Finnmaster T7

Finnmaster T7

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  • I can’t help thinking that if they would only up that maximum engine from 250 to 300 hp, we really would have an outstanding boat on our hands.
  • … obedience, sporting competence and solidity of build remain the real defining characteristics of the helming experience.
  • … as cuddy cockpits go, it’s a very impressive example.

Alex Smith investigates the latest model from Finnmaster’s highly regarded ‘T’ series.

Finnmaster’s T8 was one of the sexiest new entries of 2015. In practical terms, of course, it was just a small family sports cruiser with a large, safe cockpit and space to sleep four. But its radically memorable master cabin, impressive finish and extraordinary stylistic impact made a great deal of the competition feel pallid and uninspiring. In fact, so well received was this boat that our only real doubt revolved around the fact that its spiky aesthetic wasn’t quite reflected in its performance. True, it was a 40-knot boat and it drove very well, but as a beamy 26-footer with sleeping for four, a weight in excess of 2 metric tonnes, space for ten and a modest rating of 300hp, it wasn’t quite as keen a sporting companion as its appearance suggested. What it really needed was to be pared back, reduced in weight and streamlined into a package that sacrificed a little cruising ability for greater sporting acumen – and two years on, with the advent of the smaller T7, Finnmaster have attempted to reward us with exactly that.

Inherited merits

There’s no mistaking the aesthetic bloodline here. The hull form, the steel-trimmed wrap-around screen, the crimson ‘T’ graphic, the angular windows and the foredeck shape with angular rails, LED strip lights and step-through bow – it all resonates with happy familiarity. And it’s not just the externals that tread the established line, because the internal layout is also crafted from a very similar blueprint to that laid down by the T8.

As on the larger boat, the T7’s cockpit is arranged around a port-side L-shaped seating section with starboard walk-through transom and huge swim platforms, which flank the F250 and extend way aft, almost to the back end of the cowling. Down below, the cabin also follows the T8’s winning layout with a diagonal double berth, a port lounge section, a starboard heads and a fore-and-aft guest berth beneath the cockpit sole. Of course, it can’t hope to be quite as spacious as the T8, but it manages to hide that lost metre by means of a very intelligent, non-critical shortening of both cockpit and cabin. In the former case, the cockpit uses a generous two-man co-pilot seat with reversible backrest to make the most of the space. This benefits from a cushioned armrest and stainless steel grab handle, both mounted in the perfect position. Its base also houses an optional slide-out drawer fridge, and beneath the lid on the console top is a compact sink. The co-pilot also gets a couple of cup holders and great protection from the long, protective screen section, which sits up above the shoulder even when you lean back. As things stand, the twin stainless bars that support the backrest need updating with a guard to prevent unwary fingers getting trapped as they swing, but that aside, it’s a very convincing navigator’s station.

Over on the starboard side, the skipper is equally well accommodated. The oversized console features a storage net on the underside, plus a large angled electronics panel with useful glare resistance, plenty of space for retrofit gadgets and a beautiful sports steering wheel with stainless steel spokes. There’s also an armrest for your throttle hand, a teak-lined footbrace built into the console moulding and a bolster-equipped swivel chair. In fact, the only perceivable difficulty here is the bolster itself, which flexes excessively whenever you jam your weight against it.

Aft of the helm seat lies another moulded bench, which runs fore and aft opposite the main L-shaped layout on the port side. It stops short of the transom to enable space for the walk-through and it comes with a cleverly hinged lid that can be swung inboard with the cushion in place to grant easy one-handed access to stowed baggage. This means that, with the helm seat rotated to face inboard and the reversible co-pilot backrest swung to face aft, the cockpit is lined almost entirely with peripheral seating, enabling seven or eight people to enjoy a gathering around the table. The aft storage is limited, because of the quick-erect canvas, which lies ready-rigged inside the bench, but as cuddy cockpits go, it’s a very impressive example.

Down below, the shorter length and reduced window area means it’s not as dramatically open and panoramic as the T8, but by angling the main berth, it still manages to offer a compact seat to port, alongside a useful low-level platform with 12V point for your phone or laptop. The guest berth, which runs fore and aft beneath the cockpit sole, is also significantly reduced in size and is only really a slot for intrepid kids or a receptacle for bulky baggage – but given the relative absence of dedicated ‘out-of-sight’ storage spaces, it remains a very welcome asset.


Full of features

The standard features list is very comprehensive. In classic Scandinavian style, you get a trio of anchor boxes, a pair of batteries, dual 12V outlets, a 30-litre drawer fridge, a seawater toilet with 47-litre holding tank, a ready-rigged canopy, a cockpit table and a teak deck. That alone enables this boat to stand out from the crowd, but there are several things I would want to add – not least the trim indicator, port-side wiper, LED docking lights, multimedia stereo, water ski bracket, sun deck cushion, red hull graphics, cabin curtains, and Wallas 1800 heater and cooker. In that form, it constitutes a very complete cuddy package indeed.


Superior performance

At a metre shorter and half a tonne lighter than the T8, with a power deficit of just 50hp and a slightly shallower deadrise of 20 degrees, it’s very reasonable to assume that the T7 will feel quicker and more direct at the helm. When you put the throttle down, you have to say, that rings true. It has a pleasant amount of throttle response, a 42-knot top end and the kind of eminently capable ride that makes 40 knots feel like 30. But again, obedience, sporting competence and solidity of build remain the real defining characteristics of the helming experience.

Like the T8, it can accommodate ten people, run comfortably at 40 knots on that endlessly compliant hull and take you 130 nautical miles at around 24 knots on a single 192-litre tank. That’s not huge for those who really want to use this boat as a concerted weekend cruiser, so (like the equally short-range T8) it would certainly benefit from a larger fuel tank or at least the provision of that option. But as regards the performance itself, I can’t help thinking that if they would only up that maximum engine from 250 to 300 hp, we really would have an outstanding boat on our hands. The heavyweight build, the generous V and the general composure of the performance certainly suggest the T7 would be capable of handling it – and given that the F300 uses the same 4.2-litre V6 block as the F250, it’s not as if it would disrupt the boat’s very balanced weight distribution. Make no mistake, this very sound and well-sorted sports boat is a pleasure to drive, but it still doesn’t have quite the dynamic snap and fizzle that some T8 fans might have been hoping for.

Verdict

Despite the 250hp outboard, the generosity of the top end and the measured agility of the performance, the T7 is still not quite the sporting thoroughbred its looks suggest. And yet for the great many people who loved the T8, the T7 is precisely what was required: a similarly superior weekend family experience with some useful extra poke and a price tag around £20,000 lower. The only question is whether it adds sufficient sporting acumen to the T8’s established list of merits to justify its place. If you think it does, then the T7 is a boat you will quickly grow to love; if it doesn’t, then stand by for a T6 to enter the fray within the next 12 months.


Specifications

  • LOA: 7.0m
  • Beam: 2.59m
  • Weight: 1550kg
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Power: 150–250 hp
  • Fuel capacity: 192 litres
  • People capacity: 10

Package price (with F250)

From £60,374


Performance

RPM Speed (knots) Fuel flow Range

  • 2000 7.4 13.7 93.3
  • 2500 9.9 17.6 97.2
  • 3000 15.4 23.8 111.8
  • 3500 24.0 32.0 129.6
  • 4000 28.6 42.7 115.7
  • 4500 32.2 54.4 102.3
  • 5000 36.0 68.0 91.5
  • 5500 40.0 84.4 81.9
  • 5800 42.2 96.2 75.8

For

  • Style
  • Space
  • Finish
  • Features
  • Handling composure

Against

  • Flimsy helm bolster
  • A bit more power wouldn’t hurt

Notable standard features

  • Hydraulic steering
  • Single windscreen wiper
  • Dual 12V outputs
  • Dual battery system
  • Adjustable steering wheel
  • Loudspeakers in cabin
  • Trim tabs
  • Three anchor boxes
  • Galley and sink
  • 30-litre drawer fridge
  • Seawater toilet
  • 47-litre holding tank
  • Ready-rigged canopy
  • Cockpit table
  • Teak deck and trim
  • 4 fenders and fender eyes
  • Reversible co-pilot backrest
  • Stainless steel handrails
  • Silvertex cushions
  • Cabin carpet

Notable options

  • Trim indicator
  • Port-side wiper
  • Bow thruster
  • LED docking lights
  • Fusion radio/multimedia player + 2 speakers
  • Cooker
  • Wallas 1800 heater
  • Powered table pedestal
  • Cockpit tonneau cover
  • Water ski bracket
  • Sun deck cushion
  • Red hull graphics
  • Twin offshore seats (instead of nav bench)
  • Cabin curtains

Contact

www.idealboat.com

www.finnmaster.fi

www.midwayboats.co.uk

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