Since its foundation in 1990, Finnmaster has always been dedicated to the production of relatively compact powerboats. While that’s certainly still the case, the company has recently been engaged in a radical overhaul of its fleet and one of the key consequences of that is a much more streamlined and modern looking range of boats…
If we discount the five new Husky-branded aluminium runabouts (see Finnmaster Husky range hits the water and Finnmaster Husky R5 review), there are just 10 Finnmasters available – a trio of S-line Console boats; a pair of R-Series Bow Riders; three P-Series Cabin boats; and a couple of dynamic new express cruisers known as the T Series. Back in 2014, Finnmaster offered double that number of craft - and not only does the new range give us a much better idea of what we should expect from each of the four key product lines; it also enables the generation of a stylistic and conceptual bloodline that helps herd these boats into a much more cohesive and convincing fleet. From tough, practical Pilot boats to Nordic style bow riders and sophisticated console craft, Finnmaster’s latest craft look and feel strikingly modern – and as the new flagship of the S-line, the S6 aims to continue the good work.
A crowd-pleasing layout
It’s a pleasure to see that the S6 has adopted the recessed LED bow lights we first witnessed on the company’s T8 sports cruiser. They make a good-looking boat feel just that little bit more special - and that initial feel-good vibe continues when you step on board.
While the offset console layout has plenty of natural assets for a compact family boat, it is put to particularly good use on the S6. For instance, in tune with modern Nordic trends, the bimini is stowed on its swing arms on the leading edge of the helm console, beneath the screen, but above the backrest for the ‘suicide seat’. That’s a neat touch, as it avoids swallowing up the storage space above the cockpit bench; it avoids positioning metal stanchions in the way of those who choose to sit there; and it enables the inclusion of a permanent transom walkway to starboard, making movement between swim platform and cockpit pleasingly straightforward.
However, it’s notable that, despite the position of the bimini, there is no compromise at all to the seating in the bow. On the contrary, the two-man bench seat, built into the front side of the console moulding, is as comfortable and user-friendly as any I have seen on a boat of this size. It enables two big men to sit with space to spare and, in stark contrast to the leading edges of most sporting consoles, it also offers excellent lumbar support, allied to deck mouldings that provide natural bracing points for your feet and grab handles that fall quickly to hand.
The storage on the S6 is also outstanding, particularly inside the console and the aft bench. Not only does the size, shape and finish make them very user-friendly and accommodating, but the use of cantilever hinges enables you to open up the lids without the removal of any cushions; and the use of well-weighted rams means it can all be done one-handed, without the slightest fuss.
The internal layout of the S6 is also far more generously appointed for a life of mixed recreational applications than most open day boats from this part of the world. The reversible helm seats and removable cockpit table, for instance, create a very comfortable five-man aft dining station; and the bow infils create a forward two-man sundeck without obscuring your passage along the portside walkway. It’s very rare to see both an aft dining station and a forward sunpad on a practical Nordic day boat – and it’s even rarer to see one that achieves all of that without compromising your inboard movement. In short, this is a beautifully arranged boat, full of the kind of common sense solutions that can only be achieved through extensive on-water experience. The fact that it also happens to have been finished with such quality materials and clean workmanship makes the S6 a really fine boat, both to look at and to use.
A sticky business
There had to be a ‘but’ and in the case of the S6, it relates to her on-water performance. On the plus side, she does everything you would expect a boat of this type to do. She’s on the plane within 4.5 seconds, she hits 20 knots in eight seconds, 30 knots in 12 seconds and 35 knots in 15 seconds. She’s also capable of a 40-knot top end with the top-rated 150hp outboard - and while those last five knots take another 15 seconds of careful trim manipulation to achieve, that’s often the case on such generously appointed platforms.
She stays usefully planted in a head sea too, without even a hint of unwanted lift from those broad bows – and yet, the driving experience is simply not as restful or as composed as I would like. Whether into a head sea, with a following swell or across the waves, she requires continual input with both throttle and trim to keep her flat, dry and comfortable. In fact on the test day, she seems to demand at least 35 knots of pace to be seen at her best. Any slower than that and she just feels a bit ’sticky’ - as though flirting with every trough, clawing at every wave and exaggerating the impacts, when all you want to do is elevate her hull and skim across the swells. As I say, given the fact that she achieves decent statistics and does so with dependability and security, it’s unreasonable to criticise her in performance in damning terms, but from a subjective standpoint, there are far more comfortable, more responsive and more dextrous boats to drive at this size and price point than the S6.
Finnmaster S6 summary
The S6 is a practical, classy looking day boat with excellent storage, easy on board movement and a quality finish. On the other hand, the driving experience, though perfectly serviceable, is just a bit frenetic, damp and lacking in composure, particularly by the standards of an open sports boat from Finland – so it all comes down to your favoured kind of recreation. If an intuitive and agile helming experience is largely irrelevant to your day out, the S6 is an outstanding piece of work. If you’re a keen helmsman, as well as a family boater, you should make sure you invest in a test drive.
Finnmaster S6 specifications
Fuel capacity: 125 litres
People capacity: seven
Test engine: Yamaha F150
See Finnmaster listings on boats.com.