It’s a versatile, multi-activity boat for weekending or watersports.
Bowriders, much like center consoles, have been undergoing a growth spurt. They’re no longer limited to 20- and 24-footers with the traditional 8-foot, 6-inch beam that makes them easy to tow. They stretch to nearly 40 feet in some cases, and include cabins and full-size head compartments. In other words, they’re no longer a single-function boat.
Four Winns is no stranger to bowriders — its Vista line is the only of its six lines not to have bow seating — and the flagship of the bowriders, the Horizon 350, is a 35-footer that can accommodate a bunch of friends, pull a skier, hop the islands, host sunset cocktails or serve as a couples weekender. From the dock, the H350 looks like an express-style boat, and it really is — an express, dayboat-style vessel with the added touch of seating up front.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t begin the tour of this big bowrider in the bow. Accessed via the windshield walkthrough, the bow area is ringed with seating, and the backrests are tall all around, so everyone should feel safely enclosed. To port is a forward-facing loveseat-sized bench. To starboard is a settee that can seat three folks in an L shape, or one person can sit with his feet on the floor and another can stretch out chaise-lounge style. Forward is another bench seat. A table can be set up for snacks or a game of cards — at rest, obviously — and four cupholders and two speakers enhance the party potential. Optional filler cushions can turn the bow into a big sunpad. Fans of wind in their hair and maybe bugs in their teeth will like riding in the bow.
Behind the windshield, under the hardtop and forward of the sun lounge is the cockpit. A big L-shaped settee runs along the port side and aft. Its backrest is shared with the rear-facing sun lounge, and it can seat up to six people. A galley/refreshment center is along the starboard side, just aft of the helm, and includes a solid countertop, a grill, a sink and a 36-quart cooler. A refrigerator is an option, and probably one most buyers will pursue.
In the forward section of the cockpit are four captain’s chairs, two at the starboard-side helm and two more to port; the ones to port share a base. Three of them swivel around, so their occupants can be part of the action, turning the area into a six- or eight-person conversation pit. All of the seats include bolsters, and while the captain’s chair doesn’t swivel, it is height adjustable. I had no problem seeing well over the windshield while I drove standing up, but I’m six and a half feet tall. With the bolster, the driver can choose to hunker down out of the breeze or sit higher and get a better view.
The helm station on our test boat was dark colored, with black and brown vinyl upholstery, dark textured trim and a black vinyl-wrapped sport wheel. Raymarine A75 and A77 touchscreen displays sat in the not-quite-vertical dash, along with a Merc DTS engine gauge.
A hardtop runs from the helm to just shy of the aft settee, so passengers will have the choice of how much exposure to the sun they want. And if everyone wants a taste of the sun, most of the hardtop is a sunroof that opens wide. Our test boat wasn’t fully enclosed, allowing the elements in, but there are canvas options to enclose the cockpit.
Down a set of steps at the foot of the companion seats is the cabin. At the base of the steps is a head with a sink and a Vacuflush toilet with a 25-gallon holding tank. It’s a wet head, so no enclosed shower, but there is a water heater, and most folks will be surprised to find a head at all.
The cabin itself consists of an L-shaped sofa with enough overhead space that people can sit up, and a berth with enough room for two people to lie down but no real headroom. For a couple on a weekend excursion, there’s plenty of room to relax and sleep belowdecks. During a daylong watersports marathon, the cabin would be a good spot to store extra equipment, food, beverages and coolers. Plus, everyone has a private place to change out of damp gear.
Good-sized hull windows and overhead hatches let in plenty of natural light, and air conditioning is an option, as is a TV. A microwave comes standard. Fill-in cushions are an option, to turn the sofa and berth into a giant bed.
Gettin’ After It
The horsepower range Four Winns offers spans from 600 to 860, and our test boat was near the middle of the range, with twin 350 hp MerCruiser 6.2L EC gas engines coupled to Bravo III JPS drives. A slew of options from MerCruiser and Volvo Penta — 300 to 430 hp — are available to buyers, to rig the H350 exactly how an owner wants it.
The 6.2L Mercs pushed the 12,800-pound H350 on plane in about 4.8 seconds and to a top speed of 46 mph on test day. The Mercs were spinning at 5400 rpm at wide-open throttle and burning a combined 53 gph of gas. WOT was the only time the efficient MerCruisers were burning more than 1 gpm. At 5000 rpm, the boat was clipping along at 43 mph while the engines burned 42.8 gph, which yields a range of about 145 miles, taking a 10 percent reserve into account. Drop down to 4000 rpm, and range goes to about 190 miles at 33 mph, with a fuel burn of 25.2 gph. The sweet spot is around 3500 rpm. There, a speed of 27 mph burns 19.3 gph, for a range of just more than 200 miles.
The H350’s holeshot and turning ability — Four Winns’ patented Stable-Vee hull uses a longer running surface to hold the water better and stay flatter and more stable — make it a solid watersports platform, capable of getting skiers, boarders and tubers up and going, and able to pick them up quickly and safely when the run is over. And while its wake is likely suitable for all but the most intense wakeboarders, its top speed makes it a potential slalom platform too. The wide swim platform is the spot to boot up before a run, and the transom shower makes it easy to rinse off afterward. A stainless steel ski tow and a fold-away boarding ladder are standard. A rear-facing lounge can work for spotters, and it converts to more of a chaise lounge/sunpad at the touch of a button.
The Four Winns Horizon 350 isn’t trying to be all things to all people, but it is a versatile, multi-activity boat. The seating area in the bow gives it something extra that not all express-style vessels and dayboats have, and the hardtop delivers relief from relentless rays or protection from a sudden shower. Its size places it squarely in a niche that appeals to folks who like being the host with the most and are ready to step up from a trailerable boat but maybe not ready to jump to a 40-plus-footer.