Regular readers know that we like cuddys because they look so sporty, are generally drier in sloppy conditions, and permit the owner to sleep over on the hook or in a marina now and then just for the fun of it. The Sundowner S235 has two outstanding features that are usually options in this class of boat: 1) one of the most attractive standard tandem-axle trailers we have seen and, 2) a choice of several colors for the hull band and boot top. But there is much more.
Stable Vee hull
Four Winns custom trailer
Unique windshield design
Sundeck with lounge
Deck hatch with screen
Roll-up cabin door
Bow anchor roller
Four Winns S235 (2013-) Specifications
23' 4'' 7.11 m
3,800 lbs. 1,720 (full)
8' 5'' 2.55 m
34'' 86 cm
52 gal. 197 L
4' 8'' 1.42 m
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Four Winns S235 (2013-)Engine options
Currently no test numbers
Volvo Penta V8-270/DP 270 hp MerCruiser 5.0 MPI/Bravo III 260-hp Volvo Penta V8-300/DP 300-hp MerCruiser 377 MPI/Bravo III DTS 320-hp Volvo Penta V8-320C/DP 320-hp
The Four Winns Sundowner S235 is designed for comfort in choppy waters and has numerous hull features to give the vessel speed and stability.
The Mission of the Four Winns S235
Four Winns has designed a boat from the bottom up to be a comfortable, user-friendly ride that looks sporty and goes fast.
The sun pad over the engine flips up to starboard to reveal the walk-through as well as to make the chase lounge seen above.
• Hull Shape. She has several elements that we see individually on boats but rarely all together in one sportboat. Her hull has a 20-degree deadrise at the transom, is stepped, has a bustle to either side of the outdrive and reverse chines. Four Winns calls their hull a “Stable Vee” hull.
•Tandem-Axle Trailer. As noted, this is one of the best standard trailers in the business for a sportboat, painted to exactly match the hull color of the boat, disc brakes, welded closed-box aluminum frame construction and more. (See below.)
•Colored Hull. Colored gel coat is optional on most sportboats but not on this one. Pick from one of five colors for the hull band, and for the boot top as well.
•Engine Room Fiberglass Liner. Boaters who have OCD (obsessive, compulsive disorder) will love the engine room liner. It makes it easy to keep everything clean, orderly and dry.
We like the canted 4-step swim ladder which extends deep into the water and makes boarding easier.
•Deep, Canted Swim Ladder. Four Winns has paid a lot of attention to the business-end of its boats for years. There is nothing worse than a short, shallow ladder. The S235 has a deep one.
•Roll-Up, Companionway Hatch. This is most unusual as typically in this size boat companionway hatches are fiberglass with molded-in steps and slide to one side or the other. When open, this hatch is recessed in the deck and does not cover one side of the aft bulkhead in the cuddy.
A cuddy has many uses and one of them is simply to get out of the rain.
Why a Cuddy?
The cuddy design is the traditional sportboat configuration, predating the now nearly ubiquitous bowrider by decades. Some people simply don’t need to seat 10 people when they go boating. For these boaters, seating for five is enough. There is also the styling of the boat to consider. To us, cuddys are like sports cars on the water, and with the proper power and props they are thrilling to drive.
The Four Winns S235 was designed to go fast and be comfortable, too. Because of her 20-degree deadrise she should be able to take sloppy conditions in stride, and in big water situations cuddys are much dryer simply because water coming over the bow hits the foredeck and is swept aside by the windshield.
When going fast in choppy conditions it is usually not comfortable in the bow. So a bowrider has its limitations. In either type, the aft bench seat is always the most comfortable place to be on a boat in this class.
Portable heads make sport boats more appealing to ladies and small children. Note the room around this optional toilet which is plumbed to a holding tank.
A Cuddy for Cruising?
An advantage of the S235 is that not only can she be used for all of the regular watersports like skiing, wakeboarding, water toy towing, and swimming, but she also has a place to get out of the weather. Caught in a summer shower? Let Pop brave the elements and Mom and the kids can get below and stay dry and warm.
The cabin of the S235 also is a far larger and more comfortable changing room than what can be offered in the port console of any bowrider of the same size or even larger. Those who have tried to wiggle out of a wet bathing suit in the console of a bowrider will know what we are talking about. The S235 also has an optional portable head which can also come in handy and again there is a lot more room around it.
For the adventuresome, a long coastal hike is possible in a cuddy sportboat even though that is not their intended purpose. The S235 seems particularly well suited for this pursuit to us because of her deep-V bottom and her relatively high freeboard. We would add the optional Bimini top and cruising canvas for such trips.
No boat would be complete without a cooler in the cockpit. Clearly this unit will be easy to put in place and remove at day's end.
The Step. As mentioned above Four Winns has combined several design concepts into one hull, all of which enhance performance. We have tested enough stepped-hull designs to know that when they are properly configured they definitely work. They can add a knot or so to the WOT speed and make the boat more fuel efficient at cruising speeds. The reason it works is because the cut-out in the chine allows air to be sucked under the bottom into the "step" creating a laminar layer separating the water and the hull bottom and thereby slightly reducing friction.
The Bustle or Pods. Four Winns extends the hull to port and starboard beyond the collar of the sterndrive lower unit. This design gives the boat running surface behind the transom and adds buoyancy where the boat needs it. Again, this is a design concept we have tested in other boats and have found it to make time-to-plane faster and bow rise lower than it would otherwise be.
20-Degree Deadrise. This is on the deep side for this size boat which more typically have 18 to 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom. This indicates to us that the designers intend for the boat to be more comfortable in choppy water even though that extra degree or two makes the boat slightly harder to push. All boats are a compromise and here is a slight one on the S235 when it comes to comfort vs. speed.
Uniquely Shaped Chines. Four Winns claims that its chines are uniquely shaped and make the boat more stable as a result. The builder calls its bottom shape "Stable Vee" to signal that the chines counteract the natural tendency of deep-V boats to roll at rest.
We have not tested the boat so cannot comment on its speed, fuel efficiency or the handling characteristics claimed by the builder.
Both the optional helm and companion bucket seats have bolsters and head rests.
The S235 has bucket seats for both the skipper and companion. These seats are specially made by Four Winns and have contoured sculptured foam material and stainless steel inner springs. Designed for comfort when riding in a chop, they also let the water run through the foam and out the bottom when it rains. Then, they can dry out from both the top and the bottom.
We like the dark color of the dash which will cut down glare on the windscreen.
The helm console has a gray gel coat to cut down on windshield glare and it has all the usual instruments. Not so usual is the standard depth sounder and depth warning feature, water and air temperature gauges. There is also a small compartment for the skipper to place an electronic device or other items. On the companion side is a lockable glove box with all the usual ports for electronic devices. A stereo system is standard.
Behind the helm seat is an optional small sink with faucet. On the opposite side of the cockpit is a seat that makes into an L-shape with the main part of the seat along the engine room bulkhead. To starboard is a walk way to the transom. There is the usual storage under the seats. All hatches on this boat are channeled and drained.
The sink and the shower in the transom both tie into the boats water system and are optional.
The optional table is side-mounted and has dedicated storage.
Both storage compartments in the stern have synthetic snap-in bags which hold gear and are ideal for wet clothes which will dry out from the heat of the engine.
Under the walkway to the stern is another storage compartment with a bag. Note the line storage compartment under the sun pad.
The traditional sun pad is over the engine and the starboard side over the walkway raises up with a support turning it into a sun lounge. Below the walkway is a compartment that can be used for wet suits and ski vests. The heat from the engine will dry them out pronto.
The skylights to either side of the sun pad are actually opening hatches for cuddy ventilation and they both have synthetic screens.
Access to the foredeck is through the windshield. There we find an optional sun pad, something we often see on large express cruisers, but rarely find a sportboat. Forward of that is a round hatch, something that is a signature Four Winns design flourish which we like because it avoids the disharmony of the straight lines of a square hatch on a foredeck that is curving to a point.
At the pointy end is a proper anchor roller and ground tackle nestled under a flush hatch. This is a handsome arrangement and we are glad that Four Winns has not neglected this traditional aspect of the boat.
Four Winns has a clever, hinged wood platform which swings out aft so cushions can make a large sleeping area.
The cuddy can be used in any of several ways: With all of the cushions in place it makes a large platform for overnight sleeping or a nap. To port and starboard, cushion serve as a back rest for facing seats. There are reading lights. Under the cushions are molded-in liners for dry storage. The optional head goes on the centerline.
Typically boaters staying overnight bring sleeping bags along. Boaters who are into watersports and not really using the boat for overnight activities, will end up using the cuddy for storage of skis and equipment. For this purpose the cuddy is unexcelled by any bowrider on the market, which are limited to storage under the cockpit sole.
Cushions double as seat backs for times when guests want to relax below.
The trailer above is standard equipment with the S235 and has much to recommend it.
We normally do not review the trailer when it is part of the standard equipment package, but since we feel this trailer is so exceptional we will make an exception. First it has tandem axles with disc brakes. It has keel rollers and treated, carpeted bunks, and treated carpeted side guides. There are integrated step pads with diamond plating, submersible LED tail lights, a welded winch post, as well as a swing-away tongue and swivel tongue jack.
The framing is 11-gauge aluminum coated with durable polyurethane paint to match the gel coat color of the boat's hull. This latter detail is what makes the rig look so cool going down the road. See the builder's website for more details.
Four Winns has long been one of the leading names in sportboat building and our opinion its design team can be proud of its work on the S235.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Four Winns S235 (2013-) Standard and Optional Equipment
= Standard = Optional
Four Winns S235 (2013-) Warranty
Four Winns S235 (2013-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
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