Formula has stood for high performance and high style since the days of the late Don Aronow. Concessions to demands for luxury, convenience items and interior volume have softened Formula's recipe, but the new 37 PC remains true to the marquee's original image.
I cornered a drive on an early 37 PC hull that appeared at the Norwalk, Connecticut, boat show in September. She rested quietly on a face dock, her express bridge and cockpit sealed against the hot sun by a nicely tailored taupe canvas package. Inside, she surprised me, as do most small production express cruisers. They are remarkably large for their length, and years of refining the concept have allowed the builders to pack a quart of boat into a pint of length.
A wholesale increase in overall beam is most responsible for the amount of interior volume in most boats these days. The 37 PC has a beam of 11 feet, 11 inches, which is normal by current standards. Formula's design team, led by John Adams, found a use for every cubic centimeter. The master stateroom in the bow has two substantial hanging lockers, the door for each lined with a full-length mirror. Under the berth flat is a pair of drawers large enough to stow a week's worth of clothing. A curtain supplies privacy.
Formula lists the maximum headroom in the saloon at 6 feet, 7 inches-enough for an NBA point guard-but the boat's exterior belies this dimension. The company disguised the deck's inevitable jelly bean camber with a rub rail that describes a line from the bow aft to the radar arch, where it dramatically curves downward to the molded swim platform. A break in the deck line inboard of the rub rail and a hand rail at the outboard edge of the sunpad on each side help to fool the mind into believing the boat has a lower profile than she does. Elliptical portlights right below the rub rail, along with the safety rail's forward-sweeping stanchions, create a strong suggestion of speed.
Back inside the saloon, Formula used the relatively deep sections amidships to best advantage by dropping the cabin sole fairly deep into the hull. Stowage in the galley and under the dinette suffers a bit from the bottom's inboard angle, but not enough to matter in a boat used primarily for weekend jaunts and day cruises.
Kudos to Formula for resisting the common urge to skimp on quality or details. The buyer gets Corian countertops, a ceramic cooktop, a round stainless-steel sink (a bit too small, but OK for casual use), a microwave, an under-counter refrigerator and an in-counter trash receptacle. There is a choice of deep cherry or natural cherry woodgrain finish on the cabinetry. UltraLeather covers the settee, which converts to a double berth. A favorite detail is sure to be the light inside each cabinet that turns on when the door is opened.
Typical of boats this size, the head is merely adequate if you consider the size of the shower stall after closing the three-panel acrylic door. It's tight, but acceptable considering the use the space will get. Taken as a whole, the head is as good as you get in a 37-foot express cruiser.
Immediately abaft the saloon, over the forward end of the planing surface, is the after cabin-a settee that converts to a double berth. It has one hanging locker and a few drawers, enough for a weekend cruise. A curtain closes the area for privacy. This cabin is cozy, and its playpen ambience should appeal to young children.
Fun is the main reason for having any boat, but express cruisers seem to excel at good times. There are a lot of express yachts in Long Island Sound, especially around the Norwalk Islands near our offices, because the area offers a wide variety of coves in which boaters can drop the hook and have a swimming, sunning or cocktail party. The Formula 37 PC will be right at home, with 15 polished aluminum drink holders scattered about the bridge deck and cockpit. There's a wet bar with a sink and fresh water for mixing drinks abaft the portside lounge area, and hors d'oeuvres can be prepared on the StarBoard plastic lids of the stowage cabinets.
Every cavity between the hull and liner goes to stowage, most of which is lined with gelcoated fiberglass. A trunk, reached from the swim platform, opens on gas struts. Inside is stowage dedicated to fenders, the cockpit table and cushions, and other gear.
Our test boat had a pair of 8.1-liter GIDP Volvo gas V-8s coupled to the company's Duoprop sterndrives. Torque is the name of this game. These big V-8s are the latest from GM and include a coil-over-sparkplug ignition system. Sparks are sharp and powerful because little or no energy gets lost to resistance from long plug leads. Lots of torque, combined with the Duoprop's efficiency in the water, equals brisk acceleration.
The 37 PC weighs only 16,500 lb. dry, but she felt heavier under way. Steering was light, but response seemed slower than I expected from the steerable thrust of the sterndrives. On the other hand, her directional stability was exemplary. After she leaned into a turn, she held her line without any drama. She's quiet, too.
Formula can be proud of the 37 PC. The model slots into the market between the 34 and 40, giving buyers a lusty middle ground at a base price of $248,450.
Contact: Formula Boats, (800) 736-7685; www.formulaboats.com.