Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
The heart and soul of North America’s recreational fishing boat market has generally been the 17’ category, and manufacturers compete aggressively to attract new families to their brands with unique features and styling. As Princecraft quietly acknowledges their 70th anniversary in 2024 (yup, they’ve been building boats since 1954!), they have made a bold statement with the introduction of the all-new Sport 175.
We were fortunate enough to receive a private walkthrough of this new model from their Director of Marketing, and the list of changes is lengthy, impressive, and clearly customer-centric.
The first thing that stands out is the new bull nose bow. By foregoing the traditional full V in the bow design, Princecraft’s engineers have successfully created 36% more room in the bow section itself. While that’s great from the interior perspective - more room for moving around while fishing or for the kids to lounge on the optional bow cushions - what really stands out is the blunt nose piece. The brand’s ‘P’ logo tastefully adorns the bull nose and the optional Techno package gave us an LED lighting strip for docking. It was a ‘double take’ when I first walked by, but this new look is awesome.
Next up, and impossible to miss, was the enormous U-Shaped seating in the cockpit. Offering plenty of room for family and friends, this layout is typically seen on fiberglass runabouts. It was at this moment I felt like the engineers had created a mini-SUV. This boat really is designed for multi-purpose applications. The centre section of the lounger readily flips forward to create a good-sized casting deck with all the necessities. Two seat bases are mounted here, storage compartments are positioned centre and to port, battery access is on starboard storage, and a choice of built-in livewell or cooler is here as well. I also took note of the optional ski pylon base – the kids will love you for this one.
Moving to the consoles, we find both are nestled in behind a tall, centre walkthrough windshield with a black frame that beautifully aligns with the exterior black urethane high gloss paint. To port, we have a lockable glove box, beverage holder, a grab bar with lots of leg room underneath, and a storage tray. The captain is treated to the upgraded SeaStar hydraulic tilt steering system, the primary unit for the Jensen 160 W sound system, ready access to breaker switches, cell phone charger, beverage holder, and an ergonomically positioned remote control for the Mercury 115 Pro XS on the transom. Standard gauges include tach, speedo, trim, and fuel, while our test boat was optioned up with a Simrad Go7 and a Humminbird screen in lieu of the gauges.
The bow casting deck is well appointed with anchor storage, battery storage, ice chest, 30” 64L/17 US gallon aerated livewell, seat base, and more storage. This section readily converts to a playpen for the kids with the optional bow cushions. Rod storage is managed with an in floor lockable organizer for 4 rods.
Heading out onto the water we were blessed with calm seas and cool temperatures. Imagine the perfect fall fishing day - that’s what we had. As we eased towards the testing grounds, I was able to get an immediate sense of her handling characteristics after only a few short runs. Pushing the throttle to less than half had us smoothly up and on plane, and it wasn’t long before I began to appreciate the reverse chine hull design. The benefit of this design is that while we are up top enjoying the ride the engineering is pushing the water down, creating less drag and giving you improved efficiency and better overall performance.
Performance will always vary, and in boat testing issues like air and water temperature will affect your results, as does the load of gear and passengers, not to mention waves and current. Our testing had two men on board with essential safety gear and her 91 L / 24 US gallon fuel tank reading ¾ full.
Our capturing of running footage gave us the opportunity to experience her cornering capabilities, as well as hole shot and mid-range speeds. We found in sharp corners her hull stayed true while maintaining engine trim in the fully lowered position. Her ability to climb to optimal cruising speeds was very good.
Hole shot tests yielded consistent results in the 3.5 second range, which I would call ideal for this package. Our top speed trials had us over the 40 mph marker with the engine turning 5,960 RPM. The Sport 175 will capably get you to your favourite fishing hole in a hurry with a generous smile all the way there.
Cruising speeds trials are always the most important from my perspective since this is typically how boaters run their craft. The Sport 175 hull gets on plane efficiently and smoothly and we found cruising speeds of 24 and 28 mph were ideal.
My final thoughts are these: it is highly evident that Princecraft took the right amount of time, gave the engineers and R&D teams lots of creative freedom, so the new Sport 175 delivers! This is a very well-rounded watercraft that will create great memories, have the kids grinning from ear to ear tubing or tanning, and will take Mom, Dad, and friends out for an enjoyable afternoon or evening cruise.
|24 US gal
|Base Engine / Drive:
|Mercury 115 EXLPT PRO XS