Greg Copp revisits a 10-year-old high-performance RIB from Italy that is much changed in its latest incarnation …

Any self-respecting RIB spotter will probably be wondering why we are featuring a boat originally tested a decade ago. The fact is that the new version of the Italian-built 10m Stingher, the GT Custom Sport, is worthy of further review. It has the same 10m non-stepped hull that has been unchanged since the original 2006 32ft anniversary model. However, apart from the forward storage, whose ski locker and deep central cavity can swallow a mountain of kit, the boat has changed significantly.

Needless to say, much of this is down to contemporary styling, though the original boat was hardly lacking in looks. The GT Custom Sport, with its carbon-fibre imprint tubes, striking red-upholstered Scot seats and teardrop console, certainly catches the eye. What I love about the MRL Stingher range is that these boats combine both form and function ‒ the seats, for example, which, apart from costing a king’s ransom, are a case of ‘once bitten forever smitten’. They take out every bump while keeping you where you need to be – focused on the next wave. If you do want to stand you can do so, with your legs either side of a small seat base extension, while leaning against the forward edge of the seat. In reality, you are unlikely to want to do this, because your view over the bow when seated is near perfect. Originally the 10m Stingher was fitted with a twin leaning post, built into the forward face of a galley/wet bar, which was then replaced with fixed seats. A large galley is also standard, as are the fridge and sink that sit within it. Not too surprisingly, the Scot seats, either double or quadruple, are extras.

The design of the console means that when seated, your feet rest perfectly on the recessed footboard, bringing the dash, wheel and throttles closer, and creating ideal zero-stretch ergonomics. Of course, electronics have progressed enormously in the last 10 years, and the Stingher is now offered with touch screen MFDs from Garmin and Raymarine. There is also the Mercury VesselView display, which, apart from displaying a wealth of engine data, enables control and calibration of Mercury’s superb Active Trim system, making manual outboard trim a thing of the past. Also fitted with a VHF/DSC radio and JL Audio musicmaster system, the console is well equipped – and it is all standard fitment.

The aft section has been reworked. Notably, the seating is no longer just a single-bench set-up. Instead, a U-shaped Silvertex upholstered seat wraps around a drop-in teak table. For easy access, a transom gate opens out to the bathing platform, which in turn means you do not have to step on to the tubes when boarding, and wet water sporters do not have to clamber over the seat back. The GRP radar arch is now replaced with a stainless one, onto which LED navigation and deck lights are mounted. One design aspect that remains similar is the aft quarter coamings, which still serve to provide the occupants of the aft seat with a degree of security and weather protection. One aspect that always impresses me is the length MRL go to with their system management. Lifting the bench seat not only reveals a void of extra storage but it also gives easy access to the batteries, fuses, circuit breakers, hydraulics and system switches.

The bow section is, in principle, much the same as it has always been. Access to the deeply recessed heads is through a gas strut-supported hinging door. There is an electric toilet and the heads enjoys plenty of headroom, while a porthole and a sink complete the arrangement. The bow sun pad also serves to provide seating around a second, smaller table that with an infill makes a large sunbathing area. As previously mentioned, storage beneath is simply vast, and to keep the bow trip-free, the standard-equipment windlass is mounted in the chain/warp locker. The chain run goes through the top of the stem, which at first glance gives the effect of an anchorless boat.

Driving the GT Custom Sport

As it has always been, this is a driver’s boat. Now it has the benefit of Mercury’s new engine range ‒ in this case, the new lightweight 4.6L V8 naturally aspirated 300hp Verados, which have replaced the supercharged 300hp Verados. Combined with Mercury’s automatic Active Trim system, the like-for-like efficiency of the boat compared to an earlier model with supercharged Verados has improved (see figures below). The performance has also taken a step up, as the extra capacity, combined with advances in fuel/ignition management, has given these motors increases in torque over their predecessors. They are blissfully smooth, and they have that unmistakable V8 burble at low speed and that V8 roar when driven under load.

From a standing start, the Stingher is past 40 knots before you realise it, and when you do, you are knocking on 50. Like its smaller siblings, the ride is deceptively smooth, with the granite-like hull uttering not a single complaint when driven hard through Red Jet ferry wake. The hull deadrise is actually 1 degree sharper than on the 9m Stingher. One thing is certain and that is that a 10m hull has that extra bit of length for stepping over the wave troughs, and that extra bit of weight when cutting through any chop. The overall result is a perfectly balanced feeling of high-speed stability combined with the ability to still execute sure-footed hard turns. Like the 8m and 9m Stinghers, the non-stepped 10m hull hangs on no matter how hard you turn, and at wide open throttle, hitting 60 knots, the ride is perfectly composed. Its 3.43m beam and forward flare ensure a dry ride. Although I encountered nothing that constituted bad weather, the confused sea off Calshot stayed out of the boat, no matter what. Its natural fore and aft trim is very good, with the boat picking up onto the plane at around 15 knots. If you wanted to cover some sea miles, her lower sweet spot is just over 30 knots – which feels more like 20, and the fuel burn relates to an impressive 2.5mpg. In reality, in all but the worst weather, I think most will sit at 40 knots or more, as this boat just hungers to be driven at the speeds for which it was designed.

Verdict

Though it is not technically a new boat, the GT Custom Sport has successfully adopted a new character, thanks to a pair of high-tech V8 power plants, and a modern makeover in keeping with today’s superyacht tenders. When it was launched over a decade ago, it was comparatively cheaper than its competitors ‒ something it has still managed to maintain in a sector of the market that has seen big price increases. In high-performance RIB terms, it still cuts the mustard. Why? Because its hull, like many similar proven concepts, is a straightforward non-step deep-vee design that is built without compromise. Factor in impressive attention to detailing, and some lightweight 300hp 4.6L V8 outboards, and you have an impressive offshore tool.


What we thought

For

Great handling – very responsive steering

Soft-riding hull

Blinding performance

Great seats

Solid build quality

Practicality/safety

Attention to detail – even behind the scenes

Against

As with most boats there is an extras list, albeit a short one


Fuel figures (for current test boat with twin naturally aspirated 300hp Mercury Verado V8s, with 23p Revolution four-blade propellers – no vent holes [Mercury fuel flow meter])

RPM                Speed (knots)   LPH    Fuel consumption (NMPG)

1500                  8.1                    18              2.1         

2000                12.5                  26              2.2                     

2500                14.8                    32              2.1                      

3000                23.0                  42              2.5                     

3500                29.7                  55              2.5                    

4000                35.1                    75              2.1             

4500                40.3                   95              1.9              

5000                46.7                 134              1.6                        

5500                51.5                160              1.5

6000                57.8                188              1.4

6050 (WOT)    58.8                191              1.4

Fuel figures (from previous test conducted by MRL for an identical boat with twin supercharged 300hp Mercury Verados [Mercury fuel flow meter])

RPM               Speed (knots)   LPH    Fuel consumption (NMPG)

1500                 7.8                  15.2              2.3         

2000               12.2                  30.1              1.8                     

2500              16.5                   40.0              1.9                      

3000              25.2                   48.3              2.3                     

3500              33.0                   70.0              2.1                     

4000              37.4                   88.0              1.9             

4500              41.7                 116.0              1.6              

5000              46.1                 156.5              1.3                        

5500              51.3                 190.0              1.2

6000              54.8                 224.2              1.1

6050 (WOT)  57.4                 226.0              1.1


Specifications

LOA:9.8m (32ft 04in)

Beam: 3.43m (11ft 04in)

Transom deadrise angle: 24 degrees

Displacement: 1900kg

Power options: Twin 225hp Mercury V6s / twin 400hp supercharged Mercury Verados

Fuel capacity: 550L (120 gal)

Water capacity: 100L (22 gal)

RCD category: B

Test engines: Twin 300hp Mercury Verado V8s

Performance

58.8 knots (2-way average), sea conditions moderate, 1 crew, 200L fuel   

0–26 knots (0–30 mph): 4.7 seconds

0–44 knots (0–50 mph): 8.9 seconds

26–44 knots (30–50 mph): 4.2 seconds

The highest speed recorded by MRL was 61.5 knots with a 23p Tempest Plus prop at 5950rpm, returning 1.55nmpg.

Price

From: £180,000 (inc. VAT) – fitted with twin 225hp Mercury V6s

As tested: 210,000 (inc. VAT)

Contact

MRL

Millbank Street

Southampton

Hampshire SO14 5QN

www.mrl-uk.com

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