Big Bowrider Roundup: Three Great Models for 2016

Ten years ago most any bowrider over about 25 to 27 feet in length would have been considered truly huge by most standards. Today, however, these boats make up the middle of what is an ever-expanding range of bowriders on the market—some pushing well into the 40-foot plus range. In fact, these super-size-me bowriders challenge most folks’ conceptions of what a bowrider really is. With that in mind we’ve selected a couple of larger bowriders that caught our eye recently, as well as one truly huge example measuring 44 feet in length. Let’s cast off the lines and see what these big-boy bowriders are all about.

 

Crownline 270 SS

If you know anything about Crownline Boats, you know they’re graceful, elegant, and chock-full of rich trim and comfy, buttery upholstery components. That’s probably why the builder’s 270 SS bowrider model caught our eye at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.

Crownline 270 SS

Crownline 270 SS

At first glance the Crownline 270 SS’s lines have the qualities not just of a bowrider, but also of a watersports boat, an express cruiser, and a runabout. And while that might sound like an awkward juxtaposition, the 270 SS carries all of these design elements with a lot of style. A two-tone paint scheme, swooping Bimini arch, and flowing sheer line help anchor the 270 SS’s smart looks.

Onboard at the stern you’ll find an expansive integrated swim platform with no-slip decking. It’s equipped with a drop-down swim ladder that should make getting in and out of the water a cinch. Just ahead of it at the transom is a convertible lounge that can do double duty as a forward- or aft-facing chaise longue. Simply moving its swinging seatback changes its orientation.

Farther forward, the cockpit features twin swiveling captain’s chairs behind a wraparound windshield and split console. An enclosed head sits inside the port console while the helm is situated to starboard. The aforementioned convertible chaise longue forms an L-shaped lounge in the cockpit with the seatback flipped aft. There’s a companion bench just opposite it, and all cockpit seating has tons of stowage cleverly hidden beneath it.

Specifications:

  • Length: 27’3”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft: 3’3”
  • Deadrise: 19 deg.
  • Displacement: 5,200 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 55 gal.
  • Water Capacity: 15 gal.

The comfy bow seating area is U-shaped, with the bottom of the “U” facing forward. The area can be used either as a group seating area or more intimately by two folks relaxing in the pair of forward-facing lounges. The whole setup is very roomy and comfy. There’s also lots of easily accessible stowage beneath the seat bottoms, which are fitted with gas-assist struts. A pedestal table can be fitted to enhance the bow area’s entertaining capabilities.

Standard power in the 270 SS is a 300-horsepower MerCruiser 350 MAG/Bravo 3 powertrain, which is capable of propelling it up to a top speed of around 45 mph. Best cruise is around 29 to 31 mph, where the MerCruiser will sip about 10 gallons of fuel per hour. A 430-horsepower MerCruiser is an option for those with a need for speed. You know, like 50-plus mph worth of speed. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, performance-wise, especially for a bow rider.

So, what sort of folks will want to consider the 270 SS as a candidate for their boat-buying dollars? We figure anyone with a mess of family and friends to entertain will want to check out this well-appointed bowrider that has a touch of speed and performance baked in.

 

Sea Ray 280 SLX

Brand new this year, having been introduced at the Miami International Boat Show, the Sea Ray 280 SLX is a bowrider that crosses into day boat territory with its expansive cockpit and luxurious and comfortable seating accommodations. As with any boat from an experienced builder like Sea Ray, we were expecting big things from this boat. And Sea Ray didn’t disappoint.

Sea Ray 280 SLX

Sea Ray 280 SLX

Shuffled onboard as part of a media event, almost a dozen marine journalists and their gear were swallowed up in the 280 SLX’s interior. It’s logical that the boat should seem a little bit roomier than other bowriders its size because it carries a nine-foot beam. And yes, that means you’ll need a permit to trailer it in most states. Still, the compromise seems worth it. Our group easily spread out in the 280 SLX’s three distinct social zones, which includes the spacious bow area, a large cockpit seating scheme, and an expansive swim platform with adjacent transom seating. Transformer-like seating that’s richly upholstered and convertible enhances relaxation, but also adds utility with lots of easily accessed and generous stowage underneath. We also liked that each person was never out of reach of his or her own cup holder or personal stowage cubby.

Specifications:

  • Length: 28’6”
  • Beam: 9’0”
  • Draft: 3’8”
  • Deadrise: 21 deg.
  • Displacement: 7,018 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 90 gal.

Gizmos and gadgets can either make a boat infinitely better or painfully annoying. So, when we saw Sea Ray’s new Dynamic Display touch-screen interface sandwiched into the 280 SLX’s dash, we were skeptical. But to our surprise the touch screen display made operating the 280 SLX’s systems much easier than a conventional array of control switches and dials. You can even electrically actuate the clever hinged Bimini tower with the touch screen display. It’s hinged in such a way that it stows flat across the cockpit, doing double-duty as a boat cover. Super cool, once you’ve seen it in person.

Under the engine hatch you’ll find a 350-horsepower MerCruiser® 6.2L MPI ECT Bravo III w/ DTS Sterndrive as standard, though you can up the horsepower ante with as many as 430 ponies, courtesy an 8.2-liter MerCruiser gasoline inboard. With those options you’ll likely never want for performance.

You’re not likely to run out of room for comfortably entertaining your friends and family on the 280 SLX. If we were in the market for a bowrider, this one would be near the top of our list.

 

Four Winns Horizon H440

Before you say it, we know what you’re thinking: Why in the heck would anyone want a 44-foot bowrider. Luckily we have a lot of good answers to that question, thanks to the new H440 model from Four Winns. Introduced at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Horizon H440 takes what’s usually a lot of wasted foredeck space on a typical express cruiser and turns it into an incredibly useful relaxation zone.

Four Winns Horizon H440

Four Winns Horizon H440

Accessed via a set of steps that lead up through the windshield and then down into the foredeck from the cockpit, the entertaining area in the bow is really well done and incredibly roomy. Occupants can lie back and take in the view facing forward in a couple of chaise longues or tuck in around a beautiful center-mounted teak table that sits inside the overall C-shaped seating scheme. A piece of custom canvas can be fitted overhead, adding to the overall comfort factor.

Back in the cockpit is even more entertaining space,  centered around a large wraparound L-shaped lounge with teak table. A wet bar is close at hand, while the helm and its companion seating are situated just forward . There’s tons of additional outdoor fun space as well, with a huge upholstered transom bench and a massive hydraulic swim platform that can be raised and lowered to facilitate getting people or toys into and out of the water.

Standard power on the H440 is a pair of Volvo Penta 370-horsepower turbo diesels mated to IPS 500 pods. A pair of 435-horsepower Volvo Penta turbo diesels with IPS 600 pods is an option. And yes, the IPS system nets you the bliss of joystick steering and control, which is awfully handy come docking time. Expect top speeds in the mid 30-mph range, with a nice cruise in the mid 20s.

Specifications:

  • Length: 43’6”
  • Beam: 13’4”
  • Draft: 3’8”
  • Deadrise: 19 deg.
  • Displacement: 26,000 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 300 gal.
  • Water Capacity: 85 gal.

Because of the walk-through that leads up from the cockpit to the forward bow lounge, access to the belowdecks spaces is offset to port. Three steps down from the companionway land you in the main cabin. To port is a bench dinette with twin teak pedestal tables. Opposite to starboard is the galley, which has a refrigerator, microwave, sink, and a surprising amount of stowage space.

Just aft of the galley in the midcabin area is the master stateroom, which has a queen-size berth and is open to the main cabin. A VIP/guest stateroom is situated in the bow and a single—and very roomy—enclosed head and shower is shared by all. Lots of natural light percolates below to all areas thanks to a plethora of opening hatches and hullside portlights. Cherry woodwork and cream-colored upholstery add richness to the feel below and there’s way more space down here than you’d expect.

Four Winns has done a spectacular job of combining the DNA of two great boat designs—a bowrider and an express cruiser—to create a capable cruising boat with an emphasis on relaxation and fun in the sun. The biggest take-away is that they’ve managed to do all that without compromising comfort or roominess below.

 

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