The adult-strength Formula 336 SR-1.

MARIA, ONE OF THE servers in my local diner, used to wear a pin that said, "Built for comfort, not for speed." The Formula 336 SR-1 could wear one that says, "Built for comfort and for speed," considering it goes 67.5 mph.

That’s refreshing because many boats of this ilk are driver’s boats first and foremost, and passenger’s boats nearly not at all. The builder may toss a few tidbits back aft – a couple of speakers and some drink holders perhaps – but guests are often an afterthought.

The Formula SR-1 (sport boat) series covers a wide range of sizes, but as in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the 336 is just right. Easy to handle and small enough to trailer without a Kenworth; yet she’s also large enough go carry a party of six comfortably.

This is by virtue of a resculpting of the signature Formula “human-engineered” (and good-looking) aft bench seat. The redesign upped the capacity to four real adults. As always, the upholstery is done in-house.

In a further extension of the civilizing concept, Magnum-powered 336s get the Silent Thunder treatment. For the uninitiated, this is a water-filled cavity within the stern platform that serves as a muffler for the twin engines. It sure works; our test boat had a pair of MerCruiser 502 Magnum, and at 4900 rpm (WOT) the sound level was a reasonable 93 dB-A. Without Silent Thunder I would expect this number to be more than 100 dB-A, which is over twice as loud. They’ll still know you’re there; they just won’t wish you weren’t.

The swim platform and other transom accoutrements also prove that this boat is designed to do more than scream around at warp speed. A locker with a robustly hinged lid spans the boat's entire width. Inside is the optional coldwater swim shower, plenty of space for docklines, a wash-down hose and the cord for the optional shorepower system. A thinking man's sport boat.

CIVILIZED SERVICE – The interior on the 336 sports 5’1” of headroom, generous for this type of boat. With twin 502 Magnums, our test boat reached a top speed of 67.5 mph. The helm is an ergonomic delight.

 

THE INSIDE STORY

For a 33-footer, the 336 is rather civilized belowdecks, as well. For example, cabin headroom is 5'1"; generous for this type of boat. A Kenwood AM/FM/ auto-reverse cassette stereo with marine-grade speakers is standard. (At option, a fancier, more powerful Kenwood with a remote 10-disc CD changer.)

All upholstered areas sport Ultrasuede, which is rugged and cleanable despite its softness. Bulkheads and the headliner are of foam backed knitted polyester; also quite luxurious. Two low-profile light fixtures and a pair of side-by-side Bomar hatches punctuate the overhead. The latter are provided with screens.

The main cabin is dominated by a wraparound banquette that will comfortably hold five guests (six in a pinch). A round table with inset drinkholders plugs into the cabin sole. When not needed, it stows in a purpose-built cabinet forward.

With some shuffling of cushions, that lounge turns into a 5'10" (average width) x 5'4" double berth. Cushion thickness is a scant 3", though the foam is firm.

There's indirect lighting behind a designer-fabric-covered valance. In point of fact, almost every square inch of the 336's interior is covered with some type of fabric; quite pleasant. Our test boat had charcoal gray carpeting, patterned fabric valances, light gray accents and Ultrasuede cushions, keyed to the exterior vinyl.

Entry to the forward cabin is through a privacy-curtain-equipped centerline passage through a partial bulkhead. This double berth is 5'11" long and 5'4" wide at the aft end.

The aft end of the main cabin contains what I call the engineering section: galley and head. The portside galley includes a pair of drinkholders and a 9"-diameter sink. The cold-water-only faucet is a high-lift bar-type. Don't look for a microwave or a cooktop here; dinner is ashore or cooked on a Coleman in the cockpit. The Kenwood stereo is mounted up high outboard and the aft galley bulkhead is mirrored.

There are two portside stowage lockers, one a cabinet under the sink, and the other a hanging locker abaft the galley, which contains the optional Norcold dual voltage refrigerator/freezer. If the boat is equipped with the 10-disc CD changer, it's also mounted in the hanging locker.

The head is a tidy, though not too tiny compartment with a one-piece molded pan, a cold water lavatory and a Porta-Potti. A conventional marine toilet with macerator and holding tank is available.

COMPLEXITY IS OUT

If you like a helm that looks like the control room of a nuclear power plant, you're going to be disappointed. In the tradition of the best "exoticars," the 336 has a surprisingly simple helm. No multi-function digital gimcrackery; just legible, well-laid-out VDO instrumentation, a set of excellent Zero-Effort controls and a compact tilt-wheel. Two small panels flank the helmsman. The port one contains the key switches, blower switch and engine hatch lift controls. The starboard one has two rows of lighted bat-handle toggles to control all the other systems. These are combination switch/magnetic circuit-breaker units.

Drive and tab trim controls fall right to hand just forward of the engine controls. If you specify the optional Kiekhaefer K-Planes (Hydraulic Boat Leveler trim tabs are standard), the large and legible Kiekhaefer drive and trim indicator is installed just starboard of the instruments. A hefty (5" card) Ritchie Powerdamp compass is fitted to a molded hump atop the helm.

In short, this helm is an ergonomic delight; the driver, as well as the guests, are well accommodated. The panel's clean design leaves room for electronics; our test boat had the optional, factory-installed Lowrence 3400 depthsounder and Datamarine Dart Loran-C.

The helm and companion seats are the now-familiar, infinitely adjustable Formula bolster/seats. A push-button, like that found on airline seats, releases the cushion. When you've pushed the bolster to the desired spot, release the button. The nicest bolster/seats in the business. The driver's and companion's footwells are manually adjustable as well. Electrically actuated adjusters are optional.

A high-class helm befits high performance. Here the 336 shines. Yes, our Magnum-equipped boat was civilized, but it still managed a top speed of 67.5 mph. At this pace, the boat gets 1 mpg (66 gph). At a more conscionable cruise rpm (3500) this boat only tosses down about 36 gph. With the standard tankage, this provides a range of some 160 nautical miles, bringing the Bahamas and other offshore destinations within reach.

BEHIND THE SCENES

The engine room is full of standard goodies, which are usually options. To wit: a Fireboy automatic Halon system, a Saf-T-Alert gasoline fume detector and remote-mounted oil filters for ease of servicing. This engine room is a paragon of efficiency with neatly routed and secured wiring and plumbing throughout. There are hinged duckboards covered with diamond plate-patterned rubber forward of the engines.

Hull construction follows the same businesslike philosophy. The hull/deck joint is bonded with epoxy compound and through-bolted with 1/4-20 bolts at 18" intervals. Then the rugged vinyl bangstrip is secured with screws.

The hull is cored from the chines up with Divinycell PVC foam laminated with tri-axial knitted fabric and premium AME4000 resin, sheathed in orthophthalic  gel coat. Stringers are robust and glass sheathed with hefty through-bolted engine hangers. Fiberglass pultrusions are bonded to the hull to stiffen panel sections between bulkheads. In addition, unused hull cavities are foam-filled. This is to eliminate creaks and groans.

If you like comparisons, the new 32' Fountain Fever provides an interesting one. The Fountain is definitely more of an iron-fisted, race-bred machine; no Silent Thunder here. With the same engines - MerCruiser 502 Magnums - the Fountain's WOT sound level is 102 dB-A. The 336 Formula (turning 150 rpm more, by the way) is a relative whisper-jet at 93 dB-A.

But the Fountain is 3.4 mph faster. It's a trade-off between sound level and speed. Hmm...9 dB-A for 3.4 mph. Maybe I'm getting old, because I'd rather go a little slower with less racket.

As usual, you pay your money and you take your choice. Base price on the Formula with the 502 Magnums is $113,935. Base price on the Fountain with the same power, is $124,000.

I could have lost myself in the reverie, out there carving turns in this boat, north of Key West. And a confidence-inspiring boat is a good thing whether you're the driver or a passenger.