DECATUR, Ind. — Following up the success of the stepped-hull 400 Super Sport, Thunderbird Products, manufacturer of Formula boats, has added another stepped model to its Super Sport line for 2001. Called the Super Sport 370, the 37'10"-long, 10'6"-wide model rides on a two-step FAS3Tech bottom. With a pair of 415-horsepower MerCruiser 502 Magnum engines under the hatch, top speed for the 14,400-pound boat is approximately 57 mph.

Formula introduced its FAS3Tech bottom on its 412, 382, 312 and 271 offshore performance boats in mid-1996. The multi-plane running surface reportedly resulted in speed gains of more than 10 percent across the product line. Subsequent FAS3Tech models were equipped with Formula's structural grid system, a fiberglass replacement for conventional wooden stringer systems.

According to John Adams, Formula's designer, it was overall stability of the hull that convinced company president Scott Porter and others at Formula to try it on the Super Sport 400. The model took more than three years to develop and, said Adams, has been a strong seller.

"When FAS3Tech first came out, it was a design feature of offshore boats," Adams explained. "The pitch and roll stability were there, but all people talked about was the added speed.

"What was neat about the Super Sport 400 was that people — the owners — who talked about them, were focused on the stability, on how well the boat behaved. Yes, the 400 is a quick, fast platform, but it's also an extremely stable platform. That's really what FAS3Tech was all about from the beginning, but we never heard that, at least as much, from the offshore guys."

Adams said he sees the 370 Super Sport as a "rung in the ladder" for owners of the Sun Sport 330 who want to step up to larger model, but are not able to afford the largest model. Like the 400, the 370 has a fiberglass structural grid stringer system.

"All Super Sports will have the grid system and FAS3Tech," said Adams. "Any boat we feel is going to run 60 to 65 mph will have those two elements."

Asked what the size limits of the Super Sport line might be, Adams responded, "A 46- or even 48-footer might be possible. Obviously, there is a point where the demand for what is mostly used as a large day boat will fall off. But with the 370, we think we're creating a larger base for people to step up to the 400, and if there are 500 people out there who own 400s and are screaming for something more, why wouldn't we go for it?"

Production of the 370 Super Sport is scheduled to begin this fall. Models should be available in early to middle 2001.