There are a few powerboat brands on the market that signify a boater has “arrived,” and Formula is on that short list. Sure, someone may start out in a Bayliner or something used, but when a Formula idles past, it’s hard not to want one. Someday.
Just look at the Formula 260 Bowrider and you can understand why. Of course, Formula knows how to market its products. Each year, when it comes time to shoot the catalog, the Formula folks pack up their entire model line (24 different boats), truck them from the factory in Decatur, Ind., to Miami, drop them in the water, then drive them all to Bimini in The Bahamas, for a photo shoot. Oh, and Bimini is 56 miles away, across open ocean and the Gulf Stream.
Look at it this way. If Formula puts that kind of effort into its collateral materials, think about what must go into the product. A visit to its 500,000 square foot manufacturing plant will tell you exactly what goes on there, but for now let’s focus on the 260 Bowrider.
"The 260 was introduced to fill out the bowrider side of our Sun Sport/Bowrider dayboat lineup as the first generation of true dayboats as defined by Formula. We were really the first to commit to the open-cockpit design as a mainstay day platform,” said Scott Smith, Formula Boats marketing manager. “Further, the 260 really played a transitional role in the design evolution of the series. When you look at the 260 BR, you see the spark of change from the original 280 and 330 broken gunwale line to the more rounded, Euro-looking lines of the newest models, such as the 240 BR or 290 BR of today.”
It begins with a hand-laminated hull and Formula’s grid stringer system, which accomplishes a couple of things. First, it provides a solid skeleton for the hull. Second, due to the way it’s designed and built, the grid system also provides a positive-molded gelcoat surface in the bilge, which makes for a much neater appearance and easy cleanup. What’s more, all the cavities in the grid system are filled with foam for extra flotation and sound deadening.
The grid system is bonded to the inside of the hull with Plexus adhesive, which is so strong, dynamite is about what it takes to remove it. Formula also bonds the hull and deck with Plexus before it tops the seam with a stainless rub rail. Look closely at the screws on a Formula’s rub rail. All the slots on the Phillips screws are indexed perfectly in a north-south, east-west orientation. All of them. On every boat.
Up top, the 260 Bowrider’s deck and cockpit liner are one piece, which also makes for more solid construction. In the bow, Formula provides filler cushions as a standard feature. They not only fill in the gap between the cushions, but they also fill in the angled back rests between the bow walk-through. It’s a fantastic setup that allows three-wide lounging up front.
Behind the windshield, which is available with an optional polished stainless steel frame, Formula designer John Adams created a space that’s welcoming and usable.
To port, the lounge can be used as an aft-facing chaise or a bench seat for two. The back rest and portside dashboard conceal a spacious head, which comes standard with a portable potty. Buyers also can opt for a manual porcelain commode. Oh, and the head has its own porthole with a screen, which is good for reasons we won’t go into here.
Just behind the lounge lies the wetbar, which includes a sink, Corian countertops, a concealed trash bin and a 17.5-quart Igloo cooler. For added convenience and safety, the wetbar is fitted with a stainless grab rail and its hatches are supported with gas struts.
To starboard, the 260 has a U-shape lounge that wraps from behind the helm seat to the stern bench. A standard removable dinette table can be set at two heights, one for dining and a second, lower setting that provides a base for another filler cushion.
Of course, the helm is the place to be and the 260 has room for two, with a separate flip-up thigh bolster at each position. Like all Formulas, the helm is laid out intelligently—and more important—simply, which makes checking the vitals that much easier. Buyers can choose between silver burl or woodgrain dash panels. A standard Ritchie compass tops the dash, which features Livorsi instrumentation, a Kenwood audio system and waterproof accessory switches protected by circuit breakers. A six-month subscription to SiriusXM also comes standard.
Some other thoughtful touches include a motorized engine hatch, blue or white LED courtesy lights for the cockpit and swim platform and polished cupholders throughout the interior. Such features typically aren’t found in entry level boats, but they are the kind of niceties that longtime boaters can appreciate.
The 260 Bowrider could never pass for an entry level boat, but when people get into boating, models like the 260 are quite likely the end they have in mind—when they want to show they have arrived.
Base price, with a Volvo Penta single 5.7 GiC DuoProp drive is $116,390, which does not include a trailer. For more information, visit the Formula website.