Out of the ordinary
It’s not often that a package comes around that offers simplicity, convenience and real bang for your buck – all in a compact size of 17 feet. Enter the Sunsport 170 – the neat platform which not only gets you on the water affordably, but has you enjoying your leisure time fully.
Sunsport boats are built here in South Africa and are very well made.
The 170 offers the brand’s build and ride quality in a small, spotless package which is sure to impress those with a price-sensitive budget looking to get the most from their money outlay. The Editor takes the 170 to Rynfield Dam in Benoni for some fun in the sun.
Usually, when simply standing a little further away, a 17 foot boat looks very similar in design to a bigger model of the same range. It’s almost exactly the same, just smaller.
However, the Sunsport 170 is not, and that’s probably why I like her the most – since she’s not simply built to a smaller scale of a 23-footer. Instead, the interior has a design which is conducive to maximising your space while onboard. For this, the deck is, I suppose, the equivalent of an open-plan home – where the bow and stern area, to a certain degree, are one while allowing for a more functional onboard entertainment. At the front, four passengers can be seated for those leisure cruises up the river, or alternatively two can put their feet up and take advantage of the good weather.
There’s also sufficient seating to comfortably take four at the stern section – but with ample onboard space, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that the 170 can only be certified for up to eight persons on board. Measuring in at 5.2 metres in length with a beam of 2.5 metres (on the trailer), the 170 offers much more than just seating since there is sufficient packing space for a small army – most notably in the helm console locker and ski-hatch, but also found below the seats.
One point that isn’t to my personal liking is that the 170 is an airy boat. I would have appreciated a small windscreen for the skipper since you can’t afford dry eyes when you’re in that position of power. However, those who love the wind whistling through their hair won’t mind it at all. At the helm, the skippers chair swivels for easy access and all-round conversation. The binnacle is tidy and the engine gauges provide you with all the engine information you would need.
The Sunsport 170 comes with an optional sun canopy which is quickly and easily erected and covers most of the boat, allowing you a full day of water activity without paying the price the day after.
The Sunsport 170 can be fitted with engines from 90 to 125 HP, and our review boat was paired with Mercury’s 115 OptiMax. According to the manufacturer, this 2-Stroke Direct Fuel Injection motor produces 84.5 kW (as measured at the prop). While the engine is a little louder than most 4-Strokes, I like it for its good power-to-weight ratio and its responsiveness to the throttles.
On the day, and at Benoni’s altitude, the 170 claimed a top speed of 70 km/h (two onboard) and she has a really nice ride to her. She handles chop very well and I noted that the run of the water along the hull was exceptionally quiet. At top speed, the 170 is very manageable, but her handling is fine – much like being in a small sportscar.
If you are looking for a gentle cruise or to save fuel, throttle to around 3 000 rpm – the ride becomes extremely soft and forgiving and the 170 rides like I imagine she was designed to. However, don’t forget that she is a lightweight boat, so, like all the others in her class, she does feel shifts in passenger weight. However, being in the featherweight category, she skips over chop and waves with aplomb. Having to put the 170 through her paces to know if it’s safe for your family means I get to drive it like I stole it. In very fast speed cornering, the boat does lose some speed and turns neater to the left than the right; but try as I could, I couldn’t get her to feel unsafe or cavitate. I really enjoyed skippering this boat. She’s nimble, agile, and smooth, and when driving at a more acceptable speed, she’s pretty efficient, and more than sufficient for a ski or tube. For those that are footing the petrol bill, fuel for the motor is supplied from the built-in 70-litre tank.
The current 170 is hardly different to the model that we have loved throughout the years. “Dynamite does come in small packages” is the simplest way to describe the 170; and while she will certainly blow your hair back, she comes in at a price that won’t be blowing your wallet. The Sunsport 170 comes in at an affordable R179 500 for the standard version.
For more information, contact Boating International on (011) 452 8280.