This pioneering twin-tipped dayboat certainly hits the jackpot in terms of quality but is the hefty price tag of the MasterCraft 300 justified?
As I step on board the new 300 the UK dealer Will Furze jokes: “Don’t mention it has a ski pole!”
MasterCraft have built sea boats for years but their reputation in the UK hangs on their award-winning tow-boats.
The MasterCraft 300 could change all that. It is a proper compact sportscruiser and the first twin-tipped weekender ever built.
That hull alone should change the minds of those who regard MasterCrafts as mere lake boats.
There’s no sense of testing the water here either: this is a full-on boat with a price tag just shy of £400,000, so it needs to be good.
On the face of it, the price seems wildly high for a 30-footer. Take a closer look though and the reason becomes clear.
The build quality is good enough to rival boats twice the size.
The mouldings are battleship-solid and every locker and cubby is beautifully smooth.
Components are top notch too; the Marinco shorepower connectors and milled aluminium switches on the dash have their own engraved labelling.
And enamel badges are ubiquitous, be it on the seacocks or the hose-reels, which prevent the transom shower getting tangled.
Below decks this thoughtfulness continues; the sink cover slides back into the countertop so that you don’t have to find somewhere to store it.
The curved hardwood heads door wouldn’t look out of place on a superyacht either.
It may not completely excuse the price, you could get a well-specified Fairline Targa 38 for this money, but these points and more are certainly an insight in to where the cash has gone.
From afar the MasterCraft 300 looks like a boat that will be a hoot to hoon around in.
Be it the outlandish colour schemes, of which there are hundreds of combinations, the angular lines or the silver GPS and radar domes, it looks like a hell of a lot of fun.
Rumble the twin 4.2-litre Cummins diesels into life and the sense of excitement escalates.
The exhaust is through-hull so there’s a throaty, V8 petrolesque rasp every time you nudge out of neutral.
Edging away from the pontoon is a breeze; the boat is twin-shaft, 33ft long and fitted with a bowthruster so the optional ZF joystick (which hadn’t been calibrated at the time of testing anyway) isn’t really necessary.
It was difficult at times to differentiate between exhaust noise and resonance; at ten knots especially, the resonating boom rising from the engines through the deck was uncomfortable.
Increasing the revs shot the bow skywards –at 16 knots the boat was running at a 12° angle with the tabs right down, making it necessary to stand at the helm.
But once into its stride the ride flattened out, and at 26 knots the engines had quietened down to a background hum.
Top speed on test was 33 knots, two knots down on MasterCraft’s claim.
Given that the port engine on our test boat was suffering from an uneven power delivery, that’s hardly surprising.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the handling though.
Being able to chuck the boat into lock-to-lock turns, safe in the knowledge that the shafts will keep it solidly planted in the water is fantastic.
Lean sharply into a turn and the back drifts just a touch under hard acceleration before the props bite and shoot you out of the hole with an exhilarating rush of adrenaline.
The guttural growl barking out from the transom exhausts adds to the fun – the whole experience is fiendishly addictive.
And should you need to pull back from ﬂ at out to neutral (not that we recommend it!) the shape of the transom means that the wash won’t flood the stern.
And so to the living areas. The cockpit has a removable table, which stores snugly under the wetbar when not in use.
This can be left as two smaller dinettes or in-filled to create one huge dining area.
The twin stern seats have sliding back-rests and a pair of beautiful speakers mounted inside a cubby with stainless cupholders in front of them – these details could be straight out of a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The sleeping quarters are only really suitable for a couple weekending on board.
Technically there are two double berths in the open-plan cuddy but the mid-cabin is more mid-coffin, even if the berth itself is very comfortable.
So it’s mixed feelings towards the MasterCraft 300; it looks a million dollars, handles brilliantly and is exceptionally well built and equipped.
The lack of accommodation won’t be too everyone’s liking but the cockpit is excellent and, in all likelihood, the place where most time will be spent. Is the £400,000 justified?
If you want a stylish, exciting boat that is the very definition of quality, yes it is. Oh, and it can also tow a water skier!
First published in the May 2010 issue of MBY.
Price from : £279,000 inc UK VAT
Price as tested: £399,000 inc UK VAT
Overall length: 33ft 9in (10.29m)
Beam: 11ft 0in (3.35m)
Displacement: 5.6 tonnes light
Draught: 2ft 9in (0.9m)
Fuel Capacity: 166 imp gal (758 litres)
Water Capacity: 25 imp gal (114 litres)
Test engines: Twin Cummins QSB4.2, 350hp @ 3,600rpm, 6-cylinder 4.2 litre diesels
Price from: £279,000 inc UK VAT
Price as tested: £399,000 inc UK VAT
RCD category: B (for 12 people)