It was an adrenaline ride!
Our speeds reached over 50 knots, still it’s not the top speed that impressed me as much as the feeling of power, and the incredibly explosive accelerations when 700 horses were left free to ride at full speed turning the dual props through the wave crests.
Standing behind the steering wheel of Master 996 is a really great sensation, which together with the brand new twin 350hp Suzuki-dual prop composes an explosive combination.
Of course, driving at high speeds in a head sea demands double concentration so as to be able to “read” quickly the sea and estimate at any moment the relation and the angle with which your hull meets each oncoming wave.
The stability of Master 996 and the noticeably smooth ride of its hull coupled with the excellent bite of Suzuki's double propellers, which they were never losing their waters, offered us unique moments of exciting riding and enjoyment.
The sea offered us ideal conditions for testing and gave us the opportunity to see the build quality of Master 996 and the virtues of its hull in rough waters.
Master 996 is a 10 meter Rib with an intense Mediterranean character, providing everything an experienced and demanding buyer is looking for, not only as a lover of pure open-ribs but also of the nautical camping wishing comfortable dining and sleeping areas for long stays on board at the same time.
And indeed, Master 996 combines the spacious living spaces in the best possible way without, at the same time, losing its really open-Rib character.
If we agree that the details make the difference then Master 996 has definitely achieved its mission.
And of course, this rigged inflatable boat belongs to the category of the open-ribs, with clean as well as sporty lines which are even more emphasized by the fiberglass aerodynamic arches that replace the conventional roll-bar.
If we see it with this criterion, i.e. as a pure open-rib -as everything depends on the angle of view- we can say that it provides a quite comfortable sleeping cabin and a huge toilet-bathroom where even a tall man can move easily.
What stands out at first glance is the huge fore sundeck which is slightly elevated, in relation with the rest of the deck, and reaches up to the sides of the console from where you descend with the help of a staircase. In this way, the proper space for the hidden cabin under the sundeck is created, in which the access is only from the toilet’s door.
The cabin has much more space than we expected and there is really no case a couple couldn’t enjoy it during its long stay vacation. For better ventilation during the night, we can have the toilet’s door open, which can be covered all around with tents.
On the toilet’s door, which is located on the front side of the console and opens with an electro-hydraulic mechanism, a single seat is integrated. In the interior of the toilet there are drawers for storing the necessary things as well as a faucet with a sink which is embedded in a triangular countertop. On the back of the toilet’s room we can see the necessary hatches that give access to the electrical installation of the console.
The fore deck forms a small platform where there is a hatch which gives access to the windlass. Just backward of the anchor locker a comfortable single seat lays, which is an ideal spot where you can sit during the cruise in calm waters and really enjoy, away from the noise of the engines, the salty air and the sound of the sea as the bow cuts its surface.
As it is shown in the above picture, the console is centrally positioned so as to create wide passage spaces, giving easier access fore ’n’ aft.
The steering wheel is located in the centre of the helm console while the Suzuki digital shift and throttle controls are on the right and slightly higher. The black dash can be equipped with a plethora of instruments, whose ergonomics work very well. Navigation information is provided by the Lowrance screen which is directly above the steering wheel, while on its port and starboard the engines’ electronics gauges are located.
When we drive leaning on the bolster, the visibility is very good and we can easily see over the stylish windshield, around from which a stainless steel rail would be very useful, giving grip when riding at high speeds.
Behind the helm seats the wet-bar is located, which houses all the necessary equipment such as a sink, a stove and a refrigerator.
On the port and starboard of the wet-bar there are comfortable passage ways leading to the Π-shaped aft couch, under which there are three large storage lockers.
The aft sofa provides the necessary space for many seated guests during our trips, while adding a table is turned into a comfortable dining area. By lowering the table at the height of the sofa, we can create a large sundeck that has the dimensions of a double bed and offers the necessary sunbathing or sleeping space for two or three people.
On port and starboard of the twin engines there are two fiberglass swimming platforms which can also be used for boarding.
With the brand new pair of powerful Suzuki outboards hanging on the Master’s transom, we were slowly going out the harbor, looking forward to reaching out to the open sea so as to find out not only the performance of the particular rib but also of the new dual prop-engines which were tested for the first time in Europe.
So, it was time to see if what we said in theory turns truth in action. And really, we were impressed, as shown by the numbers of our measurements, which can be seen in detail in the table below
Finally, data do not always tell the truth, if we think that it would be even better, in terms of cruise speed, fuel consumption and also top speed, if the sea was calm and allowed us to trim more out the engines so as to get the maximum performance across their whole rpm range.
As we said, we were testing the rib in a confused sea due to the wakes of the other boats that were tested, and I began to push slowly the Suzuki electronics throttles so as to get a first sense of their response.
The 10-meter Master pulled out of the hole very easily due to its direct stern lift, which is clearly due to the massive increase in the total surface area of the DF 350A Suzuki's double and contra rotating propellers. Of course, twin propellers require huge torque reserves, but this is ensured by the large (numerically) gear ratio of 2.29: 1 Suzuki engineers applied to the new engine.
The torque of the new engines was really impressive and I could feel it every time I was pushing the throttles forward. The accelerations were explosive across the whole rpm range, despite the very long pitch of the propellers (27") and the 430 liters of fuel carried at that time, while they were instantly felt giving an excellent throttles’ response due to the great bite of the twelve totally blades in the water.
Really, who could ever imagine that on a 10-meter Rib with twin 350s on its transom, we would be able not only to turn propellers of 27 inches but at the same time to have such amazing accelerations?
Master 996 was getting on plane at 2200 rpm, while at 3500 rpm we traveled with 31 knots, burning 2.3 l/n.m., despite the choppy conditions on our port bow. It is worth noting the impressively low slip numbers at low and medium rpm, with a peak of 1.37% slip that we recorded at 4500 rpm.
This result is purely due to the Suzuki’s dual-prop system and leads to increased cruise speed and, of course, reduced fuel consumption.
The Rib was riding nicely and quite softly in head, beam and following seas, even when we had the throttles wide open and hit 53 knots, thanks mainly to its great degree of deadrise at the transom. It is a characteristic fact that during our sea trials which lasted for more than one hour, the ride was totally dry, since I do not remember even a drop of water on our faces.
The most economical cruise was at 3000 rpm where the rib ran 25 knots and consumed only 1.8 l/n.m., giving us a range of 297 miles with 430 litres of fuel in our tanks.
Still, even though Master 996 belongs to the category of the relatively mega-ribs, its handling looks like of a smaller sport-rib and it is extremely fast.
Testing the performance of Master 996 only with the port engine, having the starboard one tilted completely out of the water, the rib got on plane just at 3000 rpm with 12 knots, while at 4000 rpm we were travelling with 24 knots burning 3.8 litters per nautical mile.
Regarding this particular Rib-engines combination, I would prefer it with the Suzuki's 24" of pitch propellers (three inches shorter than the 27" ones of our test), creating a clearly more efficient and more accurate set-up. At that case, the Rib would get on the plane even faster and allow the engines to reach their maximum range rpm recommended, while I really can’t imagine how much more explosive the accelerations could be!
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