Yamaha Helm Master
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I traveled to Alabama this week to see Yamaha’s 2013 product preview with a group of fellow boating and fishing writers. We all had heard Yamaha would debut a joystick control system for its outboards. But the company went well beyond that accomplishment with its new Helm Master system.
Helm Master offers:
- Speed control: Sets RPM increments throughout the range of the engine (not just trolling speeds).
- Single-lever selector: Allows the port lever to control shifting and speed for all engines (twin and triple configurations).
- Trim assist: Synchronizes the trim angle to RPM so the engine automatically trims to the desired angle.
- Electronic key switch: Key fob unlocks starting system, where the operator can press the ignition and start/stop buttons. Fob also engages the Y-COP immobilizer to inhibit theft.
- Command Link Plus 6Y9 gauge: Allows operator to adjust settings such as steering friction, trim assist and joystick calibration, and gives the dealer and builder access to a variety of settings.
- Joystick control: Allows side-to-side and rotational movement of the vessel. Comes with a high mode that increases engine RPM in high current or wind situations.
Helm Master will be available in March through approved boat manufacturers as a new-power option only, with F350 and 4.2-liter V6 Yamaha Offshore engines. Yamaha won’t quote pricing because that will be up to the builders and dealers, who design the retail packages.
On the water, the joystick was predictably fun to operate. Engage the stick to one side and the vessel moves laterally. At the same time, twist the stick slightly, and the bow points that direction while moving laterally.
Yamaha suggests operators learn to keep the joystick engaged at all times while maneuvering, and make minor adjustments. That keeps the engines in gear rather than bumping them in and out.
I tried the joystick on a Regulator 34 with twin F350s and rode aboard a similarly equipped Everglades 355T with triples. The triple configuration naturally seems more responsive because the center engine adds extra power and blade area.
Check out the video below to see some of the maneuvering we did.