Yamaha Launches New Joystick Controls And Two New Engines

Yamaha introduced boating media to three new products for 2013 this week, highlighted by its much-anticipated entry into the joystick engine control market.

The company showed its new Helm Master control system at a media launch held at Yamaha's engine test facility in Bridgeport, Alabama. Helm Master, jointly developed with Volvo Penta, will become available to Yamaha-affiliated boat builders in North America and Europe during the first quarter of 2013.

Designed for use on mid-sized to large boats with twin or triple mounts of 225 horsepower to 350 horsepower four-stroke outboards, Helm Master provides electronic control of all steering, gear shifting and throttle functions. Complementing the standard steering and remote control unit, a new joystick enables 360-degree control and turning of the boat at low speeds, providing easier maneuvering in confined areas, such as when docking/undocking or navigating tight waterways and marinas.

"The Helm Master supplements the inherent advantages of an outboard rig, including its great economy, environmental friendliness, serviceability and space efficiency, by adding functions that make even a large boat easier and more enjoyable to maneuver, even for beginners' reads a Yamaha press release. "For this reason, it is a product that should increase the mounting ratio for Yamaha outboards in the mid- to large-sized boat market. The joystick makes maneuvering the boat intuitive over the full 360-degree motion range, enabling fore-aft, port-starboard and diagonal motion as well as in-place rotation of the bow.'

Helm Master will be made available to OEMs only, and not sold as a retro-fit product for repowering, according to the company. Yamaha intends to introduce it to the public at the 2013 Miami International Boat Show.
In addition to the Helm Master product, Yamaha also showed a pair of new outboards this week.

The company's new F200 is said to be the lightest four-cylinder four-stroke on the market. Built around a four-cylinder, 2.8-liter, 16-valve dual overhead cam powerhead, the compact new engine weighs in at a svelte 487 pounds. That's nearly 120 pounds lighter than Yamaha's previous F200 V6, making it a great repowering option, especially in twin applications or on smaller boats that would benefit from having less weight on the transom. Mechanically-controlled versions of the edition are expected to be available in March, with electronically-controlled models to follow by May.

Yamaha also showed a new 150 horsepower V MAX SHO four-stroke that's aimed squarely at the fishing boat and pontoon market. This newest addition to the V-MAX SHO product line – joining the 200, 225 and 250 previously announced in 1009 – is built on the same  2.8-liter four-cylinder powerhead as the F200, and weighs just 480 pounds, bringing it within 12 pounds of the company's two-stroke VZ150. Product is expected to begin shipping in July 2013.

Also announced were updates to the company's F9.9, F50, F60, T9.9, T50, T60 and F60 Jet outboards, including new graphics and features.