Yamaha Outboards will debut a number of new outboard motor products in the spring of 2013, including Helm Master, an integrated digital boat control system with a joystick, and an all-new, lightweight F200 outboard. Both will have a public debut at the Miami International Boat Show in February.
Yamaha presented the new product to the media at its Bridgeport, Ala., engineering center. I’ll get a chance to sample it all on the water another day... but here are the highlights.
Helm Master has a joystick control for twin or triple outboard installations, but there’s a lot more to the system. In development for four years, it includes a new digital throttle-and-shift console with a throttle speed control, single-lever control for up to three motors, and automatic trim that senses engine rpm and trims the motors to a pre-set program specific to the boat.
Other elements of Helm Master include electronic RFID chip “keys,” a new five-inch LCD display screen, and a digital helm mated to power steering. The joystick has two power settings, a standard for typical conditions and “high” for situations where wind or current call for more thrust.
Initially Helm Master will be sold only as an entire system (the throttle and shift control will not be available separately), and only as an OEM product for installation by boat builders. It’s compatible with the Yamaha F350B V8 and all Yamaha 4.2-liter Offshore V6 outboard models. No word yet on price, but because it’s going to be sold through boat builders, those builders will have some influence on the cost.
The main benefit of the joystick is low-speed maneuverability, and Yamaha showed us video of a big triple-rig boat gliding sideways between two boats up to a dock, but it seems that Helm Master will offer many other interesting features.
The new F200 is a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder four-stroke outboard that weighs 487 pounds, which Yamaha says is 111 pounds less than its 3.3-liter F200 V6, which will remain in production. The new motor has a 16-valve, double over-head cam design with variable valve timing for a broader power band. This narrow four-cylinder motor can be mounted on 26-inch centers, an important factor for the repower market, where a pair can drop right in place of older V6 two-stroke motors. It will be offered with either digital or cable controls, and in 20- and 25-inch lengths.
Another version of the same motor, the VF SHO 150, is aimed at the bass market, where Yamaha says the 2.8-liter four-stroke will match the performance of a two-stroke 150 in both speed and acceleration. No price information on the F200 or SHO 150 has been offered. I’ll be back with more technical details and first impressions from the water as soon as possible.