Stingray 201 DC

Three-season fun on this all-new deck boat

by Craig Ritchie
Love the idea of a deck boat, but not willing to give up the protection of a full windshield? Stingray’s newest offering features generous seating capacity, thoughtful appointments, spirited performance and a full walk-through windshield for true three-season fun.

Specifications

  • LOA: 20'1"
  • Beam: 8'4"
  • Draft:
  • Weight: 2,800 lbs. (dry)
  • Fuel Capacity: 46 gal.
  • Water Capacity: 3 gal. (13 gal. optional)
  • Power: 175-hp
  • Price: Contact Dealer

stingrayboats.com

Stingray Boats has developed a solid reputation for building well-made boats that deliver comfortable amenities and surprising performance. That’s particularly true with respect to the Hartsville, South Carolina-based company’s deck boat lineup. So when Lakeland Boating learned the company was rolling an all-new 20-foot deck boat off the production line, publisher Bing O’Meara and I jumped at the chance to take it for a spin.

The all-new-for-2016 Stingray 201 DC packs a lot of boat into its trim 20-foot, 1-inch hull, and that includes a number of thoughtful innovations. Along with its smaller 191 DC sibling (also new for 2016), it’s the first Stingray deck boat to offer a full windshield — a definite plus for Great Lakes boaters.

The 201 DC rides on Stingray’s exclusive Z-plane hull design, which features a series of horizontal planing faces. When submerged, the outer edge of each Z-plane acts as a spray release, allowing the boat to glide through the water with no bubbles or vortices formed by the hull shape. The smooth flow of water generated by this design allows the propeller to have better bite during both straight line speed and hard cornering maneuvers. You have to look close to see it, but the Z-plane hull uses a notched transom, similar to that employed on offshore racing boats. This feature allows the drive to be mounted higher on the transom, which in turn reduces drag and further increases performance.

3D design

But performance enhancements are only part of the Z-plane hull’s story. Stingray’s use of CAD design and a numerically controlled (NC) router allows the company to directly mill full-scale models for tooling. Apart from reducing the number of steps between concept and production, this high-tech process allows Stingray to shrink production tolerances, reduce material waste and lower production costs. This tremendous precision helps eliminate the potential for any annoying rattles caused by poorly fitting components. The fruit of this incredibly precise approach is obvious when you step aboard the 201 DC.

Sit back and relax

The optional steel beverage holders along the transom, optional flush-mounted fishing rod holders in the transom corners, and an optional stereo remote control, mounted just above the swim platform on the port side — reachable from the water — suggest that this is a boat made for family fun both on and in the water.

You enter the main cockpit via a neat transom walk-through formed into the starboard side. While the 201 DC is built on the same outer hull as Stingray’s existing 192SC model, the all-new interior layout can’t help but catch one’s attention. A comfortable rear bench seat spans the transom while concealing a cavernous storage locker beneath.

The helm seat is an ergonomically designed, swiveling bucket with an integral flip-up bolster. Once again reflecting the 201 DC’s propensity for family fun, the companion seat is a rear-facing, full-length lounge, with yet more storage space for bulky gear in its base. Install the optional pedestal-mount table, spin the helm seat around, and you have a huge space for conversation, or a mid-day meal under the shade of the available Sunbrella Bimini top. For a 20-foot boat, it really is an impressive level of accommodation.

Business in the back

The passenger console is topped with an attractive, solid surface countertop with two beverage holders, a small sink and an optional residential-style faucet. In the base of the console, a dedicated compartment accommodates a removable 25-quart Igloo cooler to keep lunch fresh and drinks cold. The helm console offers generous storage in its base, while the business end is topped with a gracefully formed dash panel with space for a large, centrally mounted multi-function display. Surrounding this area is, from left, a trim gauge, a combination speedometer with fuel gauge, a combination tach/volt meter and a digital depth finder. A 12-volt outlet and a USB input for the stereo surround a large, flat and level panel with a cork top and surrounding steel safety rail — the ideal place to stash the phone or iPod while connected to the Marine Audio MA300 stereo.

Party in the front

Before you step through the large walk-through windshield and head for the bow, note the oversized in-floor storage compartment — perfect for waterskis, wakeboards, extra PFDs or additional large, bulky gear.

Up front, full-length, forward-facing lounge seats provide a perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy the ride while underway. Coaming pads and optional stainless grab rails are thoughtful touches that afford an additional level of comfort. There’s still more storage space in the bow seat bases. Where 20-foot boats often leave one wondering exactly where to put their gear, on Stingray’s 201 DC you’re more likely to wonder just what you’re going to do with all this space; the storage capacity in the boat is truly remarkable.

Power up

Our test boat was rigged with a 140-horsepower Suzuki four-stroke outboard. This marked the first time I had the opportunity to drive a Stingray with a Suzuki on the back. I’ve driven plenty of Suzukis before — and plenty of Stingrays — but it was fun to see the combination perform together.

Stingray’s Z-plane hull and zero torque steering quickly inspire confidence, and before I knew it, I found myself happily zipping along, enjoying a series of ever-tightening turns. With its 21-inch prop, the Suzuki 140 pushed the 2,800 pound 201 DC effortlessly, and was really a lot of fun to drive. That this hull is actually rated for a 175 says a lot about the performance of Stingray’s Z-plane design.

You don’t expect a boat that seats 10 people to push you back in your seat, but that’s exactly what happened as the big Stingray sprung onto plane in three seconds flat. A few seconds later, after applying a touch of positive trim, both the speedometer and my GPS were indicating 41 mph at full throttle, with the engine purring away at 6,000 rpm. Slaloming the 201 DC was pure joy. The boat glides through turns without binding or bogging down, with no evidence of slippage or cavitation.

Throughout these maneuvers, that big windshield kept me fully protected from the wind. Even more impressive was that it remained bone dry throughout — not even one spot of spray entered the boat during my sea trail, in spite of repeatedly driving through my own wake while making extremely tight turns. The 201 DC’s ability to deliver a smooth, dry ride only enhances its value for Great Lakes boaters.

If you’ve looked at deck boats but wished they could have a full windshield, then you owe it to yourself to spend some time aboard Stingray’s new 201 DC. With its generous seating capacity, thoughtful appointments and spirited performance, this is a capable and delightful performer that can be easily towed and stored.

Paul Gauguin Cruises
South Shore JUN17