In recent years, with the popularity of sport utility vehicles, some boat builders have dubbed one or more of
their new models SUV's or sport utility vessels (perhaps because the acronym for sport utility boat has an
Stingray weighs into this class with the 200MS. After testing the 200MS in Miami, powered by the optional
diesel sterndrive - Mercury's new 1.7 DTI - I would rather call the 200MS a sporty utilitarian performance boat.
That's SUPERB for short.
If you want utility in a boat in the 20-foot range, a centre-console layout is the obvious one. With a pair of
swivelling seats behind the console, a jump seat in front of it, a cushioned engine box and some seating in the
bow, the 200MS still has plenty of open cockpit space for fishing, diving or watersports.
As for sporty, that usually means (with a centre-console at least) that the hull and deck design has modern,
flowing lines and a moulded-in swim platform. The way 200MS does performance, though, is a different matter.
The 200MS is fast enough, reaching a top speed of 42 mph at 4,450 rpm with diesel power. In acceleration tests,
the boat goes from a standstill to 20 mph in 7.2 seconds, reaching 30 mph in 10.44 seconds. Quick enough,
especially for a diesel. The 1.7 DTI, one of the new generation of clean-burning, high-revving diesels, is laden
with torque and would make an ideal powerplant for the serious fisherman. For those more comfortable with
performance and price of gasoline engines, company tests have shown almost identical speeds with gasoline-powered
4.3-litre V-6 Volvo Penta and Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives.
Like all Stingray's the 200MS is equipped with the company's patented Z-plane hull. That design uses Z-shaped
strakes that contribute added lift (for quick planing) and tight cornering capabilities.
But any 20-footer that falls into the SUPERB category had to have an edge in the kind of performance that will
really count. It has to be able to handle itself in big waves and rough weather. That's not easy for 20-footers
powered by outboards or even traditionally configured sterndrives.
The 200MS, though, is driven by a sterndrive linked to a midships-mounted engine by a jackshaft. With
rear-mounted engines as the standard sterndrive configuration, you often forget about the beneficial effects of
a mid-mounted powerplant. The boat usually planes more readily and is better-balanced. In this case, the result
is a 20-footer that handles waves and rough water better than many 24-footers.
Test day in Miami took me through a very disturbed Government Cut, through large and unpredictable cross-wakes
and swells; the boat handled anything the Cut could throw at it.
The other major advantage of a mid-engine — along with a padded engine hatch for additional seating
— is a wide-open aft cockpit, ideal for fishing or watersports. While the boat I tested with the optional
T-top would be ideal for fishing, there's also an optional towing tower — perfect for wakeboarders who want
to get big air.
Stingray adds the usual fishing amenities. There's a well-designed round-edged livewell in the middle of the
aft deck area, with a large drained fishbox (also great for storing wet lines or other gear) to each side. There's
rod storage in the coamings, built-in tackle trays in the side of the console and flush-mounted rod holders in
the aft side decks. Recessed cleats, helping avoid snagged fishing lines, are a thoughtful touch.
A portable cooler fits neatly into a locker/jump seat forward of the centre console. There's even more storage
in drained lockers under the bow seats; the centre-console locker is huge.
With a full fibreglass liner, the cockpit cleans up easily with a hose and scrub brush. Your fishing buddies
might not mind the grime, but your sporty pals will appreciate your boat's ability to change roles with ease.
Boats and Places Magazine