Although we are used to seeing deck boats in the more familiar medium of fiberglass, Princecraft’s Ventura 190 LW takes boaters where they have seldom gone before with an aluminum version of an American classic.
Princecraft’s deck boats are constructed using 5052-H36 marine-grade alloy with a hull gauge of .110 inches, which is up to twice as thick as the skin of a jet airplane wing – not your dad’s Schlitz can, for sure.
Usually, you can spot an aluminum boat from a fair distance, but the Ventura 190 LW, with its unique oven-cured, high-solids urethane-painted hull and graphics that mimic an expensive gel coat, will fool you. The lightweight hull weighs 1,918 pounds, making it easy to tow and stingy on fuel.
You might be surprised to find that the deck is made from plywood, but considering Princecraft’s pontooning heritage, it’s not that big of a reach. What they’ve learned is when using pressure-treated marine-grade wood covered in 20-ounce carpeting, you get a very solid surface that holds up for many years.
Powering our test model is Mercury’s upscale Verado 150, which uses supercharger technology to give drivers a boost of acceleration, unlike anything they’ve ever felt before. Jamming the velvety Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS) power lever results in a burst of power that puts the Ventura on a plane in just 3.1 seconds despite a brief bout of bow rise. The Princecraft rockets to 30 mph in just 6.2 seconds.
The top speed for the 1,918-pound hull matched with the 150 Verado was a very respectable 47.3 mph. The minimum planning speed occurred at 17 mph, which is right around where you want to be for plowing up the wakeboard wake.
Our Princecraft was equipped with the standard, twin-cable no-feedback steering system, which might be fine with the smaller outboard options, but frankly wasn’t up to the task of giving the driver effortless control of this boat with the powerful Verado 150, the maximum horsepower available.
Owners will have a better handling experience by ordering the optional hydraulic Sea Star steering package, which costs an extra $972 but will be well worth it. With its oversized reverse chines and flattish bottom, the Ventura 190 bit sharply in hard turns, exhibiting less lean than usual.
Although our small, waterskiing-friendly lake near Orlando, Florida (meaning there were no visible gators in the double-digit-length range) was calm, the Ventura did a fair job of skipping the wakes we plowed up without pounding us too severely, despite the very moderate deadrise of 13 degrees at the stern. The upside is greater lateral stability – especially at rest – thus keeping the lightweight, 8-foot, 1-inch beamed hull from being too tippy.
Despite being only 19 feet, 2 inches, there’s plenty of seating in the cockpit with its L-lounge and recommended upgrade to the deluxe rotomolded captain’s bucket with a flip-up bolster and full adjustability. The full-width sun lounge flips up for transom access and features a lip so slumbering tanners don’t roll off the edge. Order this model with the optional port and starboard swim platforms for ease of boarding.
Unique options include an inflatable filler sectional for the bowrider void that turns the bow into a sleeper area. There’s even an available chemical toilet and full camper enclosure to transform this into a mini-cruiser. You will also need a trailer for exploring, which isn’t included. Kudos to the bowrider chaise lounges that have plenty of backrest angles for comfort and piano hinges for easy access. They could use grabrails, though. Skiers should order the wakeboard tower option, which gives you an ultra-high ski tow to help with aerobatics.
The 510-pound Verado weighs just 75 pounds more than the 150 hp OptiMax and only costs $526 more, making it an easy call, if for no other reason than the smooth-shifting DTS system and quietness of the Verado, which on the Ventura measures a preternatural 56 dBa at idle, and 81 dBa at 30 mph. Another option is the 135 OptiMax, but this only saves the buyer $10 over the 150 Opti’ … a no-brainer.
Avoid the 90 OptiMax, which would limit your skiing fun and cause you to run near wide-open throttle most of the time – a proven recipe for premature engine aging and increased fuel consumption.
Unlike many of Princecraft’s other runabouts, this one isn’t really fishing-friendly, but for those who are looking for a compact, easy-to-tow, fun-in-the-sun runabout/ski boat, the 190 LW is ideal. The camper/head/filler inflatable option makes this one of the smallest boats you could go cruising on and with gas prices such as they are, this might just be your ticket to adventure. The low, flat bow section makes beach boarding an easy maneuver for those who like to explore deserted islands.