In a lot of cases, a bowrider is a compromise boat, trying to be many things at once. The new Formula 290 BR, however, is a great exception. It manages to deliver classic Formula “big boat” looks in a nimble and fast package that makes it an ideal family boat and a great second boat for those who own a larger vessel used for extended passages.
The layout is classic bowrider, with a forward seating area, a dual helm with passenger seats and a U-shaped cockpit lounge. Moving further aft, there’s a stern seating area that allows easy access to the water via the full-width swim platform and integral ladder. But a closer look reveals refinements that allow the 290 BR to stand out from all other bowriders.
Starting at the forward end, the bow seating on the 290 BR features “big boat comfort” in the form of unique flip down armrests that make it much more appealing for adult guests and longer cruising. This feature helps make the bow more than the usual spot to plop the rowdy kids out of the way.
Moving back a bit to the helm finds seating that comfortably accommodates two and allows perfect sight lines in all directions — critical for safe operation. The engine controls and instruments are nicely configured for great ergonomics to the delight of seasoned skippers as well as those newer to boating.
As is the case all over this boat, the fit and finish are all first-rate. There’s a reversible seat to port, which is a great idea that adds versatility whether the boat is at rest or underway. The bench seat covers a cavernous storage locker ideally located to hold PFDs and other “need-to-get-to-them-quickly” items. It is adjacent to the enclosed head, which can comfortably accommodate a full-sized human without inducing fits of claustrophobia.
The U-shaped entertainment area in the cockpit features a sink and a cooler — but for maximum enjoyment of the boat, go for the optional “big boat” pull-out drawer style, dual voltage refrigerator. Additional storage is located under the sink. The seating can be converted a massive sunpad.
As noted above, the aft end of the boat features a very nicely proportioned swim platform complete with aft-facing seating and a ladder that tucks away when not in use. From the pointy end all the way to the stern, and at all locations in between, the 290 BR exhibits a great attention to detail and “big boat” build quality.
While the 290 BR has plenty of creature comforts, performance was not overlooked. With standard power — twin MerCruiser 300-horsepower MAG Bravo III engines, with a wide assortment of other power options, including Volvo Penta duopropped V8s — and less than a full load of guests, wide-open throttle will get you into the mid-50 mph range. As a result, the 290 BR is ideal for family watersports or simply blowing out the cobwebs on open stretches of water. Formula has a time-honored reputation for boats that are just as capable as they are good looking, and the hull on the 290 BR lives up to expectations, with the deep-V entry allowing full, easy control at all speeds. In short, the boat exhibits a comfortable, predictable and safe ride.
All that is backed by an impressive 10-year structural warranty, which helps explain the brand loyalty that sees most Formula owners on their second, third or fourth models. Maybe you should join them.
Formula 290 BR
Length Overall: 29’
Dry Weight: 8,950 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 112 gals.
Water Capacity: 19 gals.
Base Price: $182,500
Author: Sandy Lindsey is a contributor to HeartLand Boating magazine