Stingray 180RS/RX
Power Boating Canada - January 1993

NOTE: the 180RS/RX were previously the 556zp

180RS ('93 model) The 93 Stingray is the first bowrider on the market with a hardtop for the open bow. What do I mean? All bowriders to date are fitted with a vinyl or canvas tonneau bow cover. Now, for those who want a closed deck one day and a bowrider the next, they can. Well, only if they have a Stingray!

On the bottom of the patented ZP hull, the edges of the strakes are rounded, not sharp, because their horizontal running surfaces are recessed into the hull, not added on. The ZP hull passes through the water with no bubbles or vortices generated by those abrupt outer edges. A prop is more efficient eating solid water than bubbly water, like car wheels on pavement versus ice.

So it looks like kind of a rough, wet day, but you gotta go boating. Just lift the fiberglass bow cover from the boathouse and lower it over the open bow area. Crawl under to twist in the four wingnut bolts. And that's it, you're done!

The other end of this 18-foot Stingray 556 can be ordered with either the engine box two jump seats layout, or the fullwidth lounge/bench. The boat we tested was the latter. Mechanics will like this. The complete sun lounge plus the bench seat-back is all one piece and lifts on two air-assist rams. What's left is just the bench bottom. This feature exposes the motor for spacious servicing like box/jump seat boats. On both sides of the motor, carpeted separator boards keep your stuff out of the bilge.

The seat-bottom hinges forward for storage under. A traditional teak-grated hatch allows the ski locker to breath. Aluminum trim borders the opening.

My long legs cleared all edges in both the bucket helm and companion seat. Bucket seat bases are manufactured of hard plastic, so they'll never rot. Both adjust and swivel for comfort. The lumbar support was ideal.

Striking is how I describe the vivid turquoise, mauve and white upholstery. It looks sharp against the black carpet and white gel. Each top cushion is embroidered with the Stingray trademark and logo. Under the port bow seat, an insulated ice chest awaits refreshments and under the other, carpeted storage. Gravity and friction successfully held these cushions on throughout our test, but I don't know about a highway trip. No nose cushion leaves an ideal step.

The companion dash, also nonreflective black plastic, is built with a hefty, large lockable glove box and the familiar stereo rigged with the slide-away lid.

The water was too cold to test, but a fold-down swim ladder extended down the integrated platform.

At last, a black-topped dash, black panel, black windshield support, black gauges and black wheel. It's wonderful with no glare from anything. Only the numbers, needles and switch labels were white. We tested the 18-foot Stingray 556 on one of those rare warm weekends this fall. The 556 was powered with a 115 php/130 sph/3.0L MerCruiser I/O carrying full fuel and two adults on pan-flat Georgian Bay. At 3000 rpm the radar and speedo agreed 25 mph. I edged the trim up just past half, and with wide-open throttle at 4600 rpm the radar quoted 43 and 44 on difference runs. The speedo stretched slightly to 45. The pre-production literature suggests max speed of 49.

The colored leaves were breathtaking and the sun a treat. So, we took six shots with the radar and stopwatch to get 0 to 30 mph in an average of 8.25 seconds. The Stingray doubled that for 0 to 40 mph - 16.11 seconds.

During handling maneuvers the Stingray did all the right things. It stayed on plane while running straight at only 2400 rpm. We did figure-eights with the same load at 2600 rpm. With power steering the wheel was easy and there was no pull coming out of turns. I jumped the photoboat wake repeatedly. She passed with no crashes, no surprises and landed softly.

When I overtrimmed, the porpoise told me to pull the drive back in. Then it was OK. As on most boats with a deep 19 degree deadrise, the amount of trim is critical during tight high-speed turns. Keep the trim down and she won't let go no matter how tight and fast.

The ski locker carpet is secured to the bilge, like most others, so bilge water runs over not under. Even though the black helm makes so much sense, why is the trim gauge mounted on the port side instead of directly ahead of the shift/throttle lever? There are no side shelves in the cockpit to hold your stuff that normally goes there.

No matter where the windshield frame is positioned, it'll be in someone's line of sight. If you're shorter than 6'2 or taller than 6'4, you'll be below or above. I wasn't. I liked the step pads, but we noticed later that we had been unconsciously not stepping on them, because they were mounted too far aft.

Check out the Stingray bowrider/ hardtop and see for yourself how it rides across the water with the patented ZP hull.

Power Boating Canada
January '93


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