gauge shows volts, temperature and oil pressure) and an absence of superfluous bells and whistles. Cockpit seating is U-shaped to group passengers in more of an interactive huddle rather than isolating them in separate seats. Out back are two sport pods for gear storage. Their angular shape is such as to discourage riders from lounging on them.

The swim platform may appear conventional, but look closer. The center section is lowered hydraulically, like an elevator, to 12 in. below the waterline. Affectionately called the dunk seat, it allows easier access to the boat from the water. Second floor, please.

Another production-feasible prototype is called CUB (Convertible Universal Boat) and is the latest thinking from Marine Concepts. Featuring a pop-up cabin that’s equipped with a full galley and fridge (that’s the convertible part), the 25-ft. boat is designed for fishing, cruising, diving and more (the universal part of the equation). The cabin, with headroom of 6 ft. 3 in., is adaptable to deck boats and cruisers. It is raised and lowered on stainless steel telescoping lifters at each corner via an electric winch motor, worm gear and cables.

The hull structure is unique in that it has more room under the helm than any other boat in its class. Space was maximized by designing the sponsons to widen the forward end of the vee-shaped hull and stringers that extend for a lower floor and more headroom. The CUB has a small nav station below deck forward of the helm that accommodates an office and small bunk.

Fish and ski boats have been around for years, but Stingray has taken the concept one step further with its 200MS Fish N Ski, which would be more aptly named the Fish N Board. Geared more to wakeboarding than skiing, the boat has a 210-hp MerCruiser mounted amidships and hooked to the Alpha One sterndrive via a jackshaft. This results in a centrally located center of gravity that helps the boat get on plane more quickly and stay on plane at lower speeds, which is great for boarding. The sterndrive is another plus because simply trimming the drive will change the wake contour. A custom-built, anodized-aluminum wakeboard tower is optional. A great fishing feature is the boat’s center-console design that allows fishing around the entire perimeter of the boat.

Baja combines fishability with an all-around family boat in its 250 Islander Outboard. You get the benefits of a center console with the extra passenger room of a bowrider. This boat lets you do everything from wakeboarding, skiing and tubing to offshore fishing, while entertaining your friends at the same time. Power ranges from a single Mercury 20HP XL/CXL outboard to a pair of 150HP XL/CL Mercurys.

When it comes to thinking outside the box, the Outrider Flying Boat is off the chart (off the wall?). This is definitely the attention-getter for 2001. The 21-ft. craft is powered by a marinized 175-hp four-stroke Mazda rotary engine that spins a submerged prop at lower speeds and a surface-piercing drive in flying mode. The boat flies in ground effect with only the very trailing portion of the front ski contacting the surface. Top speed is 80 mph, and being the first on your dock to own one will set you back 50 grand.

If you’re a student of the “Bang! Oops!” school of docking, Maxum’s revolutionary Control Max Docking System (the greatest thing since the propeller) may be for you. Simply move a joystick in the direction you want the boat to go. It’s so easy you can teach your dog to dock your boat. The stick controls three hull-integrated thrusters powered by 12-volt batteries that operate independently from the main power source. The batteries are charged while the sterndrive is underway. Control Max debuts on Maxum’s 2300 Premiere Edition Bowrider. It may put the hull repair shops out of business.

Racing used to be a dirty word—at least from an emissions standpoint. No more. Mercury’s new OptiMax 200XS 200-hp two-stroke V6 exceeds 2006 Environmental Protection Agency and 2004 California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.) emissions standards. A new propulsion control module keeps a tight rein on fuel and spark throughout the engine’s operating range.

Mercury’s two-stroke runs cleaner. Suzuki has a compact four-stroke. Yamaha unveils its highest-horsepower four-stroke.

Four-stroke outboards continue evolving to new levels of sophistication and power output. Yamaha wins the four-stroke horsepower crown with its F225 225-hp DOHC V6. Yamaha kept the powerhead relatively lightweight and compact by designing a narrow 60° angle between the cylinder banks—a trick it was able to pull off by moving the exhaust system to the center of the vee, reversing the exhaust and intake system layouts of conventional four-strokes.

Suzuki is also a strong four-stroke player with its 115-hp four-cylinder DF115. Designers kept the powerhead compact by creating an offset driveshaft layout and a two-stage cam drive. The engine develops high torque with a long-runner intake manifold and 4-2-1 exhaust system so it can take advantage of a larger prop for better holeshots. The engine meets C.A.R.B. emissions regulations for 2008.

Cliff Gromer
Popular Mechanics


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