Chris-Craft is a legendary name in the world of power boats. The classic nameplate alone implies more than a century of evolutionary boating design. From classic woody speedsters and stately cabin cruisers to mahogany side boards, 1950s fins and snout-nosed stems, Chris-Craft has evolved through generations of radical styles and tastes. The company has set some trends and followed others, marketing to satisfy the boating masses. Chris-Craft is a survivor that has thrived through the years, and has built a reputation for reliability. Its latest line of family cruisers illustrates this. Under new OMC ownership, the company has completely retooled and restyled its fleet for 1991. The 302 Crowne just might be Chris-Craft’s hottest new boat. With an aerodynamic, molded look, wrap-around windshield and stylish, low maintenance features, this open express cruiser is a finely styled blend of gusto and comfort suited for growing families who enjoy a lot of activities on the water. On deck, the 302’s tiered integral transom is styled with a curvacious stern swim step. It is equipped with a hot and cold shower, swinging transom gate and fender sockets that double as scuba tank holders. A wrap-around sport lounge is just a few steps away, along with a table, wet bar, sink and ice box. The cockpit is framed overhead by a rakish radar arch. On the other side of the arch, the 302’s helm is sporty enough to fuel the performance fantasies of any driver. With its array of round, businesslike gauges that come with five year warranties, glossy laminate surfaces and designer-trimmed panels and sport steering wheel, the 302 also is a cruising weekend home. The helm’s companion seat and side-facing double seat provide a sociable setting in the midst of all the â go fastâ excitement. Our test boat, provided by Rudy Bankson at Seattle’s Yachts Northwest, is the first 302 Crowne delivered on the West Coast. It proved itself to be a feisty speedster. Equipped with twin 260 hp OMC Cobra 5.7 Liter stern drives, the test boat popped onto plane and quickly hit speeds of nearly 45 mph. We idled out of Lake Union through Montlake Cut and onto Lake Washington, where conditions were like a mill pond. The wake was silky smooth, almost flat, and the counter-rotating stainless steel propellers seemed to offer ample control. They kept things smooth and quiet on a ride that had us cutting turns steadily at full throttle without a slip or jog. Buyers also may opt for the next step up in power packages: twin OMC Cobra 7.4 Liter drives that pump out 330 hp. These undoubtedly would have taken our test boat over the 50 mph mark. The standard OMC Cobra twin 5.0 Liter stern drive offers a cruising speed of 30 mph, compared to our power plant that kept us at a quiet rev, cruising at 35 mph. Between the variety of engine sizes, the 150 gallon fuel capacity offers a cruising range of 182 miles with the smaller 5.0 Liter engine and 150 miles with the 7.4. The deck hatch offers easy access to both engines. Vibration is kept to a minimum, allowing almost normal conversation at cruising speed, despite a lack of sound insulation between engines and the main cabin. The midcabin accommodations include six feet, eight inches of headroom and are reached by a scalloped companionway stair. Aft, a wrap-around settee seats eight for dining and converts to a double bed with privacy curtains. Below, as on deck, the atmosphere is modern, slick and not too demanding for people who want to spend their time aboard having fun, not sanding teak. In keeping with the functional temperament of the 302, a U-shaped sofa that seats four in the midcabin features a cleverly designed dinette table that converts to two cocktail tables. Forward, a spacious queen-size bed has an adjacent port and roomy under-berth stowage. The galley and head are small, but bright, functional and easily maintained. Despite the sacrifice in space all open express cruisers must make to keep a low profile topside, this 302 manages to provide enough creature comforts below to keep everyone happy during a weekend cruise. Light colors and composites lend a feeling of airiness below, and so do its opening ports and white translucent circular hatches/skylights with screens. The hatches have strong metal frames that are properly weather sealed. Throughout the boat, the absence of maintenance-heavy wood trim is striking. It’s clean and bright below, but the real joy of the 302 is topside. The 302 is a fun-loving boat, with the racy profile of a cat ready to pounce. Its layout will suit boatmen who enjoy the open accessibility of an express cruiser. If the 302 has a weak point, it is the narrow deck walkway leading from the cockpit to the foredeck: It is barely wide enough for a size 9 medium shoe, so agility is required to go forward while underway. However, the 302 shares this drawback with many boats of its type. Chris-Craft’s 302 Crowne is one of the most appealing express cruisers of this size on the market. It is well designed, stylish and comes from a company that has made a commitment to satisfying today’s market: That means performance, service and reliability. Our test boat may have been the first 302 Crowne on the West Coast, but no doubt there will be more 302s out here soon â “ Western skippers know a good thing when they see it.