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Sea Ray SLX 260 Outboard

This dayboat makes a statement wherever it goes
LOA: 28’7” Beam: 8’6” Draft (up/down): 19”/34” Weight (dry): 5,564 lbs. Power: (1) 300-hp Mercury Fuel: 75 gals. Water: 14 gals. Base price: $169,000

LOA: 28’7” Beam: 8’6” Draft (up/down): 19”/34” Weight (dry): 5,564 lbs. Power: (1) 300-hp Mercury Fuel: 75 gals. Water: 14 gals. Base price: $169,000

Even though it is the smallest model in Sea Ray’s SLX series, which ranges up to 40 feet, the new 260 Outboard could attract envious glances from other boaters as it zips past on the lake or river. It certainly looked sharp at the dock of the MarineMax dealership in Pompano Beach, Florida, where we jumped on board for a sea trial.

Offered in sterndrive and outboard versions, the SLX 260 is the first Sea Ray model to be designed by an all-female team: Sea Ray Senior Design Manager Carrie Fodor and Brunswick Boat Group Senior Industrial Designer Kristin McGinnis. Their goal for the new model was to create an upscale luxury dayboat that would turn heads wherever it went.

Before starting the design, however, Fodor and McGinnis surveyed current owners of other SLX models like the 250 (which the 260 replaces) and 280.

The double-diamond stitching in the cockpit upholstery is reminiscent of high-end automobile styling.

The double-diamond stitching in the cockpit upholstery is reminiscent of high-end automobile styling.

“SLX is our most premium product line,” Fodor said. “The owners that we are designing for might be leaders in their community or at their job. They are image conscious. They like style; they like high-quality premium products and goods, and they are looking for a boat that reflects those tastes.”

The owners reported that their favorite things to do with the SLX included taking it to a waterfront restaurant and heading out for a cocktail cruise. “They described it a lot as the ‘high-end adult boat,’” said Fodor.

The 260 is the first Sea Ray sportboat to showcase the brand’s new visual design language. “We wanted to keep that classic elongated, S-shaped sheer that you have seen on some of the larger Sea Rays throughout history,” Fodor said. Another historic styling cue they maintained is the horizontal crease line through the hullside with the Sea Ray logo in its center. “We also have updated the logo to be more of a modern pill shape,” she continued. “The last element of the new design language is a small character line—we call it the jawline—that creates an athletic visual read.”

Both women come from an automotive design background, and it shows in features like the double-diamond stitching in the upholstery. “Every detail has been thought about and inspired by the customers’ lifestyles and their cars,” McGinnis said.

Reminiscent of a sportscar’s convertible top is the next-generation Power Tower. This optional tower and soft top shades the helm and cockpit and also incorporates a retractable shade you can pull out to cover the aft-deck sunlounge. What is truly innovative about the Power Tower, however, is that it drops down to windshield level at the push of a button, lowering the boat’s clearance by about 3 feet for storage or to pass under low bridges. I lowered it during my sea trial and found you can still sit upright in the helm chair.

Owners have discovered another function for the Power Tower. “If they are hanging out on board for the day, they angle the top a couple of notches to move the area of shade in the boat,” Fodor said. What’s more, there is a hidden light in the top of the tower that shines the Sea Ray logo on the cockpit sole at night, providing what she calls, “a little surprise and delight.”

The standard SLX 260 comes with everything owners need for a fun day on the water, including a Fusion audio system, USB ports and Apple Airplay 2. However, McGinnis, Fodor and their team have created a series of optional feature bundles that can further enhance an owner’s time on the water. For example, boaters who really want to blast the tunes can step up to the Entertainment Bundle with 8-channel Apollo Series amplifier, three pairs of 7” speakers, 10” subwoofer and transom remote. The Lighting Bundle includes LED RGB-W color-changing interior lighting, cupholder lights, underwater lights and even an illuminated Sea Ray logo on the hull sides. There is also a Comfort Bundle that adds tables for both cockpits and a fill-in sunpad for the bow.

I predict the most popular optional bundle for the SLX 260 will be the one that transforms the passenger console into a private head with VacuFlush toilet and holding tank. The head compartment is roomy enough to hold an adult, although one drawback is the lack of a hull port to bring in outside ventilation.

McGinnis and Fodor have incorporated a huge amount of stowage in hatches and bins beneath the sole and the seats of this small sportboat. “Both Carrie and I are boaters and watersports enthusiasts, and we can tell you that you can never have enough storage space on a boat,” McGinnis said.

“Style is important to our customers,” added Fodor, who said she’s seen owners bungee-cord water toys to their boats’ tops and swim platforms in the past. That won’t be necessary on this boat; there’s plenty of space to stow everything from coolers and inflatable rafts to wakeboards and water skis.

I drove an SLX 260 Outboard powered by a single Mercury 300 Verado and it had an upscale, automotive feel. Like a sportscar, it was quiet and featured a stitched leather-like dash and ergonomic driver’s seat. At my height, the top frame of the windshield interrupted my field of vision, so I opted for leaning against the flip-up bolster—also very comfortable.

While many of the SLX 260’s desirable features are offered as options, a full suite of helm electronics is included as standard. They include two 9” Simrad touchscreen displays, Mercury Vessel View Mobile monitoring system, chartplotter and fishfinder, along with Mercury SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift and Active Trim system. Even more notable, this Sea Ray has a standard CZone digital switching system that you can use to operate all of those lights and the other bells and whistles with the touch of a finger.

Our sea trial took place in a stretch of the ICW with a 25-mph speed limit, so I didn’t get to hit top end, but accelerating to the limit was ultra-fast. This boat really likes to run. The narrow ICW was churning with boat wakes, but the 260’s hull, with its 21-degree deadrise, cut smoothly through them all. The power steering was responsive, and I was able to crank the boat over into satisfyingly tight turns. According to the builder, the boat’s best cruise speed is 30 to 32 mph; max speed is 51 to 53 mph.

The Sea Ray SLX 260 has its share of family-friendly features, from the deep bow cockpit to the enclosed head to the swim platform, which is large despite having to accommodate the single outboard. “We definitely have customers who will bring their kids along,” Fodor said, adding, “The boat has a layout the whole family can enjoy—but it makes the adults feel really special.” —Louisa Beckett

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue.

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