Ballistic XP80 sea trial: This 50-knot explorer has a trick up its sleeve

Is the new Ballistic XP80 really “The Ultimate Adventure RIB”? MBY's Alex Smith heads to Trafalgar Wharf in Portsmouth to test its mettle...

When MD, Jonny Boys, acquired the rights to build Ballistic RIBs back in 2002, his first move was to enter a team of boats into the 600-mile Trans Agulhas endurance race around the southernmost tip of Africa.

The idea was to use the feedback from that event in a bid to upgrade the existing designs – and that’s exactly what he did. What followed was the development of a deep-vee hull with long unbroken spray rails and pronounced reverse chines for extra dryness and stability.

But in terms of style and deck layout, Ballistic RIBs remained quite traditional. What we came to expect of them were fast seaworthy boats with a soft dry ride and a commercially inspired fit-out comprising inline jockey seats on an open deck between an aft bench and a central helm console.

In fact, even on its modern fleet, that formula felt as prevalent on its LS (Leisure) boats as it did on its WK (Work) models. But now, in the form of Ballistic’s first explorer model, the Ballistic XP80, we have something altogether more creative.

On the face of it, there appears to be a lot of wasted space at the aft end of the cockpit, with all kinds of elaborate mouldings that don’t seem completely necessary. After all, the big inflatable collar already reduces the internal beam to around 5ft so reducing it further with rigid structures on either side of the aft bench seems counterintuitive.

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But when you sit inside this boat, you really feel the benefit of that approach. The stern bench, flanked by raised ledges with grab rails and cupholders, feels brilliantly secure.

When you make your way aft to lounge on the sunbeds or attend to the lines, those rigid mouldings again deliver good value with proper cleats and a flat, grippy surface for unobstructed movement.

Read Alex’s full review of the Ballistic XP80 in the September 2023 issue of MBY, out August 3.

Ballistic XP80 specifications

LOA: 26ft 3in (8.00m)
Beam: 8ft 3in (2.52m)
Draft: 2ft 10in (0.85m)
Displacement: 2,600 kg
Fuel capacity: 225L (optional 2 x 180L)
Engines: Single/twin outboards from 300-450hp
Test engine: Single Yamaha F300 4.2L V6 outboard
Top speed on test: 48 knots
Fuel consumption: 29lph @ 20 knots
Range: 124nm @ 20 knots
Noise: 90.5 d(B)A @ 20 knots
RCD category: C for 12 people
Price as tested: £157,637 (inc. VAT)


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