Contents of Report
The largest boat in the series, the Formula 350 Sun Sport is designed with a focus on daytime activities with features, such as an extended swim platform and spacious seating in the cockpit and bow. When the time comes to pull into a quiet cove for the night, there is sleeping capacity for four in the mid cabin and on the convertible V-berth in the bow.
Like all Formula yachts, she is intended to be run hard in sloppy conditions and provide as good a ride as possible.
An extended swim platform is an available option on the 350 Sun Sport ($11,835) and we can’t imagine too many getting purchased without this upgrade, unless they have no plans for watersports or lots of guests aboard who want to sun bath. It comes with an aft-facing sunlounge that measures 4’ x 5’ (1.22 m x 1.52 m), a water-level boarding ladder tucked underneath in the center, and has four cup holders plus a heavy-duty rail that rings the entire platform. It is a vinyl “teak beach” for hanging out and a lot of swimming.
One thing to be careful about is that when backing into a slip, the extension can’t be seen from the helm, so the stainless steel rail becomes a fender. But since a joystick is standard, maneuvering should be easy. Aft to starboard are the utility connections, plus the mount for the optional gas grill, and to port is the entry to the cockpit that closes off with a gate.
Forward of the cockpit passageway to port is a wet bar with a sink and wastebasket covered with hinged lids and a refrigerator in the base. There’s a stainless steel grabrail on the inboard side and a total of five cup holders.
The Cockpit Lounge. Across to starboard, a J-shaped lounge has space for folks to relax with storage in the base. A table can be installed so passengers can enjoy lunch and then when it’s time for a nap, lower the table and position the sun pad that fills the cockpit seating area with padded cushions.
When not in use, the table stores in a dedicated spot under the cockpit lounge. This is smart because it keeps it nearby. Outboard in the gunwale trays are stainless-steel cup holders and grab rails. Aft, the top of the engine compartment is padded and the hatch raises with the flip of a switch to provide a look at the twin MerCruiser big-block V-8s.
A convertible backrest can be adjusted for forward or aft-facing travel. This gives the cockpit and stern section important versatility. This is where most of the entertaining action will be on the boat.
Moving forward, the 350 Sun Sport’s helm has side-by-side captain’s chairs with individual fold-up bolsters, so that the captain and a companion can customize their riding positions. There’s a centrally positioned 9” (22.9 cm) Raymarine multifunction display and to starboard is a 7” (17.8 cm) Simrad screen that is used primarily for monitoring engine functions.
Simrad and Mercury Marine work closely together and numerous engine functions can be placed on the screen.
A Racy Look. Our test boat also had analog-style gauges for drive trim position flanking the compass in a panel that’s finished in gray to reduce glare. The instrument complement also included twin tachometers, a speedometer, and a fuel gauge. Perhaps in homage to Formula’s performance heritage, our test boat had separate polished stainless steel Livorsi shift and throttle controls with drive trim buttons on the throttle levers to starboard.
Standard Joystick. Just ahead of the levers, the trim tab controls and indicators are in comfortable reach to work with the driver’s throttling hand when the levers are advanced. To facilitate slow-speed maneuvering when docking, Mercury’s Joystick Piloting System is installed as standard equipment.
Accessory switches are also bright and shiny stainless and the ignition keys are to the left of the tilt steering wheel, along with the marine VHF radio and stereo controls. The Mercury Active trim control panel is to starboard as are the trim tab buttons and indicators.
Steps just to port of the helm lead to the central walkthrough section of the windshield that leads to the 350 Sun Sport’s foredeck. There is a stainless-steel bowrail and cleats on each side of the bow, plus our test boat was equipped with the optional windlass ($7,460). We liked that the windlass is installed beneath a hinged hatch that opens on a stainless-steel pneumatic strut. It lets crew members use one hand to hold onto the rail and the other to work the windlass controls.
A sliding hatch to port opens the 350 Sun Sport’s cabin. A bug screen is standard. Wood lily pad-shaped steps lead below. Headroom is 5’10” (1.78 m).
The Head. Immediately to starboard at the bottom of the cabin stairs, the private wet head has a VacuFlush toilet, sink with a pull-up shower, and storage. The head has a 37 gallon (140 L) holding tank with a deck pump-out fitting. A macerator is optional. The hot and cold shower is fed from a 29-gallon (110 L) water tank, and there is a standard120V water heater as well as a heat exchanger for hot water. The head module is a one-piece molding that is easy to keep clean and won’t allow water to find its way into the bilge. This is an important build aspect to resist mold and mildew.
The Galley. To port, the galley has a single-burner stove recessed beneath a cutting board top, a microwave oven, and a sink plus storage. The refrigerator is across from the galley, just ahead of the head compartment and just above is a flatscreen TV.
Obviously, this galley is not intended for four-course gourmet meals. That’s what will be found at the waterfront bistro where the 350 Sun Sport will be tied up. Rather, the galley is intended for breakfast and lunch preparation, as well as sundown finger food to be served with drinks.
In the bow, the dinette can seat at least four people around the high-low table that drops down and fills in with cushions to form a V-berth. Overhead, there are two deck hatches that let in natural light and fresh air and the headliner has recessed lighting. Abaft the cabin stairs, the mid cabin has a double berth and another flatscreen TV.
The Boat. We’ve tested the 350 Sun Sport with a few different engine packages and this time around, we ran her with twin 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO ECT Bravo III duo-prop sterndrives. With two people, full fuel, no freshwater and gear, our test boat weighed an estimated 14,812 lbs. (6,719 kg). She measures 37’11” (11.56 m) with extended swim platform, has a 10’9” (3.28 m) beam, and a draft of 39” (.99 m). She has a deep-V bottom design with a deadrise measurement of 21-degrees at the transom.
The Numbers. In calm sea conditions, we ran a top speed of 53.2 mph at 5000 rpm. Best cruise came at 3500 rpm, where the boat ran 34.5 mph and burned 32.5 gph, which translated into 1.1 mpg and a range of 155 statute miles with 10% of the boat’s 162-gallon (613 L) fuel capacity in reserve. In acceleration tests, the boat planed in 4.8 seconds and ran to 20 mph in 7.1 seconds and to 30 mph in 12.8 seconds.
On the water, the non-stepped V-bottom showed the predictable maneuverability that we’ve come to expect from Formula. In turns, feel free to apply throttle to maintain boat speed. She tracks steadily through the maneuver and holds her line. Around the docks, the Mercury Joystick Piloting system makes it easy for any captain to look like a pro.
Her 21-degree deadrise is a good compromise between a comfortable ride and reasonable speed and fuel consumption. This hull geometry has served the brand well for decades and any wrinkles or bad habits were ironed out generations ago. All deep-V bottom boats are weight and trim sensitive, and with the trim system installed, she can always be on an even keel.
Formula offers eight sterndrive engines for buyers to choose from – three from MerCruiser, two from Volvo Penta, and three from Ilmor. Horsepower ranges from 350-hp with twin Mercury 6.2L engines to Ilmor’s 480-hp twin MV8 7.4L engines. As can be seen, the twin MerCruiser 430-hp 8.2L engines that we tested fall roughly in the middle of the range.
Which Engines to Select? The answer depends on the application. For those who want to keep costs down and don’t need to go over 50 mph, perhaps the 350-hp MerCruisers would be the best choice. For those that want maximum speed, then the 480-hp Ilmors seem to be indicated, but don’t expect too much more than what we got out of the 430-hp engines we tested. Formula suggests that the boat might go “56 to 59 mph” with these engines, but our experience indicates that the lower number will probably be close to actual “real conditions” speed.
Each of the three engine brands have their own features and consumers should investigate all three. Here are links to our reports on two of the engines—
Mercury 380-430-hp 8.2 L—
Ilmor 380-hp MV8 6.0L—
Volvo Penta 380-430-hp 6.2L – BoatTEST has no report on this engine.
Which Lower Unit? Also worth consideration are the lower units of each of the three brands. Again, all three have their own stories to tell. And, again, we’d say that the intended use of the boat would indicate which of the three lower units would be the best fit.
Volvo Penta was the first to introduce the sterndrive lower unit in 1957, so it has more experience in terms of years. Mercury’s racing program for the last 50 years has certainly taught them some lessons, and it has the most experience in terms of actual hard usage. And, Ilmor is using a lower unit designed and built by Yanmar for the high torque of diesel engines, and is calling it the One Drive.
Buyers can’t mix and match.
Engines and Systems. With the push of a button at the helm, the padded engine hatch raises to provide access to the twin MerCruiser big block V-8s and the whole compartment. A day hatch provides access to the optional 7.5 kW Low CO gas generator ($19,410).
Proven Methods. Formula calls on decades of building boats that withstand offshore punishment to construct the 350 Sun Sport. It features a resin-encapsulated cross-framed stringer and bulkhead system that’s bonded to the hull with biaxial laminates just like the techniques used in the company’s FASTech line. The stringers are foam-filled for vibration dampening and additional structural reinforcement is used throughout the hull bottom and at the gunwales. The hull and deck are bonded with Plexus adhesive and the hullsides are strengthened with Corecell foam.
Formula hulls are among the strongest in the industry and they can take far more punishment than her operators.
Shine On. Formula boats have long been known for their superior appearance thanks to the use of paint instead of gelcoat topsides and graphics. Axalta ChromaPremier basecoat and Imron clear coat applied in a multi-stage process took the company years to perfect. There is nothing easy about it – and that is why only Formula and one or two other companies paint their hulls.
One of Formula’s secrets, which we have documented in videos on this page, is the remarkable sanding, compounding, and buffing process that goes on after the painting process. More hours of labor are actually put into the buffing process than into the paining itself. The result is a boat with a finish that will dazzle nearly anyone and is the best in harbor on most days.
“Formula Flex” and Formula “My Way” Programs
70% of the buyers of Formula boats take advantage of the Formula Flex or Formula My Way programs. Because Formula only builds about 400 boats a year, it can take the time to allow customers to personalize their boat, so it is the only one on earth quite like it.
The Formula Flex Program covers four main areas--
1) Paint colors and graphics
2) Upholstery colors, materials, and design
3) Dashboard materials and design
4) Hardware and other detailed personalization
Buyers can choose from an extensive library at no extra cost. Materials not in the library can also be specified for an extra charge.
The Formula “My Way” program includes all of the above as well as even more customization on a cost-plus basis. The folks at Formula tell us that they will consider any proposal and if it is practical, safe, and reasonable, they will execute it in the build process.
Formula was one of the first builders to have a stem to stern 5-year warranty policy. It is a transferrable protection plan, in addition to a 10-year structure limited warranty.
Options to Consider
- • Paint and painted graphics
- • Transom-mounted propane grill
- • Air conditioning
- • Mercury’s and Volvo Penta’s anti-corrosion protection systems
- • Radar arch with Bimini or hardtop
In the mid- to high $400s, depending on engines and options.
Make no mistake about it, the Formula 350 Sun Sport is just what her name says she is – a sporty dayboat that is made for sunny days. To that end, she weighs about the same or slightly less than other boats in class, primarily because with a 10’9” (3.28 m) beam she is one of the narrowest boats in class. Those two elements, combined with twin high-horsepower engines, make her one of the fastest boats on the water in class.
The 350 Sun Sport is primarily a day boat and her fuel and water tankage are both on the low end of the range, to reflect that. Nevertheless, she can certainly weekend and hop along the coast.
Like many of the boats that Formula builds, we think of her as a sportscar on the water, in the class of an Aston-Martin or Bentley convertible. In her class, she is at the very top of the pecking order.
Because the company is family owned, there is great continuity of management (now with the third generation working in the plant), and the owners get to know to some degree most of their clients. Like most family-owned businesses, they guard the reputation of the brand fervently and aim to please.
Formula caters to the carriage trade who usually know what they want, how they want it, and are willing to pay for it.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Formula 350 Sun Sport (2019-) is 53.2 mph (85.6 kph), burning 75.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 283.88 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Formula 350 Sun Sport (2019-) is 34.5 mph (55.5 kph), and the boat gets 1.1 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.47 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 155 miles (249.45 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO ECT B3 JPS.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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