Stingray founder Al Fink is reportedly a bit of a fast-car enthusiast. That passion is readily apparent in the design of the new 225SX. Dressed in sports-car red, with a grated hood scoop, low-profile tinted windshield and minimalist black racing stripe, this boat is the kind that defines the cliché. It literally looks fast standing still. That it backs up that impression on the water, and does it for a significantly lower investment than does much of its competition, shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with the brand. It’s Stingray’s modus operandi.
Stingray has a long history of getting more speed out of less engine, often rivaling a competitor’s big block with a small-block alternative. Most of the credit usually goes to the company’s ultra-efficient Z-plane hull design. Essentially, it replaces a conventional hull’s protruding strakes with a series of stacked, horizontal surfaces. (Think of the way a Venetian blind lies when closed.) During hole shot, they act as horizontal planing surfaces; once on plane, their outside edges function as a spray release. Stingray claims the design allows for a more undisturbed flow of water across the hull bottom, which in turn gives the propeller more clean water to latch onto. The Z-plane design also includes a notched transom, an idea borrowed from offshore race boats. It allows the drive to be mounted higher, further reducing drag and increasing performance.
The numbers tell the story. With a catalyst-equipped 320 hp 6.2-liter multiport injection (MPI) MerCruiser purring under the sun pad, and a three-blade Mercury laser prop transferring that power to the water via a Bravo drive, my test boat consistently ran more than 60 mph, peaking at 61.2. Had it not been carrying a full load of gas, I imagine top speed might have been faster. Mercury confirms this same boat did 62.5 with a much lighter fuel load. Go-fast purists will note that’s speed breathing down the neck of a Baja 23 Outlaw equipped with a larger 380 hp MerCruiser 8.2 Magnum ($74,394).
Yes, at times that hull felt a little looser than average during straight-ahead speed runs. I’ve come to expect that on Stingrays, because they like to run with a lot of hull out of the water. But rail the 225 into a corner and that hull holds tenaciously, taking you in one side and out the other fast, with absolute precision and no surprises.
This is a boat built, and propped, for speed, and as a result, it’s not set up for waterski hole shots. It was about 5.5 seconds to plane and, as with other boats propped for top end, the 225SX’s long foredeck crossed the horizon for a time. I’d be interested to see the difference produced by the optional Bravo three drive. Once on plane, however, the 225SX ran surprisingly flat in the water, requiring little trim to reach its peak speed at wide-open throttle.
For all the bad-boy attitude this red boat projects, it’s surprisingly polite in the cockpit. Here, it’s readily apparent the boat is fitted for recreational fun and comfort — Stingray trademarks. Both captain’s chairs have flip-up bolsters, and the helm seat is flanked by a nice armrest to starboard to rest an elbow on while controlling the throttle. The upholstery is all about performance style with aft bolsters and sewn-in graphics. True go-fast types will note the throttle is a standard single-level control, rather than the dual-lever Livorsi controls, but it was impossible not to notice how smoothly it worked thanks to standard premium shift cables.
To port, a dual glove-box design features a smaller nook up top that houses the sound system unit and a tub below for larger items. A generous 6-foot-4-inch aft bench sits in front of a sun worshipper’s 6-foot-5- inch by 2-foot-9-inch sun pad. Remove the center cushion and you’ll find a handy walk-through for loading the crew aboard without sullying the vinyl. They’ll enter and exit over a 5-foot-10-inch by 2-foot- 4-inch swim platform that’s nicely integrated into the deck and hull, rather than a bolt-on. A three-step stainless ladder rests under a cover to starboard, and twin, generously sized grab handles are at the ready.
Forward, the cabin proves equally well appointed. Access is through a two-part hatch, the top half of which doubles as steps to access the bow. Step within and you’ll find a simple V-berth, 5 feet 6 inches in length and tapering from 6 feet 8 inches at its widest point to 2 feet 2 inches in the bow. A continuous netted pocket rings each side, and a round 20-inch Bomar hatch provides the necessary ventilation. The 3½-inchdeep cushions provide good support for relaxing below. The center cushion lifts out to reveal a port-a-potty.
A “true” go-fast? We’d say it’s a real sexy, all-around sport boat. But certainly a boat that goes fast...and leaves plenty of money in the wallet to fuel your fantasies.
Comparable model: Baja 23 Outlaw