370 Super Sport — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — January 2001
|Part 2: The 370 ran remarkably dry the whole time.|
Formula's efficient use of space continues in the cockpit. There is loads of seating, including a starboard-side helm seat that comfortably accommodated Huddleston and me and a U-shape lounge abaft the helm that can seat four. A port-side lounge across from the helm seats another couple, and all the cockpit seats have Kelron composite bases which are strong and impervious to rot, an important feature on our wet-weather trial.
Aside from her ample seating, the 370 should make entertaining on the 370 dockside or while rafted up with friends a breeze thanks to the port-side wetbar (perfect to for preparing five o'clock cocktails) and another Norcold refrigerator. Speaking of cocktails, the 370's cockpit cocktail table is secured in a large transom stowage area, which also has dedicated fender stowage and room left over.
The tour was nice, especially the dry below-decks part, but eventually it was time to leave the comfort of the Pier 66 dock. We headed a few miles offshore, and Huddleston took the wheel as the rain fell with a vengeance. Even though the ocean was unfriendly, it was time to see this bird live up to her logo. Huddleston quickly turned the 370's stern to the steep swells and pushed the Gaffrig controls forward. A handheld Garmin GPS displayed our speed at a comfortable 34 mph while the standard twin 420-hp Volvo Penta 8.1 GSI DPs turned about 3500 rpm. The rain didn't even hurt, so he cranked the engines up to 5000 rpm. With all four stainless steel DuoProp propellers churning the teal-colored water, the 370 skated across the tops of the four-plus-footers at 54 mph. Smith, looking comfortable on the port-side lounge in the lee of the stainless steel-framed windshield, told me the 370 is capable of 56 to 58 mph in calmer conditions. But today, with the wind-driven rain feeling like sand on my face, 54 mph was fine with me.
The 370 ran remarkably dry the whole time. This is attributable in part to Formula's FASTech stepped hull. Taken from Formula's go-fast boats, it reduces wetted surface and slightly flattens the running angle, making for a smoother ride. I also got a feel for the solidity of the 370's solid-glass bottom when we occasionally went airborne. To the hull's credit, even though we had the occasional bang when we landed, my teeth, head, limbs, and most of all my kidneys remained intact. Also contributing to the solidity were a hull that is chemically bonded and through-bolted to the deck and resilient Divinycell coring in the hull sides.
Taking the wheel, I pushed the controls forward. With these conditions, the standard Bennett trim tabs came in handy, helping to keep this narrow, performance-driven boat's nose even. The Teleflex steering was as smooth as the Gaffrig controls, and the two-position helm seat allowed me to steer standing, sitting, or leaning back. All were comfortable, but in spite of the rain, I preferred to stand.
The smooth and fast ride of the 370 was complemented by unusual quiet--up to a point. I ducked down behind the windshield across the cockpit from Smith, and we spoke as if we were sitting in a restaurant. But this 370 had an optional Captain's Call exhaust diverter, which either routes exhaust through the drives to reduce sound levels or sends it straight out the transom to enhance performance. When Huddleston reached over and flipped the helm switch, disabling the diverters, it got noisy, similar to the sound when a muffler falls off a car. As someone who enjoys the sound of silence, I would definitely choose the through-prop option.
The weather remained unforgiving, and we were pruning up like raisins, so we headed home. As we idled back in, I was curious as to how the 370's engine room had made out during our ride, so Huddleston flipped a helm switch, and a centerline hatch just forward of the transom lifted, providing almost full access to both engines. Everything was just as solid and secure as when we left.
As we entered the shelter of the Pier 66 marina, the sky changed to robin's egg blue, just in time for us to tie up. The 370 had looked good under the gray sky, but she really shined when the sun smacked her white hull.
The 370's stepped-hull technology and high-powered Volvo Penta 8.1s make her one go-fast boat that can not only fly atop swells, but also handle smartly at cruising speeds. Her cockpit amenities and below-deck accommodations make her an efficient day boat or weekender, and with plenty of lounge space, she's perfect for an afternoon cruise. Little bit cruiser, little bit raceboat, Formula's 370 Super Sport is a hybrid that does everything well.
Formula (219) 724-1404. Fax: (219) 724-1103. www.thunderbirdboats.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.