A safe and stable boat, but also one that is fun. The first inflatable from Rio Yachts has all the characteristics for love at first full throttle
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Andrea Muscatello
«I had already worked at Rio twenty years ago and Piergiorgio and I know each other well. Making a RIB was his idea», says Omar Bignotti. This, the first maxi RIB after over sixty years of constructing fibreglass boats, is the product of a triple alliance: as well as Bignotti, who knows about small boats, there is Piergiorgio Scarani from Rio Yachts. And the figures seem to have proved him right. The first four units have been sold practically off plan. «I liked seeing that the first people who were interested in the Inaguawere Rio owners, so they trust the yard», said Piergiorgio Scarani. It is an ambitious programme which plans to see the construction of fifteen units in the first year, a figure that will then increase, and there are also plans to deliver a range of RIBs with cabins that will be called Exuma. But let’s take things in order. The boat we tried out in Genoa was the Inagua S, where “S” stands for Small. So, it is easy to work out that the next ones could be Medium, Large and perhaps even Extra Large.
THE YARD HAS OTHER LARGER RIB MODELS SCHEDULED. AFTER THE INAGUA S, IT WILL BE THE TURN OF THE MEDIUM AND LARGE SIZES.
The length overall of this first model when inflated is nearly eleven metres, but officially it stays under ten and so is classed as a natante. The sea outside the harbour wall in Genoa was fairly demanding. The long waves caused by the scirocco wind of the preceding days joined forces with the shorter and steeper ones caused by the west wind that was blowing at fifteen knots. So, there were some fairly difficult cross-waves to deal with. The acceleration glued me to the skipper’s chair. In just three seconds the hull rose out of the water. And there is also really plenty of power: with two V8 version 300 horsepower Mercury Verados, which is the most potent combination you can put on the transom. The Inagua S continued to behave well as we increased speed. It didn’t complain, was easy to the helm, and turned tightly and quickly. I decided to open up the throttle further still, and looked for a path that would allow me to do that despite the metre-high waves. I got to thirty knots and found the fuel consumption levels to be very restrained. Around 85 litres per hour in total, which means less than three litres per nautical mile, but above all, I was impressed with how the keel handles. Helming is no problem, and it doesn’t take full concentration. You don’t have to think through how you are going to take the waves on. And the seas were moderate.
Cross waves of a metre could cause problems for a 50-foot maxi RIB, which is a lot bigger than the Inagua S. Then I tried accelerating. The yard says the top speed is 49 knots, and I wanted to see how far I could push it. At 35 or 40 knots things didn’t change a lot. You just have to be slightly careful to prevent slamming against the waves. But to do that you just have to dose out the gas. When the wave is too tall and the speed too high, with just a bit of awareness you slow down enough to ensure it doesn’t become difficult. And so, I decided not to get to the top speed. I made do with 5500 rpm and nearly 43 knots, but with a flatter sea, I could probably have got to the 49 knots that Rio Yachts promises.
I tried to put the hull into difficulty in various ways. I did stuff at the wheel that you really shouldn’t, especially with moderate seas, but the Inagua always responded well. There was no crisis. It was comfortable and safe. Nothing to complain about, especially considering that this is the yard’s first small boat. Another positive note was struck by the absence of spray on deck. Frankly, I was expecting there to be bucketloads of water, because of the sea and wind conditions, and also because of the very sporty windscreen – which is to say practically non-existent. But there was nothing, neither on the bridge nor in the cockpit, not even when I turned tightly on the crest of a wave and exposed the side to gusts of wind, so everything that you shouldn’t do if you want to stay dry.
At the helm, visibility is always excellent, as is ergonomics. Throttles, joysticks, and the control panel for the bow thruster, I found that everything was within reach. Both when standing up to steer, or when I lowered the seat to sit down. The top is made from fabric and rests on a perfectly robust structure. Above all, because the fabric isn’t as heavy as fibreglass. Visibility is excellent because the boat always keeps a good trim, and also because of the foredeck layout which is not weighed down by a bulky fibreglass stem head. There is room for the bitts and for a foredeck platform which is useful when you have to get from the bow onto the quay, but the anchor comes out of the hawsehole. That way the Inagua has a clean bow, with a rectangular shape that reminded me of the old Corsair Mantas, the first inflatables with a square bow which appeared at a time when only the pointed bows from the Zodiac were in fashion.
As far as the layout in the stern is concerned, the walkway and the entrance into the cockpit seem to work well. You get to it from two gangways which go alongside the sun pad and then you come to the U-shaped sofa and you have to climb over it. That isn’t too difficult, especially because the sofa’s back is fairly low. And that also means the U-shaped sofa, which covers the entire beam of the boat, can be larger and take more passengers. I was less convinced, however, by the size of the sun pad. If you lie down along the axis of the boat, your legs are left dangling on the platform because it isn’t long enough. Whereas if you lay down across the beam, the number of places goes down from two to three, but the problem is that the sun pad isn’t level because it follows the line of the boat which is slightly cambered. That means that isn’t very practical to lie down horizontally. Even though the conditions had led us to expect it to be troublesome out on the water, and perhaps even quite hard work, when the test was over, I didn’t want to go back to the quay. And what is better than a boat that makes you want to take it out?
EXUMA IS THE NAME OF THE RANGE OF RIBS WITH CABINS, WHICH IS SET TO BE PRODUCED IN THE COMING SEASONS.
Via Passerera, 6/D
I-24060 Chiuduno (BG)
T. +39 035 927301
LOA 10.90m • Beam 3.70m • Draft 0.86m • Light mass displacement 3,700 kg • Compartments 6 • Tube’s diameter 0.68m • Fuel tank volume 620 l • Water tank volume 95 l • Maximum rated power 2×300 hp
MAIN PROPULSION 2xMercury Verado 300 • Outlet mechanical power 224 kW (300 hp) • 8 V-shaped cylinders • Swept volume 4.6 l • Bore&Stroke 92mm x 86mm • Maximal rotational speed 6000/min • Weight 272 kg
Starting from 230,000€, Excl.VAT (January 2023)
(Rio Inagua S, It’s a question of feeling – Barchemagazine.com – January 2023)