Earlier this year, I was en route to Helsinki Airport after an extended boat trip in Finland when I got talking to Norwegian designer, Espen Thorup. As the brains behind the very successful reinvigoration of the Nordkapp, Bella and Flipper fleets, he’s always a guy worth talking to – and now, as ever, the news was more than a little bit newsworthy…
He’d recently spent time in Poland at a factory where a new brand of Norwegian powerboat was being built. He had designed the entire range from the ground up and (in a very restrained and Nordic fashion) he was very excited about the user-friendliness, the attention to detail and the price point of these boats. However, while the Scandinavian design heritage promised a level of practical everyday effectiveness seldom seen at the most affordable end of the market, the fact that Sting’s range was being built at the same factory responsible for the multi-award-winning XO fleet was equally compelling. After all, there’s no doubt that a great many debut brands are to some degree a speculative venture into the unknown - but even at this early stage, the Sting fleet was promising an entry-level experience of rare and extraordinary calibre.
Principles of practicality
Notwithstanding the rather pedestrian and rudimentary 475 and 535 Pro models, which are essentially anglers’ workhorses (and the 700 Weekender, whose production costs may see it exit the stage), the Sting range encompasses a very streamlined fleet of sporting runabouts in three primary hull lengths – the 485, the 530 and the 610. These are available in a selection of the most popular configurations but other than the styling, the key trademark here appears to be their provision of simple, cost-effective solutions to the most common everyday leisure boating concerns.
For instance, on this BR model, the bow is not a shallow, cushion-lined water scoop, but a deepset deck space, with freedom of movement, a pair of angled corner seats, easy embarkation points and a broad step-through bow with enormously elevated guardrails for problem-free beaching and docking manoeuvres. Step aft into the main cockpit and you get the same easy usability. A full-beam aft bench with lateral side benches, which integrate neatly with the helm positions, helps generate very spacious seating for six. And yet access over the transom to the swim platforms, and over the side to the pontoon, is by no means restricted. On the contrary, the corner cushions are cleverly hinged, revealing moulded stepping points with excellent traction for those looking to enter or exit the cockpit.
There are also some clever devices to increase practicality without incurring extra weight, complication or cost. For instance, the 610 uses poppers and straps to secure doors and hatches rather than bulky steel units; and up in the bow, the anchor locker is low and lidless, reducing the potential for clattering underway and putting your lines within easy reach. Elsewhere, the fenders get dedicated homes, three to starboard behind the helm seat and one at the navigator’s station; storage space is supplemented with an elasticated netting pouch on the underside of the dash; and there is excellent space inside the port console, accessed though a flexible, lightweight door, which is hinged at the base to make best use of space.
Despite the price point, comfort is pretty good too. In addition to a wind deflection door beneath the centre of the screen (a vital asset on a bow rider), the navigator’s seat can be rigged as an aft-facing lounger. To make life that bit easier, the bench lids can also be lifted without removing the cushions, simply by folding the backrests up on their fabric flaps; and the canopy is similarly fuss-free, with ready-rigged swing-up stanchions beneath an enclosure at the back of the bench seat.
Even the extended swim platforms work hard for a living. They straddle the outboard on both sides, providing plenty of space for watersports and they also provide a cavernous space for a stern anchor with neatly integrated tube to port. Better still, both platforms can be accessed with ease, simply by kneeling on the aft bench seat and leaning over the backrest. Not only is that more comfortable, but it also makes things much safer when you’re bobbing around in the swells out at sea.
Performance in context
It would be easy to surmise that the good news ends with the intelligence of configuration, the practicality of the fit-out and the reassuring quality of the build – and if it did, we would have to consider it a job well done. But here on the 610, Espen’s proven ability with secure, family-friendly, sporting hulls again pays dividends. The handling is predictable and balanced, but it also comes with the kind of light-footedness, subtlety and responsiveness that rewards the proactive driver.
In terms of outright performance, this BR model uses the same hull as the cabin-equipped DC variant – and given that the heavier, more complex boat is capable of hitting nearly 43 knots with three men on board and Evinrude’s G2 150 on the transom, this simpler BR version is able to offer an extra degree of vigour in both sporting agility and top end speed. It all comes together to create a very satisfying package, but if you want even greater poke, allied to the kind of open-decked practicality that is so often coveted in northern Europe, the centre console variant, the 610 S, is likely to command even greater appeal.
We don’t yet have any UK prices, but if Espen’s preliminary talk of £1,000 per foot turns out to be true, then as an authentic but affordable Nordic powerboat, Sting’s 610 (and indeed the rest of its fleet) is pretty much devoid of direct competition. Not only is it well designed, neatly put together and good to look at, but it is also a very competent driver’s boat indeed. In fact, with Evinrude’s new G2 150 on the transom to help tailor the aesthetic and tidy the back end, it doesn’t feel like a budget boat at all. It feels like a very mature and capable 20-foot leisure package – and one that I have no doubt will find itself at the pinnacle of the modern entry-level powerboat market.
Sting 610 specifications
LOA: 6.1 m
Beam: 2.37 m
Weight: 900 kg
Power: 150 hp
Engine: Evinrude G2 150
Fuel capacity: 100 litres
Contact: Sting Boats EU
Integrated fuel tank
Garmin chart plotter