The Starcraft Limited 1915 Sportstar proves “compact” and “roomy” can coexist in the same sentence.
Sub-20-foot boats usually share one big problem: lack of passenger space. But that’s one of the Starcraft Limited 1915 OB’s strengths. Thanks to its oversize-for-its-length 8-foot, 6-inch beam and wide-open cockpit layout, it’s an overachiever of a 19-footer, with a passenger capacity of 10. Smaller boats also usually have fuel tanks with a pitifully small capacity, but the 1915’s tank is endowed with a generous 51-gallon capacity — good enough for multiple trips for most families.
Many boats give passengers one option for boarding: step across the gunwale and defile the upholstery with a dirty shoeprint — ideal, if this were a crime scene. The 1915 avoids this problem and gives guests three options for boarding without ever having to touch the beautiful two-tone UV-resistant upholstery. The primary boarding zone is the port-side gunwale cutout, which has a step-down into the cockpit thanks to a removable cushion that preserves valuable seating acreage. There’s also access from an oversized bow deck that, because this is a deckboat, retains its beam all the way forward but still terminates in an aesthetically pleasing curved bow instead of the usual deckboat bow shape preferred by SpongeBob SquarePants. This entry also has a step-down that can double as a cooler or be converted to a livewell if you choose the fishing package. The final point of egress is via the port-side stern swim platform leading to a transom entry with a swing-in gate for kid-corralling.
We tested the Limited 1915 OB on Lake Parker in Lakeland, Fla., with a Yamaha F115, which is probably the smallest outboard you’ll see it paired with. While it’s rated for up to 200 hp, the F115 seemed to be a good match unless you habitually carry a full load of passengers. Because its hull has a relatively flat 13 degrees of deadrise at the stern, it got on plane quickly in 3.8 seconds with very little bowrise. With the lift of its flattish dihedral hull, it managed to stay on plane at just 15 mph, which is ideal if you are tubing with small children who aren’t ready to crack the whip. The Yamaha F115 had a linear push throughout its powerband and propelled the 1915 to 25 mph in 7.1 seconds. Top speed was 41.3 mph, but if speed is your thing, a 150 will net you mid-40s, while the max power will scare 50 mph.
A lot of boats powered by 115 hp sport cable steering, which can cause the captain to work harder than he should to keep the boat from constantly wanting to veer left. But every 1915, no matter what engine you choose, comes with tilt hydraulic steering, such as the Teleflex BayStar system our test boat had. The 1915 tracked very well in hard corners, exhibiting only a moderate lean-in. Large reverse chines helped keep spray contained but didn’t cause any squirreliness during turns, which were buttermilk smooth.
The shallow 13-degree deadrise and wide beam help make the 1915 a very stable platform at slow speeds or at rest, so guests moving around the spacious cockpit won’t put it on tilt. But even though the 1915 has a pronounced keel with a sharper entry to reduce slamming in choppy water, its flatter hull, combined with its relatively low freeboard up front, makes it a boat better designed more for moderate inshore conditions than offshore bashing.
The Limited 1915 OB makes a very capable compact ski boat, especially if slalom is your thing. At around 30 mph, it delivers one of the flattest wakes of any boat on the economy side of a high-dollar tournament ski boat. It allows for some really smooth tube towing without inadvertently launching your kids into low orbit when cornering. It also sports a centerline in-deck ski locker and a huge bulkhead-free storage compartment under the port bow seat bottom, which lifts off in its entirety for complete access. You can choose between an optional ski pylon or go whole hog with a wakeboard tower, complete with wakeboard racks and speakers. But plowing up a jumpable wake will require positioning some human ballast on the stern bench and trimming up the engine a bit to induce a bow-up plow.
The 1915 also has serious fun-in-the-sun chops. The entire boat is ringed with comfortable seating, and twin bow-riding seats have just enough recline for comfort. An optional filler cushion for the bow boarding section enhances passenger seating capacity. Despite its compact size, even the bowrider seat in front of the helm console has enough stretching-out legroom for a six-footer, and the port-side recliner can accommodate the vertically endowed. A bow table comes standard and features cupholder cutouts for coffee mugs. For refreshment, look under the port seat across from the captain, at an Igloo cooler that’s rigged to allow the cooler top and the seat bottom to be connected to work as one; flip up the seat bottom and the cooler lid follows, for one-step access.
Starcraft is all about delivering bang-for-the-greenback, and it offers the Limited 1915 OB with a nice starting lineup of features, such as a sink built into the driver’s console; it has a pump spigot for easy cleanups. An upscale four-speaker Infinity stereo system with USB and MP3 inputs gets the party started in style. A stern wet locker stores items such as ski ropes and fenders. A standard bow boarding ladder for hitting the beach resides under a hatch, and the stern boarding ladder is recessed into a cutout on the port platformette.
Thanks to the large foredeck, the Limited 1915 can be transformed into a competent fishing machine with the addition of a livewell, a pedestal fishing seat for the bow, a fishfinder and a 55-foot-pound, 24v trolling motor.
Our test boat featured the Sportstar upgrade, which bundles a number of upscale features to take the 1915 to a level above most compact deckboats. Many of the items get stainless steel upgrades, including the oversized Bimini top, bow rails and lighted cupholders. You also get snap-in carpeting, pop-up cleats and lighted speakers that match the LED mood lighting. The exterior and interior get a dash of flash with a two-tone gelcoat with special graphics and an Executive Gray upholstery upgrade. The helm station comes complete with oversized gauges, stylized pods for the accessory switches and a fiberglass console with footrest. The Sportstar upgrade includes a flip-up bolster seat for the skipper.