- She might not have been designed as a sports boat, but somebody thought about this craft’s alter ego when designing the helm layout.
- As the day got rougher it was apparent that the Pilot 7 was built to take a beating.
- The narrow beam and sharp hull entry make this a great boat to drive into a head sea.
- She is reassuringly sure-footed when thrown into hard turns.
Finnmaster Pilot 7 Weekend
The Pilot 7 Weekend is built to handle the testing conditions of Scandinavian waters. Greg Copp puts this offering from Finnmaster through her paces on a snarling Solent…
The Finnmaster Pilot 7 Weekend has that hewn-from-granite feel that fits well with her Botnia Targa-like appearance. The transom gate opens and shuts with precision, the deck and lazarette hatches close with a solid clunk, and a glance up at the coachroof overhang reveals a beautifully moulded GRP lining. I have a habit of always giving guard rails a good wag when I meet a boat for the first time, and the Finnmaster has some of the most stubborn rail stanchions I have come across. This is enhanced by the fact that the forepeak stanchion is mounted on the horizontal surface of the foredeck, while the beam stanchions, in order to gain space on the side deck, bend through 90 degrees to mount on the topside of the hull. The cleats are no less heavy-duty – in fact, the bow cleats are just that little bit too big for the spliced eye of the supplied warps.
Being on fender duties to start with, I got a good feel of the boat’s external practicality. As a 7m boat with a fairly rakish beam, the Pilot 7 has limited space for its 6″ side decks, but makes up for it with extensive rooftop handrails, without which it would be impossible to safely go forward underway. Sensibly the spring cleats are positioned so that you can access them via the sliding windows opposite the helm and navigator seats. Though you have a lazarette, two deck lockers and one seat locker for dumping fenders, a neat fender recess/cage sits inside the cockpit coaming.
The saloon/wheelhouse layout comprises a hidden galley to starboard, which is easily overlooked as it resides beneath a bench seat cushion. Consisting of a sink, single hob and under-seat fridge opposite, it is par for the course for brews and butties. The hob can either be the standard gas ring fitment or an optional electric/liquid fuel hob, which also serves as a cabin heater if needed. The dinette is really designed for a couple or a young family, as fitting four adults around the table will be tight. If you want to seat four adults comfortably you will have to close the galley down and return it to a bench seat. The dinette converts to a large single adult berth, or two youngsters at a squeeze. In driving mode the forward bench converts to a navigator’s seat by simply removing and reversing the seat back. Though you have a handrail, in a big sea anyone sitting on this seat could potentially fall forward into the forward cabin area. If you were to get caught out in rough weather with young children, I would advise they sit on the aft bench seat.
Of course, in that perfect world when the sun shines, alfresco dining courtesy of the folding cockpit table is the order of the day. Though there is quite a bit of seating around two sides of the cockpit, the table is not really big enough to do this concept justice. I would hazard a guess that this design aspect is down to the fact that when folded, the table, along with its leg, fits neatly into a storage slots in the lazarette, and making it any bigger would spoil this convenient concept.
If you intend to keep the boat on the water, the Finnmaster is cleverly designed so that the aft transom folds, enabling the engine to be trimmed up until the skeg is clear of the water. If you intend to use the boat for water sports, the twin bathing platforms are easily accessed via steps flanked by grab handles, enabling you to pull yourself up when climbing back on board via the bathing ladder. Sensibly the aft cleats are mounted so that they can facilitate a ski bridle.
If you do use the boat in its weekender role, it is fairly capable providing you have no issues with its open-plan layout. The forward cabin houses a diagonal double berth that would be luxury for one but a slight squeeze for two, so couples will have to utilise the convertible dinette and sleep on separate beds. What is very capable, given the size of the boat, is the heads. Realistically there is no shower, as nobody in their right mind uses a shower in a boat this size. However, there is an electric flush toilet and a holding tank, which are supplied as standard – a supposed luxury that many manufacturers charge for. The Scandinavians, due to the nature of their secluded waters and the distances they often cover in relatively small craft, understand the need for realistic toilet facilities.
I am a great believer in first impressions, and when it came to driving the Pilot 7 Weekend I was not to be disappointed. This was just as well as the weather was looking truly testing – blowing 5 and strengthening fast. In fairness, the conditions were perfect for testing a boat built for all seasons, but by the end of the day it was becoming a borderline case for a 7m craft as things were returning to the feisty conditions of the previous days. The narrow beam and sharp hull entry make this a great boat to drive into a head sea – ideally at between 22 and 25 knots, which is clearly this boat’s sweet spot, with the leg trimmed out halfway. Its transom deadrise angle of 16 degrees is medium-vee territory, but the hull sharpens noticeably around amidships, providing a relatively soft ride, and at over 22 knots the extra stern lift brings this part of the hull into play.
Finnmaster supply Bennett trim tabs, which it certainly needs with the wind on the beam to keep her on an even keel. However, when you are throwing the boat around they are not really realistic to use. Ideally this boat needs an automatic trim tab system like that made by Mente Marine, which, being made in Finland, I imagine could be specified from new. Such a system would be an ideal complement to such a capable and lively boat.
As the day got rougher it was apparent that the Pilot 7 was built to take a beating. It was becoming a bit of a white-knuckle moment pushing her up to her top speed just shy of 34 knots, as by that point the short Solent chop had heaped up to such a degree that it was constantly plastering the windscreen. I can confirm that the substantial windscreen wipers perform as effectively as one would imagine from their appearance. She is reassuringly sure-footed when thrown into hard turns. Though there is quite a bit of heel, as you would expect from a 7m wheelhouse boat, the Pilot 7 runs on rails when banked over provided you trim the outboard leg in. If you forget, as I initially did, and then power through a turn trimmed out, she can cavitate a touch.
The bucket helm seat keeps you where you need to be, while the 12″ display and twin Yamaha gauges located on a tall, steep dash are not masked by the wheel. With the throttle where the right hand falls, that all-important flip-up seat bolster and rocker switches within easy reach, this boat enjoys near-perfect ergonomics. She might not have been designed as a sports boat, but somebody thought about this craft’s alter ego when designing the helm layout.
This boat, not surprisingly, is typically Scandinavian both in looks and build. She does cost more than some of her rivals built on the other side of the Baltic, but you soon understand why when you take a closer look. She is reasonably quick and her poise benefits from the light weight of her Yamaha F200. However, I would like to see a 250hp engine option, as in the rough weather that this boat can handle, that extra power could come in handy. Like many boats, she has the inevitable extras list, though to be fair, it is not as long as some.
Fuel Consumption (Yamaha fuel flow meter)
- Engine speed GPH Knots MPG
- 2500rpm 3.3 8.7 2.6
- 3000rpm 4.0 12.2 3.1
- 3500rpm 5.4 18.3 3.4
- 4000rpm 7.2 22.0 3.1
- 4500rpm 9.0 25.2 2.8
- 5000rpm 14.0 28.1 2.0
- 5500rpm 15.7 30.4 1.9
- 5800rpm (wot) 18.8 33.8 1.8
- LOA: 7.20m
- Beam: 2.59m
- Transom deadrise angle: 16 degrees
- Displacement: 1928kg (dry with a Yamaha F200 FETX)
- Power options: 115hp to 200hp
- Fuel capacity: 192 litres
- Water capacity: 40 litres
- RCD category: C for 7
- Test engine: 200hp Yamaha F200 FETX
33.8 knots (2-way average), sea conditions moderate, wind F5 gusting F7
- From: £58,824 (inc. VAT)
- As Tested: £73,453 (inc. VAT)
Ideal Boat Ltd
The Power Boat Centre