If you’re in the market for a decent tennis racquet, you might take a lead from Grand Slam legend Rafa Nadal and buy a Babolat. Similarly, if you’re looking for a durable, safe, unsinkable boat, you might emulate the military or emergency services and buy a RIB - it would be a wise decision.
RIBs, or Rigid Inflatable Boats, were pretty much invented by the British RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) in the 1960s, as a way of reducing wear and tear on their boats. But, as years have gone by, they’ve evolved into a myriad of uses from patrol craft to transport vessels and, of course, the recreational boating market.
If you want to drink cocktails on the flybridge or win the beauty competition in the marina, a RIB probably isn’t the boat for you. But, here are seven good reasons why you might want to consider one. One, the inflated tubes act as a sort of lifejacket so, even if the boat takes on water, it will continue to float - they’re also nigh-on impossible to capsize. Two, this type of boat offers superior stability and, at a decent speed, hydroplanes atop the waves thus giving you a drier ride. Three, thanks to their inflatable shock absorbers, RIBs are tough, resistant to trauma, bumpable (especially while docking) and easily repairable if needed. Four, seaworthiness, look around an anchorage on a windy day and you’ll see just sailing boats and RIBs - they’re the only ones that can handle rougher seas. Five, these boats are light, so you can carry more people and/or supplies, use less fuel, and manoeuvre effortlessly in tight spaces. Six, RIBs can support big horsepower engines, giving you all the power, and speed, you may desire. Oh, and seven, you can choose a configuration to suit your needs, open decks for heaps of gear or cabins for family cruising. What’s not to like?
RIBs come in all sizes (and all price brackets). Here’s a sensational six to whet your appetite.
At 3.05m in length (10ft on the nose) the new four-person Agilis 305 describes itself as ‘compact, not small’ and fits perfectly on the bathing platform of a 52-58ft yacht. Powered by a centrally-mounted Rotax 900 ACE (ACE standing for Advanced Combustion Efficiency), the most economical, environmentally-friendly, yet powerful watercraft engine, it has variable trim plus Sport and Touring modes to suit the moment. The German manufacturer allows you to customise the colour of your tubes and upholstery, as well as the tint of the teak deck. Extras include underwater LEDs and a Fusion sound system. Prices from 26,500 euros, excluding tax and delivery.
Lomac 540 IN Spearfishing
Now for something completely different. The Lomac 540 IN Spearfishing was specially designed for Marco Bardi, an Italian competitive freediving champion and former Technical Director of the Italian national team. Not only does the 18-footer feature a number of compartments suited to storing a large quantity of fishing tackle, but it also has everything you need for a comfortable day out with the family - all powered by a 115hp Evinrude engine. Lomac was founded in Milan in the 1960s and is now run by the third generation of the Lo Manto family.
Moving up in size, the GRAND D600 has a LOA of 6.12m (20ft) and can handle up to 12 passengers at one time. Claiming to be inspired by a love of speed, dynamics and agility, the Ukrainian-built GRAND D600 has a cutting-edge look and a modular design that can be transformed to suit clients’ needs, whether they be adrenalin-fuelled wakeboarding sessions, quiet fishing trips or family days afloat. Expect fashionable colour combinations, plenty of storage, pivot seats and a removable sundeck kit to provide a whopping 3.6m² of sunbathing space. Prices from 45,000 euros excluding tax but including a Mercury 115 outboard.
Technohull Explorer 40
With the 12.1m (40ft) Technohull Explorer 40, we’re now entering the realm of the maxi RIB. Capable of speeds over 70mph (112km), thanks to a pair of Seven 627 motors packing a massive 1,250hp, this RIB will certainly turn heads. The patented Dynastream hull, which was five years in development, delivers unprecedented stability and improved efficiency at all speeds, plus a generous 250 nautical mile range from the 750l fuel tank. Sunpads, sports seats, sound system, wet bar, fridge, coffee machine, and space below the centre console for toilet facilities and a day bed. Ideal day boat, chase boat or superyacht tender. Expect to pay in excess of 400,000 euros for this Greek-built beauty.
Tecnorib Pirelli 1400
Also from Milan, Tecnorib began life in 2005 with a mission to design, build and distribute a new range of Pirelli-branded RIBs. 15 years on, it’s certainly mission accomplished, with a collection of half a dozen speedboats and ten tenders, including the 13.7m (45ft) Pirelli 1400. Red Dot Design Award-winning, this speedboat is cleanly-shaped, fierce, and fast, and comes in two versions - Sport and Cabin. Both have washrooms, while the Cabin model also benefits from an internal kitchenette, convertible sofa and double bed with wardrobe. Prices from 425,000 euros - up to 650,000 euros, or more, for the Cabin version.
Scanner Envy 1400
Rounding off the Italian stallions is Scanner RIB’s all-new Envy 1400. Also measuring in at 13.7m (45ft), this flagship of the Scanner fleet comes from the drawing board of Montemitro Design and features two vast sunpads fore and aft, and a central dining area with galley unit and hideaway tables. Below, there is a voluminous forward double berth, a decent-sized bathroom, and further sleeping accommodation for another couple. Inboard and outboard versions are available, and prices start from 459,500 euros excluding tax.