Issue: August 2006
Jet boats and G-forces go hand in hand.
Personal water craft (PWCs) have their limitations and aren't everyone's cup of tea. Tearing about on the aquatic equivalent of a motorbike isn't everyone's idea of a fun day on the water. But the sheer fun factor of jet skis can't be denied.
The new Sugar Sand 'Sting' may be the answer for those with a need for speed who don't wish to climb aboard a PWC. The Sting sacrifices none of the fun you can have on a PWC, while definitely remaining a 'boat'. The Sting we tested is the first in the country, arriving in unusual style on a Qantas cargo flight.
A turbo charged, inter-cooled inboard motor delivers power to the water through a jet unit. This means the Sting can do almost anything a PWC can. Throwing it around is pure, unadulterated fun. It's also super quick, handles predictably during extreme manoeuvres and is inherently safe in experienced hands. And the good news is the price (just under $28,000), which slices neatly into the top-of-the-range PWC market.
Matt Boyce from the Australian importer and distributor of the US built Sugar Sand range, assures us the Sting will pull start a skier from deep water. And it can carry up to four adults, plus a picnic basket, or whatever. If looks are important, and we'd suggest they are to people interested in a fun machine like this, she's got these too.
It's a wonder some marketing type isn't going on about the Sting redefining boating fun, or adding a whole new dimension to boating, because they'd be right. But enough of the hype. What makes the Sting tick, or more correctly, roar ?
Tucked away beneath the aft deck is a German-built Weber four-stroke engine that develops 135hp. This turbocharged engine is water-cooled by an enclosed system, which means raw water from outside the boat doesn't run through the motor's water jacket. This helps eliminate corrosion.
Above the engine, the deck is flat and doubles as a boarding platform. It's low enough to slide yourself up onto and out of the water. And there's plenty of room here for you to sort yourself out before stepping over into the passenger area.
The Sugar Sand Sting's hull is foam filled, which makes it amazingly quiet over the water and provides the flotation to keep the boat upright and level if swamped.
Inside the craft, the deck is carried high enough for it to be self-draining. It's also finished with a non-slip surface for safety when wet.
Storage is an obvious plus for the Sting when compared to a PWC. Below the bow area's sun bathing lounge is a large compartment, but ice boxes can also be stowed in the cockpit without getting in the way too much. There's more storage in a glove box under the aft facing passenger seat.
The three deep bucket seats are designed to keep people secure during radical turns, as are the stout chord handles located beside the seats. There are also solid grab bars on each side of the bow lounge and between the two passenger seats.
You'll need them, because the Sugar Sand Sting generates plenty of G forces in turns. Thankfully, the driver and forward facing passenger seats face an angled bulkhead you can brace your legs firmly against.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The Modern Boating team had a ball zooming around the Noosa River in the Sting. It never looked like putting a foot wrong. With the security of the seats, grab handles and the bulkheads to brace against, drivers can pull jet-powered manoeuvres with confidence.
There was quite a bit of wind chop on parts of the river on the day of this test and the 22-degree deadrise hull dealt with it as it came and we moved on.
When it came time to shoot the photos for the Modern Boating spread, a lady in a red swimsuit, sunbathing on a nearby Spit, kindly agreed to fill the vacant seat for us. She loved the way this craft moved and never stopped grinning.
At the wheel you're seated low, so wrap around sunnies are needed to shield your eyes from the slipstream. We recorded a top speed of a brisk 41.4 knots, but the way the Sting got out of the hole was far more impressive.
From a standing start Sting hits 20 knots in a few seconds, with any transition to planing speeds going unnoticed. You could ease the throttle back and cruise along if desired, but I reckon we won't see many Stings running around below full throttle. It's full-blown fun.
IT'S ALL ABOUT JET POWER
The same concept powering fighter jets, the Bat Mobile and the entire American NASA program is what powers Sugar Sand boats.
As a recognised leader in the jet drive category, Sugar Sand understands hull shapes, wetted dynamics and the architecture and advantages of jet drives. And since Sugar Sand's workforce is comprised of enthusiasts, a mix of technology and human expression comes together with beautiful results.
New for 2006 are Weber powered Sugar Sand jets. Weber's compact, state-of-the-art, four-stroke engines represent the finest German engineering fused with these top boats. Weber's impressive performance legacy and revolutionary design make them the ideal Sugar Sand power plant.
A German-built Weber 153hp four-stroke engine powers the Sting. This turbo-charged engine is water-cooled by an enclosed system.
From a standing start the Sting hits 20 knots in a few seconds and tops out at 41.4 knots.
HULL WEIGHT: 488kg
DEADRISE: 22 degrees
CONTACT: (07) 5440 5129
+ Excellent manoeuvrability; Can tow a skier
– Nothing to report
WORDS + PHOTOS WARREN STEPTOE