It is no secret that used Scandinavian boats tend to be a bit thin on the ground in the UK, and Finnmaster are no exception. Their range of middleweight boats may be at the other end of the scale to the likes of Windy, but their craft are still typically Baltic. They are well built, well designed, pleasing to the eye and great to drive in most weathers.
The T8 is the flagship of the Day Cruiser range, and following its launch in 2014 it received the Boat of the Year award at the London Boat Show. Having skippered the boat featured in this article on its maiden delivery, I know its virtues well. Like most Scandinavian craft it is a driver’s boat, which is why simple things like the helm ergonomics are on the ball. When seated, you are totally shut off from the elements, and when standing, with the seat bolster flipped up, you can see perfectly over the bow. The ride is as dry as it is soft, and I say this after having driven the T8 at a steady 38 knots from the Needles to Old Harry into the face of a rolling swell that got increasingly stronger. Having a deep-vee hull with a transom deadrise angle of 21 degrees, it cuts well and lands softly. Coming down off some of the bigger waves in the middle of Poole Bay posed no problems at 35 knots, and since the T8 has plenty of beam for a 26-footer, she also has plenty of forward buoyancy ‒ so no tendency to bury her nose.
She turns well, holding a steady line with a fair angle of lean for a wide boat, enhanced by the deep-vee hull. Though by the nature of taking this boat from A to B I was not testing her sporting credentials, I got the distinct impression that unless you are hell-bent on driving it like a hooligan, it is unlikely to lose the plot. What I did notice was that when powering up onto the plane you need to keep the outboard tucked all the way in for that initial hole shot, or she will cavitate a touch.
Performance is good from the F300, and being a 2.2-tonne boat you can expect around 40 knots or more ‒ depending on hull growth. I had no problem nudging 42 knots with two on board and 50% fuel. Though the F250 was, and still is, an option, the price saving on a new boat is about £700 with no weight reduction, so hardly anyone bought the T8 in this form. Being solidly constructed, there are lighter 26ft sports boats around, which may be some of the reasoning behind putting the F350 on the options list last year. In real terms, this means little as the Finnmaster is an exciting boat to drive fast ‒ she just won’t complain in the process.
It is a case of first impressions when you step on board theT8, as the stylish and innovative cockpit is big for this size of craft. The fact that it has no side decks enables the crucial cockpit space to be pushed to the maximum on either beam. Having an outboard engine rather than an inboard sterndrive set-up means more cockpit space, and in turn this releases extra space to create an innovative helm seating arrangement. In this case, the central and port-side seats can reverse to face the folding cockpit table, so nine at a squeeze can sit around it. Courtesy of a switch located on the wet bar, the table pedestal drops and cushion inserts can be placed on top, turning the whole seating area into a triple sunbed. It is small, thoughtful features like this that Finnmaster have become known for, as few will want to wrestle with a manual pedestal, which over time inevitably becomes a pain in the neck to move up and down. The wet bar is a small affair but it does give you a hob, a sink, storage and a handy fold-out pan-holding platform. Cold food storage is courtesy of a 30L drawer fridge under the port-side helm seat. Two deep bathing platforms flank the engine, each housing a substantial storage locker for fenders, warps or a second anchor, so whether you moor stern-to or alongside, you have easy access to the boat. You rarely get three separate helm seats in an 8m boat, let alone sufficient space between the seats to go forward or below. I like the dash in particular, because it spoils you with an expanse to fit electronics into, which, considering the ever-increasing array of high-tech kit hitting the market at the moment, is probably a good idea. Just in case you want a second ad hoc plotter or to be able to keep tabs on emails at a glance, this particular boat had the iPad holder upgrade to keep the navigator happy while you focus on cresting the next wave. Teak inset steps lead you up through the windscreen gate, leading in turn to a teak-laid passage to the teak-capped anchor locker, and a typically Scandinavian-style pulpit. Either side of this walkway sit tinted roof lights, which you will have to navigate round when fitting fenders. One drawback of this foredeck design is the absence of a cabin escape hatch.
It is rare to get so much design input into the living area of a sports cuddy, but the T8 actually has a cabin that will tempt you into something more than overnighting. It does not really have any more headroom than its contemporaries, but what it does have is a diagonal double berth tucked carefully into the forepeak, which looks down to a gigantic waterline port-side window. Combined with the roof lights and large slanting portholes on either side of the bed, the effect is quite alluring. It not only feels massively bigger than it is, but you get that great morning waterside view, something that you would normally expect from a 50ft full-beam mid-cabin boat. The heads compartment with sink and a seawater toilet/holding tank is a bonus on any craft this size, many of which have to contend with the unrealistic feature of an under-seat toilet in the main cabin.
Remarkably, Finnmaster did not stop here, as they managed to squeeze a narrow double berth into an under-sole cabin. Realistically it would be very snug for two adults, but ideal for children or storing your kit for the weekend. There is a price for this extra sleeping slot, which is that it reduces the size of the fuel tank to 55 gallons. For many this will not be a problem, but considering this boat’s cruising credentials, a bigger tank would be handy.
The T8 is typical of Scandinavian design, which focuses on the needs of people who use their boats in earnest to get around the various Baltic archipelagos, often out of a short season. It has LED docking lights in the bow, easy access either bow- or stern-to, is solidly constructed and well finished and is a great drive. Probably what sums this boat up is that it has been designed with a level of input that many yacht builders reserve for bigger boats with bigger price tags.
- Build period: 2014 to present
- Cabins: 2 (1 under-sole)
- Hull type: Planing
- RCD category: C for 10
- Length overall: 8.10m (26ft 8in)
- Beam: 2.72m (9ft 0in)
- Draught: 0.9m (3ft 0in)
- Displacement: 2.2 tonnes (dry)
- Transom deadrise: 21 degrees
- Fuel capacity: 250 litres (55 gallons)
- Water capacity: 40 litres (9 gallons)
- Cruising range: 150 miles at 22 knots with a 20% reserve
- Performance:40‒42 knotswith Yamaha F300
- Current value: From £90,000
Points to consider
The T8 was initially only offered with either a single 250hp Yamaha F250 or a single 300hp F300. Last year they offered the 350hp Yamaha F350, which has now sadly just been dropped. This motor, by virtue of being a 5.3L V8 weighing in at 356kg, is 96kg heavier than the 260kg 4.2L V6 F250/F300. It will not make much of a difference in terms of how this 2.2-tonne boat trims, but it will take this boat over the 45-knot mark and give her a 40-knot fast cruising speed. There are few second-hand F350-powered T8s in the UK that I know of, which is a shame because it is a great motor and suits this boat well. All of these engines are exceedingly reliable, and having a five-year warranty when new, all will still be covered.
Scandinavian boats rank top of the list in terms of depreciation, so if you buy a T8 you are going to lose a lot less in terms of devaluation than a similar US- or French-built boat.
Build quality/fit & finish
These boats are strongly constructed. Like most Scandinavian boats they tend to look younger than they are, so do not be totally focused on getting the newest boat for your money.
As the engine of any T8 will still be under warranty, you will want to check that it has had the prerequisite dealer services in order to qualify for warranty coverage.
2017 price: £98,995 (VAT paid)
Lying at Southampton Dry Stack and featured in this article, this little-used high-spec boat is basically just run in, having cost £120,000 18 months ago, and is ready to go. Powered by a single F300, she is good for 42 knots, and her engine has a full service history. Her decking is teak, she has a suite of Garmin electronics and the electric pedestal table with its cushion infill provides that cockpit sunbed experience. She also has LED docking lights and a cockpit camper cover. Her domestic features include shore power, a paraffin cockpit hob, a 30L drawer fridge and a seawater toilet with holding tank. There is also the bespoke option of an iPad holder next to the helm.