If the SLX-R 350 is any indication, Sea Ray is thinking outside the box. Those invited to her premier at 2019’s Miami boat show were ushered into a dark tent, the only light coming from the red LEDs and underwater lights on the gleaming 35-footer. Suddenly, a projection on the ceiling gave us the rundown on the R Series in a scene a colleague described as “Sea Ray meets Blade Runner.” One could feel the excitement that emerged from the builder’s in-progress transition. “We really just started with Sea Ray,” Brunswick CEO David Foulkes told the assembled; there were at least a baker’s dozen of us on board and seated comfortably at the helm, in the bow and at the C-shaped settee aft of the helm.
A few months later I was standing at her helm, blasting across a tabletop-flat lake en route to Nashville at over 56 knots with the 1,400-watt Fusion stereo tuned to Outlaw Country. The 10-inch Fusion Signature Series subwoofer seemed to reverberate in my bones, albeit in a good way. Once on the water at WOT and a 40-plus-knot cruise, I turned down the tunes to listen to the sweet exhaust note of 900 supercharged horses.
Mercury Racing’s 450-hp powerplants were always meant to accompany the SLX-R. The R Series was envisioned as an upper-echelon performer, dripping in carbon fiber accents and nearly every conceivable option. “It’s like the M Series of Sea Ray,” Sales Director Ritch Ragle told me, comparing it to BMW’s performance brand. “We wanted to give the nod that Sea Ray is in the performance game.”