Formula calls it a dayboat. But I'd call it a cruiser. No, it sure doesn't look like a bloated bleach bottle, an NBA player couldn't stand upright belowdecks, and it couldn't accommodate your local Cub Scout Pack. Instead, Formula's 350 Sun Sport is sleek and low-slung, a delight on the eyes. Its design prioritizes ride quality, superb handling, and enjoyment both on deck and in the water. Yet it boasts a full galley, a generous head, a large forward berth, and Art Deco decor, all of which ensures weekend luxury for two. The 350 Sun Sport is a boat for those who have learned to appreciate quality. It's also a good fit if you like to cruise with others-as long as they have their boats and won't be staying aboard yours. Interested? This test tells all.
Sure, the 350 Sun Sport could be called eye candy, but its sleek, low-windage profile is practical. It prevents the boat from blowing around like a leaf on a pond, which makes docking easier. Underway, it has a light feel thanks to power-assisted steering, plenty of horsepower, and refined planing surfaces. Lever the throttles and you'll feel it, too. My tester had twin 420-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG HO Sea Core DTS Bravo Three stern drives, delivering a horsepower-to-weight ratio of 15 to 1-any number under 20 is fast in my book. I wrung a thrilling 58.4 mph out the 350 Sun Sport. That's the kind of performance I'd expect from the Regal 3350 Sport Cruiser, which hit 51 mph with smaller twin 320-hp stern drives. Power the 3350 Sport Cruiser with twin 420-hp Volvo Penta 8.1 GXi DuoProp stern drives ($202,493) and it boasts a 13:1 power-to-weight ratio, and I'd expect a top end in the high 50s, despite it being 7" wider than the 350 Sun Sport.
The 350 Sun Sport's ride and handling are exhilarating. At 35 mph, we gleefully creased short, steep Gulf of Mexico 3-footers. Never content without trying to induce a rattle, I accelerated to 46 mph. At this speed, in that sea, crew had to sit down or hold on. But the boat remained surefooted. Trying for top speed in such a nasty chop would be destructive, so I spun around, headed 25 degrees shy of directly downsea, and put the throttles in the corner. The 350 Sun Sport ran that quartering course, carrying its bow proudly and its beam level while requiring little attention. My book states that any boat that tracks straight and stays dry while quartering downsea is a good ride.
You control the ride and power from a double helm bench. Each section flips up to form a bolster for the captain and mate. The seat is adjustable and has a footrest. Sliding out from behind the wheel is a snap, regardless of the seat position or angle of the tilt wheel. I have permanent bruises on my thighs from banging against steering wheels, caused by boats without the helm ergonomics to provide a range of comfortable sitting or leaning positions as well as easy access to controls.
The helm is a nonglare console styled in minimalist cool. There's gobs of room for electronics, which brings me to the compass. Instead of a top-mounted model with a flat card, Formula uses a small-diameter front-reading compass, surface-mounted flush in the gauge cluster. This saves space, but any boat needs a good compass. And large-diameter, flat-card compasses are more stable and easier to read than front-reading ones.