After 20 years at the helm of Stingray Powerboats, it's clear that company
president, Al Fink knows what the runabout-buying public wants.
Take the 230 LX, for example, a snappy bowrider we tested during the fall
Florida phase of our Performance Trials. For the security-minded folks in the
family (i.e. Mom and Dad), the bowrider area was deep, 2'8" from the deck to the
gunwale, and that translated into passenger safety.
There was plenty of stowage for all the knickknacks a family totes along,
highlighted by a gigantic bench-seat locker that could hold lots of camping gear
and several sets of skis. Then there was the fun side, starting with a full-width
swim platform and fold-down ladder, a necessity for skiing and other water-toy
Finally, there was the speed element that means so much to the high-performance
enthusiasts of the world, even those who have families. The 230LX we tested was
equipped with a MerCruiser 350 Magnum MPI powerplant, an upgrade over the base
5.7-liter engine, and so equipped the boat ran more than 60 mph on radar.
The boost in horsepower was an addition we would recommend, even though it
pushed the as-tested price to $30,639. With the base engine, the 230LX priced
out at $26,555, quite a bargain for a boat that measures 22'8" long with an 8'
Bowriders are the true play toys of the runabout family, because no matter where
passengers are located on the boat they're bound to have fun. Start on the back
of the 230 LX, with its wide swim platform, complemented by a fold-down ladder
and perfectly positioned grab rail.
After a ski run, it was no trouble reboarding from the water and then
stretching out on the one-person sunlounge. Moving into the cockpit, passengers
entered a new zone for fun with stowage space for goodies of various size
alongside fold-down retainers located on each side of the engine or inside the
previously mentioned voluminous locker under the bench-seat bottom.
That large locker measured 7' across and was accessed by folding out the
three bench-seat bottom cushions on two-position flop-over hinges. While the
locker wasn't big enough for a wakeboard, it was large enough so that skis and
other items could easily be packed inside.
With the cushions down, the bench seat proved comfortable with nicely
contoured padding and a good tilt to the bottom cushion, setting riders back into
Moving forward, the 230LX had gunwale trays with built-in cupholder, a stereo
speaker and a courtesy light on each side. The stowage trays continued alongside
the co-pilot and the pilot. In the co-pilot's dash to port there is a glove box
with a simulated woodgrain lid and a Sony stereo covered by a flop-over cover.
Also ahead of the co-pilot was a snap-down curtain for access to the stowage
area in the bulkhead between the cockpit and the bowrider section.
Working toward the driver's seat, our interior inspector found the first of
two on-board ice chests (the second is in the bowrider section), which was set
into the cockpit sole.
Sitting in the driver's bucket seat mounted on Garelick swiveling pedestal
in the same fashion as the co-pilot's, our inspector looked forward at a
completely tan dash panel, which effectively limited glare. The gauge lineup
included a tachometer (with a built-in hour meter) and a speedometer, and
instruments for oil pressure, water temperature, drive trim, fuel and volts.
In the center beneath the tach and speedo was a Humminbird depthsounder, and
to the left and right of the steering column were accessory switches that
illuminated when activated.
On the starboard gunwale was a Quicksilver Series 3000 throttle and shifter
in a good position, and at the driver's knees was an opening to access the
stowage locker in the bowrider section.
Moving into the bowrider section through a lift-up section of the windshield,
our inspector walked through a wide walkway, which was not padded. He decided to
kick back there for a while on one of the chaise-lounge style seats that backed
up against the bulkhead. Stainless-steel handrails ran atop the gunwale of the
bowrider section, and further enhancing that feeling of security, and the
aforementioned ice chest that was located in the center of the bowrider. The ice
chest was built sturdy enough that it could serve as and anchor locker.
Stingray didn't skimp on deck hardware on the 230LX. A chrome navigation light
graced the nose, followed by a single retractable cleat aft. There was another
cleat on each side of the Taylor Made Clear Curve windshield (which was perfectly
installed), and two more cleats were set on the port and starboard sides of the
The ski tow was mounted on the stern with a single grab handle, and the fuel
fill was located under a rear-hinged pad on the engine hatch, accessible by
raising a small cushion. A navigation-light receptacle was on the rear of the
Looking at the exterior of the boat, Stingray went with a two-tone gelcoat
scheme of blue and off-white with a tape line running around. An aluminum
rubrail with a rubber insert was well suited to protect the 230LX from dock
The manual engine hatch raised on a pair of gas shocks to a 45-degree angle,
opened by pulling on a pair of vinyl loops. When raised, the hatch provided
good access to the 350 Magnum MPI engine, which was essentially a
Chevrolet-based 350-cid motor. The powerplant was installed using galvanized
bolts lagged into the stringer blocks and set on the standard transom assembly.
Stingray finished the bilge area with chopped fiberglass mat covered in black
paint, which made for a shiny finish. Engine compartment wiring left our
inspector wanting a little more, because the battery cables were unsupported and
much of the other wiring systems were loosely supported down by tie wraps of
contained in conduit.
He did appreciate that the fuel-tank level could be both evaluated
electronically at the dash or visually through the engine compartment by looking
at a manual sender.
Stingray's Z Plane hull was designed to give its boats excellent stability and a
smooth ride, and the 230LX was no exception to that plan.
The Z Plane bottom started with a slightly radiused keel with four full-length
strakes that were 1 1/4" wide but increased to a 1 1/2" wide taper as they extend
back on the boat.
As has been well chronicled, Fink designed the Z Plane with strakes that
appeared cut into the hull, rather than built up on it. There was no vertical
section on the strakes, and the chine was a couple of degrees negative about 2"
The bottom design made for predictability on the water, another key element
when manufacturing a family bowrider.
Slalom turns at 20, 30 and 40 mph earned our top scores, as did the left-hand
circles at cruising and high speeds. Because of a little extra propeller influence,
the grades were just slightly less in circles to the right.
Backing off the throttle caused no wavering or unsteadiness in the boat's ride,
while tracking was good at low and mid speeds, but was a bit wobbly near the top
end. The boat was also somewhat sensitive to weight shift.
Evaluating the numbers, the 230LX's 350 Magnum MPI turned a Laser 13 7/8 x 21
stainless three-blade propeller through a Bravo One drive with a 1.5:1 gearset,
and reached a top speed of 61.3 mph at 4850 rpm.
Speeding toward that number, our test boat hit 7 mph at 1000 rpm, 8 at 1500,
15 at 2000, 27 at 2500, 37 at 3000, 42 at 3500, 52 at 4000 and 58 at 4500.
On the stopwatch, the 230LX reached 18 mph in three seconds, 27 in 5, 45 in
10, and 55 in 15. Time to plane was 5.2 seconds, while the boat went from 20 to
40 mph in 5.1 seconds, 30 to 50 in 6.4 and 30 to 60 in 16.2 seconds.
Fuel mileage was excellent and should provide good range with the 230LX's
60-gallon aluminum fuel tank and numbers of 4.1 mpg at 25 mph, 4.3 at 35, 3.5 at
45, 2.8 at 55 and 2.7 wide open.
At first glance, the 230LX appeared to have it all for families: deep freeboard, good
gas mileage and plenty of stowage. After driving it, we found the 230LX offered even
more-dependable handling and a true top end of 60-plus mph. That made it one