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Euroski Test

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Roark Summerford and Rusty Campbell approach legendary status in the world of lightweight, muscle motor outboard tunnel racing. Summerford's designs and Campbell's driving talents have combined for several world championships, and they've filtered the resulting technology into a small but increasingly  well-known line of hard-core, enthusiast river rompers. STV found its market niche by integrating its highly successful Mod VP bottom into a pleasurized installation, maximizing the potential of a seductive power-to-weight quotient and a highly efficient air-trapping underside. Designated the Pro Comp Ski, the two-seater is a lake-warrior's dream machine: no frills, lots of thrills, turnkey reliability, and legitimate triple digits when powered with Mercury's 2.5. Given its overall price point of under $25,000, it's not surprising that enthusiasts in search of the highly elusive 100-mph mark have flocked to the STV and other competitive lightweight, outboard-powered tunnel configurations. But Summerford and Campbell have also noticed, to their great chagrin, that there is one segment of the market that is largely immune to the charm of their moderately tamed race machine. "We'd get a couple in to look at our boat," recalls Summerford, "and the man would have that look in his eyes. But his wife would see the two seats, shake her head, and say, 'That's a man's boat.' that would be the end of it."

    With the newly sprung 19-foot Euro Ski, STV has made critical concessions to the practical-minded without compromising the raw appeal of its combat-proven bottom. Hardware like ski tows, gas fills, grab handles, and such was once considered only in terms of weight added to the package; the Euro peppers it doubled seating capacity (to four) with these and other basic amenities. As we quickly discovered, however, the STV spirit - and its capacity for controlled, 100-mile-per-hour bursts - remained intact during the makeover.

THE PACKAGE

    To their credit,  STV broke out a clean sheet of paper with the design of the new model - and just as wisely, they've left the bottom alone.  The belly is carved in a classic Mod VP configuration, utilizing a multi-strake design in conjunction with a stepped center keel. At first glance, the bottom looks like that of a drag-racing type of design, but that theory is roundly disproved during hard cornering exercises.

    Topside, the Euro Ski maintained its mean, stealth look, traced to the menacing sponsons, during the transformation. The beam is the same as in the Pro Comp (84 inches), but it looks wider. There's still only basic hardware dressing the package, with a stainless steel hand railing inside. Additions include a ski tow (optional), grab bar, drink holders, and Momo wheel. The biggest differences are worked into the seating and the dash configuration. Race-style front buckets are equipped with shock-absorbing, arched fiberglass bottoms and are rated for 20 pounds of tension. They're definitely effective in adding lumbar support and softening the ride during rough-water romps. Vinyl is stretched effectively over the buckets, and the seat covers are easily interchangeable.

    The rear seat is integrated into the engine hatch, or sun deck area, and the whole assembly lifts out for rigging and maintenance.  The back seat is very comfortable, and rear passengers have plenty of leg room. STV incorporated an asymmetrical dash design with enough capacity for a full complement of gauges, and even a radio - a heretical waste of a pound for so that wasn't music to the rigging department's ears in yesteryear's production. There's room for a drink holder and even a grab handle on the dash.  The only thing we'd like to see added is a foot brace for the passenger.

    Unlike some purpose-built, low-slung tunnels, you really get the feeling of riding in this boat rather than sitting on it. You sit extremely low in the water, and there's enough freeboard to bring the sides of the boat to almost shoulder level.  Those with absolutely no interest n spinning the tach toward the red feel secure in the boat.  There's even a modicum of storage worked into the design in the gunnels and the engine hatch/sun deck (it's not highly practical for sunning).  The gunnels storage area could have been made more effective with a partition to keep small items from disappearing into the black hole.

    Cosmetically, the Euro is a step above the pro Comp. We noted a minimal amount of transfer and print in the glass work, but they weren't noticeable under anything but the closest scrutiny.  STV offers two gelcoat colors as standard, applied in a basic design that's accented with taped graphic pin lines between each color.  While plain, the gelcoat was capably applied. It's appropriate to remember the extremely reasonable coast of this hull, fully rigged, less engine ($8,200), when giving it the going-over.  The newly molded ash area, for instance, will undoubtedly be the focus of some future refinements as more units are produced.  Our test version was rough in this area and seemed in need of additional wet-sand and buff.

    There were no such inadequacies in critical construction or rigging areas, however.  Hand-laminated with a liberal amount of Kevlar reinforcement, the Euro Ski is extremely light (875 pounds bare, 1,425 pounds fully rigged), but it's strong.  Bottom and sides are cored with Klegecell, and the hull seemed extremely solid during high-demand situations.  STV knows how to build 'em light - we've heard reports of paper-thin 450-pounders roaming certain Southern waterways in search of supercharged prey. The rigging was set up for consistent, hard use.  Mercury's 2.5 is one of today's high-performance miracle motors with its turnkey reliability and amazing mid- and upper-range torque, and the STV crew has built a bunch of boats with its foreboding silhouette bolted to their transoms.  Foot throttle, Hi-Jacker jack plate, and dual steering were standard. We were propped with a 29-pitch, 14.5-inch Mazco three-blade, which gave us a perfect mix of blazing acceleration and superior top end.

PERFORMANCE

    While a four-place, fully functional family tunnel screaming through the traps at over 100 miles an hour is indeed an impressive sight to behold, the big end wasn't even the Euro Ski's most endearing attribute.  While we indulged in this amazing boat's silk-smooth, predictable top-end walk at 100-mph, we were more blown away by its incredible acceleration.  The Euro screamed onto plane in an amazing 1.72 seconds - an unofficial HOT BOAT record. Mashing the throttle and working the cordless, wheel-mounted trim in unison helped us mine spectacular acceleration elapsed times: 0 to 30 in 3.9 seconds; 0 to 40 in five seconds flat; and an incredible 8.6 second time from a standing stop to 60 miles an hour - quickest of the meet. Even more incredibly, we hit 80 mph in 13.5 seconds, and 100 miles an hour in 18.1 seconds - two more all-time records.

    At 5000 rpm, we clipped along at a controlled, 64-mph gallop. The STV was a pure screamer from 40 to 90 mph, where we enjoyed one of the most expansive torque ranges we've ever encountered. Its blinding speed was matched by the Euro's sweet nature. Throughout our long-range, variable-rpm shakedown passes, it proved extremely stable with absolutely no hint of rock or drift. Once we pushed the envelope past 60 mph, we began to feel the torque normally associated with high-speed outboard performance, but it wasn't significant. In all, the Euro delivered one of the most satisfying drives we've experienced in high-horse outboard tunnel-boating.

    This is no straight-line wonder.  Properly trimmed, it was a dreamy driver through the slaloms, with no slip or slide. Low-speed turning and docking ratings were average or above and got better as we poured more revs into the equation.  At mid and top range, handling graduated from acceptable to superior. We can't imagine a safer, more enjoyable 100-mil-per-hour ride.  While we'd never recommend this level of performance for anyone but the most experienced of drivers, the STV brings the tantalizing feel of a race-bred boat into the scope of reality for the core enthusiast.

    And what of its name? Euro Ski? It's not a misnomer.  This is no tournament boat, to be sure; our ski team was slightly appalled at the sheer impracticality of the slippery, narrow swim step.  More significant, however, was the Euro Ski's superior ratings for tracking, steering response, turning capability, and wake.  Even with the big wheel, it yanked our 200-pounder out of deep water without hesitation, and proceeded to bow every preconceived myth about modified tunnel ski boats directly into the reeds.  It elicited our team's stamp of approval for the family who plans on spending a lot of time taking turns behind the rope.

THE BOTTOM LINE

    STV has brought its superior level of performance into the grasp of yet another market segment with the Euro Ski and thereby broadened its growing base.  Happily, they've sacrificed none of their original appeal. The refinements don't bring the Euro into the same dimension as the twice-as-costly California luxo-cruiser, by any means.  The makeover, however, effectively opens the experience up to four passengers, delivering reasonable comfort along the way.  The 2.5 may be a bit much, frankly, for the typical enthusiast.  Downsize the power plant, and you've got a tight, respectable performance package - and one of the bargains of the year.

Specifications

Length: 19'

Beam: 84"

Bottom: Modified tunnel

Weight as tested: 1,425 lbs.

Base retail price (less Motor): $8,220

Standard Features

Two gel coat colors, black windshield, snap-in seats, dual steering, stainless/aluminum hardware, Momo wheel, 28-gallon tank, stainless hand rail, foot throttle, Gil Marine battery holder.

Options on Test Boat

Ski tow ($450), rear deck pad ($550).

Power/Drive

Mercury 2.6 outboard (265 hp)

Performance

Top speed, radar: 100+ mph

Planning time: 1.7 seconds

0-30: 3.9 seconds

0-40: 5.0 seconds

0-60: 8.6 seconds

0-80: 13.5 seconds

Speed at 2500 rpm: 20 mph

Speed at 3000 rpm: 30 mph

Speed at 4000 rpm: 40 mph

Speed at 5000 rpm: 64 mph

Speed at 6000 rpm: 80 mph

Maximum rpm: 7800

Used with permission from Hot Boat Magazine

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