Each month we pick out an iconic boat that can lay claim to the title of world’s coolest boat. This month, we take a closer look at the Hunton RS43…
Boat dealers are used to unusual requests from clients but ten windscreens made out of sugar glass and a complete spare set of cockpit upholstery was a new one to Martin Payne, head of sales and marketing for Hunton Powerboats.
The call came in September 2003 from Marine Team, a New Zealand company specialising in aquatic scenes for movies. Their researchers had seen the Hunton RS43 on the cover of the August 2003 issue of MBY and decided it would be perfect for a movie they were working on.
Set in Africa and starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz, Sahara featured a boat chase in which a high performance luxury boat was being pursued by military craft.
The sugar glass and cockpit upholstery would be rigged with tiny explosives to simulate the boat being peppered with bullet holes from the pursuing baddies. For each retake, the boat would need to be refitted with fresh glass and upholstery ready to be ‘shot-up’ again (no CGI was allowed).
The initial request was for four boats, two without engines or interiors, as they were to be blown up. The first problem was the timescale, with an impossibly short delivery lead-time. Luckily Martin had personally just taken delivery of a Hunton RS43, as had a good friend of his.
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A quick phone call and both boats were made available. The outdrives were replaced with jetdrives to allow high-speed shallow water operation (and a spectacular braking manoeuvre created by dropping the reverse thrust buckets at full speed), and Desty Marine repainted them in the required colour scheme for the movie.
A third sacrificial boat was built from scratch to look perfect from the outside. Three sets of explosives were rigged inside, one to create spectacular flames, another to disintegrate the boat and the third to ensure that it sank. No fourth boat meant that they had to (and did) get it right first time.
One ‘hero’ boat went to a filming location in Casablanca, the other to a lake high up in the Atlas Mountains. High altitude caused further issues. Thin air in combination with jetdrives resulted in a boat five knots short of performance specifications.
One call to the jet supplier in the USA resulted in a man on site within 24 hours who stripped the drives and re-profiled the impellers purely by eye, using no more than a felt-tip pen and an angle grinder! Performance restored, the result was a spectacular chase scene.
Both hero boats survived, one is now living in Dubai, the other is based in Poole Harbour. Boosted by the publicity it generated, Hunton launched a new XRS version of the 43 in 2008, with a stepped hull, more powerful engine and drive options, and an updated interior.
Although the Hunton XRS43 is no longer in production, its reputation lives on as one of the finest performance sportscruisers ever built.
Hunton RS43 specifications
LOA: 43ft 1in
Beam: 10ft 1in
Power: Twin Yanmar 315hp diesels
Speed: 40 knots+