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