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Review: Formula 350 CBR

A bowrider-cruiser hybrid sure to please boaters who long for adventures beyond the confines usually associated with sport boats.

You’ll find the new 350 CBR under the “Bowrider” heading on the Formula website, but don’t be fooled. Yes, this sporty vessel has an open bow provided with seating — long, deep, tri-tone lounges that convert to a Maharaja-size sun pad — but that’s about where any similarities end.

Shall we count the ways? Well, first of all, there’s the 35-foot length and nearly 11-foot beam. I’ve known much smaller cruising boats. Then, there’s the doublewide helm, port and starboard settees (the latter U-shaped) and rear-facing sun lounge overlooking the swim platform. Oh yeah, and the cabin with double berth, sofa, mini galley and enclosed head compartment.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of other bowriders. Does it?

Now, to be fair, the “CBR” in the 350’s name stands for Crossover Bowrider. It’s not like Formula is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. In fact, you could say it’s just the opposite. Designer John Adams and crew are pulling the wool off everyone’s eyes, showing them what a little ingenuity and a lot of expertise can do when given room to play. The result is a bowrider-cruiser hybrid that’s sure to please day boaters who long for adventures beyond the confines usually associated with sport boats.

With a vessel this big and bold, you’re sure to make friends. Fortunately, the 350 CBR can host a party. In addition to the multiple seating areas mentioned above, the Formula has an Igloo cooler in the bow; cockpit wet bar with sink, Corian countertop, 17.5-quart cooler, trash container and optional fridge; and 24 drink holders. A standard Clarion stereo with CD player and eight speakers (six outside and two inside) supplies the tunes.

A digital remote at the helm controls the sound system and fits right in with the slick Livorsi gauges, Dino wood-and-metal wheel and chrome switches. The whole helm is a thing of beauty, set within a liquid black dash with a double-top-stitched eyebrow to cut down on any sun glare. There’s room for an optional, flush-mounted Raymarine chartplotter or radar, as well as a flat for mounting the optional sterndrive joystick control.            

Standard propulsion is twin MerCruiser 377 MAG ECT Bravo Three DTS engines. Power options include both MerCruiser and Volvo gas sterndrives up to 640 horsepower total.

Storage is everywhere: under seats, in lockers, in the floor. A starboard side trunk back by the aft-facing transom lounge, along with storage under the lounge itself, holds lines and fenders, plus all of the toys that make a day on the water so much fun. An optional extended swim platform adds even more acreage at water’s edge, but trust me, you won’t feel crowded with the standard one.

What really make the 350 CBR work as a cruiser are the 21-degree hull and the location of the cabin. The deep-V gives the cabin height: 5 feet, 10 inches of headroom to be exact. The amidships placement — the cabin is accessed via a centerline door at the helm — allows it span to the width of the boat. Many builders who’ve tackled the crossover concept try to cram the cabin under the consoles, which usually results in a half-cabin or “sleeper” area. Not here.

Speaking of the cabin, it’s done with the refined materials and fine craftsmanship that you’d expect from a brand of Formula’s stature. That translates to solid wood steps, wood grain-finish flooring and a cedar-lined hanging locker for starters. The galley at the forward end of the interior has a microwave, concealed sink and pullout stainless-steel refrigerator, plus a full bank of drawers, storage cupboard with wastebasket — even a paper towel holder. To starboard, the head features a Corian-topped vanity, sink, shower and VacuFlush toilet.

An optional HDTV/DVD combo is to port, opposite the Ultraleather sofa. A double berth with memory foam mattress is located aft, so there’s no need to convert a lounge or dinette for sleeping. Use it for overnights, weekend trips or just for getting out of the sun and relaxing.

Above all, the Formula 350 CBR imparts a feeling of freedom with its all-in-one design, amazing space and confidence-building construction. It’s the sort of boat that, no matter where you go, people know you’ve arrived. www.formulaboats.com

Formula 350 CBR
Length Overall: 35 feet
Beam: 10 feet, 9 inches
Draft: 3 feet, 4 inches
Weight: 13,470 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 172 gallons
Water Capacity: 29 gallons
Power: (2) MerCruiser 377 MAG ECT Bravo Three DTS
Base Price: $325,780

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