A follow-up to the Sports and Hardtop 5900s, the Finlay Escape 5900 opens yet another market for this new and progressive Timaru builder.
Timaru-based Finlay Boats are relatively new to the Kiwi alloy production boat scene, and in less than two years have built up an enviable reputation for the brand. Starting with just one model, the range now extends to four boats, based on two hull sizes, 6.75m (6300) and the 6.20m (5900).
Both hulls are designed by Scott Robson and offer a fresh approach to the pontoon look, style and presentation. Some time ago I was able to review the very first of the Finlay boats, the Sports 5900 and what impressed me was the performance and handling of the hull. It was quite frankly awesome for a boat this size and I could see that the builder, Grant Finlayson knew that he had hit on a winning formula.
Getting the design right is not much good if you can’t incorporate the build quality and finish into the same overall package. The company adage…safety, performance, comfort and style, is so true, although they should add to that quality of finish.
“I see Finlay Boats as a sort of boutique boat builder, where quality and not quantity is the prerequisite of the brand”, says Grant.
All the hulls are painted but first get blasted with glass beads to give a smoother profile to the alloy and then finished with a two pod Altex paint. The final colour is your choice.
Finlay Boats have made good use of the hull design and while that has remained unchanged with the new models, it’s what’s above the waterline that has been given a fresh look. Firstly there is the Sports model that is a cabin runabout with family cruising and day market aspects. Next to be released was the Trojan, the full hardtop version pitched at the more serious fisherman and now we have the centre console Escape. All three designs are available as a 6300 or 5900.
One change in the new Escape 5900 is the underfloor fuel tank has been moved forward, which was done more for ease of fitting the fuel inlet and filler , but has had the benefit of providing greater underfloor storage space.
Released at the Hutchwilco NZ Boats Show, the Escape 5900 is Finlay’s first foray into the centre console market. Grant explains why,” I could see they were quite popular, especially in the North Island and as I already had the hull, it was a simple matter to drop in a centre console and modify the deck”.
He was also looking at the export market to places such as Australia and the Pacific Islands, where the better weather and climate makes centre console boats more acceptable. With export in mind, all Finlay boats are built to the CE standard, which you need if you want to export boats to places like Europe.
When I test a boat that has a Robson designed hull, I know that I am going to be impressed and the Finlay Escape 5900 is no exception. The underwater sections feature a deeper deadrise than many pontoon boats of a similar size at 20.5 deg (23.5 deg for the 6300) which goes a long way towards providing a soft, smooth bump free ride.
The double chine pushes the water away and helps with maintaining the boats level attitude in turns. The single strake either side is wide, with an acute downturn and is carried well forward. Test day for me was moderate to nasty, so it was perfect water to give the Escape 5900 a true run.
After picking the boat up from Mahurangi Marine, we launched at Sandspit, before heading across to Kawau Island. With a stiff 25 knot SE blowing, it meant we had a beam sea all the way there and back, with the only calm water in Mansion House Bay. Top speed was 35 knots with three aboard. We didn’t have a fuel management system hooked up, so there were no fuel figures available.
In the rougher water, the Escape 5900 performed as expected, providing a very smooth and predictable ride. Apart from some spray lifted by the wind the boat remained dry. I found if I set the tacho on 4500-5000 rpm @ 20-23 knots, I got the best ride and balance from the boat in the white capping water.
Right in the middle of running back to Sandspit we had to stop and turn around to retrieve a hat , so I had the chance to see what the boat’s attitude was at rest in a side sea. Answer. Exceptionally stable.
With any centre console design, the aspect is always about space and plenty of it. While they are primarily designed as fishing and diving platforms, however, in the right climate, they are also well suited to family boating and towing water toys. Centre Console boats by design don’t offer a lot of protection from the elements, so you should take that into consideration when buying one. If you are like me and spend most of your leisure boating time fishing, then that’s not an issue.
The Escape 5900 is very traditional in its layout, with a large centre console helm area and an above waterline deck that drains into the sump fitted with a pump. Under the chequer plate sole, there is buoyancy both sides of two longitudinal stringers, with storage and the 180-litre fuel tank down the centre. Combined with the five sealed chambers either side in each pontoon, the Escape 5900 has a figure of 2cum of reserve buoyancy.
Standard seating is a double bench seat with reversible bolster, all mounted on a pipe frame with a parcel tray. If you are looking for more storage, then the base could easily be made as full storage or a cooler bin, although this will inhibit access to the underfloor locker.
With the console being a separate unit, it can virtually be placed anywhere. One of the popular options is mounting it as a side console, which provides great access forward. The batteries are then moved to the opposite side to counter the balance of the boat. In our test boat, we had the console in the centre and one of the benefits I could see is the massive amount more dry storage space it offers. This is also the home of the second battery. There is plenty of space for all your instruments, controls and switches and Finlay will custom design the dash to suit the largest of the MFD screens.
Protection from the weather is provided with an overhead bimini, complete with the rocket launcher and a perspex screen will keep some of the wind off.
Forward you can leave the space open and uncluttered if you want to save the deck area for fishing. There’s a small raised casting deck forward and an optional clip on Engel storage bin/seat ahead of the console. The wide coamings come standard with eight-rod holders and an antiskid surface.
Conscious of the weight of the larger 4S outboard engines, Finlay extend the deck and portofino stern past the transom, so effectively there isn’t an engine pod. This provides extra aft buoyancy, but also gives you a large wet deck area. There is a drop down divers ladder to port.
The boat comes standard with twin cockpit access with drop down splash boards, but you can change this to one and maybe use the other space for a live bait tank or wet storage. In between is storage for a battery, electrics, a ski pole/bait board mount and a port side baitwell. This is an area that lends itself to be customised and according to Grant, just about every boat he has built has been different in this area.
“We’ll just about do anything a customer wants, within the confines of the space we have available”, says Grant.
If you are into a nice cool looking centre console for your fishing and diving, then I suggest you check out the Escape 5900. When you add the finish and ride to the whole package, it’s a hard boat to fault. If either the 5900 or 6300 doesn’t suit your needs, then Finlay have a larger 7.6m underway and smaller boats in the 5.2m to 5.5m also in concept stages.
- Make & Model: Finlay Escape 5900
- Manufacturer: Finlay Boats
- Designer: Robson Design
- Priced from: $NZ85,000
- Price as tested: $NZ99,000
- Type: Centre Console Pontoon
- Construction: Alloy 5mm/2.5mm
- LOA: 6.25m
- LOH: 5.90m
- Beam: 2.13m
- Deadrise: 20.5 degrees
- Height on trailer: 2.9m
- Trailerable Wgt: 1500 kgs
- Test Power: Honda 115
- Propeller: 17”
- Maximum RPM: 6000
- Top Speed: 40 mph
- Power Options: Outboard only
- HP Range: 90-135 hp
- Fuel capacity: 180 litres
- Trailer: Finlay