REVIEW: FORMULA 240 BR

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD, Photography by: JOHN FORD, COASTCOLOUR


David Lockwood studied the form of this American 24-footer and found it to be an odds-on favourite

I’m not sure if you’re a gambler. I am not. But I do know that it helps on the racetrack if you pick a contender with good bloodlines. The progeny of Phar Lap, if indeed there was one, or Makybe Diva, would have a better chance of winning the Melbourne Cup than the gangly offspring of a clod hopping quarter horse. So it is with go-fast boats. Look for bloodlines.
Enter the American Formula range of performance-orientated pleasure boats. For decades I have been reading reviews and results where Formula boats have featured on the winner’s dais of offshore races and poker runs. Producing a range of 24-40ft thoroughbreds, mostly with big-hearted V8 petrol tickers much like Phar Lap’s, Formula’s are bolters with the kind of construction and deep-vee hulls that jointly produce a bang-free ride for we jockeys at the reins.
So you can well understand my excitement when the 240BR bowrider arrived on a beautiful fully-imported Magic aluminium trailer with dual-axles and disc brakes, galvanised springs and supportive skids as well as multirollers. Here it was, the first Formula I have seen in the flesh, albeit the baby of the range. You didn’t need to be Bart Cummings to see this strapping stallion was had legs.
From the upholstery to the fittings, the hull and integral foundation, this is an impressive boat built with quality that’s commensurate with its big-ticket price. In respect of wet-track form, I won’t detail the long list of race wins, but check the 50-year-old boatbuilder’s website to see where they’re at.

MAXI TRAILERBOAT
Though the smallest boat in the range, the Formula 240BR is a giant of a trailerboat, a heavyweight in horse speak, that approaches 3000kg on road. Yet, with the right hitch and trailer with brakes, that is still within the towing capabilities of maxi four-wheel-drives such as a Landcruiser, Patrol or Discovery.
And with the right towing gear, hauling a big boat like this isn't as much of a knee-knocker as you might think. Having said that, you will likely need a permit and be confined to towing the rig in daylight hours due to the 240BR’s 2.59 metre-wide beam.
Irrespective of whether you tow, dry-stack or rack, or keep the boat on a mooring, here at least you can see why you’re paying almost $135,000. Built for saltwater use, the boat is designed with CAD technology and CNC routers. High-modulus fibreglass and multiaxial rovings are used with a laminated stringer system for stiffness, while hull cavities are filled with structural foam.
The hull and deck are bonded and bolted together. Polyurethane plastic replaces timber to prevent rot and the quality of upholstery and stitching is just superb. Stainless-steel fittings glint in the sun and there are nifty features around every sweetly moulded bend.

BOWRIDER WITH THE LOT
The 240BR has 316L stainless steel deck gear and a fully moulded cockpit liner with snap-in carpet concealing a lot of clever features configured at the design stages. The boat comes with an anchor locker, too, and oodles of storage from the sub-seat lockers in the bow to the sub-lounge area in the cockpit where you will find a portable icebox.
Thirteen, yes 13, drink holders with plumbing tubes are supplied, along with sturdy stainless steel grab rails, popup mooring cleats, stainless-steel windscreen supports and a neat safety catch to hold the centre pane of the windscreen open, plus a bow ladder, sturdy stainless-steel bimini top frame and heavy-duty hinges on all the hatches.
And while talking details, the mouldings are exceedingly fair and the graphics and optional teal hull colour looked chic. The stainless steel logo and badge, engine vents and air horn add to the eye candy.
In more fundamental terms, the 240BR has a terrific amount of volume and flotation in the bow and, by virtue of its beam and waterline length, there’s sufficient room to carry a big passenger load. The seating arrangement is certainly very accommodating, not just for one family but an extended family or two families. As such, the 240BR is destined to be a big social boat and, with thick Dri-fast foam cushions and treated vinyl upholstery, there shouldn’t be too many complaints.
With the optional infill cushion on the demo boat, which also has a padded backrest, you can seat three adults in a forward facing position in the bow. Or you can use the pit as a playpen for kids or as a daybed. Without the infill there’s still plenty of room to stretch your legs and plenty of freeboard to cross wake at low speed without shipping water. And with 100W stereo speakers you can party on up here as you go.
Great use is made of the voids behind the dash. Behind the helm is a huge dry storage area for keeping covers, upholstered in-fills, changes of clothes and picnic paraphernalia. Swing open the door to this compartment and use the barrel-bolt to relocate it across the companionway and you create a very effective wind-dam. This way, with the bow cover in place, your bowrider becomes a more amenable runabout for winter.
Ahead of the co-pilot is a fully moulded WC with manual pump-out head linked to a 38-litre holding tank, plus room to change in or out of your swimwear. Thus, the 240BR is lady friendly. And while seated on the loo I noticed a great internal liner and storage recesses for personal effects.

COCKPIT CAPERS
Elsewhere in the cockpit you will find a sink set in a Corian counter linked to a 38 litre freshwater tank, with concealed garbage bin and storage below, handheld freshwater transom shower, and supplied portable icebox under the lounge that lets you carry drinks and lunch aboard. There is also plenty of room to stow waterskis and wakeboards in the rubber-lined subfloor locker, where there are clips holding anchor light extension and struts to tension the boat’s covers, plus the option of fitting a cool wakeboarding tower.
The U-shaped rear lounge is accommodating of four adults and, in the big engine room with lots of servicing space ? that you access at the press of a button ? you will find a bracket holding a moulded lunch table that can be assembled on the pedestal base before the lounge. A small but telling detail, the underside of this table was double moulded for a classy finish – no flowcoat in sight.
Behind the lounge you can sit propped up against the backrest as though kicking back on two-person settee facing the water. Fold the backrest down and the lounge converts rather cleverly into a flat aft sunpad. The diamond-pattern non-skid walkthrough to the transom negates having to tread on cushions. Back aft you will find an upmarket skihook, swim ladder, freshwater handheld shower, and plenty of room to hang out. There was also a storage locker to port with supplied fenders.
The helm bucket seats, fitted with aft grab rails for passengers riding on the lounge, are fully adjustable, deep and sumptuous, and reassuringly hip-hugging in tight turns. At rest, the seats swivel back aft to face the lunch table and your guests. All very civilised, really. Flip-up bolsters let you sit in a higher position to peer over the windscreen when manoeuvring in tight spots. In the usual driving position, the racing dash and windscreen are fixed at the ideal height. Thus far, not an easy boat to fault.

FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
The dash on the 240BR reflects Formula’s race-boat pedigree, with trick chrome-rimmed gauges from Livorsi, Dino tilt wheel, and a sturdy-looking stainless steel windscreen wiper. The switch panels were simple and not filled with wanton switches. There was a Clarion stereo remote on the dash and at the transoms, plus a breaker panel alongside the helm seat, and the switch to lift the engine bay where the freshwater-cooled Volvo 5.7L V8 petrol inboard motors and CO detector were located.
With one of those Duoprops that permits radical cornering, Formula's 240BR was a lot of fun to drive. Though it's the baby of the range, it has a big-boat feel at rest and underway, especially as it rides so high across the water and corners without feeling like you are going to dip the bow. I also like the fact the sterndrive leg is recessed in the transom thereby gaining extra buoyancy and lift from the hull extensions either side of it.
While the boat did dance about somewhat due to the lack of weight in the bow, the addition of some crew, anchoring gear and safety equipment would button the bow to the water. As it was, at 3000rpm and 21.2 knots up to 3500rpm and 27 knots the boat was delightfully quiet, smooth and amenable. Save the Quick and Quiet exhausts; for once I didn’t need to shout to be heard.
Yet it was at 4000rpm and 32.5 knots that the 240BR and Volvo 320hp V8 seemed to slot right into the groove. And at this fast clip we covered plenty of water on the estuary and into the open bay where the ride aboard the 20-degree deep-vee hull remained very good, indeed. And dry.
Maximum continuous cruising was clocked at 4600rpm and 37.5 knots and flat-out I recorded 41.3 knots on the out-of-the-box motor. So the 240BR will likely reach the benchmark 50mph once the Volvo motor is run-in. But even parked on the trailer you can tell the Formula 240BR is a cut above your average production boat, race ready and rearing to go. One for the discerning dayboat buff.

WHAT WE LIKED
Race-boat pedigree
Fantastic finish
High-quality components
Serious rough-water construction
Very complete inventory
 
NOT SO MUCH
Big ticket item.
Establish in America, but unknown resale Down Under.
Right on the limit of trailerable
Needs a maxi 4WD to haul it places.

 

Specifications: Formula 240 Bowrider

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $134,895 w/ 320hp Volvo V8 petrol inboard, fully-imported aluminium trailer and Macarthur Marine accessory package.
Options fitted: Freshwater engine cooling, aquamarine hull colour, bimini top, transom shower, bow-seating filler cushion, extra bow seat and more
Priced from: About $120,000 w/320hp Volvo V8 petrol inboard.

GENERAL
Material: GRP or fibreglass with composite stringers and structural foam flotation
Type: Dee-vee planing hull
Length Overall: 7.32m
Beam: 2.59m
Deadrise: 20°
Weight: Around 2268kg (base motor and dry hull only)
Towing weight: About 2900kg

CAPACITIES
Berths: Camp on deck
Fuel Capacity: 227lt
Water Capacity: 38lt
Holding Tank: 38lt

ENGINE
Make/Model: Volvo 5.7Gxi freshwater-cooled petrol inboard
Type: V8 petrol four-stroke inboard motor w/ FW cooling
Rated HP: 320hp at 5000rpm max
Displacement: 5.7lt
Weight: About 468kg
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Aquamatic sterndrive
Propeller: Stainless steel Duoprop

SUPPLIED BY
Importers, Macarthur Marine,
2 Ironbark Ave,
Camden, NSW, 2570.
Phone: (02) 4655 7793
Web: www.macarthurmarine.com.au and www.formulaboats.com

Originally published in TrailerBoat #203

 


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