Market differentiators in the burgeoning cruising catamaran market can be difficult to find, yet this is what industry leader Beneteau-Lagoon has achieved with its Excess models, which deliver a livelier and more responsive range.
- Large wheelhouse
- Game Chaser transom
- Clever interior
- KAB suspension helm seat
- Single or twin outboard options
- Balex auto-loader
- Trailer has Cargo Hydrostar electric brakes
- Workboat reverse sheer windscreen provides more cabin space
- Fine performer in the rough
- Nicely finished inside and out
- Comfortable traveller
- Useful over-nighter
Just when you think Stabicraft’s design team has settled into a conventional
frame-of-mind, along comes a new contender to tweak your fancy.
Stabicraft boats always look functional to me. I like that about them, and judging by the brand’s worldwide success, plenty of other people do as well.
That’s not to say Stabicraft pay no attention to styling. On the contrary: its in-house designers take great care to ensure every Stabicraft is unmistakeable and unique – perhaps never more so than with the new 2500 Ultracab XL.
In the 2500 the Ultracab concept provides a larger than usual wheelhouse/cabin, fully enclosed for year round comfort, with the ability to seat six. Ultracab models have proven popular in offshore markets, particularly North America.
In recent years the Stabicraft design team has come up with new materials and innovative design features to make the boats even more functional. The 2500 Ultracab XL is loaded with clever engineering and design to make maximum use of limited space.
The wheelhouse interior is modern and stylish; it feels spacious compared to older Stabicraft hardtops, thanks in part to the design of the cabin sides, but also due to lots of glass.
By virtue of sliding sections, relocating panels and the clever reconfiguration of existing spaces, the 2500 Ultracab XL’s interior morphs from a fairly standard, albeit stylish and well-appointed, wheelhouse/cabin to an overnighter with berths for up to four adults.
A compact galley with a diesel hob that doubles as a heater for winter boating takes care of cooking duties, there’s a small 12V fridge under the passenger seat and a cockpit shower, so overnight trips are definitely on the cards.
The interior’s colour palette works really well too: cream and brown paint surfaces, teak-look Ultralon EVA flooring and camel Frontrunner ceiling and wall lining, complemented by grey and black vinyl upholstery.
An electric toilet is located in the forward cabin between the v-berths with the holding tank under the floor between thefront seats. A 60-litre freshwater tank under the sink also serves the shower and there’s a small diesel tank for the cooker/heater tucked into the side shelf on the port side.
Reconfiguring the boat for sleeping transforms its interior. The passenger seat can be configured to face forward or aft to allow it to address the drop-down dinette table. Fold the table away against the wall, slide the seat base back until the backrests lie flat, pull out another sliding panel and, with the addition of extra squabs, you have a generous berth. Another full length berth can be created across the back of the wheelhouse using additional squabs and drop-in panels.
Up forward the v-berths can be extended into the wheelhouse to make them full length; drop-in squabs turn the entire forwardcabin into a large, comfortable double berth.
Storage options are many and varied, including multiple cubby holes, shelves, under-bunk and under-seat stowage, underfloor lockers and even storage in the sliding seat back and ceiling.
Handholds are everywhere in evidence, inside and outside the wheelhouse, so there’s always something to grab onto.
New Zealand-manufactured Hella marine LED lighting has been used throughout the vessel. Hella’s new Seahawk LED floodlights are used all around the hardtop to illuminate the decks and cockpit. These lights come with a five-year warranty.
One of the most striking features of the 2500 is its workboat style reverse sheer windscreen. It offers many advantages in practice: vision from the helm is excellent, and because the windscreen slopes forward, there is effectively more usable space in the wheelhouse because you stand/sit much closer to the screen. Two Roca windscreen wipers deal with any spray and the sloping, wedge-shaped cabin top/foredeck further enhances forward vision.
The helm seat is a beauty. A high-tech KAB suspension seat, it sits on an aluminium base with stowage underneath. The swivelling seat has a bolster for lower back support when standing up to drive, as well as adjustments for height and distance from the wheel. The degree of spring damping is also adjustable.
The hardtop’s roofline slopes towards the bow relative to hull, contributing to its distinctive looks. In profile the boat is a series stacked wedges comprising the pontoons and forward cabin, topped off by the hardtop glasshouse and sloping roofline.
The glasshouse is extensive, wrapping right around the hardtop, and the way Stabicraft have enclosed the rear of the wheelhouse completely in tinted glass looks great. The transparent rear bulkhead lets you see all the action in the cockpit from inside the cab.
Built strong with carry racks for kayaks, paddleboards or an inflatable dinghy, the hardtop roof also supports the radar dome, aerials, rocket launcher and Hella floodlights. Mounts for the Kilwell game poles are secured to the hardtop sides. Grab rails along the roof make sidling around the hardtop easy.
Although the Ultracab hardtop is relatively large, the 2500 still has a very usable cockpit. Stabicraft’s Game Chaser transom provides a generous glass-fronted live bait tank, well designed bait station and plenty of protection for the batteries, which have their own locker up off the floor. Across the back of the bait station are a pair of drink/sinker holders, a couple of rodholders and a sturdy towing hook.
The Game Chaser transom’s sloping underwater profile provides superior steering in reverse and the ability to back up at three or four knots without shipping water. A drop-in door closes off the transom step-through to the boarding ladder on the port side and a pair of fold-down transom seats can also be used as steps. The cockpit drains to a sump with an automatic bilge pump on a float switch, there’s a freshwater shower on the port side and saltwater washdown to starboard. Six through-gunwale rodholders and a pair of drink/sinker holders each side take care of fishing duties, complemented by the 10-position rocket launcher across the back of the hardtop.
The autopilot, VHF radio and radar are Lowrance, there’s a Lowrance sonic hub stereo system with Fusion speakers and a Maxwell windlass with a Sarca anchor and rope-chain rode operated remotely from the helm.
Although the weather couldn’t have been nicer with no wind and glass-calm seas, we managed to create enough surface disturbance by throwing the boat around to get an impression of how well it rides.
Over the years Stabicraft has really worked on the ride and handling of its boats, incrementally improving pontoon and hull design with every new model. The 2500 Ultracab XL is a smooth, comfortable traveller. Weighing in at 2.5 tonnes it features Arrow Pontoons, a 19-degree deadrise at the transom and 6mm thick hull plates. It should be a fine performer in the rough, and dry too.
Optional strakes provide a little extra lift, but the chines control the spray. The 2500 also turns on a dime, hangs on like grim death in tight turns with two propellers gripping the water, and feels nicely balanced. In addition, twin outboards allow a greater range of, as well as independent, engine trim adjustment. No trim tabs were fitted.
In the glassy conditions we managed just under 40 knots at 6100rpm. With a ripple on the water I’d expect to see 40 knots plus. The vessel cruises very nicely between 25 and 30 knots, 45 and 57 litres per hour respectively, both engines. At a fast trolling speed of 11 knots, the fuel burn is 23lph, which reduces to less than half that at 7.5 knots. The fuel tank under the cockpit sole holds 378 litres.
As reviewed the Stabicraft 2500 Ultracab XL has a towing weight of 3,250kg when half full of fuel. She rides on a tandem-axle Voyager trailer with driver-actuated Cargo Hydrostar electric brakes. The trailer also features a Balex launch and retrieve system which, even with a boat of this size, in good conditions allows single-handed launching and retrieving.
BOLD STYLING, IMPECCABLE FINISH
The latest in Stabicraft’s Ultracab range is a boldly-styled, highly capable trailer boat suitable for a range of activities, including serious fishing and diving, overnighting and blue water cruising.
Ample power from twin engines and a comprehensive equipment list are reflected in the review boat’s $250,000 price tag, but the 2500 Ultracab XL is well put together and impeccably finished.
Packages start from $184,611 with a single 250hp Yamaha or $187,313 with twin 115hp Yamahas./>