Best RIB boats: Why rigid hulled inflatables make ideal starter boats

When people ask me to recommend them a first boat I usually point in the direction of a RIB...

For beginners, the safety and practicality of a rigid inflatable boat make perfect sense, not to mention the fact that when it comes to the tricky subject of berthing practice you can bounce around the marina in what is essentially an enormous fender.

The modern RIB, however, is a world away from its humble roots as a training vessel and knockabout workhorse favoured by the emergency services.

In this special guide you will see not only the incredible amount of choice in this sector but also the quality, style and searing performance on offer. From aluminium Sur Marine tenders to six-figure Scorpion superyacht chasers, this guide has them all.

13 of the best RIB boats on the market


Agapi 800

The Agapi 800 is one of the most versatile compact cruising RIBs in the world.

In addition to day space for ten, this beautifully arranged RIB can sleep two people in the forward cabin, plus a further two under canvas at the convertible dining station.

Other options include a carbon-fibre T-top, a mini galley beneath the helm, and a 300hp outboard for 50-knot performance.

Agapi 800 specification

LOA: 25ft 6in (7.8m)
Beam: 8ft 4in (2.55m)
Engine: 200-300hp outboard
Top speed: 50 knots

Read more about Agapi RIBs

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Brig Eagle 8

The BRIG Eagle 8 won the 2020 Motor Boat Award for the Sportsboat & RIB category. What swung the jury was its well thought out design and classy detailing.

Opposing bench seats in the bow and stern as well as a removable table make this a really sociable boat at anchor while the spacious heads compartment under the console ensures lazy days on the water are more comfortable for everyone.

A single 300-350hp engine delivers fast, refined performance while the large diameter hypalon tubes guarantee a dry, stable ride. There’s even the option of a T-top for added protection.

But if possible we’d advise upgrading to the twin-prop Suzuki DF350 with Sea-Dek flooring, covers, Garmin navigation and Fusion stereo. As an all-round family cruising RIB, it’s hard to beat.

Brig Eagle 8 specifications

LOA: 26ft 2in (7.98m)
Beam: 9ft 6in (2.90m)
Engine: Single 225hp-350hp Suzuki
Top speed: 50 knots

Read more about Brig RIBs


Cobra Nautique 9.2m

The Nautique 9.2m is the perfect embodiment of what Cobra is capable of. With a variety of layout options, colour schemes and optional extras available there is licence to tailor the boat’s exact specification to your wishes, but the most extraordinary thing about it is its appetite for speed.

With the largest engine option of twin 300hp Mercury Verado outboards it will comfortably crack 60 knots, leaving you free to cruise anywhere from 20-50 knots.

This effortless cruising pace makes it a brilliantly capable point-to-point day boat but thanks to the intelligent deck layout and optional heads compartment in the console it’s a fantastic platform once the engines are off as well.

Cobra Nautique 9.2m specification

LOA: 30ft 2in (9.2m)
Beam: 8ft 4in (2.55m)
Engines: Twin 200-300hp outboards
Top speed: 60 knots

Read more about Cobra RIBs


Goldfish 30 Sport

Launched in 2021 with an all-new hull, the 30 Sport is the result of many hours of R&D.

An extra metre over the 29 Sport mkIII makes it feel more sure-footed, and slightly more beam makes the boat an all-day or even overnight cruiser.

The console offers great protection even without the optional hard top and it houses the heads and a double bunk. An inboard engine creates a useful aft deck and swim platform.

Goldfish 30 Sport

LOA: 32ft 6in (9.9m)
Beam: 9ft 7in (2.9m)
Engine: 350-565hp inboard
Top speed: 74 knots

Read more about Goldfish RIBs


Highfield Sport 800

The Highfield Sport 800 is the standout model in the range. Boasting a brand new stepped hull with a 26-degree deadrise angle by Norwegian performance boat designer Petter Martens, it is a real wave weapon.

These impressive offshore credentials are paired with a stylish and well thought out cockpit with sociable seating that converts to a sunbed and a classy helm console with a heads compartment.

Add the optional sink and fridge unit and the SP800 will be just as happy swinging at anchor in a picturesque bay as it is slicing through a swell at 40 knots.

Highfield Sport 800 specification

LOA: 26ft 7in (8.11m)
Beam: 9ft 8in (2.94m)
Engine: Single 250-300hp outboard
Top speed: 45 knots

Read more about Highfield RIBs



Designed, manufactured, and tested in Great Britain, the PRIME NINE41 is the pick of the range in our opinion.

At just over 30ft in length the proportions of the deck work exceptionally well with a sheltered dinette aft and a U-shaped convertible seating area in the bow.

Ribeye PRIME NINE41 specification

LOA: 30ft 9in (9.4m)
Beam: 9ft 2in (2.8m)
Engines: Twin outboards up to 800hp
Top speed: 60+ knots

Read more about Ribeye RIBs


Ring Powercraft 680 Sport

The 680 Sport delivers a snapshot of the classic Ring Powercraft experience. With its ventilated hull and tapered Hypalon collar, it combines stability under heavy load with great efficiency.

It has the deck space for fishing, the speed for racing and the pick-up for watersports. In addition to a range of seating, it also offers sterndrive and outboard options from 115hp to 250hp.

Ring Powercraft 680 Sport specification

LOA: 22ft 3in (6.8m)
Beam: 8ft 0in (2.45m)
Engine: 115 to 250hp outboards
Top speed: 40 knots

Read more about Ring Powercraft RIBs

Sacs-Marine-RIBs-Strider-10-pic2-credit-Lester McCarthy

Sacs Marine Strider 10

Though it sits toward the lower end of the Strider line in terms of size, the Sacs Strider 10 delivers some impressive recreational practicality.

In addition to the option of twin 300hp outboards for 54-knot performance, this is a RIB that can entertain up to 16 people at a time, while combining its elevated Italian aesthetic with Med-style open boating luxuries and plenty of traditional offshore ability.

To keep your guests content during long days on the water, the wraparound cockpit seating and foredeck sunbathing spaces are serviced by an easy-access wet bar and the elegantly raked helm console has plenty of space for an optional toilet.

Sacs Marine Strider 10 specification

LOA: 32ft 5in (9.92m)
Beam: 11ft 3in (3.44m)
Engine: Twin 300hp outboards
Top speed: 54 knots

Read more about Sacs Marine RIBs


Seakart 335 180hp Racing Standard

The Seakart 335 180hp Racing Standard with a few choice options ticked would be our choice.

It has that rampant performance on tap but thanks to L-mode, a limiter can be put in place to tune the engine down to 80hp if kids or novice boaters are at the helm.

Seakart 335 180hp Racing Standard specification

LOA: 9ft 8in (3.5m)
Beam: 6ft 6in (2m)
Engines: Single Yamaha 110hp/180hp
Top speed: 55 knots

Read more about Seakart RIBs


Sealegs 7.5m

The ‘All-round’ layout brings active boaters extra utility in the form of a bait board.

The best-selling ‘Social’ layout, with fridge, wet bar and lounge seating, is arguably the best solution of the lot.

In all cases, a soft-riding hull, shock-absorbing seating, Yamaha’s ultra-smooth 200hp outboard and optional T-top make this refined eight-person model one of the most comfortable RIBs you can buy.

Sealegs 7.5m specification

LOA: 24ft 6in (7.5m)
Beam: 8ft 9in (2.71m)
Engine: Yamaha 200hp outboard
Top speed: 37 knots

Read more about Sealegs RIBs

SUR Marine ST 290 Classic

With its dynamic excellence and ergonomic maturity, the best-selling ST 290 Classic is a fine exponent of what SUR Marine does so well.

The tough, lightweight construction and integrated flaps enable you to enjoy towed watersports with as little as 15hp and to cruise in comfort with four or five people on board.

The helm console comes with an armrest and adjustable steering wheel, plus a folding bench seat for easy access aft. And in addition to its 40cm ORCA Hypalon tubes and 4+1 carrying capacity, features include teak-lined decking and deck lights.

SUR Marine ST 290 Classic specification

LOA: 9ft 7in (2.95m)
Beam: 5ft 3in (1.63m)
Engine: 10 to 20hp outboard
Top speed: 20 knots

Read more about SUR Marine RIBs

Best-RIB-boats-Williams-Jet-Tenders-RIBs-sportjet-credit-Tim Hetherington

Williams SportJet 520

The SportJet 520 is designed to fit on yachts of 30m and above, but at 17ft 1in (5.19m) in length, and with a seven-person carrying capacity, it can turn its hand just as naturally to playing fast, comfortable day boat.

Power is provided by a 200hp BHP Rotax petrol engine for a punchy top speed of 45 knots while back-to-back seating, an aft platform and integrated ski pole make it an excellent watersports companion.

Williams SportJet 520 specification

LOA: 17ft 1in (5.19m)
Beam: 6ft 7in (2.01m)
Engine: BRP Rotax 200hp
Top speed: 45 knots

Read more about Williams Jet Tenders



The ZAR 79 SL Plus uses a proven hull with a fine entry and an exaggerated bow flare for a soft ride, alongside excellent protection from water ingress.

The fact that the beamy bow is framed inside rigid mouldings also means plenty of space for dining and sunbathing, plus excellent security for passengers and easy access to the toilet inside the console.

As well as seating for 14 people, a neat cockpit wet bar and a cleverly configurable aft lounging platform, the 300hp transom adds performance to practicality with an agile and responsive 48-knot top end.

ZAR 79SL specification

LOA: 25ft 9in (7.9m)
Beam: 9ft 4in (2.86m)
Engine: 200-300hp outboard
Top speed: 48 knots

Read more about ZAR RIBs

First published in the July 2021 issue of MBY

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