Biscayne Bay sits on the hip of Miami. The city owes much of its chic reputation to this section of the Intracoastal Waterway. It's become synonymous with waterfront mansions, celebrities and mega-yachts tied up where all boaters will slow down and gawk. This, as it turned out, was also a fitting location for our first test of the latest flagship in Sea Ray's bowrider series.
We'd previously tested a 25-foot bowrider in about the same spot. It had the bling to blend into the scene, but the narrower beam, slightly shallower draft and overall smaller design resulted in a hard ride when one of the yachts sent rollers our way. We had no such issues with the 300 Select EX. In fact, we gained enough confidence as the water roughened up to control the wheel with one hand while maneuvering hard turns. This proves how safe the boat will be on big, busy water like Lake Havasu or Lake of the Ozarks, where knuckles are so often white.
Sea Ray designed the 300 Select EX with that type of poise in mind. It's essentially an open-deck day cruiser. Sending the teenagers over to a beach with school friends and armfuls of snacks is a great game plan for some boats, but this investment demands more-cultivated entertaining. The cockpit lounge comes right out of the weekender genre. So does the standard radar arch and galley behind the driver. We stepped into the head (for a mock drill only) and didn't have to hunch; this is because the deep hull allowed the floor to be dropped lower. Former NASCAR star Rusty Wallace bought an early version to take friends with high expectations onto Lake Norman in North Carolina.
Also playing into the big-water application is the fact that we found no major modular components on the 300 Select EX. The entertainment center, head and swim platform are all molded into the deck. This helps explain why we heard no disturbing rattles when running through wakes.
The boat's cruiser characteristics carry over to the helm, where a double-wide helm seat faces a sprawling instrument panel. Our test boat was equipped with VesselView from SmartCraft, which displays a complete engine analysis. There's additional room for navigation screens like a NorthStar Explorer 550. Sea Ray is offering MerCruiser's Axius drives on twin-engine applications. The 300 Select EX is the smallest boat on which Axius is available. The drives rotate independently, so captains can use a joystick to dock the boat with a thumb and two fingers, literally. That's taking poise to a new level altogether.
• Split seats on the transom replace traditional storage and will be the most popular hang-out at marinas and beaches.
• Radar arch has a wakeboard tower and Bimini top integrated for multiple functions and less hassle.
• In-floor storage is boxed with starboard material and PVC liner under a heavy-duty hatch and gas-assist strut.
• Bow has long, wide seats with a natural slope — impossible to find on smaller boats.
At A Glance...
This kind of size, seaworthiness and class are rare finds outside the cruiser category.
Length Overall(without extended platform): 29'6"
Dry Weight: 7,700 lb.
Water Capacity: 24 gal.
Fuel Capacity: 130 gal.
Maximum HP: 640
MSRP (as tested): $176,749
Test Engine: Mercruiser 350 MAG MPI
Test Prop: 14.675x21 Rev 4, Bravo 1
Test Load: People (550 lb.), Fuel (100 gal.)
Top Speed: 53.0 mph @ 4,800 rpm
Time to Plane: 5.2 sec.
Time to 30 MPH: 14.0 sec.
Minimum Planing Speed: 20.0 mph @ 2,600 rpm