With demand for outboards going through the roof, Fairline has made them an option on its sporty F33. How does this version compare to the inboard original? We head to a windswept Ipswich to find out...
Casting off on a biting cold February day in Ipswich is probably not what Alberto Mancini had in mind when he designed the Fairline F33.
This outboard-powered version of Fairline’s achingly handsome sportsboat is more likely to be found charging between the Balearics islands, swivelling heads as it goes. But if it can prove itself in the brown suburbs of the North Sea then it’s off to a good start.
Most of this boat is identical to the inboard model launched in 2019. There is the same deck layout, a wet bar with sink, grill, cooling and storage space and a driver-focused helm that sits well below the rakish side screens that rise and fall so attractively from the topsides.
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Below decks there is an open-plan dinette that converts into a double bed with another double berth amidships. Finished to Fairline’s usual high standard, the sleeping space is probably a little too cosy for weeks on board but perfect for when day trips melt into long, lazy weekends.
The big news here is what’s going on at the stern because gone is the optional folding transom and in its place are a pair of Mercury’s 350hp Verado outboards. There are twin 300s and 400s on the price list as well but the 350s are a well-proven engine and should suit the Fairline F33 well.
There is a total weight saving of around 400kg over the 430hp inboard petrols that we tested in 2019. The mini beach club transom-come-platform may be sacrificed to make space for the outboards but, as an option, you can have a hi-lo platform that surrounds the outboards and will drop into the water for swimming but also rise up to meet the quayside when moored stern-to.
This elevation also creates space for the outboards to be lifted clear of the water for work in shallower depths. Alas, the boat we tested didn’t have this option and made do with more basic split platforms jutting out either side of the motors.
Despite serving up 700hp on tap, these Verados make very little fuss when you turn the key and soon settle into an idle so quiet you can barely tell if they’re running. With a twin rig on the back and bow thruster in place, the Fairline F33 Outboard proved easy enough to guide through the lock gates of Ipswich Marina and on to the Orwell.
At speed, it’s the refinement of the Verados that really stands out. The inboards offer a more visceral experience, with the 6.2-litre blocks thrumming away beneath the deck, but bury the throttles on this version and you are suddenly covering ground at a joyously swift rate. On a choppy afternoon, we topped out 45 knots with two people on board and full fluids.
The hull has lost none of its ride comfort or tenacity in the transition from inboards to outboards, either. There isn’t quite as much heel or grip compared to the super-slippery sterndrive legs but it’s still an absolute hoot in the turns and so composed during landings.
From the figures we’ve gathered, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in terms of efficiency between the inboard and outboard petrols, with very little to separate their fuel
burn and range at equivalent speeds.
Adding outboards to the F33 was a no-brainer for Fairline. The consumer demand for them is so high across the market that the tail is beginning to wag the dog, with manufacturers designing boats with outboards in mind.
Price as reviewed:
£425,796.00 inc. VAT
Dynamically it’s difficult to split the two versions as both perform brilliantly. The Verados are the more refined cruising companions, but the inboard V8s have an edge to them that delivers muscle boat appeal, and their sterndrives make for a slightly more enjoyable driving experience. However, the Fairline F33’s quality and tremendous hull make it a win-win situation either way.
Starting price: £358,800 (inc. VAT)
LOA: 32ft 9in (9.99m)
Beam: 11ft 6in (3.5m)
Draught: 2ft 7in (0.74m)
Displacement: 6.1 tonnes
Engines: Twin 350hp Mercury Verado outboard
Top speed on test: 45 knots
Cruising speed: 34 knots
Fuel consumption: 122l/h
Fuel capacity: 680 litres
Water capacity: 220 litres
RCD category: C for 8 people
Design: Alberto Mancini / Fairline