There are bowriders, and there are bowriders, and then there is the Sea Ray Sundancer 320. Although at first glance you will probably see a bowrider, it’s a lot more. It’s not a bowrider as we know them, but a unique twist on what has become an extremely practical and versatile style of boating.
The Sundancer 320 (9.28m) has been described as a blurring of the lines between cruiser and sport boat design. The forward space is a massive recess that incorporates three separate lounge chairs, and it’s deep enough to hang out there will underway. What a fabulous use of space without compromising the area below decks. The 320 has triple loungers, with the obligatory drink holders, fold-down armrests and USB ports. Actuated headrests, armrests and seats allow you to adjust each individually for perfect comfort, with a stowable table conveniently in reach. An optional bow sunshade can extend over the area to offer protection from the sun while at rest. The traditional bow sun pad has evolved into a much more robust lounge seating area — indeed, a great place to relax both underway and at rest.
Another interesting feature is the bow access is not through the centre of the screen as found on most bowriders, but via a deep port side recess -more of a bulwark- which links to the forward saloon. By closing the fold-back windscreen and shutting the lower door, you can eliminate any wind into the cockpit that flows from the open bow. If you want further protection, then a tonneau cover can be clipped over the entire forward space.
When it comes to the cockpit layout Sea Ray, have not gone short on providing the best possible seating configuration for the available space. This is a boat that like many of its genre is about entertaining, relaxing and having a good time in ultimate comfort. Sea Ray has set the benchmark when it comes to layout, with a seamless flow from the helm through the transom and onto the integrated swim platform.
I liked the reversible helm companion seat that converts to face aft, facilitating a conversation with the rest of the cockpit. Aft of the double helm seat is another single seat and a well-equipped wet bar that includes a sink and storage and offers a refrigerator and electric bbq.
The helm has a digital dash with a pair of 12” Simrad MFDs and Mercury Vessel View. Everything is just where it should be, in easy reach and visible. Typical of Sea Ray, the dash is an organised cluster of switches and buttons, with everything clearly marked. Driving the 320 can be done either seated, resting on a bolster or standing, with visibility all-around virtually unimpeded.
The rear section of the cockpit continues the emphasis on seating with an L shape lounger to port and across the transom. There is a drop-down table that converts the area into another big sun pad or even an accommodation overflow. Sea Ray offers two different transom options, fixed or as on our test boat a ‘sungate’. The hinged transom backrest opens to transform the entire space into another sun pad area.
At the stern, a large integrated swim platform with hidden ladder allows easy access to and from the water, plus there is an optional high/low platform. This would also be the perfect fishing space with the addition of stainless rails. Also ideal for stowing the tender.
There is an electrically operated sliding canvas sunroof in the grp T-Top, and you can close off the entire cockpit space, with drop-down clears. A great plus when staying overnight. Every available space under the squabs and seating has been utilised for storage, from the transom seats to the bow squabs. If it can be used, it is!
Below decks, the Sea Ray Sundancer 320 is all open plan with no separate cabins as you may find in some competitors models. But then this is a boat that breathes entertaining and that it does better than most.
The cabin is cosy and roomy with large cabin side windows letting in plenty of natural light, and despite the sunken foredeck, there is no shortage of standing height. Ideal for overnighting or longer getaways the Sundancer 320 features a cabin with sleeping accommodations for four. In the aft berth, two sliding twin beds can be combined to form a queen bed, and although it has crouching height space only, it is more than adequate.
In the forward saloon / V-berth, a table converts via filler cushion to form a comfortable full-sized bed. A draw curtain is used for privacy on both cabins. A separate head and shower cubicle have about 2m headroom. The small galley with extending countertops and generous storage is plenty for a boat this size. We had a microwave and Isotherm fridge, and there are several other equipment options to choose from.
The Sea Ray Sundancer 320 is available with either sterndrive or outboard power. In the case of our boat, we had the standard package, a pair of MerCruiser 300HP 6.2L MPI ECT coupled to Bravo III / DTS Sterndrives. You can option that to a pair of MerCruiser 350hp engines, or if you prefer the diesel option, then the boat is also available with a couple of 260hp Mercruiser 3.0 TDI diesels, also packaged with Bravo III / DTS sterndrives. If it’s outboards you want, then options are twin or triple Mercury 250 Verado.
Axius joystick operation is available, as are Sea Ray’s Dynamic Running Surface and Mercury’s Active Trim system, which automatically keep the boat running at optimal trim and list angle. An electrically actuated engine hatch raises the entire cockpit sole for engine room access.
I saw just over 35 knots on the GPS, and if you went for the 350hp package, you would see your top speed increase to just under 40 knots. There is also a bow thruster to assist in slow-speed manoeuvrability.
BREAK FROM TRADITION
The Sea Ray Sundancer 320 is a very different boat, and while it is unlike anything else I have seen locally, I am sure it isn’t going to be long before we see other brands following this unique theme. It takes a traditional cruiser and bowrider concept and pulls them together to form one efficient and useful design.
The sweeping profile from bow to stern accentuates the angular, full-width windshield and bimini arch, giving the Sundancer 320 a fresh and crisp perspective. There is a fine balance of indoor and outdoor space with a boat that is as versatile as it is elegant. From the relaxed atmosphere of the bow lounge to the entertaining cockpit and open style cabin, this is a boat that breaks from tradition and does it perfectly. RRP $NZ585413
Look for a full review in print with more images in the Mar-Apr edition of PPB, release date March 2nd.