RIB Selection

A different viewpoint - By John Haynes, Blue Ride Principal

There are many boat reviews in powerboat magazines, but it is interesting to look at selecting a recreational RIB from a different angle depending on the end user. As many people are being drawn to RIBs from other watersports and different backgrounds it is a good exercise to see what they are really looking for in their new boat and how they will choose it. Not just by looking at the boat, engine and equipment but by looking at the end users marine background and being realistic about what they will really want the RIB to do for them.

What do you want your RIB to do?

My blend of experiences on the water in other craft is bound to influence my choice of RIB. A training RIB may benefit from being light and easy to drive by novices. For commercial or military operators I would always select a heavier craft from a manufacturer that understands the intended 'heavy duty' use. Having said that on occasions I have ended up using boats designed for leisure purposes in very testing conditions and for obvious reasons I encourage them not to fail by backing off the power and treating the boat with extra care.

RIBs are all different

From a manufacturers point of view it is important to recognise that as the demand for RIBs grows they cannot be all things to all people. Not everyone is racing RIBs, moving cargo or delivering a squad of troops in breaking surf at midnight. A safety organisation, the military or a local authority will probably select a commercial RIB using a checklist to find the boat that satisfies their 'defined needs' within a budget. There may not be much room for input from the operators because an accountant or a 'non boat user' may well make the final decision.

Selecting a RIB for you

It is better to take the time to find the right boat rather than trying to get the wrong boat to fit you! This next section gives a checklist of features to consider when choosing a RIB without being specific about the choice of boat manufacturer. When you get into combinations of intended use, boat sizes and equipment choices the possibilities are endless. The following example is a realistic set of requirements that in my experience meets the needs of many leisure RIB users.

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Example - A RIB to carry 6 persons for coastal leisure use

  • A boat of at least 6 metre (20') gives a more comfortable ride, especially in short seas
  • Boat should be capable of handling the unexpected conditions our coast can produce
  • A safe seat for every person, with hand holds and preferably all behind the console
  • A fuel tank range that will take you at least 50 miles (ideally 100+) without re-fuelling
  • An economical diesel or four stroke engine as the boat may get many hours use
  • A relatively shallow hull and engine draught, to be able to enter harbours on low tide
  • To be able to ski or wakeboard behind the boat preferably from a high towing point
  • To tow it behind a car (not necessarily a 4x4) and be able to launch single handed
  • To be able to manoeuvre the boat and trailer unhitched without a back injury
  • A good re-sale value when you come to change the boat

Selection of RIB equipment

I have 3 main categories that I call essential, secondary and non-essential equipment.

For more information on RIB equipment see the section on RIB Equipment

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