BLUR­RING THE LINES

BOATS WITH CROSS­OVER QUAL­I­TIES EX­CEL AT A WIDE VA­RI­ETY OF ON-THE-WA­TER AC­TIV­I­TIES.

Soundings - - Contents - BY GARY RE­ICH

Liv­ing the busy life? You’re not alone. Cross­over boats make the few pre­cious days you have on the wa­ter com­fort­able and ex­cit­ing, with­out all the main­te­nance.

Alarm at 6 a.m. Shower. Make break­fast. Take the kids to school. Com­mute to work. Save the world in the of­fice. Com­mute home. Cook din­ner. Do home­work with kids. Put kids to sleep. Col­lapse on the couch. Go to bed. Wash, rinse, re­peat. It’s no won­der that when the week­end comes around, we have pre­cious lit­tle left­over en­ergy—much less time—to think about boat­ing. The good news is that the pace of our lives is in­flu­enc­ing the de­sign of new boats. His­tor­i­cally, peo­ple sought out boats for a spe­cific ac­tiv­ity: cen­ter con­soles for an­glers, ski boats for wa­ter-sports en­thu­si­asts, trawlers for long-dis­tance cruis­ers and, well, you get the idea. To­day, those lines are blur­ring with a new class of boats called crossovers.

Yes, some builders pre­fer to call them day­boats. But what­ever term you use, these crossovers can be any­thing from a cen­ter con­sole with cabin-cruiser ameni­ties to a bowrider-style boat with fish­ing and wa­ter-sports ac­cou­trements. They are for folks who en­gage in a wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties and who want to max­i­mize their time on the wa­ter.

“We’ve been on this jour­ney for quite some time now,” says For­mula Boats Pres­i­dent Scott Porter. In 1994, deal­ers asked For­mula for a wider, more open bowrider. Those re­quests led to the 280 Sun Sport, which evolved into the even wider-bodied 330 and 350 Cross­over Bowrider mod­els. They be­came the fore­run­ner of to­day’s of­fer­ings, which fam­i­lies use for all kinds of things.

“The suc­cess of the 330 and 350 gave us the con­fi­dence to pro­duce ful­lon cross­over/day­boats like the 430 SSC and ASC and, more re­cently, our new 400 SSC,” Porter says. “Our typ­i­cal 430 buy­ers are mar­ried cou­ples and mar­ried cou­ples with grand­kids. I ex­pect the 400 SSC to be very sim­i­lar in that re­gard. Whether we like it or not, chil­dren of­ten be­come bored, and our own­ers like the op­tion of hav­ing an air-con­di­tioned space be­low where the kids can re­lax and play games or en­joy a video.”

Hinck­ley Yachts is also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­mand for cross­over-style boats. Its new Sport Boat lineup in­cludes a cen­ter con­sole, the Sport Boat 40c, and a soon-to-be-launched ex­press, the Sport Boat 40x. “We are see­ing our cus­tomers’ lives be­com­ing ever more time-pressed at the same time that out­board-pow­ered boats are be­gin­ning to reach per­for­mance thresh­olds that are chang­ing the way peo­ple use and ex­pe­ri­ence their boats,” says Hinck­ley’s Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Peter Sal­adino. “The Sport Boats bring a level of Hinck­ley re­fine­ment in ma­te­ri­als, con­struc­tion, prod­uct per­for­mance and ex­pe­ri­ence to own­ers in­ter­ested in out­board-pow­ered boats in an easy-to-main­tain for­mat.”

Tiara Sport, a divi­sion of Tiara Yachts, re­cently de­buted the Sport 34 LS, the se­cond (af­ter a 38) in a line of cen­ter-con­sole mod­els. And the builder be­lieves there’s still a lot more cus­tomer de­mand to be sat­is­fied. “We are plan­ning on play­ing be­tween 27 and 43 feet with mul­ti­ple lines of [Sport] prod­ucts within those lengths,” says An­drew Bartlett, di­rec­tor of de­sign for Tiara Sport. “Ex­pect to see more lux­ury cen­ter con­soles as well as lux­ury bowrid­ers.”

Cross­over de­signs tend to in­clude space and fea­tures for fish­ing, wa­ter sports and cruis­ing, with crea­ture com­forts above and belowdecks. Per­for­mance is a big part of the equa­tion too, as is a lay­out that doesn’t re­quire oo­dles of time to main­tain.

Open tran­soms and wide swim plat­forms, such as the ones found on For­mula’s 400 SSC and 430 SSC and ASC mod­els, are com­mon among crossovers. They make get­ting in and out of the wa­ter easy no mat­ter whether you’re de­ploy­ing a wake­boarder or tak­ing a dip. Folks with a fish­ing fo­cus pre­fer open tran­soms too, though some peo­ple say out­boards can get in the way of the fun. “Out­boards can some­times tem­per the ul­ti­mate open-tran­som de­sign,” Porter says, “but we feel the in­te­rior space and the per­for­mance they af­ford is worth the trade-off.”

Cross­over seat­ing plans can be changed to suit the ac­tiv­ity at hand. For in­stance, Tiara’s 38 LS has a cock­pit seat­ing and dinette unit that ro­tates 180 de­grees. “It pro­vides for­ward-fac­ing com­fort and safety while un­der­way, then trans­forms to an aft-fac­ing lounge when the boat is at rest so pas­sen­gers can en­joy the wa­ter or a beau­ti­ful sun­set,” Bartlett says. The builder’s 34 LS has a cock­pit bench that slides for­ward to in­crease tran­som space for wa­ter sports or fish­ing. Other crossovers have seat­ing that flips up and out of the way.

We have also seen on many cross­over decks cook­ing hubs with re­frig­er­a­tion, food prepa­ra­tion space and grills. These ar­eas are usu­ally near so­cial zones for fam­ily and friends. For­ward lounges of­ten cen­ter around a din­ing ta­ble. “On the Sport Boat 40c, we’ve de­signed an ex­pan­sive for­ward J-seat­ing area,” Sal­adino says. “The stern area is de­fined by a lean­ing-post amenity with op­tional ice maker and elec­tric grill.”

To ex­pand their role as overnighters, crossovers also have air­con­di­tioned cab­ins with sleep­ing berths, heads and show­ers, stowage and more. Hinck­ley’s Sport Boat 40c, for ex­am­ple, has a cabin with a gal­ley, head, shower, teak and holly sole, and set­tee that con­verts to a queen-size berth. A cap­puc­cino ma­chine comes stan­dard. Cross­over mod­els from Tiara and For­mula have sim­i­lar ac­com­mo­da­tions.

At the stern, 4-stroke out­board power on crossovers is out­pac­ing gaso­line and diesel in­boards, as well as the com­plex, belowdecks sys­tems needed to run them. The Hinck­ley 40c has a triple rack of 300-hp Mer­cury Ver­ado 4-strokes good for a top end around 43 knots with a 26-knot cruise. The Tiara 34 LS uses a pair of 350-hp Yamaha F350s for sim­i­lar per­for­mance. For­mula’s 400 SSC has quad 350-hp Mer­cury Ver­a­dos good for 53 knots of top end and a 38-knot cruise.

“We cer­tainly could have built a stern­drive boat when we con­ceived the 430 and 400, but out­boards gave us the mix of per­for­mance, re­li­a­bil­ity and in­te­rior space we needed to make the de­sign work,” Porter says.

Sal­adino says out­boards gave the new Hinck­ley 40c off­shore per­for­mance that wouldn’t oth­er­wise be achiev­able. “We’ve worked closely with Ray Hunt De­sign to de­sign a boat from the out­set that is per­for­mance-op­ti­mized for out­board propul­sion but main­tains the re­fine­ment char­ac­ter­is­tics of a Hinck­ley,” he says. “The re­sults show in stiff­ness and re­li­a­bil­ity.”

For easy cleanup back at the dock, builders of cross­over boats are aban­don­ing teak and ex­otic deck­ing ma­te­ri­als in fa­vor of lower-main­te­nance op­tions. For­mula uses SeaDek foam deck­ing that’s nice on the feet and re­quires a sim­ple hose down. Tiara’s 34 LS has vir­tu­ally no wood­work, and its ex­te­rior up­hol­stery rinses down. Even Hinck­ley— known for beau­ti­ful bright­work—is keep­ing wood trim to a min­i­mum on its Sport Boat 40c, re­plac­ing it with a syn­thetic teak that’s dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from the real thing. “The ex­te­rior ar­ti­sanal teak pro­vides a wash-down for­mat while main­tain­ing the Hinck­ley aes­thetic,” Sal­adino says.

Per­for­mance? Check. Lux­ury and com­fort? Check. Con­vert­ibil­ity and in­no­va­tion? Got that, too. Easy to own and care for? You bet. Se­ri­ously, what’s not to love about to­day’s cross­over boats?

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