When Sea Ray announced its 2023 SLX 260 was designed by an all-women team, I became curious about how the boat was different and what the women brought to the design. In a conversation, I learned that both Carrie Fodor, Sea Ray Senior Design Manager and Kristin McGinnis, Brunswick Boat Group Senior Industrial Designer were first off, avid boaters. So they brought their own boating and fishing lifestyle preferences to the table, as well as the results of Sea Ray’s in-depth research through customer interviews. It is part of the company’s process to fully understand how customers use their boats, what they like and even what they bring so they can fully understand the picture of the boaters’ experience in the real boating world.
Above: Carrie Fodor, Sea Ray Senior Design Manager and Kristin McGinnis, Brunswick Boat Group Senior Industrial Designer sitting aboard the 2023 Sea Ray SLX 260. Photo by Sea Ray.
A “Future Proof” Boat Concept Explained
As McGinnis explained, “We like to ‘future-proof’ a boat by gaining different perspectives and gender is a part of that, but not everything.” As the design team she and Fodor “played off each other” and paid a lot of attention to detail. “It’s not ‘head-butting’ but more back and forth, providing feedback. Questions like ‘Is it going to be too much?’ followed by providing options on styling, touch points and ergonomics.” The designers then take the design to engineering to make it feasible and as close to the design concept as possible. A great deal of “behind the scenes” work took place to bring the design to fruition and additional tweaks to the already popular hull were included to add extra performance in acceleration, speed to plane and handing.
Above: Carrie Fodor designing the 2023 Sea Ray SLX 260 boat on a tablet. Photo by Sea Ray.
Boat Design And Aesthetic
Above: The 2023 Sea Ray SLX 260 outboard-powered dual console bowrider sports boat. Photo by Sea Ray.
The team uses what they call “design language” which on the SLX 260 included a long arching “S” shearline and a horizontal crease in the hull side where a Sea Ray logo is placed in the center. The forward and lower hull ”jawline” is more athletic on the SLX 260, giving this Sport Boat a performance look. “It’s more like an Austin Martin than a Bentley,” said Fodor, she described the boat as “dynamic in look, with sharp tailored lines—like an Italian suit and visceral, with an emotional draw.”
The Design Team
The two women became acquainted when McGinnis interned as Sea Ray. “We just hit it off!” she said and they stayed in touch when she started working at Boston Whaler on offshore boat design and fishing boats. Fodor meanwhile has spent her whole career, since 2008 at Sea Ray, working on what she describes as the brand’s client’s expectations for “Glassy water, perfect weather and being out to be seen—there’s no fish blood on a Sea Ray!” she laughed. Sea Ray demands more detailing, fancy seating, stitching and the design is more “visually inspired.”
Above: Kristin McGinnis designing the 2023 Sea Ray SLX 260 Boat. Photo by Sea Ray.
Build Process Background
Plans progressed over three years for the new boat at Sea Ray, to follow the Sundancer 370. Creating the right design team came together by chance and luck. With many new people onboard at Sea Ray an effort began to focus on the brands and models to make them different and not look alike. McGinnis had been eager to work on a Sea Ray Sport Boat and both designers were experienced and available as the project came together.
Said McGinnis, “This is the first Sea Ray I’ve had such a hand in—it’s my baby so it’s wonderful to see it and feel I’ve had a hand in something so beautiful—and to accomplish it with one of my best friends!” Fodor agreed, “It is so exciting now that it is out and we can show it to the world. It will be great to hear the customers’ input and let them know that we listened to them. It gives me goosebumps!”
“Finally” was the word that McGinnis used when the launch was announced. “Finally we can show women are at the table—Sea Ray set up a culture where they don’t just hire women, we empower them to design for comfort and bring honesty to a project.”
Hopping onboard the 2023 Sea Ray SLX 260 outboard-powered boat, it is easy to see why this boat is destined to become a hit with owners across the country. Let’s take a deeper look at each area of the boat and her key features.
Power And Performance
On the transom, the 2023 SLX 260 outboard version sports a Mercury Verado 300 HP engine, while the inboard is powered by a 350 HP Mercury MerCruiser 6.2L MPI ECT. Run wide open in the high 40s or cruise in the mid-high 20s with 75 gallons of fuel and enjoy the smooth ride of the V-hull with a 21-degree deadrise and a shallow enough draft at 24” (stern drive/props up) to beach at the sandbar. With the pull-out shower, passengers can freshen up after a swim.
The boat’s graceful lines curve into a tumblehome transom where the large seat of the extended sun pad reveals a large cooler beneath. The cooler is surrounded by a large swim platform with a swim step and a retractable ladder. The 8’6” beam gives the boat room for 15 people to comfortably cruise for the day. Non-skid or SeaDek flooring adds foot comfort and safety.
Forward in the cockpit, a portside L-shaped seating area with many cup holders, charging ports, niche storage and a removable table invites socializing with other passengers to starboard and those seated in front at the helm. There, a curved, stainless framed windshield protect the two seats that comfortably ensconce the captain and the co-pilot’s seats swivels to center; all the deeply padded upholstery has automotive diamond stitching, contrasting color accents and stitching, with ergonomic cushioning and space for moisture drainage.
The Mercury VesselView and controls at the helm frame a leather steering wheel and raised tilted dashboard with two 9” Simrad screens, CZone digital switching and controls for the standard Fusion Apollo sound system with concealed speakers. LED lighting packages add drama for night-time cruising.
Consoles And Enclosed Console Head
The Sea Ray SLX 260 is a dual console layout with a pass through in the center, and a console on both starbord and port. Beneath the helm is an optional enclosed head and sink or the space can become extra storage to complement the spacious storage compartments throughout, under each seat and including a large space in the cockpit floor for inflatables and water accessories.
The rest of the boat can be protected by the optional canvas “Power Tower” with an easy to operate manually extended sunshade. The sleek tower can be lowered or raised electrically and removable canvas sections unzip for more sunshine through the T-top openings. An additional fabric shade with support poles can cover the bow as well.
Dual seating with backrests at the bow invites comfortable sunning with a filler cushion for a sun pad. It’s clear that the SLX 260 has been thoughtfully designed to maximize space.
The first 2023 Sea Ray Sport Boat model has something for everyone and the women’s design insights perhaps provide that extra “touch” that will make everyone take notice of the details.
Overall Length: 25’5″
Standard Power: 300 HP Mercury (or 350 HP MerCruiser® 6.2L)
Dry Weight: 6,068 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 75 gallons
Water Capacity: 14 gallons
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