In 2018, Sea Ray ceased production of all its yacht models over 40 feet in order to focus on its smaller sportboats and cruisers. So, when an invitation came to test drive the builder’s first new-from-the-keel-up cruiser design since that landmark decision—the 2021 Sundancer 370—I jumped at the chance.
The sea trial took place in Sarasota, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It was a sneak preview, because the official launch of the 370 was scheduled to take place several months later. This new model introduction is so important to Sea Ray that company President Steve Langlais was among the first to greet me on the dock.
“We currently have a Sundancer 350 that will be discontinued, but this is much more than a replacement, because it embodies the future of the brand,” Langlais said. “It’s a totally different boat.”
He gestured at the 370’s exterior profile, which features sharper lines than the 350’s and incorporates two hull windows per side instead of one. “It has the Sea Ray Sundancer DNA—the long sheer, the crease and the emblem,” he said. “And the ‘jawline’ is right below the crease. It gives the bow a strong appearance and motion.” He added that this design feature, which has come and gone throughout the evolution of the Sundancer line, will be part of the design for future models.
The 370 also sports a custom diamond pattern that ties its on-deck design scheme together. It is carved into the cockpit sole, stitched into the upholstery, and most noticeably, silhouetted on the glass of the hardtop’s skylight.
The 370’s beam (12 feet) is 8 inches wider than the 350’s, allowing plenty of space for an enhanced exterior layout. The chief change is the forward bow cockpit, accessed via a glass door to port that serves as an extension of the windshield when closed, but easily folds open on gas-assisted shocks.
“This layout was introduced with the Sundancer 320 and has been very popular,” Langlais said, leading the way forward to the bow, where a three-person settee with armrests converts to a large sunbed. “My kids call this the best seat in the house,” he added. The boat’s upgrade Fusion stereo package, which has a separate remote for the bow compartment, also ratchets up the 370’s cool factor. There are USB ports and drinkholders galore.
Where the Sundancer 350 has a traditional companionway door, on the 370, you enter the cabin from the port walkaround. Adding the bow cockpit has not compromised the boat’s interior space, thanks to the Sea Ray’s big beam and the walk-through deck configuration. “It makes a huge difference to the interior,” Langlais said.
This is no day-boat cabin. It’s designed to support cruising adventures lasting a weekend or longer for two couples or a family of four. There is a galley with sink, fridge and microwave; a head with separate shower, and a mid-cabin that converts from a seating area to a double berth. A new feature is the forward berth, which is cleverly incorporated into the salon settee. Push a button and the
settee folds out flat, creating an extension to the berth that is forward of it.
In the aft cockpit, the rear seat also does tricks, converting to an aft-facing lounge that is great for watching kids swimming in the water behind the boat while you’re at anchor. The base of this seat and its backrest are separate, and there’s a lighting strip and a water-runoff channel between them. “A lot of times, if your seat back comes all the way down to the seat, water gets trapped,” explained Jeff Etapa,
program director at Sea Ray Boats, who also came out for the sea trial.
Traditionally, Sundancers were sterndrive-powered boats, but in recent years, Sea Ray has answered market demand by offering both sterndrive and outboard versions. The new 370 is designed to run only with triple Mercury Verado outboards, however. “It’s the right power for this boat,” Etapa said, adding that the
outboards are mounted low so they don’t detract from the sleek profile.
Etapa is based at the Brunswick Boat Group Technology Center in Edgewater, Florida, which has been the R&D facility for Brunswick Corporation brands Sea Ray and Boston Whaler since it opened in 2019. Not only did the Sundancer 370’s design draw from both builders’ expertise, but it also is loaded with technology from sister company Mercury Marine, including features like Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS), Joystick Piloting for Outboards and a Sport Exhaust mode that lets the driver switch the sound of the 300 Verados from near-silent to a throaty roar that announces to the world they are indeed V-8 engines.
As I took my place at the helm, I saw that one of the two 16-inch Simrad multifunction screens mounted in the dash displayed data from the boat’s integral CZone digital-switching system. CZone is part of Brunswick’s Power Products suite, another in-house advantage. Tapping the touchscreen, Etapa said, “I can control everything from the helm,” including the bilge pumps, lights, etc. The CZone display also shows alarms, fuel levels and much more. In an added touch of convenience, the Simrad remote in the helm seat armrest lets you change the on-screen displays without having to reach over to the dash. There is also a handy CZone key fob remote.
Out on Sarasota Bay, the triple 300 Verados proved they were indeed the right power for this boat. The 370 planed off with very little bow rise at between 4000 and 5000 rpm, as the DTS system automatically trimmed the engines to the most efficient levels. The Verados delivered a great hole shot and effortlessly hit a top end of 44.6 knots. However, thanks to the 370’s 12-foot beam, it still handled like a yacht, delivering a smooth, stable ride both on a straight course and in tight turns. The boat cruises between 26 and 30 knots.
The driving experience was also yacht-like thanks to the protection afforded by the coupe-style hardtop with its huge glass windshield and full side windows. (There is an electric vent in each side window that you can open to let in the breeze.) The sightlines were excellent all around the boat.
In an era where so many new boats in this size range are being designed as day boats, I was glad to see that true to the 45-year history of the Sundancer model line, the new flagship Sundancer 370 is capable of taking its owners on adventures to destinations away from their home port, for many days at a time.
Displ.: 21,400 lbs.
Fuel: 250 gals.
Water: 46 gals.
Power: (3) 330-hp Mercurys
Base Price: $679,000
This article was originally published in the April 2021 issue.