Founded in 1990 in Milan, the epicentre of Italian design, SACS focuses on the production of luxury rigid inflatable boats, which are supremely elegant design icons, fashioned by Italian craftsmen. The Strider 13 is one of eleven models produced by the company and one of its most popular.
I first heard about the SACS RIBs from my son, who was telling me about a 19m SACS RIB they had as a tender on the superyacht he was working on at the time. After a little research, I also found that that particular model (and now an even bigger 20m) is based on a hull designed by Kiwi, Steve Schmidt of Naiad Boats.
While the 19m & 20m have an alloy hull, all the rest of the range, designed by Christian Grande are based on grp hulls. I knew that SACS would be showing at the Sydney International Boat Show, so I was keen to have a closer look at this world renowned range of luxury tenders and sports boats. My first impression was wow! They look even better in the flesh than do on the glossy brochure. They exude Italian style, craftsmanship and a flair for being a little different. These are not just basic RIBs, they are RIBs with passion and flair, and are being brought by clients who demand quality and don’t mind paying for it. Okay, so you may think that the $AU710,000 price tag on the Strider 13 I reviewed is a bit up there – they can be brought for $AU550,000 with twin outboards – but once you spend some time aboard the boat and look at all aspects of the layout and fit out, you can see why. Way beyond my pay bracket, but it seems not for some. Colin Wilcox Sales Manager for SACS Marine Australia says that since they introduced the first SACS RIB to the Australian market 18 months ago, they have sold 13 boats and had more on order. DzThis has certainly happened quicker than we thought and those sales have been right across the range, from the Sport 700, through to the Strider 13dz, says Colin. While based in Sydney, SACS Australia has recently appointed a dealer in Queensland and looking to add another in Perth plus expanding into New Zealand.
The easiest way to describe the Strider 13 is to take the words directly from the SACS brochure – Irresistible, the Strider 13 Open is the perfect RIB for a sporty owner looking for a high-performance boat with lots of space for outdoor life. The Strider 13 is also perfectly suited as a chase boat or tender to a large yacht.
Whatever the use, the unmatched size of the cockpit, sundeck and swim platform are perfect for day trips with plenty of friends! The console is the most outstanding stylistic element and it catches the eye with its Italian style and aggressive look. – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Every boat is available with a lot of customisation, which was very evident on the Strider 13 I reviewed. The owner went for wider side decks and short bulwarks aft, which compromised the accommodation space in the cabin. But, as the owner only ever intends to use the boat as a day cruiser that wasn’t an issue. The Strider 13 has an extensive standard package. This includes an anchor windlass with a stainless anchor, teak interior, head and shower, Zulag Isotta steering wheel, twin bolster armchair seats with stand-up cushion, cockpit bar with handrails, sink and teak chopping board and a 65 l Inox drawer fridge. There is also a massive teak cockpit table, a cockpit shower, a full set of cushions in closed cell foam and integrated stern platform and teak decking. Standard colours are a white hull, white deck with silver and graphite accents, with grey rubbing strakes on the tubes and ivory cushions. If you want to personalise the boat, you can customise the hull and deck with a metallic paint finish, change the tubes to ivory, grey or black and go for a different wood interior finishing, with whitened oak or Canaletto walnut. The choice is yours. While talking about options, SACS offer plenty for all their boats from elegant lighting, generators, hydraulic stern platform and air conditioning and electronics packages.
The high-quality interior finish is evident from the exotic timbers to the tap fittings. Every aspect of the SACS 13 is
about style, Italian style, with innovative and trend-setting elements that make you look beyond this being simply another big RIB. In saying that, SACS have also produced a boat that is extremely practical, with a performance to match. Every aspect of the Strider 13 looks good and they all work. The cabin is surprisingly large with a single central berth or twin squabs, that can double as a U-shape lounge. There is massive storage space beneath the berths and access also to the bow thruster. The full walk-in head/shower compartment features a rain shower overhead and a raised stainless bowl on a composite vanity. Timber options inside are your choice, with Teak offered as standard.
As this is a boat that I predict a vast majority of the time will be spent outside, a big part of the design has focused on comfort and entertaining. The foredeck, for example, is available with sun pads over the 10mm solid teak decks and there are moulded steps leading over the tubes at the bow.
All the anchoring system is hidden away in the hull, below the tubes. Wide side decks lead into a cockpit that invites you to stay and relax with afternoon cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The ergonomically designed carbon fibre helm is surrounded by every conceivable dial, switch and control, with the centrepiece being the Raymarine E120 Hybrid Touch MFD. The twin bolster seats are outstandingly comfortable and great when either seated or standing to drive. A very cool extra available with the Strider 13 is the stylish grp hardtop, which with the solid perspex screen offers awesome protection from the wind, rain and the sun. Side clears are available also. At the rear of the seating console is the small galley with hot and cold water, fridge/freezer (icemaker optional) and the choice of a bbq plate, two burner hob or a cutting board. The Strider 13’s cockpit is all about relaxing and enjoying your day on the water. This is not a fishing boat and there are no rod holders, bait boards or rod racks. It does, however, provide a U-shape settee that can accommodate 8-10 people around the large fold-out timber table and have the protection of a disappearing sun canopy, which shades both the rear seating area and the airbed on the stern. With the sterndrive model you get a 1.5m transom extension, which obviously with a multi-outboard arrangement disappears. However, there is a compromise, as the engine bay can be transformed into another small cabin with twin single berths. Or maybe just another copious storage space.
I picked up the Strider 13 at The Spit and after some playing around in the calm waters of the harbour we headed out through Sydney Heads. The usual long deep swells were there and as I pushed the Strider into the head sea and towards the horizon, I could understand why these boats have such an excellent reputation.
Big and heavy (over 6.5 tonnes) RIBs, make excellent sea boats and the Strider 13 is no exception. A little trim in and the deep vee hull settles in a comfortable cruising attitude, with a very smooth, dry ride. Turning the boat back towards the harbour and I found I wanted to punch the throttles all the way and go as fast as I could….the ride was that good. I loved the positive, yet light to touch steering, which meant I could toss the big Strider 13 around like a small runabout. Flat out, with the pair of Mercury Diesel 4.2s, the speedo showed close to 39 knots. There are a number of engine options for both outboard or sterndrive available for the Strider 13. These include twin or triple 300-350hp outboard packages and twin Mercury or Volvo diesel or petrol sterndrives. SACS philosophy is to offer its clients a versatile boat that combines the performance of the best RIBs with all the features needed to enjoy a day on the water at its best. They are also all about unique designs, quality and innovation, something that the Strider 13 has in abundance.