Lighter, smaller and more versatile, the latest batch of alternative tenders offer plenty of advantages, writes Dave Marsh
In this feature, we take a closer look at a disparate threesome that caught our eye at the 2015 London Boat Show.
The F-RIBs collection comprises a six-strong range of solid bottomed RIBs.
Five are outboard powered (above), one is a sailboat (pictured right), and they range in size from 2.75m to 4.60m.
Their common design feature is that they fold into three parts to produce a compact, portable mass that can be bundled into a lazarette or the back of a car.
For example, the 275 folds down to a boot-sized 900mm x 850mm x 400mm.
Compared with a simple inflatable, their prize-winning feature is their hard bottom, because even the very best inflatables cannot compete with their rigid-hulled counterparts when it comes to handling, performance and practicality.
Several things impressed me when I got my hands on one. F-RIB’s build quality is remarkably good when you consider their price – as little as £2,216 for the 275, and only rising to £3,274 for the 4.60m long 460RF.
Simple bolts, hefty locating lugs, plus the pressure in the tubes lock the three sections firmly into place.
Yet despite their obvious strength and rigidity they are remarkably light, ranging from 36kg for the 275 to 72kg for the 460RF, so even the biggest could be manhandled by a strong individual, or two punier types.
Their rigidity gives them the speed that most floppy inflatables would struggle to match, e.g. 15 knots with a 5hp outboard on the 330, and 21 knots with a 15hp on the 460.
They are also impressively deep, between 450mm (18in) and 550mm (22in) from the floor to the top of the tubes, which will make them feel safe under way.
If your lazarette has a 1,400mm x 1,100mm x 450mm space to spare, the 460RS is a gem, and for an extra £2,200 over the outboard-only 460RF you get a highly versatile tender that can whizz along at 24 knots with a 20hp outboard and glide along serenely under sail too.