- There’s no doubting the class of this boat.
- As a platform for lunch, or indeed as an object of loveliness to admire in its own right, it’s first rate.
- The softness of the ride is also commendable, as are the aggression of the heel and the unfussed composure of the hull.
- This gentleman’s high-end plaything exhibits a fluid, sculptural celebration of a shape …
Alex Smith examines a Norwegian family cuddy with serious sporting pedigree.
When Cormate’s T27 was launched at the Oslo Boat Show back in 2006, the warmth of its reception heralded very good things. It immediately received the ‘Boat of the Year’ accolade before going on to win the favour of King Harald V of Norway, who apparently bought one to replace his ageing Riva.
Now it would be very easy for a world-weary cynic to surmise that the King’s choice had more to do with patriotic fervour than the merits of the product, but in this case, that doesn’t ring true. After all, quality powerboats are hardly thin on the ground in Norway. He could just as easily have explored the options from Nordkapp, Arctic Blue, Nidelv and Saga; or better still, from Goldfish, Windy or Marex. No, this was plainly a decision made on the basis of personal taste, and when you lay eyes on Cormate’s flagship T27, that’s easy to understand.
This gentleman’s high-end plaything exhibits a fluid, sculptural celebration of a shape – one brought into sharp relief by the use of high-grade materials and classical Scandinavian modesty of style. There’s no radical, angular, self-conscious modernity of approach here; no ‘lightning strike’ hull windows or confrontational jarring of the eye. Just a long, arcing wedge of fibreglass in pale ‘Gulf Blue’ with a pair of simple portholes, a clean central arrangement of leather-lined deck furniture and a reserved icing of teak and stainless steel. It’s a delicious-looking boat, the kind that makes ostentation feel facile and silly – and when you look at the specs, the quiet self-assurance of the T27 feels even more appropriate …
Despite its regal demeanour, this sleek 28-footer can be equipped with an engine of up to 660hp for speeds well in excess of 70 knots – and to cope with all that grunt, the classically dressed powder-blue livery conceals a hull conjured into existence courtesy of input from the much-vaunted Hydrolift racing stable. That involves a super-acute 25-degree deadrise, a moderate beam of little more than 8 feet and big lift from the deep-cut spray rails that run aft from that swell-cleaving stem. Having salivated over this boat at its UK debut in London earlier this year, we jumped at the chance for a closer look.
The T27’s external layout is remarkably practical for a cruising couple. It uses a single-level cockpit with a slightly offset two-man helm station behind a one-piece wrap-around screen. Behind that, bordering a short integrated swim platform, is an aft seating unit, perched right in the middle of the deck. This is surrounded by broad teak walkways and lavished with a convertible backrest that enables you to face forward or aft or to flatten the unit entirely for use as a two-man sun pad. In truth, the low head position makes for slightly odd sunbathing ergonomics, but that’s easily remedied with cushions.
The result of all this is that with four central ranks of two-man seats, the cockpit can easily seat eight people: two at the helm, two looking aft at the swim platform and a further four occupying the natural dining station between the back end of the helm unit and the forward-facing bench. And while the low-slung rails and elevated walkways mean it does feel quite shallow, it also makes embarkation from the pontoon very easy at any point along the boat’s length.
Down below, you get a short lobby section with loo to starboard and sink to port, plus a compact double berth in the V of the bow, with limited headroom and equally limited natural light. That, of course, is the price you pay for the great looks, the sporting posture and the flat foredeck. Aside from a few undrained cup holders, therefore, my only real quibble regarding the fit-out concerns the Cormate’s remarkable dearth of gas rams …
On the engine hatch, which opens 180 degrees to enable better service access, that’s fine, but elsewhere it’s more problematic. The storage space beneath the bed is a prime example, as is the hinged helm seat, which can barely be lifted at all, such is the combined weight of its mouldings and its integrated fridge. Similarly, the starboard hatches in the lower lounge area clatter shut at the merest provocation, so some securing straps here ought to be factored into the thinking. There’s no doubt this is a well-made and attractively finished boat, but a little help with lifting and holding the various lids wouldn’t go amiss.
The calibre of execution elsewhere, however, is quite gratifying. The little stowage compartments for the flares are lined with foam; the soundproofing around the engine is extremely comprehensive; there are recessed fender mouldings fore and aft; and the partition for the double berth is not a flappy fabric curtain tied with old lady’s tassels, but a rigid, weighted panel that folds flush with the overhead roof lining and can be deployed in a second with a simple twist of the rotating wing nut. I would like to see that nut made from brushed aluminium rather than plastic, but it’s no less welcome for that.
A taste of what could be
Settle into the cosseting helm seat, with those racing throttles in your right hand, and all seems very well sorted indeed. But when you look forward there’s an immediate issue with visibility. The steeply angled lip at the top of the green-tinted screen is certainly an effective means of deflecting the wind over your head, but its curve also distorts your view, in much the same way as a novelty funfair mirror. It happens at a critical point in the eyeline of a 6-footer and the seat cannot be lowered to compensate for this, so your only real option is to drive standing up. That’s fine for me, given that standing is my favoured position, but it’s a peculiar oversight and one that would certainly need remedying for any prospective purchaser.
When you get underway, however, the character of the driving experience is quick to make itself felt. There is some tremendous traction at the bottom end, taking you onto the plane in 2.5 seconds and to 30 knots in little more than that. The softness of the ride is also commendable, as are the aggression of the heel and the unfussed composure of the hull. At a gentle 33-knot cruise, with a fuel flow of around 42 litres per hour and a range of around 140 nautical miles, it also exhibits a surprising level of running efficiency – but there’s no doubt that the 200-litre fuel tank is uncommonly small. To put it into perspective, the standard tank on the smaller Windy 26 Kharma is 300 litres, and on the Hydrolift C28 Cab (a similarly conceived Norwegian race-derived family weekender) it is 415 litres, more than double that of the T27. If you were to give in to temptation and take full advantage of the top-end engine options, you would certainly want more fuel than that.
Interestingly, despite the conspicuous ability of the hull and the easy compliance of its handling, our 47-knot top end is also about 5 knots short of the builder’s claimed figure – and given that the MerCruiser 6.2L V8 350 is only revving to 4900rpm, that’s no great surprise. With just two of us on board, the loading of the test boat is certainly very modest; and the hull (which on poorly maintained boats is often the primary source of excessive drag) is perfectly clean. It seems certain therefore that the issue here is the prop …
The model in question is a Mercury Enertia 14×19, designed for rapid sports boats very much like this. It does, however, use substantial cupping, so in pursuit of an extension to the engine’s RPM and some longer-legged top-end speeds, it’s good to know that the technicians at Fine Design Marine are experimenting with a lower pitch. If it were able to rev closer to its nominal maximum of 5400rpm, I’m willing to bet that the claimed top end of 52 knots might well be joined by significant gains in fuel efficiency (taking the current rate of 1.84 litres per nautical mile much closer to the optimum 1.6).
There’s no doubting the class of this boat. As a platform for lunch, or indeed as an object of loveliness to admire in its own right, it’s first rate. However, elegant aesthetics aside, the one thing that really distinguishes it from the mainstream competition is its hull – or more to the point, its capacity to add 50% or 60% more pace at the top end without compromising control. If it were me, I would therefore like to see this boat not just with a better-matched prop but with a more adventurous engine choice. In that guise, with its gentlemanly Nordic demeanour allied to a mischievous predilection for high-octane fury, the T27 really would become a fast weekender to covet.
- Lovely looks
- Impressive hull
- Classy detailing
- Rapid throttle response
- Small fuel tank
- Distorted visibility at helm
- Low-slung dial position
- Lofty price
RPM Speed Fuel flow Range
- 600 3.2 3.4 169.4
- 1000 5.3 6.1 156.4
- 1500 7.2 9.8 132.2
- 2000 8.6 15.5 99.9
- 2500 15.8 21.6 131.7
- 3000 23.4 29.5 142.8
- 3500 30.0 37.9 142.5
- 4000 35.0 50.3 125.2
- 4500 41.8 77.4 97.2
- 4900 47.0 87.1 97.1
- LOA: 8.46m
- Beam: 2.55m
- Weight: From 1900kg
- Deadrise: 25 degrees
- Recommended power: 250–430 hp
- Engine: MerCruiser 6.2L V8 350
- Fuel capacity: 200 litres
- People capacity: 9
Base price: From £134,375
Price as tested: £148,612
Fine Design Marine