When a boat search gets narrowed down to two models, it may seem like the process is nearing its end. But when one needs to decide from two competing models in the same stable – and that stable is Formula Boats – the decision, while it can be fun, may present some paralyzing questions. See if we can help answer some of the questions here.
The Formula 330 CBR and 350 CBR may create a soul-searching challenge for some buyers, since the two models may force them to get down to the details of what their needs really are, and which boat will suit them better.
While an indecisive boat buyer may be well versed in this category of boat, it’s important to define what a crossover bowrider is, which is a bowrider design with an open bow seating area, but that also offers a head compartment and a galley, and also has a cabin, which allows privacy and the ability to overnight aboard.
Formula’s Crossover Bowrider (CBR) designs offer a range of customizable features, as part of the FormulaFlex program, choosing the hull colors and graphics, as well as interior choices including gelcoat finishes, upholstery and more to make the boat a statement of the owner’s individuality. Even more, the FormulaFlex MyWay lets buyers upgrade with even more color choices.
Between these two boats, only the prospective owner will be able to decide which one makes the most sense, and it comes down to features.
The Formula 330 CBR is a bowrider and so we first must look at the bow area, which offers versatile seating thanks to numerous removable cushion sections, tables, and filler cushions that offer wraparound seating with bolsters serving as backrests, forward-facing seating allowing feet on deck, lounge-style seating, and full sun pad treatment, with a filler backrest cushion even blocking off the entry passageway offset to port. Recesses beneath the coaming bolsters allow for grabrails and drink holders to be within reach of much of this seating.
The cockpit is not only the center of the boat but also the central gathering area. Two L-shaped settees make for opposing conversational seating areas and both will accommodate the standard triangular pedestal table. Flipping the helm seatback forward creates the forward seats and the aft seats can also convert to aft-facing seats – so the cockpit can accommodate more people – when the 330 CBR isn’t underway. The refreshment center is a staple of the layout. Here it is placed to port and includes a molded sink with swivel faucet, picnicware storage, a Corian countertop and underneath is an optional cockpit refrigerator. A starboard side walkthrough allows access to the aft seating and the swim platform. The aft sun pad can be made into chaise lounges by flipping the aft seatbacks. These seats should only be utilized at times when the 330 CBR isn’t underway.
The cabin is accessed from a dash-integrated door adjacent to the helm. This provides for a centerline access creating more space down below. The entry is highlighted with solid wood steps with non-skid treads and full standing headroom at 5’11” (1.80).
Once inside, this cabin is mostly designed for sleeping, not gathering, and that makes the space well suited to its task. A seat is just behind the sleeping area and it gets filled in with a cushion that stores inside a cutout just forward, under the bow.
The helm layout is efficient and uncluttered. A Ritchie compass is flanked by twin outdrive trim gauges. To port are a pair of analog tachometers with a speedometer just above. In the center, Formula normally installs a standard Garmin 547 plotter that, on our test boat, was replaced with an optional Raymarine e97 Hybrid Touch plotter. To the right, a fuel gauge lies next to a chain counter. Just below is a 7” (17.7 cm) VesselView display showing the systems status with selectable displays.
The bow seating area on the Formula 350 CBR is anything but an afterthought, thanks to a 7’8” (2.33 m) width on the aft end and 4’5” (1.35 m) at the bow. Huge storage boxes are underneath the seats, including a forward one with dedicated space for an Igloo cooler and a trash receptacle. As on the 330 CBR, filler cushions and tables make this space flexible for dining, socializing, or sunning, including the fully enclosed treatment that adds a filler backrest cushion to block off the entry passageway.
The cockpit features Formula’s contoured seating. No less than 24 drink holders are scattered throughout the bow and cockpit and storage is under most seats and in the deck. To port is a molded cockpit wet bar with an integrated sink, Corian countertop, trash receptacle, and a 17.5 quart (16.6 L) carry-on cooler. A dual-voltage cockpit refrigerator is also standard.
The cabin is accessed from a centerline entryway next to the helm. Three solid wood floating steps lead to a woodgrain finish deck and a full 5'10" (1.8 m) of headroom. The cabin will be finished in high-gloss cherry or ash with cherry or Baltic Birch woodgrain finish decking throughout.
Several features of the cabin indicate that it's designed to primarily accommodate two people. Immediately to starboard is a double-wide lounge. Directly across is a chest of drawers, storage cabinets, and an HD TV/DVD combo. Directly ahead of the stairs is a centerline-mounted mini galley with microwave, concealed sink and pullout stainless steel refrigerator. Just to starboard is a private head with a molded vanity, Corian countertop, sink, shower, and standard VacuFlush head. Thanks to the unique use of space, the aft end of the cabin is taken up by a full-size double berth with memory-foam mattress, meaning there is no need to convert a lounge to a berth.
To the port side of the helm is a double-wide lounge allowing one person to face forward or aft with his or her feet up, or two people to relax and have a conversation with the captain at the helm. The helm features double-wide seating allowing a second set of eyes to be facing forward. The dash has been completely redesigned from the SS series and includes Livorsi gauges against a liquid black dash with metallic accents. The steering wheel will be a new design and the entire panel will be accented by an upholstered dash eyebrow.
Only the buyer can decide which boat will be best for his or her kind of boating. If overnighting on board is going to be a regular occurrence, it makes sense to give serious consideration to the Formula 350 CBR. If the overnights will be occasional, and the cabin will go mostly unused, then perhaps the 330 CBR would be a wise choice. But other factors will almost definitely enter into the equation. Since Formula builds a premium boat, buyers who have come this far in their decision process will be well served regardless of which Formula Crossover Bowrider they choose.
Review the full captain’s report of the Formula 350 CBR here.
Review the full captain’s report of the Formula 330 CBR here.