PASSION FOR PERFECTION
Built in Greece, Ribco’s philosophy is no compromise when it comes to quality and innovation, and as Barry Thompson reports, the Ribco R28s is a testimony to that ethos.
This is the second Ribco I have reviewed on Sydney Harbour and both times the weather has not been that great. Last year when I took the triple 350hp engine Venom 44 for a spin it was raining heavily, and this time with the Ribco R28s, while there was no rain, it was blowing. It was gusting 45 knots from the SSW, with a choppy sea in the harbour and big swells at the heads. Excellent conditions to test the R28s, although a little chilly.
Launched in 2012 the R28s is one of the smallest models in the Ribco stable and is available in single or twin outboard or a single sterndrive. A single 225 hp outboard will give you around 45-47 knots, or in our case, a power-packed Mercury 400hp R Verado went all the way to 58 knots.
In June of 1999 the first 8m RIB produced by Ribco was launched in Athens, Greece, combining a revolutionary offshore hull, but with a more Mediterranean deck layout.
The hull was designed back in 1994 by David Marsh, together with Graham Jelley as a non- stepped hull and in 2004 designer Lorne Campbell added a couple of steps to the running surface.
So, what does a stepped hull achieve? A step in the hull is a longitudinal notch that runs from chine to chine and comes high enough on the side of the boat to reach above the waterline when the boat is on plane. Low pressure is generated just aft of the step as the boat moves forward, creating suction that draws in air in from the sides and assists in getting it up onto the plane quicker and with less wetted surface at speed, be faster and more efficient. Using this hull Ribco won the Greek RIB Championship 2009-2011 and then retired from racing. It was also the very first model in the Ribco range and has been refined over the years. Ribco now offers eleven different models from 7m to 13.4m.
Cruising at 3500-4000 rpm on Sydney Harbour I was impressed with the way the boat ran in the choppy water and the fact we never took a drop of water aboard. It’s an extremely dry boat, with the stepped hull pushing the water away and under the wide tubes. Being a centre console there is no getting away from the wind and weather, and although the removable soft bimini top does afford some protection, the addition of clear view drop curtains might be a good investment.
I found I rarely applied any tab as the boat ran straight and level just using the engine trim. When we left Sydney Superyacht Marina, Rozelle Bay, which is the base for Ribco Australia, we had a slow cruise to the Sydney Harbour Bridge before I could open the throttle. Quite simply it is a pocket rocket, with stunning acceleration and brilliant handling in the higher rpm range.
A lot of the time I ran at 4000 rpm @ 36.5 knots, but occasionally punched the throttles and managed to see 58 knots (66.7mph) @ 6500 rpm on the speedo. Bringing the throttle back to around 5000 rpm @ 48.5 knots I put the boat into what I felt was a reasonably tight turn. It went around on rails, so I got a lot more aggressive next time and pulled the wheel into a full lock. Still, the R28s hung on tight, never slipped away and with the engine trimmed in a little, there was no noticeable prop cavitation. Plus, while tossing the boat around in ridiculous manoeuvres, we still never took a drop of water aboard. Don’t need to worry about your passengers as there are plenty of handholds provided.
PLENTY OF OPTIONS
While the standard seating is a pair of bolster seats with hydraulic absorbers, the R28s I was aboard had twin quad jockey seating with provision for four. There is storage under the squabs of all the seating.
I would go for the twin bolster seats, but then the jockey style suited the application that this particular boat was intended for. Maybe it was me, but I didn’t feel comfortable sitting to drive and did most of that standing. However, that’s the beauty of having seating options; you can have what you want!
There is a full-width aft lounge with seating for four, plus further seating forward, so the boat has provision for 10-12 persons. You’ll find massive storage space under the aft sun pad in the area that would be taken up by the engine if you went for the sterndrive option. There is easy access to absolutely everything and dedicated places to stow things such as the boarding ladder. I don’t think there is a spare space anywhere in the boat that hasn’t been utilised. Very impressive for a RIB of this size.
There are plans in the outboard models of the R28s, to shorten the rear deck and move the rear bench seating back and thereby giving more space in the cockpit aft of the helm seats. This will be introduced first on the new R33, to be available locally in 2020.
You have the choice of teak or Sea Dek on the sole, both adding a touch of class to the presentation of the boat. When it comes to good looks coupled with quality, Ribco does it better than most. From the carbon dash panel to the mood LED interior, exterior and underwater lighting, everything is of the highest quality.
The oversize console is impressive with standard equipment including a Raymarine Axiom MFD, Smart Craft gauges, Raymarine 60 VHF and Fusion 650 stereo. There’s also a large glovebox which also has the battery cut-off switches and fuse panel. The forward part of the console opens to reveal a small portable fridge/freezer and access to the back of the dash. If you don’t have the fridge/freezer, there is provision for a plumbed-in head, with a privacy curtain, although it would be rather tight.
The bow offers another sun pad and seating area with provision under for wet/dry storage. The anchoring gear is all below decks with a through-hull system leaving uncluttered deck space.
The Ribco R28s is a boat that is finding a market with both recreational and commercial users and came to prominence recently in Australia during the SailGP, where Team Australia used one as a chase boat. It’s also the boat of choice for Michael Clarke, 43rd Test captain of Australia and Ribco ambassador.
Meticulous detail and craftsmanship flow from bow to stern, highlighting Ribco’s unwavering commitment to quality and the R28s has the performance and handling to match.
It’s a fun boat for the harbour and will suit anyone who likes to push their boat a little and enjoy the excitement. As a tender, dive boat or harbour cruiser, the Ribco R28s has all the bases covered.
- Boat Design Name: Ribco R28s
- Year Launched: 2019
- Builder: Ribco Marine
- Designer: Lorne Campbell
- LOA: 8.50m
- LOH: 7.85m
- Beam: External: 2.70m
- Beam: Internal 1.80m
- Displacement (dry): 1050 kg
- Trailerable Weight: 2800 kg (est)
- Max Speed: 58 knots
- Construction: ??
- GRP: (Hull)
- Tubes: Hypalon
- Fuel Cap: 350 litres
- Water Cap: 45 litres
- Engine Make: Mercury 400hp
- Engine Options: Outboard or Sterndrive
- Propeller: Mercury 24” 4 Bld SS
- Entertainment: Fusion Apollo RA770
- Anchor Winch: Lofrans
- MFD: Raymarine Axiom Pro
- VHF: Raymarine 60
- Cockpit Flooring: Sea Dek (Teak option)
- Price as tested: $Aud197,500 (incl GST)
FUEL & PERFORMANCE