Here’s why it’s usually tough to get excited about the introduction of new bowriders like the Sea Ray 21 SPX: They all tend to blend together with same-old, same-old features and little more than graphics or color patterns setting them apart. Well, here's a news flash: the 21 SPX most definitely does not fit into this category.

sea ray 21 spx

Looking for "just another" bowrider? Then keep moving - the new Sea Ray 21 SPX is anything but the usual.

What’s so different about this bowrider? It’s a seating thing. For starters, let’s eliminate the bow from this conversation. It’s status-quo, with a seat on either side and stowage underneath. I wish the step up to the bow (which doubles as an aft-facing seat) held an anchor locker, but otherwise, there’s little up there to either get stoked about or be sorry for. So swing open the windshield and walk back into the cockpit. Now things start to get interesting.

The helm is neatly laid out and I noted lighted rocker switches at the helm (good); an extremely comfy captain’s chair (great); and rather tight console rigging access via a snap-on fabric cover (not so great for do-it-yourselfers, but the rest of us won’t care). The passenger’s side console houses a large stowage compartment, and a glove box with a drain. So now we’ll look at the passenger’s side seat… right? No, not the passenger’s side seat—the entire passenger’s side of the cockpit, because it’s actually more like three seats in one.

Here’s where Sea Ray got really tricky, and really smart. Instead of putting in the usual passenger’s seat, they designed a sort of a mini-settee with three segments. When all three are in place, it’s an aft-facing lounger. Now let’s say you want to lounge while underway. Leave all three segments in place, add the drop-in backrest on the aft end, and you can reverse your lounging direction. What if you’d rather sit up? Remove the segment farthest forward, and now you have a seat. On most boats you’d now try to find somewhere, anywhere, to stow that extra chunk of seat. Not here. Sea Ray designed it so that this segment fits neatly underneath of the first one.

sea ray seat

Here's the passenger's side in lounger form. Note the space beneath the last segment; this is where the forward part of the seat stows away.

You have a full crew, and need to invent another spot for someone to sit? Okay. Pull that backrest up, and insert it between the two aft segments of the lounge. It fits neatly between them to split the forward-facing seat into a forward and an aft/center facing seat.

That passenger’s lounge is a nifty trick, and Sea Ray continues the magic as you move farther aft. You expect a boat of this nature to have a sunpad on the motor box, right? And the 21 SPX does. But unlike most, if you grab the forward edge and lift, it swings up to form a backrest and converts the sunpad into an aft-facing lounge.

What lies beneath that lounge depends on whether you opt for the stern-drive or outboard version of this boat. Get the stern-drive, and obviously, it houses the powerplant. With the outboard version it essentially becomes a huge stowage compartment. That’s something of an understatement, really—the center compartment is so big it could practically serve as a mini-cabin for the kids. If this were my boat, I’d be tempted to put a portable MSD in there and call it the powder room.

The down-side to this arrangement is breaking up the swim platform. I’m a big fan of the low noise and vibration levels created by modern four-stroke outboards, but with the stern-drive arrangement the swim platform is so large and unobstructed, I’d hate to give it up.

You might also be wondering if the standard Mercury 150 FourStroke outboard really has enough oomph for this rig, but trust me, it’s a non-issue. The boat I tested had the stock powerplant, and not only did I cruise in the upper 30’s at 4800 RPM, I hit 47.3 MPH at wide-open throttle. In my humble opinion, that’s plenty of juice for a 21-footer. Plus, by sticking with the stock power package you keep the price down, and with a starting point in the mid $30,000 range, the boat is eminently affordable for the average American boater. Even dressed to the hilt, the price tag doesn’t go too far north of $40,000.
Deadrise19 degrees
Displacement3,400 lbs
Fuel capacity40 gal.

What about the other things you expect to find on a 21’ bowrider? Yes, there’s a ski locker in the deck. Sure, the boat has oodles of cup holders. And of course, it has a ski tow-eye and can be optioned-out with a tower. I just didn’t want to waste too much time on that sort of stuff, because you already knew it was going to be there. And on a bowrider as interesting as the Sea Ray 21 SPX, why blather on about the same-old, same-old, when there are cool new goodies to talk about?

Other Choices: Interested bowrider shoppers will also want to check out boats like the Larson LSR 2100, the Bryant 210 Bowrider, and the Cobalt 220.

See Sea Ray 210 SPX listings.

For more information, visit Sea Ray.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.