The Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider OB capitalizes on two strong trends in boating today: the move from sterndrive power to outboard power, and the added utility of creating cuddy accommodations in an otherwise bowrider boat. Since the 350 Crossover Bowrider helped to start the trend to accommodations in a traditional bowrider, it is fitting that it should help lead the way with outboard power in class, as well.
|Length Overall||35' 0" / 10.67 m|
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Contents of Report
- Mission Statement
- Distinguishing Features
- Features Walkthrough
The mission of the Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider is to provide her owner with a versatile boat that can be used for entertaining, sunning and beach outings, plenty of speed to cover long distances fast, and an overnighting capability for weekend cruising. By being powered by triple outboards instead of conventional sterndrives, Formula is offering the ease of maintenance that consumers want.
- A Large, Versatile Bowrider - The bow seating was designed for riding, sunning, and entertaining and is huge and innovative.
- Offset Access to the Bow - A passageway to the bow on the port-hand side, a departure from most bowriders.
- Cabin to Accommodate a Couple on Overnights - With a double bed below, mini galley, stand-up wet head, and storage, this bowrider is also a functioning cuddy or pocket cruiser.
- Copious Storage - By putting the engines outside the boat, the 350 Crossover Bowrider has opened up a large area in the stern for all sorts of storage and added equipment.
- Formula Painted Exterior - Formula remains the only builder in class that paints its hulls which is why they always look like the shiniest boats in the marina.
- Highest Quality in Class - Formula is at the pinnacle of quality in class in virtually all areas of boat construction.
The Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider has a length overall of 35’ (10.7 m), a beam of 10'9" (3.3 m), and a draft of 39” (99 cm). With an empty weight of 13,850 lbs. (6,282 kg), 52% fuel (116 gal. / 439 L), 12 gallons (45 L) of water aboard, 3 people onboard and test gear, we had an estimated test weight of 15,492 lbs. (7,027 kg).
We tested on a day with an ambient temperature of 96-degrees F, which is far from optimal for the engines’ best performance.
Top Speed. With triple Mercury Racing 350-hp engines driving SS 4-blade 14-1/2” x 19” props, we reached a top speed at 6250 RPM of 58.2 mph.
Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 28.3 mph. That produced a fuel burn of 23.4 gph which the 350 could maintain for 8 hours and 30 minutes and 241 statute miles, with a 10% reserve.
As is typical with every Formula boat we’ve tested, the 350 Crossover Bowrider has the same characteristic nimble sportboat handling that we’ve come to expect. She was responsive to the helm and had no problem handling any maneuvers that we put her through. She handles every bit as well as her near sister does with sterndrives.
Offshore. With 3’ to 4’ seas offshore during our sea trials, she tracked perfectly in head, beam and following seas. She had a solid, comfortable feel at all reasonable speeds, thanks to her 21-degree deadrise at the transom. We heard no creaking or squeaking of interior bulkheads or cabinetry at speed as we crashed through waves.
We ran the inlet several times and were amazed that not a drop of water got on the windshield. We have tried in previous tests of the 350 Crossover Bowrider sterndrive versions and were never able to get water on the windshield. This is a dry boat with outboards or sterndrives.
She went from a standing stop to planing in 5.4 seconds, to 20 mph in 6.6 seconds and to 30 mph in 9.0 seconds.
Comparison with Sterndrive Power
We have made two tests of the Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider with sterndrive engines, one powered by twin MerCruiser 430-hp 8.2 L H.O. sterndrives with Bravo III props, and one powered by twin 430-hp Ilmor 6.2 L engines driving through Ilmor’s One Drive with dual props. These two boats had a top speed of 56.6 mph and 56.0, respectively, in our tests.
So, the 860-hp sterndrive-powered boats were not quite as fast as the 1200-hp outboard-powered 350 Crossover Bowrider by about 2 mph. But there was a big difference between the 350 Crossover Bowrider sterndrives compared to the OB version -- the outboard-powered boat was about 6,000 lbs. (40%) heavier!
Not Apples-to-Apples. Boats this size are remarkably weight sensitive. While tests such as these are never apples-to-apples, it is clear that the 350 Crossover Bowrider with triple outboards has a lot more grit than her sterndrive near sisters.
Generally, all boats get heavier as they get older because customers want more and more amenities on the boats and the builders oblige. For example, our outboard boat had a hardtop which was not only heavy, but also presented more windage than the sterndrive half-sisters we tested.
Other things might change, too. For example, Formula has increased the size of the fuel tank to 222 gallons (840 L) from 172 gallons (651 L). All that empty space in the stern can be filled with more amenities, such as a 5 kW Kohler generator. Plus, the beefy Armstrong bracket is not light. It all adds up. In light of all of this extra weight, the 2 mph improvement with the extra 340 horses does not seem inconsequential.
Best Cruise Comparison. The 6.2L Ilmor rig was slightly more fuel efficient at best cruise compared to the MerCruiser 8.2 L H.O. power. It burned 19.6 gph getting 1.3 mpg at 30.8 mph at 3500 rpm compared to the MerCruisers’ 24.3 gph getting 1.2 mpg going 29.4 mph at 3000 rpm.
The triple Mercury outboards burned 23.4 gph at best cruise, getting 1.2 mpg going 28.3 mph at 3500 rpm. On a miles per gallon basis, all three models were remarkably close. For this reason, engine selection, and type of power will likely be based on other factors for most buyers.
Noisy? – Not! Traditionally, one of the objections to outboard power is that they are noisy compared to sterndrives or inboards.
Our test data indicates that the triple Mercury Racing 350s were actually quieter than both of the sterndrive 350s that we have tested.
This is where the 350 Crossover Bowrider differs from the sterndrive version. With three big outboards hanging on the Armstrong brackets nestled under the swim platform, important real estate is occupied. For most people, this is the biggest negative of the outboard option. Formula has done its best to ameliorate the situation with its existing tooling by making the swim platform 2’6” (0.76 m) fore and aft and 9” (0.23 m) wide. This deck is kept clear of hoses and other outboard rigging, thanks to the Armstrong brackets and the fact that all outboard rigging is run through three large openings in the transom under the swim platform.
Nevertheless, the only entry points off the stern platform are at the ends, port and starboard. There is no integral boarding ladder as we might find on a sterndrive version, except for an emergency, slide out ladder that is an ABYC safety requirement. The boat’s main swim ladder is stowed in what would otherwise be the engine compartment.
Aft Sun Pad
The aft sun pad measures 74” x 44” (1.88 m x 1.12 m) which is almost the size of a double bed and offers plenty of space for two or three people to sun and lounge. The backrest for the settee in the cockpit is articulated and serves triple duty as a backrest for the cockpit, chaise rest for the sun pad, or sun pad extension.
It is hard to think of any amenities that have been left off the stern of the 350 Crossover Bowrider. To port is a stereo remote that can be reached from the water, as well as a shower wand with hot and cold fresh water to port next to the transom entrance gate. Here, too, is the freshwater engine flush ($2,260) -- one fitting handles water to all three engines.
To starboard in the side bulwarks are two shore power receptacles and a freshwater intake. On the transom is an LED light which comes on when the engine is running and blinks clockwise when the engine is in gear -- a nice safety feature which we’d like to see on all boats of this type.
The cockpit is fabricated from a continuous molded fiberglass liner and features Formula’s contoured seating with additional supports in the lumbar area as well as behind the knees. No less than 24 drink holders are scattered throughout the bow and cockpit and storage is under most seats and in the deck.
Under the aft seat is a cavernous storage locker where the engines are located in the sterndrive version. In our test boat part of the space was used for a 5 kW Kohler, Low-CO gasoline generator ($16,440). The hatch lid was well insulated for sound deadening. Located on the lid is the ss boarding ladder. Batteries and pumps can also be accessed here, but most of the area was empty and would be an ideal place to stow water toys.
A large table in fits into a deck mount. This table along with one in the bow, permit two groups of guests to have lunch or have cocktails at the same time. As such, it becomes an ideal day boat for picnics. Filler cushions create yet another sunning area when the table is lowered and used as a foundation.
Wet Bar. To port is a molded cockpit wet bar with an integrated sink, Corian countertop, trash receptacle, and a 17.5 quart (16.6 L) carry-on cooler. A dual-voltage cockpit refrigerator is also standard. To starboard is J-shaped seating around the table.
To the port side of the helm is a double wide lounge allowing one person to face forward or aft in chaise lounge fashion, or two people to relax and have a conversation with the captain and "admiral" at the helm.
The helm, itself, features double-wide seating, each with its own bolster, allowing a second set of eyes to be facing forward. The steering wheel is wrapped and is the sport model. The dash fiberglass is dark and an upholstered dash eyebrow is a similar color reducing glare in the windshield.
Walkthrough to the Bow
The walkthrough to the bow measures 22" (.56 m) across, which is wide, as these passages go. As if there wasn't enough storage already on this boat, the port console allows for a cavernous compartment, ideal for cushion storage and life vests. There are two doors accessing this compartment and inside is an opening portlight. Its sheer size, along with the portlight, had us questioning whether this was actually intended to be another berth. But it is not, and the portlight provides some external visual symmetry as the portlight on the starboard side is in the cabin and is used.
The bow is accessed from an offset windshield walkthrough and the deck is on the same level from the stern to the bow. A forward facing double wide lounge seat is immediately to starboard, and a pair of dual height tables will turn the bow into an ideal al fresco dining area. With the tables lowered, filler cushions turn the entire bow into a third sun lounge. The starboard seating features an armrest that flips up when not in use and a removable cooler will save having to travel back to the cockpit for a drink or snack.
The seating area is huge, measuring 7'8" (2.33 m) towards the stern and 4'5" (1.35 m) at the bow. The port seat has dedicated storage for the pedestal table. The forward seat conceals a carry-on cooler and trash receptacle. To starboard is another storage compartment and a removable seat allowing for a two-across forward facing bench seat in front of the helm console.
The cabin is accessed from a centerline entryway next to the helm. Three solid floating steps lead to a woodgrain finish deck and a full 5'10" (1.8 m) of headroom. The cabin will be finished in high-gloss Bourbon Cherry or Ash with Cherry, Baltic Birch or Wenge woodgrain finish throughout.
The cabin is designed to primarily accommodate two people. It is an ideal place to place children for their afternoon nap, to say nothing of adults. Our test boat was equipped with an optional 8,000 BTU reverse-cycle A/C system ($6,650.)
To starboard is a love seat upholstered in Ultraleather. Directly across is a chest of drawers, storage cabinets, and an HD TV/DVD combo. Directly ahead of the stairs is a centerline mounted mini galley with microwave, concealed sink and pullout stainless steel refrigerator.
To starboard is a private head with a molded vanity, Corian countertop, sink, shower, and standard VacuFlush head. Thanks to the unique use of space, the aft end of the cabin is taken up by a full-size double berth with memory foam mattress.
Several options are offered for cabin amenities including an 8,000 BTU reverse-cycle air conditioner with digital climate control ($6,650) which will be connected to either the standard shore power, or the optional 5.0 kW gas generator ($16,440). For boaters on larger lakes a gray water holding system is offered ($435).
The base price of the Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider is $494,820 powered by three Mercury Verado 300-hp outboards. Our test boat was pretty much fully equipped with most available options, many of which we have given the prices for, which is $595,115.
The Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider is –- for many people –- the best of several worlds. She has outboard power for easy maintenance, has two large entertaining venues for say boating with friends, can be used for watersports and towing, has three large sunning locations, and can overnight a couple.
All of this provides a lot of utility, and for many people this is all the boat they need. We should add that because of the boat’s 21-degree deadrise and the transom and offshore racing-proven hull, she can be taken offshore in decent conditions to places such as the Bahamas, Nantucket and down the Florida Keys with confidence.