Stingray’s new family deckboat is built for three-season fun
By Craig Ritchie
Boat test #1401 Stingray’s family-friendly runabouts are perennial favourites with Canadian boaters who appreciate their versatile layouts and thoughtful amenities. Our boats have to play a lot of different roles, from fishing rig to tanning platform to towboat to adventure seeker – all while toting all the gear, seating all the gang, and keeping everyone comfortable. Perhaps no model in Stingray’s extensive lineup line does this better than its all-new 201 DC – a spacious and versatile family deck boat that’s built for true three-season enjoyment.
The 201 DC’s overall footprint follows a fairly typical deck boat layout – a large stern seat with storage beneath wraps forward along the starboard gunnel, while to port a rear-facing companion lounger provides maximum versatility. There’s abundant storage space in each of the seat bases. Our test boat had the optional live well package, concealed beneath the central portion of the stern seat cushion.
Combined with the swiveling helm Captain’s chair, this wrap-around seating arrangement allows plenty of room for quiet conversation. Or, install the removable pedestal-mount table and you have the ideal lunch spot. Overhead, a full Bimini top provides welcome protection from the mid-day sun. In the floor between the passenger and helm consoles is a large storage locker that easily accommodates bulky gear like water skis, wakeboards or extra PFDs.
The comfy passenger lounger faces aft with its backrest against the passenger console. Up on top of the console you’ll find a pair of integrated beverage holders, and a small sink with faucet, which is served by an 11L water tank. Below, there’s a dedicated storage space for a removable 25-quart/23.6L Igloo cooler.
In the floor between the passenger and helm consoles you’ll find a large storage locker that easily accommodates bulky gear like water skis, wakeboards or extra PFDs. It’s deeper than you might expect, so don’t be afraid to try storing larger items here. They’ll probably fit.
The helm itself is definitely built for drivers, with the trim, fuel, speedometre, tach, volt metre, hour metre and depth finder all neatly and logically arranged. Set in stylish chrome-bezel gauges, they surround a flat central panel that would be the ideal spot for a flush-mount GPS/fish finder. The stereo control head sits just to the left of the chrome-on-black sport steering wheel, while in the base of the helm console a large door offers access to a surprisingly large storage locker.
The helm Captain’s chair on our test boat was equipped with a flip-up bolster for improved comfort and visibility when navigating tight spaces. That’s a particularly nice feature with the full walk-through wind-shield. I’m six feet tall, which means I’m normally squinting just over or under the wind-shield frame. Not so in the 201 DC – with the seat in its normal position, visibility through the windshield is excellent. Flip up the bolster and you look over the glass. Excellent.
Up front in the bow, dual forward-facing lounge seats surround another in-floor aluminum receptacle for the pedestal-mount table, while a molded-in step leading to the forward deck conceals a cooler/live well, with overboard drain.
Open the hatch centered on the front deck and you’ll find a convenient, retract-able two-step boarding ladder. This is a truly thoughtful feature, and one you’ll appreciate every single time you beach the boat for a picnic. Look past the ladder and you’ll notice it shares its compartment with an anchor locker, complete with a handy pop-up cleat. Equally thoughtful is the control head for the Marine Audio MA300 stereo, mounted just to the side of the front step so it’s easily accessible. The stereo sounds great and is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can stream tunes directly from a phone or tablet.
Although it’s rated to handle outboards up to 175 horsepower, our test boat came equipped with a 140 horsepower Suzuki four-stroke. One of the great benefits of Stingray’s high performance Z-Plane hull design is that boats don’t require maximum power to deliver an enjoyable ride. This allows boaters to save a few bucks and enjoy a little better fuel economy at the same time by choosing a slightly smaller engine, yet without giving up any of the fun.
Beam: 100” / 2.5 m
Weight: 2,800 lbs / 1,272 kgs
Fuel capacity: 38 gals / 174 L
Water capacity: 2.5 gals / 11 L
Passenger capacity: 10
Maximum Power: 175 hp
For more information
625 Railroad Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550
Stingray raised a lot of eyebrows when they introduced the Z-Plane hull years ago, making performance claims that were at the time rather difficult to believe. The Z-planes incorporated into the hull surface act like full-length fins when the boat is at idle, helping it to slip onto plane quickly and effortlessly when you apply the throttle. With the boat up on its running surface, the Z-planes help control spray for a quieter, drier ride. According to Stingray, the smooth flow of water generated by the Z-Plane design gives the propeller a cleaner bite during undisturbed water, in both straight line acceleration and hard cornering maneuvers.
After taking a few minutes to get settled in and develop a feel for the 201’s handling, it was time to head for open water and see what it could do. With a touch of negative trim, it neatly stepped up on plane in a touch over three seconds, and achieved a top speed of 45 mph with the big Suzuki turning 6,000 rpm at wide-open throttle. Backing off on the throttle a bit, I began applying ever-tightening slalom turns, watching as the Z-Plane hull simply bit in and took the new heading without any fuss at all. This is a forgiving boat that doesn’t really have any vices to mention, allowing even inexperienced drivers to quickly build confidence at the wheel. In other words, a great family boat.
Next it was time to play with the wind-shield. Because so many Canadians put the boat in as soon as there’s open water and leave it there almost till freeze-up, I wanted to see how well it protected from the breeze. With the centre walk-through panel latched in the closed position, I sat in relatively dead air while running at wide-open throttle, confirming its effectiveness as a windbreak while underway. Because the day of my sea trial was incredibly hot and muggy, I quickly opened it back up again and was grateful for the refreshing airflow. Not many deck boats have full walk-through windshields like this, so I was more than a little intrigued.
Stingray’s 201 DC is a versatile deck boat with the storage capacity, seating space and do-it-all versatility that growing families demand. With its comfortable amenities and sporty handling, it represents great value and I expect we’ll soon be seeing a lot of them on Canada’s lakes and rivers.