A new design language.
By Alan Wendt
Chicago has its Playpen, Muscamoot Bay on Lake St. Clair hosts the World’s Longest Raft-Off annually in August, and I’m pretty sure you can name many other summer gathering spots for boaters throughout the Great Lakes.
Photos Courtesy of Sea Ray
One thing they have in common are plenty of Sea Ray boats in attendance. Next year, the must-have head-turner is likely to be Sea Ray’s SLX 260, described as the first sportboat crafted with the new Sea Ray design language.
Translating that virtuosity for a new generation of boaters is the first all-female design team at Sea Ray, led by Sea Ray Senior Design Manager Carrie Fodor and parent company Brunswick Boat Group Senior Industrial Designer Kristin McGinnis.
The duo spent several years of customer research, thoughtfully designing this premium model by improving seating comfort with ergonomically engineered deeper seats, which allow for a smoother feel underway. For couples who enjoy “adulting,” the cockpit’s L-shaped bench seating encourages socializing with storage for up to two soft-sided coolers. Regardless of manufacturer, storage is always one of the top five custom requests, and everything aboard the SLX 260 is cleverly laid out to maximize space.
When you first step aboard, an integrated cooler or dry storage spot is easily accessible under the transom sunpad, and a transom locker stows gear, floating water mats, inflatables and the proverbial overstuffed guest bag with more towels and nearly every level of SPF sunscreen sold at CVS. Frankly, it’s brilliant, keeping the floor free of bag straps that mysteriously snag flip flops, also known as the glass slippers of the south.
As part of the Comfort Bundle, a teak table can be added here in the cockpit, and another forward in the bow between the two lounge-style seats. Add a filler cushion and convert the bow into a large sunpad.
With a nod to Wala, the solar goddess, the Sea Ray SLX 260 offers an optional Power Tower with extended sunshade. Lowered or raised with the touch of a button, removable canvas sections can be unzipped to reveal a T-top opening to let in the sun or shield you from a pop-up shower. The Power Tower can also be upgraded with Fusion Signature Series speakers, part of the Entertainment Bundle. Another subtle touch of opulence: A Sea Ray logo light projection and LED RGB-W color-changing lighting throughout.
Our test boat was powered by a Mercury 300 Verado outboard. The SLX 260 is also offered with a 6.2L MPI ECT Bravo Three sterndrive package. Cruising speed with the outboard is roughly 30 to 32 mph, and at wide-open throttle on a flat day we hit more than 50 mph. With a full tank of fuel, 75 gallons, expect a range of nearly 200 miles at cruise.
There was little bow rise at throttle up — an important safety feature. The windshield has been redesigned to be angled level with the horizon when the boat is planing. Mercury’s new generation of outboards are super quiet, easy to maintain and can quickly drain water from the engine, allowing you to extend the boating season should the weather offer one last weekend of boating in October.
The helm is equipped with a dual digital dash featuring 9-inch Simrad touchscreen displays with Mercury Marine VesselView Mobile, active trim control and monitoring, and CZone digital switching. This technology package includes provisions for an inductive charging station. Depending on where you boat, optimal stability and performance is available with optional Dynamic Running Surface that automatically controls trim tabs. Rated for 15 passengers, there is an enclosed portside compartment for a built-in head or gear storage.
Pick your bundle
Sea Ray has modernized the build process for the SLX 260 to streamline the assembly line. As such, your dealer will offer “bundles” to customize the boat and make it fit your budget. The Anchor Bundle, for example, includes a stainless steel anchor and windlass with rope and chain combo. The Essentials Bundle is an ensemble of cockpit and tonneau covers, quick-connect fender clips, a flagpole with the U.S. flag and SeaDek flooring.
You may also want the Water System Bundle for bow washdown and a pullout sprayer at the transom. If coving up in the Ozarks, anchoring in the Playpen, or dock and dining is your thing, check out the Entertainment Bundle that features a Fusion Premier audio system upgrade.
Bottom line, the bundles are the most popular accessories requested by boaters, and they will affect your bottom line out the door. In the words of Sea Ray, the SLX 260 is the embodiment of richer moments on the water leading to a richer life.
Excellent floor covering choices.
Fold-down teak step for starboard boarding.
Easy-to-clean design in cockpit L-shaped bench seats.
- LOA: 28’7″
- Beam: 8’6″
- Draft: 34″/19″
- Weight: 5,564 lbs.
- Fuel Capacity: 75 gals.
- Water Capacity: 14 gals.
- Power (as tested): Mercury 300 Verado outboard
- Starting MSRP:
- Website: searay.com