Issue: October 2006
With 240hp EFI V6 under her belt, she's a rocket shed on rails.
Around the Modern Boating Office, Sugar Sand boat tests usually cause a bit of a stir as eager journos scramble for a position on the test team. But when it was revealed the next test was to be a fire engine-red Tango, powered by an awesome Mercury 240hp EFI V6, things became even more frantic. Somehow, I managed to push my way to the head of the queue (again). Lucky me!
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
A 175hp Tango we tested last year (and a more recent, albeit smaller bright yellow 'Sting'), were both a hoot to drive, but this PWC was a brilliant red and you know what they say about big red ones.
She was certainly faster, winding out to 50.1 knots, while the 175hp model could 'only' manage 44.4 knots. The Super Sport Tango really had that 'shove you back in your seat acceleration' and it didn't bog down in tight turns, or show the slightest hint of propeller ventilation. This type of performance can only be achieved by a well set-up jet drive.
For towing any kind of wake toy, be it a ski, a tube, a board, or whatever, the Sugar Sands Tango, with the 240hp power option fitted, is a towboat to be reckoned with. Wakeboarding is something of a craze at present, and it's surprising not to see more Sugar Sands fitted with wakeboarding towers.
I suppose it's because plenty of Sugar Sand buyers realise how much fun a thoroughly sorted jet boat can be without the need to tow anything behind it. So towing aside for a moment, what does having more power available mean to this boat's fun factor ?
It adds even more sparkle to your boating day. Once you're in tune with the wild things you can do in complete safety on a Sugar Sand, the extra power opens up a whole new dimension, especially with the added torque that allows you to drive through more radical manoeuvres without any loss of momentum.
Then there's the Mercury jet units used in Sugar Sand boats. These utilise a Ushaped 'bucket', poised above the drive unit's outlet, to reverse thrust. There's no crunching of gears or protruding propellers to deal with, which means reverse can be selected at any speed; effectively adding a set of 'brakes' unimaginable in a propeller-driven craft.
Thanks to the jet drive too, things like ventilation and cavitation are unheard of during radical U turns, spins and lengthy sideways drifts. If by chance total stupidity does bring the boat unstuck (hard to imagine, it's the most predictable and forgiving of hulls), in a worse case scenario the foam filled hull comes to the rescue with positive upright flotation. Inside, the cockpit self drains, so safety is the bottom line, as it should be.
Tango has the comfortable seating and familiar handling of a sport boat and yet it's able to show PWCs a thing or two in the handling stakes.
The steering is direct and takes a few minutes familiarisation to become
comfortable with (it feels a bit like a Go Kart). But once you're in tune, the boat can be 'flicked' into turns and yet positioned precisely, even in 180 and 360-degree donuts.
Its fun factor makes it unique, but the Tango remains a 'boat'. Twin aero screens do a fair job of deflecting slipstream above the two deep bucket helm and passenger seats. Th ese face a bulkhead that's perfectly sited to serve as a comfortable and necessary foot brace.
Behind the helm seats are a pair of smaller bucket seats located in each aft corner. Grab bars offer passengers added security. In the bow is a spacious sunbathing lounge that lifts on gas struts to reveal an equally spacious stowage locker underneath. Again, strategically placed grab bars are to hand.
Aft between the seats there's a fire extinguisher locker with a hefty low-set tow pylon above. Set into the top deck is a shallow locker, an ideal place for the quick stowage and deployment of a towrope.
On its stern, our test boat had a folding telescopic boarding ladder, which tucked away neatly when not in use. Anti-slip moulding on an aft boarding area made entry and exit from the water easy. Our test boat was optioned with a Sony 'Xplod' sound system, something I'd have to have if this boat were mine.
Navigation lights, auto-bilge pump, rear view mirror and appropriate instrumentation all come standard in Sugar Sand boats. Options include a bimini top, a bow tonneau and of course, a wakeboarding tower.
Ed's comment: "Following this test, Steptoe was all smiles and mumbled something about it doesn't get any better than this. And it was a red one too!"
A 240hp Mercury EFI V6 powered the Sugar Sand Super Sport Tango.
In light conditions on the Gold Coast Seaway with two adults onboard, the Sugar Sand cruised effortlessly at 30 knots pulling 3000rpm and hit 50.1 knots at 5900rpm.
Deadrise: 21 degrees
Hull Weight: 660kg
Price: From $37,990
Max HP: Mercury 240hp EFI V6
Max Load: 475kg (6 adults)
WORDS – WARREN STEPTOE