By Chris Landry
Built by the former founders of Sea Pro and Key West boats, Tommy Hancock and Dale Martin, respectively, the Sportsman Heritage 231 deserves consideration as a formidable, premium, small center console. This multi-purpose platform rides on a modified deep V. With a single 200-horsepower outboard, the 231 gets good fuel mileage from trolling to full speed.
Former boatbuilding rivals, Hancock and Martin have built in several nifty design features on deck. Their boatbuilding experience shines through in the functional layout and thoughtfully designed stowage boxes, hatch lids, and seats. For instance, the full-beam bench seat’s center section lifts open via gas shocks to reveal a gelcoat-finished bilge with easy-to-reach pumps, filters, and stowage space. The wraparound bow seating includes drop-in backrests that face forward. The in-deck locker on centerline includes a recessed area to sit a large bucket—a perfect place for a cast net. The console door opening is plenty big and houses the batteries and electrical panels and can also hold a portable head. The builder provides dry rod stowage under the port-side bow seating, with more homes for your rods along the gunwales and the coaming tops. The anchor-locker lid swings open to port and out of the way for easy access. The two-person seat forward of the console holds a 12-gallon insulated cooler.
Sportsman boats are built with knitted fiberglass fabric, vinylester and polyester resins, and PVC coring materials, says Hancock. The manufacturer builds the hull bottom with solid glass and uses coring material in the sides and deck hatches. “In areas where there will be through-bolting or fasteners we use a higher-density core,” says Hancock. The company uses a high-quality gelcoat and a vinylester resin in the skin coat to protect against osmotic blistering. Sportsman hand-lays the materials, overlapping the chines and keel and other high-stress areas with fiberglass for strength and durability. The fiberglass stringer grid system is bonded to the hull with a methacrylate adhesive. “You’ll shear a laminate before you break the hold of that glue,” says Hancock.
Rhodes Yacht Design in Charleston, South Carolina, carries out all the naval architecture for Sportsman, and Vectorworks Marine LLC in Titusville, Florida, cuts the plugs. Sportsman builds it own molds, says Hancock.
With Yamaha’s new 200-horsepower, four-cylinder 4-stroke, the boat proved to be quick, fast, and fuel-efficient. At nearly 21 knots, the F200 burns 5.2 gallons per hour, allowing you to travel 4.5 miles for every gallon burned—that’s good mileage for a powerboat.
The steering wheel is mounted on a raised pod on the console’s port side, with the throttle, breaker switches, and cupholder to starboard.
The 487-pound F200 possesses some get-up-and-go, for sure, thanks to its variable camshaft timing. The boat accelerated from 17 to 26 knots in about 4 seconds and made the jump from there to 41 knots (WOT) in another 3 ½ seconds. The Sportsman remained on track and the engine never came unglued when I threw the boat into some high-speed doughnuts.
The boat rises to plane at a flat angle, which is good—you never want to lose site of the horizon. The Sportsman’s narrow forefoot slices and dices through the chop. The boat, which has an 18-
degree deadrise at the transom, stayed on plane at only 13 knots. That slow planing speed is ideal for driving in rough waters when 13 knots is as fast as you would want to go.
Sportsman Boats, (843) 376-2628; www.sportsmanboats.com
: 1'2" (engine up)
: 2,150 lb. (without engines)
: 103 gal.
: 1/200-hp Yamaha F200XB
Air temperature: 60°F; water temperature: 55°F; Load: 2 people, Speeds are two-way averages. Speed and fuel-burn numbers taken by Yamaha in separate test. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity.