Fast and spacious, this pocket cruiser is one of Finland’s best kept secrets. Greg Copp delves deeply to find out why …
New to the UK but not to the industry, Flipper boats have been around since 1966, and in more recent years they have been part of the Nimbus Group. They produce a range of craft from 6.5m to 9m, and with Offshore Powerboats now the UK importer, these versatile Finnish sports boats are gracing our shores.
The 900 ST is the flagship. At a glance, its wide cockpit tells you that it cuts no compromise when it comes to internal space. The patrol boat-like double-arm windscreen wipers, sitting within deep windscreen frames, hint at its construction quality, as does the standard-fitment thick teak decking. As with most Scandinavian boats, you can spend hours poking around discovering subtle and practical features. However, the first thing that meets the eye is the hydraulic section of the elevated sunbed, which can be raised to facilitate trimming the engines clear of the water. Immediately forward of this, a black Perspex door hints at a stern storage section, but opening it reveals nothing short of a full-beam aft cabin. This is impressive for a 9m sports boat, especially as this is not some pokey hideaway, but something two adults can genuinely sleep in – with bags of headroom and a long transom window. The reality is that although it might have been designed for adults, it is perfect as a child’s bolt-hole.
All-round visibility is great
This sunbed elevates on rams to allow the engines to trim clear of the water.
The fold-up galley top can also slide out flat for extra galley space.
Sitting to starboard, the galley looks par for the course. However, the folding worktop can also be slid aft to create a large worktop extension, substantially enhancing its viability as a sports boat kitchen. The dinette opposite is a generous design, sitting elevated on top of either pull-out storage or one/two extra 30L drawer fridges, as well as the standard-fitment 49L fridge located forward of the dinette. Six can fit around the table at a squeeze, and four comfortably. Equipped as it is, therefore, lunchtime catering does not have to be the juggling act it can be with 30ft boats. Not surprisingly, Flipper have used the rotating seat back concept to turn the forward section of the dinette into a double navigator’s seat as and when needed. Alternatively, it can fold flat, and with the electrically retractable table in its lowest position and an infill mattress, the dinette becomes a third double bed.
The side decks are certainly on the thin side.
Going below decks, you come to the heads on the port side. Finished in a gleaming white, it offers a shower, toilet and sink with around 5ft 6in of headroom in a single compartment. The forecabin doorway is separated by a curtain, and standing room is sufficient at the foot of the bed for getting undressed. The large double bed is exactly that, not a V-berth with an infill, and a small foot locker can be found on the starboard side for personal effects. Should you need more storage, a good-sized hanging locker faces the heads out in the companionway.
The teak covered steps to the foredeck with the cabin door open.
Foredeck access is easy by means of the teak-covered steps leading up to the windscreen gate. Users should be vigilant in their use of these, ensuring the cabin door is closed, as when the door to the cabin is open, the hand hold also moves away with the door. If an adult or child should slip, trip or miss their footing, a fall could mean a drop right down into the forward cabin if the door was left open.
The design uses every inch of beam for the cockpit.
The dinette is not lacking in room
The table can easily be raised.
Putting out forward fenders poses no problems, however, when it comes to hanging them amidships, things are not so easy. The side decks are just about wide enough for your foot, so unless you have a pet monkey, you had better be a contortionist in order to bend down and hang fenders. I managed it by sitting on the guard rail with one leg hanging down the hull of the boat – not ideal. Alternatively, this boat could be offered with one-handed fender clips and suitable-length fender lines – not the shoelace-like lines I had to use. On the plus side, the inset fender cage inside the cockpit is spot on.
The heads is well equipped.
Behind the wheel
The driving position realistically has to be sitting when underway at speed. You can stand with an elevated view out through the sunroof, but only in a calm environment, particularly when berthing. The sitting position is pretty good, especially as there is an armrest just where your throttle arm needs it, and the helm layout is well thought out. What is immediately evident is that the Flipper enjoys a healthy power-to-weight ratio. Pushing the throttles forward produces an immediate response, and within seven seconds you are passing 30 knots, and shortly after, its top speed of just over 40 knots flashes up. This boat is fairly beamy, and the ride is pretty stable and forgiving when thrown from turn to turn. However, it can turn slightly quicker than the hull can hold, in that if you really pile on the power in a hard turn, there can be a touch of hull slide and a very small amount of cavitation. Is this a problem? In a word, no. Few will drive to this extent, especially when towing skiers or inflatables, and when it does slip it always rights itself, and at no point did it bite back in the process.
The helm seat is perfectly elevated
Driving into the increasing sea state towards the Needles was not a problem for the Flipper – you just needed to come to terms with the fact that it has a beamy deep-vee hull. Unfortunately, I was unable to ascertain the transom deadrise angle, but I would hazard a guess at 20 degrees, so not super-sharp, but certainly acceptable for an offshore boat. At 35 knots, running with the chop getting sharper and some south-westerly swell starting to make itself felt, it was a case of dropping down to 25 knots and working the throttles as we rode the increasing wave pattern. One thing that was apparent is that the resin-infused construction is without a doubt solid, as we were coming down off some fairly big waves without the hull making any complaints. In these worsening conditions, the Flipper needed to come down to 20 knots for a genuinely comfortable ride that would not have the crew complaining. One thing I came to appreciate was just how good the low-down response is from two Mercury V6s, as it made powering up and down the sea state a pleasure.
I would like to have said that running with the weather on the stern was a case of trim up and go. However, as this boat has Mercury’s fully automated Active Trim System installed, which trims the outboard legs in accordance with your speed, I let it do the work for me. It certainly does what it says on the tin, and provided it has been accurately set up to start with, it takes all the headache out of manually working the trim to match your driving. Just to make the helmsman’s life even easier, this Flipper also had the optional Zipwake Trim Control System, which keeps the boat perfectly tabbed. You just need to remember to turn if off when you want to throw this boat about in ‘fun mode’. With the technology doing much of the work, running flat out in the calmer waters of the Solent was a composed one-hand-on-the-wheel affair.
The base option offered by Offshore Powerboats is twin 225hp V6 Mercury FourStrokes. This is a good match for this boat, providing a good blend of performance and economy. At 3500rpm – the point at which this V6 engine starts to produce maximum torque – it is running at 24 knots returning 2.2nmpg. This does not really make a case for choosing either twin 250hp V8s or 300hp V8s. However, if you anticipate a crew level of four or more and extra stores or gear, these bigger and only slightly heavier engines will make light work of it and still provide good fuel consumption.
Making use of every square inch of its beamy design, this boat offers a lot of accommodation and space, yet it does not remotely have the character of a floating caravan. Its versatility is typically Scandinavian, as are its fit, finish and build quality. It performs very well with the base engine option, so one can only wonder how it drives with a pair of 300hp Verados.
The bed is generous.
This full-beam aft cabin is impressive
What we thought
- Loads of accommodation for a 9m boat
- Good galley and food storage
- Good performance
- Finish and fittings
- Build quality
- The fenders need longer bespoke-length lines and one-handed clips in order to safely hang fenders.
- Teak-covered steps to the foredeck need to be used with care.
- LOA: 9.02m
- Beam: 3.15m
- Displacement: 3.0 tonnes dry (exc. engines)
- Power options: Twin 225hp V6 Mercury FourStrokes, twin 250hp V8 Mercury Verados or twin 300hp V8 Mercury Verados
- Fuel capacity: 380L
- Water capacity: 100L
- RCD category: C for 10
- Test engines: Twin 225hp V6 Mercury outboards
- 41.0 knots (2-way average), sea conditions F3, crew 2, fuel 30%
- 0–30 knots: 7 seconds
Price (INC VAT)
- From: £185,781 with twin 225hp V6 Mercury outboards
- As tested: £224,821
Offshore Powerboats Ltd, Lymington Yacht Haven, King’s Saltern Road, Lymington SO41 3QD