Aimed towards European tastes, can the Sea Ray L650 take the fight to the big names on this side of the pond?
In short, the Sea Ray L650 is the boat that the American yard hopes will take the fight to the established brands on this side of the pond.
When we think of Sea Ray we tend to think of cuddy cabin sportsboats and sub-40ft sportscruisers, at least in Europe anyway. Which is odd, given that Sea Ray have been building big flybridge cruisers as long as anyone.
They had a 500 Sedan Bridge at the Earls Court Boat Show quarter of a century ago so they have been building boats of this ilk at least as long as Princess or Fairline. Europeans have never quite taken to them though.
Big and spacious they might be, and the quality has always been there, but in the past they’ve lacked the sophistication of Europes finest inside and out, whilst the on-water performance tended to suffer in favour of providing space for a fridge the size of a double garage.
But with American tastes getting ever more sophisticated and a need to expand its big boat market far beyond its own shores, Sea Ray has been quietly upping its game, and this, the first of a brand new breed of Europeanised Sea Ray flybridge motor yachts, is the result.
In fact technically it’s two boats, given that Sea Ray are also releasing a sportsyacht version sans flybridge and with a large opening saloon roof instead. Either way the styling is sharp and the profile low, this is a good looking boat.
And it’s the same story on board, where tasteful muted interior joinery and fabrics offer a far more inviting interior ambience than anything we’ve seen from this builder before.
The layout echoes European thinking too, with a classic four square four cabin layout, VIP forward, guests to port and starboard and a full beam master stateroom aft.
The two bigger cabins are en suite, the third and fourth cabin sharing the day heads, but no one’s going to feel short-changed whilst carrying out their ablutions, the bathrooms are a masterclass in subtle quality with their glass bowl sinks and rainfall showers.
On the upper level convention remains with the huge deck saloon sporting a massive galley, comfortable dinette and cozy saloon back aft linked to the cockpit via wide-opening doors. The flybridge extends back to the transom, European style and the de-rigueur high/low platform takes care of tender duties.
It works well out on the water too, a pair of Caterpillar C18A 1,150hp diesels pushing the boat close to 30 knots flat out and cruising serenely in the mid twenties. Our test boat had the optional hard top over the spacious flybridge, allowing us to make the most of the early season summer off Puerto Banus.
- Read more flybridge reviews…
Ultimately this boat does exactly what Sea Ray intended, which is to take the fight directly to Europe and hit the larger flybridge market head on. But crucially it does so without losing the practical, warm hearted sociable charm that American boats have always been strong on.
If Sea Ray is going to challenge the European yards then the L650 is certainly the boat to do it. A strong contender.