Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Surviving 70 years of manufacturing recreational boats is a statement that very few brands can make. From their humble beginnings in 1954, Princecraft is one of those honorable brands. That level of success comes from a combination of quality craftsmen and women on the factory floor, a passion for innovation, and a keen and constant commitment to listening to consumers. The 2024 Ventura 230 WRL is proof of the harmony across those commitments.
For a little backstory, we first tested the 23 RL in 2022 and found her to be a capable, well-rounded performer. The major change for 2024 is the addition of a windshield, and for our test crew this addition took the boat to another level. It will be a welcome addition for consumers, I assure you.
The Ventura 230 WRL, at its core, is an aluminum deck boat that delivers quality performance. A key competitive advantage for Princecraft is the weight differential created by aluminum versus traditional fiberglass deck boats. In the case of the 23’ model, you can expect weight savings around 30-40% versus a similarly sized fiberglass model. There are undeniable benefits to saving that much weight, specifically when we look at performance.
But first, let’s look first at her interior design where clearly Princecraft has aimed this boat at families who need a little bit of everything. It’s a unique hybrid boat with exceptional capability for both leisure activities and fishing adventures.
Taking a close look first at the fishing elements, we find a huge bow storage compartment that can house both folding seats - seats offered with your choice of the forward casting deck seat base, or the twin stern casting deck seat bases. The bow is also prewired for your choice of 12, 24, or 36V trolling motor options, and there’s room for three batteries up here as well (a total of four battery trays are standard). At the stern, there is a 44” (77L / 20 US gal) electric aerated livewell to house your catch of the day. The PrinceTrak system runs the inside of the gunnel permitting you to set your fishing accessories in your preferred location. Unique to this model is a cleverly designed centre-position lockable in floor storage locker. The locker will house four rods up to 9’ rods, not to mention skis and other watersports gear.
When it comes to entertaining guests on board, the Ventura has an incredible seating layout. You’ll find ample comfortable bow seating, plush captain and co-captain seats, and a rear bench that readily converts to a rear-facing lounger. Cup holders seem to be everywhere, ensuring everyone on board has a spot for their water bottle. If watersports is on your checklist, add the optional ski pylon to satisfy those needs.
The helm is where the windshield has really transformed this model. The tempered glass with a hidden frame windshield features an offset center walkthrough. This allows for the double-wide helm seat with flip-up bolster. Your fiberglass helm console incorporates lighted toggle switches, standard gauges for the Mercury 250 V8 XL, and we were treated to the optional premium sound system which includes five high output speakers as well as a 10” sub-woofer and amplifier. This package also includes a Simrad Go7 digital media centre with VesselView link and down scan imaging. The Mercury binnacle control box for the digital throttle and shift (DTS) system is ergonomically positioned for comfortable long cruising experiences. Over to the co-captains seat we find another flip-up bolster for the seat, a beverage holder, a self-draining sink/ice tray, and a storage compartment underneath. It’s impossible not to notice the design elements of the side sections of the smoked glass windshield which are raised above the gunnel giving a stunning aesthetic appeal.
Ventura development team clearly looked at this model from a consumer perspective, so they obviously reasoned that the addition of a head package would permit owners to enjoy better experiences and longer boating seasons. This boat comes with the option of a 9.8L/2.6 US gal head with pump out system and a privacy enclosure. It’s a must for any family.
We eased away from the docks on a chilly fall morning – admittedly my passenger and I both had four layers on to keep us warm during the 9 degree Celsius/50 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. The waters of Lac William were calm, with only other test boat traffic to contend with. Our trusty cameraman was on board the factory tower boat to capture video and images. Our fuel tank read just below half of her 208L / 55 US gal capacity and the Mercury 250 was purring in anticipation.
Running footage came first with the tower boat shooting from our port side. This gave us the ‘first feel’ of her cruising capabilities as we ran the length of the lake at about 24 mph. I recall vividly how light she felt. After running back down the lake to capture starboard shots and then completing our ‘fly bys,’ we moved onto performance testing.
Hole shots from a dead stop had us consistently up and on plane in 3.78 seconds, which I would consider excellent. Cruising speeds aboard our lightly loaded test craft proved that the Mercury 250 was ready to provide loads of range. Our preferences on test day were as low as 20 mph on the bottom side, but we really found the Ventura comfortable to run at 28.5 mph at 3,740 RPM. Finally, we had the opportunity to see where she would land when we ran the 250 all the way to the top. Our results showed a handheld GPS and on-board gauge speed that both matched at 48.2 mph at 6,010 RPM.
A word about testing – we encourage all captains to take the time to learn their watercraft. Do so only in a safe environment away from shoreline or other vessels. Remember that daily changes in ambient air temperatures, water temperatures, waves, and most importantly the weight load of guests and crew will generate changes. Take the time to learn your boat, and your family and friends will thank you.
The Ventura 230 WRL is a great all-around, capable performer that will satisfy the needs of many families. The windshield truly is a game changer for this model, and it’s well thought out and designed with the customer in mind. All that’s left now is for you to get into your local dealer or boat show and check it out for yourself.
|55 US gal
|Base Engine / Drive:
|Mercury 250 V8 DTS