There’s a reason you and I go to boat shows, and it isn’t for the food or to enjoy some quiet contemplation. We go for the new debuts, sure, but sometimes I find myself gravitating to the side-by-side comparisons of a fleet as much, if not more. Such juxtapositions tend to raise interesting questions: Why did they build the boat this way? What inspiration led to this design? Where do these idiosyncrasies come from?
Making her debut at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, Formula’s 430 ASC (All Sport Crossover)—with an eye-catching metallic blue gelcoat—happened to be sharing dock space with her sistership, the 430 SSC (Super Sport Crossover). Presiding over both was Formula Designer John Adams, who, with a simple intimating hand gesture, seemed to lay bare the differences between the two almost immediately.
“From where that lady is standing”—about 6 feet forward of the transom—“everything aft has changed [on the ASC],” said Adams. “Otherwise, everything forward is exactly the same,” including an open bow, triple helm seating, and about 40 linear feet of deck space on one continuous level from bow to stern.
With the 430 ASC, Formula is doubling down on customers choosing its muscular crossover convertible coupe over a center console for their offshore fishing and boating adventures, and, on first glance, it seems to be paying off. Configurations are endless, thanks to Formula’s SmartZone concept that creates separate, customizable “activity” areas.
Take, for instance, the extended swim platform. At 50 square feet, it provides ample space for arrangements that include paddleboard, bike or kayak racks. An aft-facing, double-wide seat flips down; a nice place, I thought, to put on scuba diving gear or to wait for a bite. In this configuration, an extra-long, padded leaning post outfitted with six rod holders occupied the space between the quad Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards—this is a Formula boat, after all—and the feature-laden transom.
Formula is touting the 430 ASC as a no-compromise fishing machine. So it was nice to have avid fisherman and Editor-at-Large Pete Frederiksen in tow as Adams gave us a walkthrough of the boat’s fishing stations. To starboard, a flip-open bait-prep workstation makes it easy to hook baitfish pulled from the pressurized, 52-gallon livewell aft. (Not a fisherman? The livewell can accommodate four dive tanks.)
Beneath the long portside lounge, a 75-gallon fish box with digitally controlled thermostat was at the ready to keep the day’s catch—or, personally, to crawl into on this hot Florida day.
“You know what’s unusual about this boat?” said Frederiksen, snapping me out of my reverie. “It’s like two boats in one. There isn’t one inch on this boat that isn’t being used for something. This is like an 80-foot boat.”
“We don’t want to build boats that only have a lifespan of two to three years,” said Adams, who was showing us the amidships table aft of the helm for dining and entertaining. “You have wraparound seating here just like you do on the SSC,” added Adams. “Wherever we can import some of those features in this boat and vice versa, we can do that.”
Comparisons are one thing. The 430s are something else entirely: twin sisters who enjoy different hobbies.