Rigid-bottom boats with inflatable sides (RIB) have always had their fans and supporters, as they provide comfortable walking on the wave and are distinguished by high seaworthiness. In our perception, the RIB, if not located on water, is usually located on a trailer. But there are similar folding structures – they are made by the St. Petersburg company NPO Aquamarine, and for our domestic market these boats are manufactured under the WINBOAT brand. In the Russian market folding inflatable boats of any type have gained great popularity. Over the past few years, this particular class of boats took over 60% of the market, because by law, a boat with a motor having a total weight of less than 200 kg was not required to be registered. And as we understand it, folding boats are very convenient to store and transport.
Among air-bags, the most popular is the size of 3.6 m. It is explained simply: any adult can cope with the assembly and movement of a boat of this size – from the garage to the car, from car to water. Removable inflatable wheels on the transom become indispensable assistants when moving on the shore and completely remove all doubts when buying this type of boat. For testing, from the Winboat lineup, we chose just a 3.6 m long RIB, as well as a more compact sample 2.75 m.
Folding RIBs WinBoat 360RF Sprint and WinBoat 275RF Sprint
The first acquaintance with the boats we had in the workshop. Having carefully studied the design, we saw that the bottom of such vessels consists of sections that are interconnected in a combined way. PVC fabric acts as a hinge; it acts as a kind of stopper loop. To ensure rigidity during lateral displacement of the sections, locks are molded at the junction where one element enters another. The inflated balloon provides longitudinal stiffness. The next element that provides articulation insurance is a bolt on which two rubber damper sleeves are put on and then tightened by hand with a wing nut. According to the manufacturer, a bolt with a damper sleeve performs safety functions, since even without them the structure has sufficient rigidity, and if the bottom plays on a strong wave, then the molded locks will act as guides and ensure the alignment of the connection sections.
At this stage, we had two questions for the manufacturer. First: how the prefabricated bottom proved to be during long-term life tests, and how reliable this folding design is with a large wave. The answer was confident and reassuring: this design has been mass-produced for 8 years (experimentally since 2004), and during this period she has had all “childhood illnesses”, and today a very reliable vessel is designed for a long service life. The folding construction at RIB is a very strong side, especially for our Russian conditions, as it is associated with the storage and transportation of the boat. Our second question: what to do with the water that fell into the bow of the boat. This design assumes that two bulkheads are formed that restrict the flow of water to the transom. The answer suggests itself: when the boat rolls onto one of the sides, the water will move to the stern during movement, from where it will be drained through the drain scupper. In my opinion, this is a feature of the boat, which you just need to get used to.
The wheels on the transom work even when the boat is folded into the transport position and packed in an envelope bag! Only this folding design is capable of this!
Putting together a boat
However, this feature of transom wheels was not the only fact that caused surprise. The manufacturer has prepared a new modification for special services of the Ministry of Emergencies, which can be pumped using a single valve, but the boat has four independent compartments! That's the number! Which was immediately demonstrated on the water. When the electric pump was connected to the valve, the boat from the collapsed position began to unfold itself as the cylinders were filled with air. A kind of transformer. I think for those who are pretty tired of collecting floorboards, this design will be a godsend. The manufacturer will not refuse anyone who wants to buy just such a transformer model, but will have to fork out, because this type of valve is imported, and its price will affect the cost of the boat. You have to pay for comfort, but once you see how the boat unfolds itself, it will be very difficult to resist the temptation to purchase such a RIB. In addition, now buying on credit is not a particular problem. Assembling both boats, we did not notice any difficulties – everything happens very quickly and simply.
On the water
The motors Suzuki DT15 and Mariner 5 were chosen for the test. Both boats can be operated with either one or the other motor, and both motors have their advantages. By the way, very often two motors are purchased for one boat: in this case, the "five" is used as oars, and the "tag" is used as a marching engine. It all depends on the conditions, the situation, including the financial capabilities of the shipowner.
The RIB 360RF Sprint with a 15-horsepower engine on the transom entered gliding mode in a couple of seconds and steadily and obediently steered the maximum speed on a small wave. It amounted to 43 km / h with a load of 100 kg. Excellent result! It should be borne in mind that the most comfortable, controlled and economical speed on water, as a rule, is 27-30 km / h. For lovers of “grabbing” it can be noted that this boat under a 20-horsepower Honda with a specially selected propeller and a load of 70 kg can accelerate to 60 km / h. Probably, fortunately, such screws are not found on the market. Such a high speed requires special training and the ability to drive a sports car on the water. But on the other hand, it is proved that these boat bottom contours have the correct geometry and the length to width ratio, and they allow to obtain such a result.
For those who are interested in riding in a boat not alone, we note that the 360th responds quite calmly to the load, and with a weight of 215 kg it goes at a speed of 37 km / h. This means that two adults plus a few things can make long trips, for example during fishing. According to the passport, the boat is designed for four passengers, and we, of course, checked how it goes with such a load. The result of several races was 34 km / h. But four of our passengers pulled a total of 350 kg! Looking ahead, I note that when replacing the screw, we changed the step by half an inch to the smaller side and got a speed increase of 3 km / h (it was 37 km / h). And the exit to planing was faster than using a 10-inch screw.
RIB 275RF Sprint first went through all the races under a 5-horsepower engine – all speed data are shown in the table. But on his nameplate there is a maximum motor of 15 hp! For a vessel of this size, a powerful and heavy motor may seem like overkill, but if everything is done correctly and the load is evenly distributed in the cockpit of the boat, then there will be no problems. We dispersed the boat to 43 km / h, and with two and three passengers the speed remained unchanged and amounted to 37 km / h. All maneuvers with a powerful motor must be performed carefully, but this is a general recommendation for all small boats.
Impressions from the tested boats were only positive. The hard bottom itself has several advantages over the soft bottom, and add to this two more strengths of the boats – they are folding and light. Stability on the water is very good, you can stand in these ribs calmly and confidently. All boat maneuvers took place without propeller air intake, but I note that turns must be made over a large radius. The subjects were not taking the wave firmly. In front of a seated passenger, it is better to shift to the midship of the boat and take a seat on the bank closer to the side. This way, the load in the cockpit is better distributed, and when moving along a large wave, it is better to hold onto the rail, which increases safety. Stability at a high level, it is very comfortable to control the movement of the boat, including at high speed.
We walked a few hundred meters and under the oars. Of course, these RIBs are designed as motor ones, but any situation can happen on the water and no one is safe from engine failure or incorrect calculation of fuel for the trip. Oars in this situation will become the main mover. So, for the 360RF Sprint boat, they clearly turned out to be rather short (1600 mm long). But the representative of the manufacturer agreed with this remark, and it is likely that by the time the magazine goes to print, the boat will be equipped with longer oars 1800 mm long. At the very beginning of the test, it was unusual for me that the bottom inside the cockpit has a slope from side to keel, but after a couple of hours I didn’t even remember about it, and it’s convenient to stand on the bottom, which will certainly be noted by anglers who prefer to cast in the cast.
Considering the recent event (when they had to come to the rescue of the fishermen when their boat overcrewed), we decided to check how convenient it was to get into the boat from the water in the event of an unexpected exit from the boat not of our own free will. Repeatedly, using a cavitation plate as a step, they climbed out of the water into the boat through the transom. I can note that no problems arose. I think that it’s better to try to perform such actions proactively and understand for yourself whether it’s convenient or inconvenient, and most importantly, to make sure of the physical abilities available.
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