American Marine Sports builds its Sterling flats and Shearwater bay boats with an uncompromising sense of purpose and quality. Its latest flats skiff, the Sterling SR7 VT, not only embodies that drive but also offers one of the most innovative design features seen in recent years – a variable tunnel.
The concept for the variable tunnel, which has a patent pending, is a simple solution to several flaws inherent in the classic tunnel hull. Most tunnel hull boats run poorly in deep water because of their reduced bottom surface, which in turn decreases the displacement – this normally increases a boat’s draft at rest. The VT system solves both these problems by incorporating a tunnel pad that raises and lowers within the tunnel in conjunction with the jack plate. As you raise the engine to run shallow, the pad rises and the cavity increases to accommodate skinny water. When you lower the jack plate, the pad covers the tunnel to provide a smoother ride. The pad is made from a specially designed carbon fiber and closed-density hard-core foam material that also increases the boat’s flotation and displacement so that it can still be poled in less than 6 inches of water.
|The design of the 17-foot hull itself is based on the popular 17- and 18-foot Sterling hulls but has a slighter deadrise to allow it to run even shallower. It’s built entirely from composite materials, Kevlar and Carbon Fiber. With no strakes or chines above the waterline, the SR7 VT has a quiet entry and produces virtually no hull slap. The boat tracks extremely well when poled; its 88-inch-wide beam keeps it stable, even while someone moves about the deck or climbs onto the poling platform.||_SPECIFICATIONS _****LOA: 17′ BEAM: 88″ DRAFT: 5-6″ WEIGHT: 575 pounds FUEL: **17 gallons **POWER: 60-hp four-stroke Yamaha PRICE: $32,000 (w/ engine and trailer)American Marine Sports 20150 Independence Blvd. Groveland, FL 34736 352-429-8989 www.americanmarinesports.com|
|The notched transom eliminates Sterling’s normal secondary baitwell, but it still has a 38-gallon livewell under the bench seat. The 17-gallon gas tank sits forward of the cockpit. The design also provides three large dry-storage compartments, including one on either side at the rear of the boat and a large one beneath the front casting deck. All hatches are gasketed, and hinges are tooled into the deck and recessed. The other deck hardware pops up to minimize obstructions. Plenty of undergunwale rod storage safely holds four 9-foot fly rods on each side.|