On a hot summer Sunday in North Miami, my husband Gary and I stepped aboard the Formula 380 Super Sport Crossover (SSC). As we cast off the lines and got underway, I reminisced about the adventures I had over the past quarter century sea trialing Formulas for magazines.
Some of these trials were aboard high-performance Formula models that flew through (or I should say, over) the water on the company’s signature FAS3TECH hull. Although the 380 SSC we were aboard that morning is a coupe-style boat designed for luxury day cruising rather than racing or poker runs, its deep-V hull is capable of speeds up to 45 knots when powered by the twin 520-hp Mercury Racing stern drives.
“Its bloodline comes from the FAS3TECH,” said John Adams, the longtime designer of the Formula line. “It’s a deep-V with 21-degree deadrise. It’s a stepped bottom with two steps.”
The 380 SSC’s high-performance hull and stern drive propulsion system are more than a nod to Formula’s race-boat heritage. They also give owners who grew up on stern drive boats an alternative to the ever-growing number of outboard-powered boats on the market today. (If you are an outboard person, an outboard version of the 380 SSC is available.)
The 380 is the latest model in Formula’s Super Sport Crossover series, a slightly smaller sibling to the 400 SSC and 430 SSC. “What’s interesting about how we developed that line is that we started with a larger boat, the 430, and moved down,” Adams said, adding that if he and the Formula design team had started small and moved up instead, the 380 might not have had all the amenities and accommodations it now features.
It was clear that the Formula 380 SSC, with its enormous hydraulic swim platform, 11-foot 6-inch beam, covered cockpit seating area and bow cockpit would be the ideal vessel for families looking for fun in the sun. The boat’s single-level, open layout facilitates traffic flow and accommodates a large number of passengers.
It was tempting to stop at a sandbar and launch the water toys (our test boat had an optional SUP rack on its platform), but we were on a mission that morning to head to Boca Chita Key south of Miami. In choppy, 2-foot seas and 13 knots of breeze, we ran at a comfortable cruising speed of 27 knots at 3500 rpm—ably demonstrating the offshore capabilities.
Driving the 380 SSC is enjoyable. Thanks to the coach roof, it is protected from the elements. The starboard helm is faced by a three-person seat with flip-up bolsters. The boat accelerated smoothly through the rpm range, only requiring small moves on the throttles. There was a bit of bow rise as it came onto plane; then it was full speed ahead. The ride was smooth and comfortable as we headed south through the ocean and then turned into Biscayne Bay.
I opened the door to the cuddy and was impressed by its size and the number of amenities. Headroom in the main area is 6 feet, 6 inches. This air-conditioned inner sanctum probably will be utilized mostly for its wet head and as a cool spot to get some respite from the sun. But it also offers two large berths and a compact galley, giving this day boat true weekender versatility. —Louisa Beckett
Displ.: 20,500 lbs.
Fuel: 250 gal.
Water: 43 gal.
Power: 2/520-hp Mercury Racing stern drives
Price: $1.04 million
Cruise Speed: 27 knots
Top Speed: 45 knots