Author: Alan Jones
When people think of deckboats, words like “seakeeping,” “cornering ability” and “soft ride” aren’t usually the ones that come to mind. Likewise, the word “usual” doesn’t come up when talking about Splendor Boats. In the case of the Splendor 239 SunStar, being unusual is a really good thing. Its 23-foot, 9-inch-long hull features a unique catamaran design that will change how you view deckboats. Most cat hulls work best with twin engines, but Splendor boats do splendidly with one. In a nasty chop, drivers don’t have to plow through the slop; instead, giving it a bit of speed causes it to compress the air between the sponsons to create a more cushioned ride. We’ve tested this hull in many conditions, and it never fails to amaze us with its ability to effortlessly eat up the waves. Unlike most cats, which have an awkward lean to the outside in hard turns, the 239 SunStar performs very flat, sharp turns thanks to the shape of the twin running surfaces.
Passenger space is maximized by twin matching bowrider bench seats with forward-facing recliners. An L-couch in the cockpit helps provide seating for up to 12 passengers. A huge foredeck has step-downs into the cockpit that make it easy for passengers to board. That foredeck also has enough room for a fishing chair. Being 23 feet, 9 inches long gives it enough real estate to have an adult-sized head compartment in the port console.
Splendor subscribes to the if-it-isn’t-broke-don’t-fix-it school of boat design, and because its hull configuration is so successful, don’t look for huge changes from year to year. But 2014 models have a number of tweaks, including improved upholstery styling, a new, more ergonomically correct helm station and new exterior graphics.
Our test boat features the Suzuki 225, which is the standard engine for this model, and being outboard powered should make the 239 a big seller in coastal areas. Good luck finding a used one, though; I found a total of three Splendors listed nationwide on BoatTrader.com. It’s apparent that their owners love them and aren’t selling. With 225 hp, the 239 SunStar achieves excellent performance. On plane in just 2.5 second with little bowrise, it reached 30 mph in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 43.7 mph.