NOTE: the 240CS was previously the 729zp
If your idea of great boating involves weekending with the family or close
friends, sharing worthwhile on-water experiences that enrich everyone's
lives, you surely will appreciate mid-cabin weekend cruisers like the
Stingray 729zp. True to its mission, the 729zp does many things well
-- cleans and maintains easily, provides adequate lighting and ventilation
in the cabin, stores a weekend's worth of food along with normal safety
and running gear, safely seats a crowd of family and friends, and sleeps
the family in comfort with some privacy and separation.
The largest Stingray in a family of performance-oriented runabouts, sport
boats and compact cruisers, the 729zp is an easily trailerable 8'6" wide
and weighs approximately 4,500 pounds dry. Stingray incorporates the unique,
patented "zp" or "Z-Plane" hull form on the 729, an idea
conceived by company president Al Fink to produce an undisturbed flow of water
from entry to transom. Fink reasoned that the conventional strakes used on
many hull bottoms caused air pockets aft, reducing the bite of propellers
caught in trailing edge turbulence and causing a loss in potential speed, fuel
efficiency and handling capabilities.
According to the data collected in the company's own "Powerboat
Performance Reports" tabloid, which compares 750 powerboat tests from
marine publications and engine manufacturers, the Z-Plane bottom design excels
in numerous speed and fuel-flow comparisons.
The 729zp has a 21-degree angle of deadrise aft and a notched transom, both
features derived from offshore racing boats. The sharp bow entry and steep
deadrise at transom accurately portray a hull shape that will be right at home
in choppy conditions, while the notch allows the stern drive unit to be mounted
higher to reduce drag and increase performance.
Power choices in the catalog begin with the 5.0L. MerCruiser V8 mated to an
Alpha drive that can top out at 43 mph, and include Merc's naturally-aspirated
5.7L Alpha that can hit 47 mph and 5.7L Bravo Three that can turn 49 mph. Both
of the 5.7L's can be equipped with electronic fuel injection for additional
performance and convenience. For those who want a fuel efficient V-6
powerplant, Stingray recently began offering the 729zp with MerCruiser's 4.3LX,
a 180-hp plant that produces a top-end speed in the low 40-mph range.
Hammer the throttle on the 5.7L Bravo Three in this sporty cruiser and
you'll feel an instant surge of power, with plenty of pull for family skiers.
Minimal bow rise fails to obstruct the view forward, and the 729zp settles onto
plane in seconds. Twin counter-rotating props and hydraulic steering combine to
create a feel of confidence at the wheel, whether you're carving a turn to pick
up a skier, maintaining a straight course to your next overnight destination or
backing and maneuvering around the docks. Hard over turns (which we do not
recommend) show that the 729zp is stable side-to-side and will not trip over its
own chines forward.
Al Fink and the Stingray designers paid a great deal of attention to human
factors when they drew the lines with computer aided design (CAD) software and
Oscar, a three dimensional computer figure generated with engineering data
published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Oscar helped determine
everything from correct control locations and helm position to comfortable
sitting and standing headroom and legroom dimensions. As a result, you'll find
that the 729zp has a spacious cockpit measuring 9'2" long by 6'6" wide
by 3' deep. That's just right for six to eight people to do a little
day-tripping, with sides high enough to keep smaller children safely in the boat
and under the watchful eye of cautious parents.
High-sided boats are usually easier to board from the aft quarters, and
Stingray's designers have thoughtfully provided balance-reassuring stainless
steel grab rails and large aft cleats on the downward sloping side walls
enclosing the integral swim platform. A horizontal grab rail supports the aft
bench seat back and spans the platform from starboard to the port-side opening
stainless steel gate. The gate mechanism features a nifty stainless housing that
is notched to lock the dropped down structure firmly in place when closed, and to
promote a return to the open position flush against the port side inner wall for
storage. The swim platform is spacious enough for adults and kids, includes a
stainless steel ski pull and a two-step, swing down boarding ladder with padded
treads for comfortable barefoot boarding. A standard pull-out transom shower just
below the walk-through is an added bonus.
With the exception of a step-down well just outside the cabin entrance, which is
drained to help keep water out of the cabin, most of the cockpit is on a single
level. This will be an added plus for parents of toddling children, while the
openings on both sides of the aft bench seat base allow rapid draining away of
any rain or washdown water in the cockpit. There's loads of cockpit storage in
enclosed lockers beneath the padded bolsters, in an open pocket beneath the port
side gunwale and beneath the aft bench.
Disengage two latches and the cockpit floor and the aft bench tilt back as a
unit to reveal a wide open engine compartment. Even with a 5.7L MerCruiser on the
centerline, there's plenty of room left over for storage boxes on both sides of
the engine. Service points are uniformly easy to reach, while two gas-assist
cylinders support the open deck structure. In a nifty move that eliminates the
need for plumbed drains in the flush hatch drainage channel, water is led around
the front and sides of the hatch to flow directly aft and out onto the swim
platform, exiting just beneath the vent openings on the transom.
Cockpit seating for five adults is standard, if you count two on the aft bench,
one on each side of the back-to-back helm bench and one on the aft-facing sun
lounge to port. Some doubling up is bound to take place when there are children or
very close friends involved. Sun worshippers will appreciate the fore-and-aft
adjustable helm bench because it folds down to become a very spacious lounge for
ray-warming or zzz-catching when the boat is at rest. All seats are constructed of
injection-molded polypropylene cores instead of wood, molded foam inserts for
accurate fit and shape, and 36-ounce UV-stable vinyls that are durable and puncture
The helm console is a beautifully sculpted, three tiered structure that includes
a drink holder and a complete set of Teleflex instruments (the tach has an integral
hour meter) on the upper level, a recessed Humminbird digital depth gauge and a
line of lighted, twist-action switches on the mid level, and a tilting custom
steering wheel on the lower level flanked by panels for flush-mounted optional gear
on both sides. Our test boat had an optional Humminbird GPS to port and a pull-out
Maxxima 60-watt stereo with three weather bands over a Humminbird VHF to port.
Every control, including the throttle, is at your fingertips. And Oscar has helped
ensure that your seating comfort and visibility are the best that Stingray can
A clever stainless steel step stores against the helm bulkhead, and swings out
over the centerline to assist the crew when going forward to handle lines or to
deploy the anchor. An overboard-draining locker in the bow deck stores rope rode
and a shank-down Danforth-style anchor in molded hangers. There's even a molded
opening in the lid for excess rope to remain stored beneath a flush locker lid,
while the working end of the line is fastened to one of two large stainless steel
cleats well forward. Smaller spring line cleats are mounted just ahead of the
windshield base line and are recessed and canted outward for quick use at the dock.
I appreciated the standing headroom in the aft portion of the cabin, and
particularly in the enclosed head compartment to starboard. There's plenty of room
for tall cooks to whip up breakfast or afternoon sandwiches at the compact galley
to port, which is cut away aft to improve access to the mid-cabin sleeping area.
Even then, there's plenty of storage along the side and above for a weekend's worth
of food and cooking gear.
I also liked the excellent sitting headroom in the mid-cabin, an item often
overlooked on some models I've seen. This area has its own opening screened hatch
for ventilation, small item storage around two sides, individual lighting fixtures,
and legroom for those accustomed to queen-sized beds.
It's not just for kids. Most anyone will like the fact that the cabin is
constructed using a one-piece fiberglass liner for added structural strength and
low maintenance. The circular table fits flush into lips on the bench edges to form
a large V-berth, and it also stores beneath the cushions forward in a special base
recess to allow open seating when dining or game-playing is done.
With quality construction and a find 5-year limited warranty to give new owners
peace of mind, the Stingray 729zp is set to satisfy a typical young family's needs
for accommodations and cruising features in a performance-oriented package. Your
weekends are about to get a little faster and hopefully a lot more enjoyable at the
Lakeland Boating Magazine