Lounging. Itís one of the great underrated aspects of boating. In a culture that seems increasingly bent on squeezing
every bit of information and activity into every second of the day, itís great to just get away from it all and unwind a
little, whether it be with friends, family or just flying solo.
Traditionally, comfort of layout has been overshadowed on Stingray models by more "high-profile" items such as performance
characteristics and pricing. But with Stingrayís 205LR, the company aims to add to its allure by offering three cozy layouts
designed to make boaters feel comfortable and relaxed when theyíre getting away from it all.
To see if the new Stingray delivers, youíre set to put a new 205 through the paces on a balmy morning in Hartsville, S.C.
The dayís inspection of the test boat starts at the stern, where thereís a handy optional CD remote for when you want to
control the music while youíre swimming or dipping your feet into the water off the swim platform. Thereís also a large
sundeck that you plan to investigate later, but for now, itís on to the cockpit. Access to the boat is easy via a step-through
transom seat that removes when youíre hopping on and then fits back in when everyoneís ready to be seated.
Stingray offers the 205 in three different versions ó LR (the test model), LS and LX ó providing consumers with a nice
range of choices that allows you to customize to your personal preferences. The LR version, the most expensive of Stingrayís L
models with a base price of $25,844, features a neat U-shaped stern seating arrangement (the bottom of the ďUĒ goes straight
across, rather than curving) in which the wraparound lounge across the transom extends up the side. The configuration provides
a little extra seating, or could be used by the passengers sitting at the base of the U to stretch out.
The LX layout is similar to the LR, with a full-width bench seat, large swim platform and walk-through companionway from the
extended swim platform to the cockpit, but it lacks the extended seating up the side. It has a base price of $25,405, about $400
less than the LR. The LS version (base price: $24,762) features a motorbox with side jump seats, which can be raised to form a
small sundeck. A back-to-back seat opens into a lounge on the passenger side. All three configurations have positives, but for a
little extra money, the LR is probably the way to go.
Moving forward, small webbed storage compartments are present on either side, and thereís a good-sized, in-floor ski locker
with carpet to keep your gear safe and sound. The passenger seat gets a small glove box, and a standard CD player is ready for
when you want to crank out the tunes.
Rock music blaring, you nestle into the captainís chair and check out the view. The helm is utilitarian, but well laid out,
and the captain gets plenty of legroom. Visibility is good through the standard wraparound windshield. Turning the key, the
260-hp, 5.0L MerCruiser rumbles to life, registering a cool 69 decibels at idle. (Starting in 2008, Stingray is using Volvo
Penta engines exclusively.)
Stingray boats are renowned for their performance, and the 205LR is no exception. Time to plane is a quick-and-easy 3.3
seconds en route to 30 mph in 7.5 seconds, and the 205LR maxes out at 55.3 mph with the test engine package. (The 270-hp, 5.0L
Volvo Penta MPI SX should deliver a comparable top end.)
Handling is superb, even as the 205 LR is twisted into a series of hard turns. The 205 boasts a modified Z-plane hull,
featuring special contours to the running surface that extend beneath both sides of the integrated swim platform. According to
Stingray, the result is "three-point contact" with the water at high speeds, resulting in better top speeds and handling than
Handing over the controls to the copilot, you check out the 205ís bow area. The slightly inclined seats allow you to more
comfortably lounge when youíre facing forward, and surprisingly, you can stretch your legs all the way out. Not surprisingly,
on a boat of this modest length, thereís not enough legroom for you to sit facing your fellow passengers in the bow. But overall,
itís a comfy place to be in light of the boatís size.
Lifting up the seat cushions in the bow reveals a modest amount of storage space, and an anchor locker rounds out this area of
the 205. As the 205LR comes to a pause in the middle of the lake and your test time draws to a close, itís only appropriate that
your focus returns to the comfort factor, and you saunter back to the sundeck you noticed earlier, taking note of the many
stainless-steel components (bow rails, cup holders, etc.) along the way. With traffic on Lake Robinson at a minimum today, itís a
great time to sink into the plush vinyl that composes the sundeck (and makes for comfy seating throughout the boat). Stretching
out, feeling the sun against your face and listening to the soft sounds of nature, itís tough to think of a better way to spend
your remaining time on the water.