Assaulting the Senses
By Freddy Foote
In the bluewater performance RIB market, there are a number of options available to buyers in this discerning segment. A quiet achiever is Assault Boats in Auckland. Freddy Foote checks out their smallest model in the range, the 850 Midcab.
Though the Assault 850 Midcab is a reasonably large craft, it is actually the smallest model in the Assault range, sitting underneath an 890 and a 1050 model of which the company has sold a number of each into the Australasian and Pacific markets.
The Assault range is a bit of a manufacturer hybrid. The hulls and tubes come via Gemini Inflatables in Cape Town, South Africa. From the Gemini factory, the 850 hull features an aluminium keel strip, which is attached to a box section on the keel of the boat. This box section is an intricate part of the mould and is filled internally with chop strand mat. Gemini then uses extra woven roving to form over the top of this to make a solid internal keel. The alloy keel protector is then screwed on the outside of this solid box section. This allows the boat to run up on beaches or rocks (hopefully not!) without damaging the keel or if you miss the trailer when you are retrieving the boat.
The boat arrives in New Zealand as a bare hull, fitted with the Hypalon tubes. The hardtop and cabin section is then fitted, and the internal layout is customised to suit whatever the customer should choose.
Our test boat boasted a relatively standard layout and configuration with a few options also fitted. It is, in fact, the demonstrator vessel of Family Boats, the Auckland dealership for the Assault range – so this boat, albeit with a few hours on it, could be yours if you wish!
Seating consisted of twin pedestal seats for the skipper and passenger, mounted on bases with storage below. Built into the same base were aft-facing passenger seats. Across the transom was a large removable lounge seat, with extra storage available underneath.
At the helm, the driving position was comfortable, both when seated and standing, with the helm controls within easy reach. Wipers are available on both sides of the curved glass screen and storage shelves are available on both sides of the helm area – great to store drinks bottles, keys, phones, charts, etc.
The seating position is quite high, which I liked, and there was an elevated footrest for both the passenger and skipper.
The dash was well appointed, with a large Raymarine 12” MFD flush mounted immediately behind the steering wheel. To the left were a trio of Yamaha gauges, while below was the VHF radio, stereo system and switch panels. To the right of the navigation screen were the controls for the Maxwell anchor winch. Sliding windows on both sides keep the helm area well ventilated in those hot summer months.
Stepping down into the cabin, immediately to the left is a small gas cooker with sink unit alongside. A neat feature is the gas cooker can be folded onto the top of the sink to create a small table.
The cabin squabs are all fully upholstered and the cabin sole is lined with a removable carpet. Located under the starboard squab is a chemical toilet – privacy is guaranteed by the zip in canvas curtain that separates the cabin from the helm area.
Access to the bow area is via a large hatch, from the cabin with the bow featuring two forward facing seats, a large bollard and access to the anchor locker.
The anchor itself is recessed into the bow below and when anchoring a small camera in the anchor locker captures the position of the anchor via the large navigation screen mounted into the dash.
The hull and deck are self-draining; the big scuppers aft being a prominent feature, making it an ideal boat for diving where there is often a bit of water coming on board.
The cockpit is finished in teak as an option and our test boat was also fitted with a large stainless ski arch. I’m not sure what it would be like to water ski behind a boat of this size, but I bet tow toys would be a lot of fun!
The Assault 850 Midcab is perfectly suited to long distance day trips, or overnighting. On the hardtop is a stainless steel bracket, to mount a small tender, ideal for those excursions ashore.
Internally the 850 Midcab has a big boat feel, the layout is easy to navigate and there is plenty of seating. The boat has a maximum person capacity of eleven, with seating provided for all.
Game fishing is a serious option as well, with game pole mounts also fixed to the sides of the cabin should you wish to troll some lures. 1500 rpm will see you doing 7.0 knots using around 10.5L/H of fuel.
Worried about a large fish puncturing the tubes I hear you say? Sure it may happen, but the Hypalon tubes are incredibly strong, and even with a tube deflated, the boats are still very much driveable and will not sink.
Our test Assault 850 Midcab was powered by a Yamaha F350 4-stroke V8 outboard, and at full rpm it gave a healthy top speed of 43.5 knots at 5800rpm.
At a reasonably quick cruise of 24 knots @ 3500rpm the Yamaha 350hp outboard was using 43L/H, and based on the 350L fuel tank would give the 850 Midcab a range of 170 nm.
Underway the Yamaha F350 V8 outboard, as you would imagine sounded fantastic and got better the further you put the throttle down. However, the engine noise wasn’t overly obtrusive, and we were able to converse relatively normally while underway, even at full throttle.
The hull is rated to 400hp, so it will easily handle twin 200hp outboards on the transom. I thought the 350hp outboard was an ideal match, and I see no reason for wanting twins except for maybe a little extra top end speed. If you prefer a more sedate pace, then a single 300hp or twin 150s d would be fine.
As far as performance and comfort of ride at speed are concerned, the 850 Midcab was certainly up there. It was very easy to drive and responded well to trim and throttle adjustments. A RIB with a length of 8.5m and a 26-degree deadrise is going to go well! We tested it on a choppy and blustery Auckland Harbour and whatever we threw at it, it took it all in its stride. The faster and you went, the better it seemed to go. At rest the 850 Midcab is very stable, help by the fact that the tubes sit in the water.
Overall, I loved the 850 Midcab. The RIB cabin market used to be quite niche’, however, in recent times it has certainly changed, with some different sized models and configurations now available locally. The 850 Midcab has a superb finish, with serious bluewater performance to boot and is the ideal vessel for those who want to get to their on water destinations quickly and comfortably no matter what the conditions.
- Model & Model: Assault 850 Midcab
- Priced from: ??????
- Price as tested: ????
- Type: RIB
- Construction: GRP/Hypalon
- LOA: 8.50m
- Beam: 2.90m
- Deadrise: 26 degree
- Height on trailer: ?????
- Trailerable weight: 2700kg
- Test Power: 350Hp
- Propeller: ?????
- Power Options: Single/Twin outboard
- HP Range: 300-400hp
- Fuel Capacity: 350L
- Trailer: Tandem Axle braked.
Notable Standard Items
Large diameter 7 section 550mm Hypalon tubes, self-draining cockpit, heavy duty hull construction with alloy box keel, through bow anchoring,
Notable Options on Test Boat
Stainless steel ski arch, Anchor windlass/rope/chain/anchor, Rear moulded lounge, teak flooring.
Performance & Fuel