Boat Review Date: May 2018
Author: Mike Brown
Runabouts are not the flavor of the month, but there are people who will accept nothing else. They want more shelter than a dinghy or even a centre console can provide, and they want the ability to seat all the occupants. Stessl offers a well featured dinghy sized runabout, the 415 Sportsman, at a not much more than dinghy sized price.
This will be one of the last boats powered by a carbureted two-stroke to appear on this page. After this last handful of 40hp models Mercury will be importing no more of what have earned a reputation as near indestructible – and are a couple of thousand dollars cheaper than the four-stroke equivalent.
The 415 might be at the economy end of the runabout scale, but there is no evidence of skimping in design, construction and finish. The bottom corrugations are unusually deep; rare in a pressed boat are reversed chines, adding stability and throwing spray down and wide; the anchor well is in aluminium instead of plastic; the elegant dash is recessed ahead of the passenger seat, the recess being bridged by a grab rail. All these items and more add cost and time to construction. As does the seam welding in areas that might in lesser boats be stitched.
There is a bow roller for anchoring, but no bowsprit to carry the anchor. Instead the anchor well is generously large to take plenty of line and the anchor itself. Actually doing the anchoring is eased by an opening centre section of the windscreen. The dealer included a Bimini in the package. It has zips incorporated to make the fitting of clears easier should an owner decide to add them.
The Sportsman, in an understandable desire to gain the maximum cockpit space, has the driving position set well forward. With just the driver aboard this results in the bow being held down, inducing extra drag. It did not cause any handling problems but certainly affected speed. Set up this way top speed was a trace under 24 knots; with a second person on the rear seat it rose to 28 knots. For safety and social reasons solo boating is not a good idea; here, it also means poorer economy.
There are two pedestal seats at the windscreen. As well as swivelling they are also totally removable. At the other end a box thwart can accommodate a couple more. Aft of this, and flanking a shallow splash well, are platforms for fuel tank and battery. Stessl even provided a bracket for a battery isolator switch should the buyer decide to fit one. They provided a couple more items at this end of the boat but outside: lugs at the bottom of the transom to take tie downs. Lightweight boats, especially, should be secured to their trailers at both ends.
Runabouts theoretically have more stowage than dinghies, but the under fore deck space here is not particularly convenient. On the other hand what are you likely to have carried aboard? Perhaps an esky or two and some odds and ends. The side pockets will handle the latter and the eskies become auxiliary seats on the quite spacious carpeted deck. Rods get the only fishing-specific items on board: four rod holders.
This is a river, inlet, Cockburn Sound and inside the reef sort of boat – which means it can cope with about 80 percent of the state’s boating. For those areas it is a well behaved vessel. For its size it has above average stability and ride quality. We tested the latter using all the available wakes on the Canning (with two-up manning) and were happy with the result.
Incidentally, the two-stroke motor is not compulsory; for the aforementioned AUD $2,000 it can be swapped for a 40hp Mercury four-stroke.
Price as reviewed AUD $21,290
Hull weight 200kg
Motor fitted 40hp Mercury two-stroke