Lots of boats are good at style, but they are as impractical as a thunder boat. Many are good at performance and so narrowly focused on it, they leave out everyday fun. But sometimes naval architects draw a bead on style, speed and one-level deck functionality and hit the bull’s-eye, as did Formula’s longtime designer John Adams with the Formula 430 Super Sport Crossover.
Like all Formula boats, performance is the cardinal pillar of the 430 SSC, and to accomplish it, the company surprised us with outboard power and lots of it. Four Mercury Racing Verado 400 hp outboards lean over the transom like Thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs. Once you’re past the startling image of outboards powering a 43-foot cruiser, you realize that the Mercury-Formula hookup is the ideal blending of technologies.
Like Formula, Mercury developed the Verado to address every facet of the operator experience, with features such as integrated automatic trim (Mercury calls it Active Trim), silky smooth electronic throttle and shift, joystick steering, effortless power steering and Wi-Fi connectivity. The latter makes for many versatile options for monitoring engine functions, oil life, battery levels and more.
Mercury’s expertise in propulsion and integrated engineering makes it a perfect mate for Formula’s boatbuilding ethic and drive to develop and adopt new technologies, including Formula’s first-of-a-kind Fastech hull that, early in the push for all-composite construction, used a fiberglass stringer grid bonded to the hull and foam-filled for rigidity. Formula through-bolts and chemically bonds the deck to this system to give the owner maximum speed for the horsepower and optimum control that transmits the running nuances from the prop through the keel to the helm deck. The effect gives the operator of a Formula an intimate feel of the seas.
We joysticked into a narrow canal, then twisted the knob, executing an effortless 180-degree pivot. At the inlet, we pressed the digital binnacles forward and instantly noted that each degree of advancement gave meaningful, satisfying throttle response. The 430 SSC reached a full-throttle speed of 63.4 mph.
Then we did what you might never do with a 43-foot boat. We started feeding in rudder, turning sharply port to starboard, enjoying the crisp, intuitive, predictable and exciting feel for the road — ahem, water.
Boston Whaler’s 420 Outrage ($896,409 with quad 350 Verados and joystick piloting), which was Boating’s 2015 Boat of the Year, delivers luxury, performance and fishing. Highlights include convertible lounges in the bow and a below-deck cabin, and it boasts all of the integrated controls, like joystick and digital controls and even tablet integration.
But there is far more to Formula’s 430 SSC than the excitement experienced at the helm. Step aboard easily from the broad stern platform. A synthetic teak sole ensures secure footing, and the light color keeps bare feet cool on hot days.
The best part is there is nearly 40 feet of deck space from the first step off the platform to the bow. And, most astonishing, it is all on one level. Nobody stubs toes or trips on annoying deck steps. Even more rewarding, traffic flow allows crew to pass without stumbling on each other.
The short step up to the deck is flanked by the shore-power locker and a starboard sun lounge. The former also sports a freshwater washdown and battery switches for each of the four Mercury Racing Verado outboards. The sun lounge shares a power-adjustable seat back with the cockpit seating. This deck is enclosed on three sides and air-conditioned. A power sunroof and removable side curtains provide open-air options.
The helm itself has a triplewide, power-adjustable seat. Navigation equipment boasts integrated Raymarine engine instrumentation, also accessible in the cabin via LaunchPort Wi-Fi to tablet controls. Slick.
Step past the helm to triplewide, forward-facing bow seating complete with armrests and handy cup holders. Raise the motorized cocktail table and relax or dine on a meal prepped on the outdoor kitchen back in the aft cockpit. Or just catch your breath. There is much more fun in the cabin located only a few highly varnished hardwood steps below deck.
There you are surrounded by rich woodwork accentuated by a heavily lacquered dining table and synthetic leather that softly pampers but offers the durability and water resistance of the toughest vinyl.
Formula proclaims the 430 SSC as its new flagship, and if I were John Adams, the storied designer of this and the entire Formula lineup, I’d be kicking back, blowing the smoke off my gun barrel, and carving a very ornate, very new notch in my stock.
* Helm deck can be enclosed with side curtains and overhead sun roof.
* Concealed windlass has a chain counter.
* Cabin has three double USB charging outlets.
* Engine rigging is concealed by hatches that complete the swim platform.
* Outboard power forces water egress to port and starboard.
* Great deal of cockpit space is committed to the aft-facing sun lounge.
Price: $1,346,460 (as tested)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engines: Quad Mercury Verado 400R outboards
Drive/Prop: Mercury Revolution 145/8" x 19" 4-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 260 gal.
Water on Board: 50 gal.
Crew Weight: 550 lb.
Formula Boats - Decatur, Indiana; 800-736-7685; formulaboats.com