Master 996 with joystick Mercury, the good and the evil

A docile and quiet rib, that in a blink turns sporty and fast. It’s the good match between the hull and the twin Verados with Mercury joystick.

You can fly at almost 50 knots, then perfectly maneuver among the boats and the chains that pack the port. Everything is possible with the Master 996, if the transom mounts two mighty Verado outboards with their joystick, a feature that Mercury made available around one year ago.
The test of this Master Tecnobat, built in Sicily, it’s the chance to talk again of the Joystick Piloting Mercury that we tried already. It’s the dealer meeting from the American engine constructor, and we are in the waters of Catania. We already know the sporty yet quiet attitude of Master ribs, so the focus will be on understanding how two Mercury units and no bow thruster can behave.

The Master 996

Let’s introduce first the…Master of the house. It’s new for 2015 and the name, 996, explains the length in centimeters (around 33 feet).
The deck layout, without introducing innovative solutions, has been designed to exploit all the space in the best way. For being an “open” RIB, we appreciate the room underneath the pilothouse and the fore sunpad. The Master 996 features a small space with enough headroom for standing and a separate head. From here, a double berth extends to the front and can offer night accommodation even for long weekends.
Outside, the twin outboards leave space for two swim platforms: although a bit flexible, they carry the weight of anybody while getting in and out of the water. The aft, U-shaped couch hides three lockers and a retractable bimini. Add another element and it turns into a sun bed, make some smart moves and there it becomes a dinette.

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Moving to the front we encounter the kitchen cabinet, the pilot seat and the center console. The dashboard looks a bit imposing, but fortunately this doesn’t hinder visibility on the horizon. There’s a lot of space for all the electronics, and the joystick with its control panel have a dedicated area. The sleek windscreen is effective in protecting the pilot, while the lack of handrails is not that good on such a fast boat.
The foredeck hosts a well protected solarium: despite the large size, it’s surrounded by the tubular so it can be used even when cruising at high speed. A single seat stays before the console and hides the access to the cabin, while another one in the front lays just above the anchor locker and the winch.

The Verados and their joystick

There’s no need to say much about the Verado 250 engine: inline six, 2.6 liters, supercharger all mean a compact and light unit, with very high performance and a fuel consumption that after years of tuning is now aligned to competitors, in particular when reckoning the liter-per-mile ratio and not only the liter-per-hour figures.

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As for the Mercury Joystick Piloting, it didn’t convince the market in the first year after the introduction, due to the high price (around 15000 euros) and despite the smart and foolproof operation.
But when talking of money, you have to consider that this system makes the bow thruster useless, then again it includes the autopilot and the electronic anchor. In the end, a good half of the investment is already paid off.

The Master 996 test

It’s time to check if all we said so far turns into facts. The two engines and their joystick work perfectly in every situation, and also the electronic anchor is very effective when we simulate a refueling stop. The outboards are mounted far each other, more than the standard (71 cm against the usual 66): this can reduce a little the effectiveness thus the performance, but it’s necessary in order to give the best maneuverability. The propellers are Revolution 4, 4 blades, 19”.
We get into the plane in just four seconds, and in another 16 we reach top speed. So, the Master 996 is not only easy to run in the harbor, but also extremely fast. Minimum planing pace is at 2300 rpm, 10 knots and 24 lph, the latter being a very good result that denies the legend of very thirsty units (probably this was true with the first Verados, but sure not nowadays).


On her side, the Master 996 copes perfectly with the engines, and despite being ten meters long she moves quick and nimble in all conditions. The sea is calm, but crossing our own waves we note a very smooth and light impact. Now we understand why designers have gone for a 27° deadrise and two hull-long rails on each side. Comparing performance with a basic model, without joysticks therefore mounting the engines 66 cm far, we realize that this installation hasn’t hindered performance at all.
We feel the need to adjust the trims only when going for the top speed, which is almost 50 knots at 6000 rpm. But it’s not necessary, you can enjoy the Master 996 at every pace.

Technical features
Length overall     9,98 mt (32 ft 9 in)
Beam     3,35 mt (11 ft)
Tubular diameter     0,70 mt (2 ft 3 in)
Displacement     5300 Kg
Max output     2×250HP
Fuel tank     420 lt (111 US gal)
Fresh water tank     107 (28.3 US gal)
Passengers    20
CE certification   B

1000 rpm     5,8 knots     6,7 mph     10 l/h     2,6 gph     71 db
1500 rpm     6,7 knots     7,7 mph     14 l/h     3,7 gph     74 db
2000 rpm     8,6 knots     9,9 mph     23 l/h    6,1 gph     75 db
2500 rpm     14,0 knots    16,1 mph    33 l/h   8,7 gph    77 db
3000 rpm     20,0 knots   23,0 mph    45 l/h   11,9 gph   79 db
3500 rpm     27,1 knots    31,2 mph    57 l/h   15,0 gph   83 db
4000 rpm     31,3 knots    36,0 mph   68 l/h   18,0 gph   85 db
4500 rpm     36,2 knots    41,7 mph    99 l/h   26,1 gph   87 db
5000 rpm     39,9 knots    45,9 mph    121 l/h   32,0 gph  88 db
5500 rpm     43,2 knots    49,7 mph    171 l/h   45,1 gph   90 db
6200 rpm     49,0 knots5  6,4 mph    204 l/h    53,9 gph  90 db

Test conditions
Calm sea, temperature 28° C (82° F), fuel 250 lt (66 US gal), water 0 lt, passengers 6, clean hull

Without engines € 94.900, VAT and transportation excluded


Master Gommoni Tecnobat (ITA)

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