- As an all-rounder, it drives fairly well in conditions that many similarly priced, cost-effective boats would have difficulty with.
- Probably the most significant aspect of this brand is its high-standard spec.
- One notable aspect of the boat’s beamy design and prominent chines is the totally dry ride even into the weather.
- In the turns, the Master 730 holds a very steady line, helped by her girth.
- Having a broad spread of power, the F200 picks up really well when powering out of the tight corners, with no hint of slip or cavitation.
- It is a cracking-looking boat that will catch anybody’s eye, and believe it or not, there is no extra charge for black GRP.
Greg Copp attempts to ‘Master’ a RIB unashamedly intended for newcomers and hard-boat enthusiasts …
Over the years there has been a steady industry of stylish ‘Med-spec’ RIBs emerging from Italy, which has done much to promote the rigid inflatable boat. The Master 730 is a good example of this. It is aimed both at the family boater and those looking to get afloat for the first time, rather than the drysuit brigade. This is not to take anything away from what is a capable boat, but for anyone new to boating or wanting to delve into the RIB concept, the Master 730 is a perfect starting point.
It is also one of the few new boats without an extensive extras list. In fact, the boat I tested only had one extra fitted, and that was the synthetic teak decking – at a reasonable £1,000. That is not to say there are no extras worth having, just that you can actually get out on the water in this boat for just over £55,000 without feeling you have bought a skiff with an engine. To put Master RIBs and the company that imports them into perspective, the next model down, the 699, is fitted with an electric flush heads at the importer’s expense – within the basic price.
It is a cracking-looking boat that will catch anybody’s eye, and believe it or not, there is no extra charge for black GRP. The carbon-effect Hypalon tubes are also par for the course, and, with the black hull, contrast perfectly with the red upholstery. There are many other colour options should you want a more conventional appearance, but I must confess to loving black/dark-grey RIBs, as apart from anything else, they are easier to keep looking clean.
The crucial question is: how does this boat drive? Well, the answer is pretty well. It is not in the league of the likes of Ribcraft or Scorpion, but does not aim to be so. It is quick off the mark with the Yamaha F200, which of all the Yamaha engine options is the one to go for. The lower-power 150hp and 175hp options weigh much the same as the F200, and, unless you are religiously easy on the throttle, will not prove cheaper to run. The most powerful option in the form of the F225 has a weight penalty of around 28kg over the F200, which with this boat, unless you anticipate a heavy payload, is not really a good idea. I make this last point because the 730 benefits from a touch less weight in its stern quarters if you are driving it hard in any degree of seaway.
Initially, having two crew on the back seat, this became apparent when wake-jumping off the stern of the photo boat. If you do not trim the bow down completely, when hitting ridges of water at speed the boat will complain slightly. With my crew mates unloaded onto the photo boat, the character of the boat changed, and it was happier at being nailed into the sea. I was also told that the 70L water tank (forward of amidships) was empty, and its anchor locker did not have the optional windlass and 50m of chain and anchor – which is a fair chunk of mass. It also has its helm located aft of amidships, so no matter what, there will always be a fair amount of weight sitting aft. This is the design of a boat that looks to offer plenty of comfy seating and sunbathing space in what is, after all, a water sports boat, not a white-knuckle wave crester.
Having a near perfect day, I took the Master out beyond the Needles, where the relatively mild conditions of the day became more testing. Here the rolling swell brought home the need to keep the bow trimmed in when running into the sea. She has a fair degree of beam, and the deadrise does not really sharpen until past the last quarter of the hull, so a touch too much ‘bow up’ in such weather makes itself felt. With the weather on the stern, the boat had no problems running flat out with around 50% trim out on the outboard. In calmer water, she liked 70% trim to reach her maximum speed of just over 42 knots. One notable aspect of the boat’s beamy design and prominent chines is the totally dry ride even into the weather. In the turns, the Master 730 holds a very steady line, helped by her girth. Having a broad spread of power, the F200 picks up really well when powering out of the tight corners, with no hint of slip or cavitation.
One aspect I was not overly keen on was the steering having four and a half turns lock to lock. This will likely be reduced to about three turns, I understand. Combined with a hydraulic steering system that makes you work to throw this boat into some ‘spirited turns’, things can get a bit hectic at the helm. I understand that an electronic power steering system by SeaStar is going to be offered at £4,800, which is an option certainly worth considering.
In terms of practicality, there is loads of forward storage under the sun pad cushions, courtesy of neat lockable compartments – and the central infill section can be substituted for a table that sits conveniently in the forward locker. Beneath the large rear bench seat is a large storage space with access to the pumps and engine rigging. However, given that there is no internal lined compartment, it is only suitable for soft items like wetsuits and inflatable toys that can drain off to the bilge pump. Impressively, the bimini top is a standard feature, and surprisingly there is a transom shower at no extra cost.
The helmsman’s leaning post normally has a wrap-around padded back to keep you in situ, but it had not been fitted in time for the test. This is a very good idea and something I could have done with on the day – otherwise your only anchor point is your feet wedged against the console. At first I was not too keen on this helm set-up, but it works quite well, and to be fair, you are most likely to want to stand in order to see over the tall windscreen. However, I would not advise it for any serious offshore work – any more than I could justify bench seating for the same. Weather protection from the slim console is good for the helmsman, but that is as far as it goes. There is, I understand, a wider console available, which, if you do not need the easy deck movement that the standard design allows, is worth considering.
Unlike many RIBs, the Master 730 is built for a specific purpose, which its design clearly focuses on. It is aimed at newcomers and ‘hard-boat converts’ who have no desire to sit on jockey seats, or roast unshaded. As an all-rounder, it drives fairly well in conditions that many similarly priced, cost-effective boats would have difficulty with. I attribute this to the fact that unlike the rank and file of beamy family sports boats, Master have opted for a deep-vee hull. Probably the most significant aspect of this brand is its high-standard spec. There is also an options list, some of which is worth considering, but it is comparatively short.
Engine speed Knots MPG
2000rpm 6.4 3.9
2500rpm 10.7 4.0
3000rpm 17.0 5.5
3500rpm 22.5 5.4
4000rpm 26.0 4.7
4500rpm 30.0 4.2
5000rpm 34.5 3.7
5500rpm 38.6 3.2
6000rpm (wot) 42.2 2.7
All fuel figures were from the factory-fitted fuel flow meter.
Transom deadrise angle: 21 degrees
Displacement: 1077kg (dry, fuel and with Yamaha F200)
Power options: 1 x 150hp to 1 x 225hp, all Yamaha
Fuel capacity: 220 litres (49 gallons)
Water capacity: 70 litres (15.5 gallons)
RCD category: B for 14
Test engine: Single 200hp Yamaha F200
From (single 150hp Yamaha F150): £55,099 (inc. VAT)
As tested: £59,500 (inc. VAT)
42.2 knots (2-way average), 90% fuel, 2 crew
Hamble Point Marina
Hampshire SO31 4JD
Photo credits: Graeme Main