There's something to be said for making progress toward perfection. While absolute perfection itself is elusive, to strive for it year after year can't help but make things better. This is what we were thinking while touring Stingray's manufacturing facility in Hartsville, South Carolina, and after putting its 2006 250LR bowrider though the motions at the nearby lake.

Stingray owner Al Fink is a curious fellow who has a passion for building boats and making them better each year. Usually it's the simple things. At one point dealers were complaining that they kept getting boats with slight scuffs in the cap rails. Fink walked the production line looking for the culprit and finally discovered the vacuum hoses used for the final cleanup before delivery were causing the problem. Now, those vacuums are mounted on head-high platforms so the hoses drop into the boats without having to be slung over the side.

After more than 25 years of building boats, Fink still delights in doing whatever he can, small or large, to make his boats better. A builder that puts this much effort into sweating the details can be counted on to deliver in the critical areas like performance, reliability and comfort as well. And the 250LR is a good example.

The 250LR is the largest runabout available from Stingray (a cuddy version is also available) and, like all other Stingray craft, performance is at the heart of its mission. Another chief characteristic of the 250LR is an upscale notion of standard features, some of which we're used to seeing as expensive options on other boats. We were glad to see items like the enclosed head with holding tank and pumpout, cockpit table with floor mount and magnetic compass come standard.

We were also glad to see the large integrated swim platform, which was a new addition to the 250LR for 2005. A center-line step-through transom gives you easy access to the platform, where you'll find a step that will double as a seat while strapping into a wakeboard or skis. There's also a top-folding boarding ladder, a couple of stainless steel grabrails and a small storage trunk in the step, which has room for towropes, fenders, gloves and other small items.

In the cockpit you'll find a huge U-shaped conversation pit in addition to a pair of Avenir Sport Bucket seats with flipup bolsters and a refreshment center. Optional filler cushions allow you to create a large lounging platform in the cockpit. The same touch of comfortable space is carried forward to the bow, where you'll find storage, an integrated cooler and another set of optional filler cushions to create another lounging pad.

 PERFORMANCE & PRICING
 STINGRAY 250LR

  PERFORMANCE  
MPH
RPM
MPG
RANGE
S/MILE*
DBA
PEAK
54.1
5,100
2.34
143
.99
92
CRUISE
29.6
3,000
3.33
204
.70
83
TIME TO PLANE 4.1 seconds
0-30 MPH ACCELERATION 6.5 seconds
- Fuel consumption measured with MerCruiser SmartCraft digital meter; range based on 90% of total fuel capacity.
*Assuming a fuel price of $2.33/gallon

  POWER  
TEST 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser
HP 300
DRIVE Bravo III
PROP 24-in 3-blade SS
WOT RANGE 4,800 - 5,200 rpm
STANDARD 5.0 MPI MerCruiser
HP 260
DRIVE Alpha I
PROP 19-in 3-blade Aluminum
WOT RANGE 4,600 - 5,000 rpm
Craft available with MerCruiser or Volvo Penta stern drives ranging from 220 to 375 hp

  LOAD  
PEOPLE
FUEL (GALS/LBS)
MISC
TEST
1
23/144
15 lbs.
TYPICAL
6-7
68/426
145 lbs.

  BASE PRICE  
WITH TEST POWER $44,582
WITH STD POWER $40,834
*Price can vary depending on options and location—price does not include trailer

  FINANCING  
$353/month for 15 years*
*Assuming a final price of $46,500 with a 15% down payment and a fixed interest rate of 7.0%—does not include sales tax

  FIVE NOTABLE OPTIONS  
Lenco trim tabs w/indicator ($791), digital depth finder w/ alarm ($334), transom stereo remote ($235), two-tone hull color stripe w/ sport graphics ($462), snap-in carpet ($475)

  FIVE NOTABLE STANDARDS  
Integrated swim platform w/boarding ladder, stainless steel hardware package, Sunbrella Bimini w/ boot, enclosed head (w/vent window, lighting and Porta Potti), Kenwood high-power AM/FM CD stereo w/remote, twin Avenir Sport Bucket seats w/bolsters

PERFORMANCE
While Fink has a typical office with a desk, conference table and chairs at his facility in Hartsville, he actually finds that he sometimes spends more time at his "other" office, which consists of a pair of plastic 5-gallon buckets turned upside down at the end of the dock where he mans a radar gun while testing boats. It's not uncommon to see the dock lined end-to-end with propellers while the Stingray crew is working to strike the highest performing balance between the hull, engine and prop for any given boat.

In our case, with the 250LR we had one person aboard for the test, a third of a tank of fuel (about 23 gallons or 144 pounds) and a 300 hp 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser with a Bravo III drive spinning a 24-inch stainless steel prop set.

Acceleration was peppy with a time to plane of 4.1 seconds and a 0- to 30-mph time of 6.5 seconds. Our peak speed was 54.1 mph, which will give you a top-speed range of about 143 miles. Our most efficient cruising speed was 29.6 mph at 3,000 rpm, which would yield a cruising range of about 204 miles.

In terms of handling we could easily tell the difference between Stingray's patented Z-plane hull and conventional hulls. First, the 250 needed very little trim to air it out for top speed. And it only took a slight touch of trim to push the nose down for aggressive cornering.

One of the ideas behind the Z-plane hull is to eliminate vortices associated with conventional lifting strakes, which can increase prop blowout while turning. According to Fink, the Z-plane lifting strakes provide the needed lift while eliminating these vortices, which gives the prop a clean, undisturbed flow of water to bite into. Taken together, this allows Stingray to mount its outdrives .75 to 1 inch higher than normal, which reduces drag.

OVERALL
There's no doubt that Stingray's hard work and attention to detail make a difference. Even though the company has been at it for more than 25 years, it's still nice to see it's not resting on its laurels. The 250LR is a testament to Stingray's commitment to innovation, and we're told to expect even more from this craft in 2007.

In terms of cost we'd say the 250LR is competitively priced, and it might even top many other craft in this range in terms of standard features.

No boat is perfect, but Stingray keeps trying, and its boats keep getting better.

Go Boating Test Team
April 2006



  ABOUT THE BOAT:
  STINGRAY 250LR

 SPECIFICATIONS
Length25 ft.
Beam8 ft., 6 in.
Capacity10 people
Dry weight4,874 lbs.
Fuel capacity68 gals.
Maximum power375 hp
Deadrise (@ transom)21°
Anyone who has shopped for a Stingray will be familiar with the company's Convenience Package, which is a list of standard features (read: no extra cost to the buyer) that Stingray feels is worth pulling out and itemizing.

Some of the items on the list for the 250LR include custom engine vibration dampers, pressurized water with a transom shower, a Sunbrella Bimini top with a boot and a Kenwood high-power AM/FM CD player with remote. All together there are 18 items in the Convenience Package that Stingray figures would cost a total of an additional $3,302 if they were to be sold as separate options. It's nice to see a builder this straightforward about standard features and pricing.

You'll also be glad to see a standard refreshment center, which consists of a sink with a pressurized faucet to port behind the helm seat. The sink cover sits flush to make a large countertop area, and there's dedicated room for the included 25-quart carry-on cooler. To starboard behind the driver's helm seat there's a large integrated cooler with a lid that also doubles as a countertop area. Below that is a storage area with an included trash receptacle.

Some of the options worth considering include Lenco trim tabs with indicators, full or partial canvas, snap-in carpet, a digital depth sounder, a transom stereo remote and a Kenwood stereo/speaker upgrade.

             



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