Formula 430 SSC

The secret formula.

by Alan Wendt
The urge to spill the beans and share this secret Formula with the world almost happened a year ago.


  • LOA: 43'
  • Beam: 12'
  • Draft: 41"
  • Weight: 25,200 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 500 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 52 gals.
  • Power:
  • Price: $1,054,500

Formula’s 430 Super Sport Crossover (SSC) is so unique that designers at the plant in Decatur, Indiana were worried that in a world of social media and smartphone citizen reporters, one leaked photo would allow competitors to knock off a clone before hull No. 1 debuted at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. But the boat wasn’t ready. Three generations of the Porter family, which closely holds the reins on Formula, wanted perfection. To introduce a revolutionary new paradigm that would change the offshore boating experience required the proverbial patience of Job.

Under a cloak of shrink wrap to hide and protect the Imron Elite Clearcoat finish Formula is famous for, this 43-foot sleek boat was transported to Mercury Marine’s secret testing area in the Florida Panhandle to begin a painstaking marriage of Mercury Racing Quad Verado 400R outboards to a never-before-seen hull and extended swim platform. Technicians literally moved the engines left, right, up and down by millimeters — not inches — before reaching the secret formula that delivers a top speed in excess of 63 mph.

Hold on!

“What do you say we buzz to South Beach and give them a thrill?” asks Vic Spellberg, a long-term confidant and consultant for Formula.

Admonished to not even think about posting to Facebook until the boat debuted in Fort Lauderdale two weeks later, I would be the first journalist to test the boat. As Vic eased the Mercury Digital Throttle & Shift forward, he issued a warning to the four of us on-board: “Hold on!”

Under cloudless blue skies and a refreshing cold front that swept away Florida’s humidity, the engines spun up. Three information-rich Raymarine gS165 glass display screens recessed in the helm clicked off the numbers: 20, 34, 43, 50 mph, all verified by GPS. In 30 seconds, the stepped hull design got up as if on tip toes, and the GPS climbed to 60 and 61, before settling in at 63.4 mph — and that was with a full 500 gallons of fuel and an optional $66,000 Seakeeper 5 Gyro Stabilization System.

The phrases “faster than a speeding bullet,” “more powerful than a locomotive” and “able to leap a 2-foot chop in a single bound” were competing with the imaginary sounds from another TV oldie: The theme song from “Miami Vice.” Such descriptions only made sense to the generation on-board, not the bikini-clad admirers waving from the beach. But the Formula got the attention of the younger generation back at the marina, with dozens asking us, “What is that?”

Serious SmartZones

Formula has combined an open bow and cabin elements, inspired by their sleek Super Sport lineup and trendy Crossover Bowrider, with today’s smoking hot demand design — a flush, coupe-like cockpit middle console. Transformative and paradigm shifting, this flagship Formula is the epitome of SmartZones that have taken the industry by storm.

On a 12-foot beam, the expansive open bow is a world unto itself. Deep, comfortable seating; serious lounging capacity; ubiquitous, LED-illuminated beverage holders, including a flip-down armrest/cup holder in the center bow seat; and not to mention JL Audio blue LED-lighted, chrome finished speakers powered by a Rockford Fosgate sound system are featured in one of the many SmartZones.

While I had plenty of time at the helm, I also took advantage of the ride at speed up front. What surprised me was how quiet the atmosphere was even at 50 mph, allowing for conversation. Unlike a traditional 20-foot bowrider, where one misplaced wave can send you flying, these higher sides and deep seating were convincingly safe.

You aren’t likely to move about between the cockpit and bow while underway, however; the split windshield upper door that hinges over is simply too unwieldy for children or persons with limited upper body strength to move when it reaches its zenith. Formula is likely to modify the design on subsequent models.

With nearly 40 linear feet of cockpit space flowing uninterrupted on one continuous level, these separate areas foster a variety of activities and boating preferences. A starboard side console helm with triple command seating chiseled for support and crafted for comfort is a nod to Formula’s offshore heritage. Even the footrests mounted in the console electrically actuate up and down to adjust perfectly to each passenger’s stature. While hull No. 1 offered Herculean performance with Quad-400s, the base boat is offered with Mercury 300 Verado outboard engines or the optional 350 Verados.

Either engine is perfectly paired with the Mercury Joystick Piloting for Outboard with Active Trim. It takes the guess work out of maintaining perfect trim at any acceleration rate and will bump your fuel economy as well (although on a performance boat like the 430 SSC, I doubt owners will really quibble over a few gallons here and there.)

Behind the helm is SmartZone 3 with a massive U-shaped aft lounge, storage beneath each seat and multi-position backrests, which quickly convert to an aft-facing sun lounge, leading to an impressive swim platform. Water access is via a quick stow ladder that attaches to either side, while other nifty options include twin SUPRAX upright holders that pop into the deck for securing paddleboards.

Be sure to have your sales rep demonstrate the three power-adjustable height tables — one in the cockpit and two in the bow — creating dining and entertainment space. These recess flush into the deck and open up space on command.

Built-in coolers throughout the boat, a pullout Yeti Tundra 35 cooler, a Gaggenau oval electric grill in the cockpit, an upper deck refreshment galley with a sink and a Cuisinart blender mounted inside a storage door, even a place to secure the flat screen cockpit TV when not in use, show tremendous forethought to the versatile entertainment options up top. Now let’s go below to the cabin.

Yes, a real cabin with 6-foot, 6-inch headroom. There’s private relaxation space for a couple and separate sleeping quarters for families with children. The forward berth doubles as a dinette with an electric actuated table that adjusts for sleeping or dining. The aft berth (I’ll resist calling it a stateroom because of the privacy curtain) is constructed of a Sensus memory foam bed for comfort. Two standard 32-inch TVs, a galley, portside storage with a  stainless pullout refrigerator, a microwave, a Keurig coffee maker — yes, all the comforts of home — are built right in. Even the head and shower compartment have designer touches we are accustomed to seeing on overnight boats, but are missing from most day boat and center consoles that are so popular now.

Secret Formula touches

Ever have doors and drawers fly open when you hit a wave? Of course, we all have. Formula uses Posilock latches throughout the boat. Nothing flew open. The real test came at 60 mph with the iPad that allows you to monitor and control virtually every component on-board. Mounted in the cabin through an inductive charging, magnetic secured LaunchPort, it withstood the rigors of speed and waves. Aside from the mobile screen emulation, capture of operational data and digital switching capabilities, it’s the simplest of tasks that amaze. When you are in bed and realize a light up top remains on, simply take the iPad, swipe to the page that controls lights, turn it off and say goodnight. The marriage of touch screens and function throughout the vessel is well orchestrated.

There are the numerous well-placed USB charging stations throughout the boat. We all bring smartphones on-board, and guests will all have a plug to call their own.

Another notable feature: An optional built-in stainless steel towing ring in the bow.

“A lot of larger yachts 125-150 feet will use this boat as a luxury tender,” observes Vic, “and while the stateside market is aimed at the 38- to 40-foot owner looking to move up, Formula will have two distinct buyers both attracted by the trend toward outboard center consoles.”

I always clean my boat myself after a day on the water, so I appreciate the Reverso Outboard Flushing System. Instead of hooking up rabbit ears, you simply plug in dockside water, flip a switch and the system automatically moves engine-to-engine for the 10- to 15-minute per engine flush cycle. All of this gadgetry is housed in the transom utility locker with an electric hookup, a transom shower, a wash down and a cable TV connection.

From sunshades forward and aft of the coupe-style cockpit to the full-width motorized glass sunroof, to a new Poseidon pleated blind system, adjusting the right amount of light inside is all at your command.

Available in limited production for 2017, the newest flagship for Formula creates a new category of boat sure to please the owner who wants the thrill of speed, as well as the partner who values the pleasures of home,  packaged nicely in a technology-rich environment ideally suited for memorable entertainment and relaxation. 



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