Stingray 231DC

Built to inspire.

by Craig Ritchie
Stingray Boats has been on a bit of a tear over the past several years, as the venerable fiberglass boatbuilder continues to refine its legacy of performance through constant innovation.

Specifications

  • LOA: 23'8"
  • Beam: 8'4"
  • Draft:
  • Weight: 3,648 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 56 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 13 gals.
  • Power: 300 hp
  • Price: $84,961

stingrayboats.com

The smooth, flowing lines gracing its elegant deckboats, sportboats, center consoles and runabouts conceal multiple layers of increasingly sophisticated engineering, delivering what Stingray Boats founder Al Fink once described as “an exhilarating thrill ride that’s safe enough anyone can drive it.”

That’s certainly an apt description for the Hartsville, South Carolina company’s all-new 231DC, a delightful dual console dayboat that magically combines sumptuous comfort, exceptional versatility and thrilling performance in a sporty yet elegant design.

Even at first glance as you approach the boat at the slip, the Stingray performance DNA is obvious. Riding on a second-generation Z-Plane hull that incorporates new design elements to make the most of today’s high-tech outboards, the refined hull form is fruit of Stingray’s significant investments in computer design and precision manufacturing. That includes a state-of-the-art CAD design studio where design engineers render the boat complete with little 3D human forms, revealing exactly how passengers might fit into the seats or behind the helm — all without ever having to build the traditional plywood mockup. Not only does this significantly cut development costs to keep retail prices in line, it’s a critical design process that ensures you’ll never feel cramped, bump elbows with your fellow passengers or run out of storage space for your gear. 

All aboard

While the 231DC commands your attention at once with its sporty good looks, it’s the boat’s plush seating and impeccable upholstery work that really beckons you to step aboard and get comfy. All Stingray models get a completely new upholstery upgrade for the 2020 model year, utilizing a lush, super-soft vinyl with a pebbled finish that’s reminiscent of a classic sports car. Available in tan, grey or white/coal finishes, the new seating gives all of the boats a thoroughly modern, contemporary look that’s especially evident on the 231DC. Our test boat was furnished with the grey upholstery, which perfectly complemented its brilliant red hull and black bottom. 

The easiest way to board the 231DC from the dock is via its deep, split swim platform, which features a transom pass-through into the cockpit on the starboard side of the boat. Finished in SeaDek soft-touch non-skid, the platform allows plenty of space to pass in front of the big Mercury 250. Look more closely and you notice the stainless steel grab handles, stainless retractable four-step boarding ladder and the dual stainless cup holders mounted along the top of the transom. Our test boat came with Stingray’s optional fishing package, adding four flush-mount stainless rod holders across the transom, along with a pop-up stainless ski pole. 

It’s also hard to ignore the big Mercury out back. The choice of outboard power makes a lot of sense on a boat like the 231DC, allowing Stingray to make the most of its already generous interior space and even gain a little more by moving the engine aft of the transom. Where Stingray used to manufacture sterndrive-powered boats exclusively, today outboard-powered boats represent 78% of its production, reflecting consumer tastes for open cockpits and big four-strokes.

Culture club

One of the nicest design elements on the 231DC is its focus on family fun, offering multiple zones within the boat where parents and kids alike can enjoy their time afloat.

The aft cockpit is a perfect example of this philosophy, with wraparound seating that creates a comfortable conversation space with plenty of room for everyone to join in. Step through the transom pass-through and a near full-width bench seat across the stern anchors the cockpit. The seat continues up the port side of the boat while opposite, a starboard-side lounge with thick side coaming allows comfortable seating facing aft, sideways, or forward into the main cockpit. Swiveling pedestal seats for the driver and companion rotate to provide even more cockpit seating, creating a literal living room on the water.

Throughout the aft cockpit, stainless steel cup holders and grab handles ensure that a cold drink or supportive hand-hold are never out of reach. The self-draining cockpit floor in our test boat was finished in SeaDek snap-in flooring for added passenger comfort. Overhead, our test boat came with Stingray’s optional folding wakeboard tower, complete with an integrated Bimini top.

The real piece de resistance in the cockpit, however, is the starboard-side entertainment unit, consisting of a moderately sized console with a solid-surface countertop, a large sink and a residential-style faucet. A large door below opens to reveal a convenient and generously sized trash bin.

The helm console is very neatly designed, with an integrated, oversized storage compartment accessed via a wide side door and the dash console formed from light grey fiberglass for a fresh look accented by a woodgrain instrument panel. In our test boat, the panel was dominated by a Garmin GPSMAP 742xs multifunction display sharing the space with a Mercury SmartCraft display. Below, the sporty black-on-chrome padded sport steering wheel with tilt feature was flanked by a Fusion RA670 stereo with remote control, which on our test boat fed into a concealed Fusion 1,400-watt four-channel digital amp for incredible sound quality. To the right of the wheel is a neat panel of illuminated rocker switches for electrical components, along with controls for the Bennett trim tabs installed on our test boat. Below, dual USB and 12V outlets ensure that personal devices remain fully charged through the day. A courtesy light on the side of the console is a nice touch, as are the opening side vents in the racy, low-profile windshield.

The passenger console houses an amazingly spacious head compartment, complete with a porta-potti with dockside pump-out, a small vanity with sink and an opening porthole for plenty of fresh air. 

Where the swim platform and aft cockpit are focus areas on this boat, so too is the wide and roomy bow, which forms the third separate zone onboard. Wraparound seating starts with twin forward-facing loungers on each side, with plenty of space to put your feet up and unwind. The 231DC differs from many of its contemporaries in the bow, which is not just wide but deeper than most — to the point that the wraparound coaming actually functions as a useful seatback when facing to the side or aft. Four stainless steel beverage holders integrated into the gunnels make this a terrific place for private conversations or just to catch some sun. Add a couple of filler cushions and it gets even better, turning the entire area into a big, inviting sunpad. A low-profile, wraparound stainless steel railing provides a measure of added security, especially when seated up front while underway. At rest, the addition of a bow swim platform topped with SeaDek speaks to the 231DC’s fun side.

Joy rider

Don’t be fooled by its beamy hull and 3,600-pound dry weight, the 231DC is very much a Stingray in every sense, and that means you better hang on to your hat when the time comes to pin the throttle and unleash the ponies — 250 of them in the case of our test boat — securely bolted to its transom. 

Even with a full load and full fuel, the 231DC’s performance pedigree quickly shines through as you pour the power on, delivering near-instantaneous planing times thanks to the stellar performance of Stingray’s second-generation Z-Plane hull. With a touch on negative trim the boat planes promptly without any significant bow rise, quickly settling into a pleasing running attitude. 

Turns are where the Z-Plane really begins to shine, with the boat simply leaning in and going where it’s told. Handling at speed is delightful, with the hull responding readily to steering inputs and taking sharp turns without any sign of prop ventilation. At full throttle this is a legitimate 50 mph boat that delivers a thrilling ride while still providing excellent fuel economy. 

It doesn’t take long to develop a real attachment to Stingray’s brilliant 231DC. Designed with a focus on family fun, this is a fast, comfortable and versatile dayboat that represents truly great value.  


South Shore JUN17
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