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Finnmaster T8

Finnmaster T8

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  • … there’s a balance to the shape and a meaty, feline physicality to the style that is profoundly striking.
  • … the absence of external walkways means you get a cockpit that is wide as well as long – and its two-tier layout is also cleverly conceived.
  • In short, the performance of this four-berth family cruiser is very competent indeed, but I would still be keen to pursue an upgrade on that 250-litre fuel tank.
  • … its sportiness is more about forthright posturing than hard-edged performance.

Finnmaster T8

Alex Smith investigates the ultrastylish flagship of Finnmaster’s streamlined new fleet.

 

It seems that Finnish boatbuilders Finnmaster have been working hard in the last couple of years to bring about an overhaul of their fleet. Certainly, since their foundation in 1990, they have always been dedicated to the production of relatively compact powerboats (and they still are), but their latest range exhibits three key changes. Firstly, it is smaller than it used to be, with just 11 craft compared to the 20 it boasted a couple of years ago; secondly, its boats are slightly larger than they were, with a range that starts at 5.2 metres (rather than 4.8) and runs to 8.0 metres (rather than 7.6); and thirdly, there has been a process of simplification, eradicating the previous three product lines (Open, Cruiser and Cabin) in favour of a succinct F, P or T prefix …

 

This streamlined, automotive-style restructuring means that you now have a much better idea of what to expect. The F line, for instance, is for the entry-level craft, swallowing up the brand’s compact day cruisers, bowriders and side consoles and eradicating any confusion in the process. The P series, meanwhile, encompasses the builders’ tough and practical pilot boats; and the T series represents the ultramodern, high-end line – a place where dynamically styled express cruisers are able to take greater risks, with bold design choices and striking car-inspired solutions. As the larger of the two F craft and winner of the Motor Boat of the Year Award at the recent London Boat Show, Finnmaster’s flagship T8 has now assumed its position at the pinnacle of that fleet.


Open-air elegance

Before we get stuck into the internal layout, it’s worth mentioning that in this guise, with optional LED docking lights and red hull graphics that echo the angles of the tinted windows, the T8 is one of the best-looking cruisers you could wish to see. Despite a cockpit-heavy bias to the arrangement, a decent bit of windage and a lofty screen, there’s a balance to the shape and a meaty, feline physicality to the style that is profoundly striking. And when you step inside, it’s a pleasure to see that these aesthetics are as much to do with function as simple good looks …

 

For a start, the absence of external walkways means you get a cockpit that is wide, as well as long – and its two-tier layout is also cleverly conceived. Not only does it enable a useful elevation of the helm for a better view but it also means that the eight-man dinette and galley can be positioned in a more secure and deep-set section of the deck. Better still, it generates some handy extra room for the second berth below decks, plus some extra light, courtesy of a long window in the step down from the upper level to the lower. Of course, it does mean there’s no proper under-deck storage for large items like your wakeboard, but with plenty of storage in the aft bench and the cabins, plus fairly substantial topside mouldings to help balance out the profile, the impact of the primary deck design is resoundingly positive.

 

Over on the starboard side, opposite that huge dinette, a mini galley is tucked neatly behind the helm seats. To access the sink and stove the lid hinges aft, and while that creates a useful extra work surface, it does so at the expense of the adjacent seat, which is rendered unusable by the obstruction. However, there’s plenty of other deck furniture in this cockpit, so it is good to see that the main table can also be folded in half, widening the walkway and revealing a useful extra grab rail in the process.

 

Back up at helm level, there are three individual seat pods, two at the dash and a third to port. They are all very supportive and well serviced, with armrests, grab handles, bolsters and foot braces, but the starboard two are actually less practical than they seem, as they lack the storage that a moulded seat base might provide. In fact, the portside seat proves that very point by housing a 30-litre drawer fridge in its base, so I see no good reason why these two starboard seats shouldn’t follow suit.


A bed to remember

Given that this is an 8-metre platform with such raked and purposeful external aesthetics, the cabin is a remarkable piece of work. There’s no dinette in here – just a permanent double-angled along the starboard side, with a bright and spacious settee to port, and huge, plunging hull windows. In tandem with the deck lights and the exaggerated overhead curve of the sliding cockpit door, these bring in vast amounts of light and offer extraordinary views of the seascape. With a private heads compartment to starboard, plus a second double berth running fore and aft beneath the centre of the cockpit (and cordoned off by means of a curtain), the T8 is in fact a far more talented weekender than its lovely looks suggest.

 

Of course, the position of the heads compartment at the foot of the bed means that the long hull window on the starboard side is not exactly matched to the layout, but in the interests of symmetry, the tinted glass panel extends the full way aft, precisely mirroring that of the port side. And there’s no galley down here either – but with that eight-man dinette up top, plus the al fresco galley and all-over canvas as standard, the big cockpit is, in any case, a far better place for cooking duties.


Daredevil or diplomat?

With plenty of weight, very sound build and a relatively acute deadrise, the ride of the T8 is more about ease and comfort than adrenalin. Over a mixture of wakes and swells, there is no resounding clarity of focus, no hard edge to the agility or snap to the throttle response. Instead, we make the kind of honeyed, mellifluous transition from crest to trough and from leap to landing that leaves us in no doubt at all about the safety of the exercise.

 

Certainly, when this boat collected its recent ‘Motor Boat of the Year Award’, the judges cited its ‘sleek, sporty profile and the performance of a thoroughbred racer’ – but in truth, the performance here is by no means that of a racer, thoroughbred or otherwise. Instead, like its moderate and friendly ride, its pickup and its handling are fuss-free and effective rather than memorable. To its credit, it still nudges toward the 40-knot mark despite its substantial weight, and it also achieves a cruising sweet spot of 25 knots with a range in excess of 130 nautical miles. That’s a decent nod to the running efficiency of the T8’s unerringly compliant hull, but don’t expect the fury of a race-tuned rig because you won’t get it.

 

In short, the performance of this four-berth family cruiser is very competent indeed, but I would still be keen to pursue an upgrade on that 250-litre fuel tank. After all, this boat was designed for ‘extended cruising’, and while its combination of below-decks luxury and cockpit space means you could spend quite lengthy spells on board without feeling too cramped, I have seen simple open dayboats with well over double the range of the T8 – so an upgrade in this department (or at least the provision of that option) would be a welcome development.


Options and upgrades

With fairly substantial windage and a single outboard, it is good to see that both a bow thruster and trim tabs are included in the standard package. Equally welcome are the cockpit table, twin batteries, a trio of 12V outlets, a cockpit galley with sink, 30-litre drawer fridge, Wallas cooker and extendable work surface. You also get three anchor boxes, a canopy and a private sea toilet with 47-litre holding tank, plus the high-end nod of a teak deck, all as part of the base package. However, to maximise versatility, I would add the sun deck infill, the chartplotter and stereo, the heater, the shore power and a set of those delectable docking lights.


Verdict

In order to enjoy this boat properly it is important to understand that its sportiness is more about forthright posturing than hard-edged performance. As a beamy 26-footer with two cabins, a weight in excess of 2 metric tonnes, space for 10 people and a modest rating of 300hp, it could hardly be otherwise. But the T8 remains a very credible performer – and what it lacks in outright dynamic sparkle it more than makes up for with a large, safe family cockpit, an immensely memorable master cabin and a level of stylistic impact that makes a lot of the competition feel quite staid. Whichever way you look at it, the T8 is one of the most capable small family sports cruisers around.


For

  • Outstanding cabin
  • Eight-man dinette
  • Useful features list
  • Attractive styling
  • Soft ride

Against

  • Limited fuel tank
  • Awkward galley lid

Notable standard features

  • Bow thruster
  • Trim tabs
  • Cockpit table
  • Double battery
  • Three 12V outlets
  • Galley sink
  • 30-litre drawer fridge
  • Wallas 800 cooker
  • Teak deck
  • Three anchor boxes
  • Canopy
  • 47-litre holding tank

Notable extras

  • Red hull graphics
  • LED docking lights
  • LED cockpit lights
  • Shore power
  • Wallas 1800 heater
  • Chartplotter
  • Powered table pedestal
  • Multimedia stereo with iPad holder
  • Cockpit tonneau cover
  • Sun deck cushion

Specifications & Price

  • LOA:                           8.0m
  • Beam:                        2.7m
  • Draught:                    1.0m
  • Weight:                      2200kg
  • Deadrise:                  21 degrees
  • Fuel tank:                  250 litres
  • Max. power:              300hp
  • Engine:                      Suzuki DF300
  • Max. speed:              40 knots
  • Max. people:             10
  • Berths:                       4
  • Package price (with DF300): £84,352

Contact

www.midwayboats.co.uk

www.finnmaster.fi 

www.suzuki-marine.co.uk

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