What makes the RIB so popular?

Published on March 2nd, 2021

While the 2020 Marine Equipment Trade Show (METSTRADE) was among the coronavirus cancellations, the world’s largest marine trade exhibition remains curious about recreational boating, with this report asking the question, “What makes the RIB so popular?”


At METSTRADE we like to follow the trends in boating, and in particular what the end-users, the boaters themselves, are spending their hard earned money on. After all, we are a Marine Equipment Trade Show, and our exhibitors and visitors do reflect the trends in the market, as do the innovations and developments across the broad range of equipment on view at the RAI every November.

One type of leisure craft that has shown very consistent annual growth in sales numbers, with a lot of creative designs coming to market over the years, is the Rigid Inflatable Boat, better known as a RIB. The interesting thing about RIBS as opposed to most other types of leisure craft, is that they span the entire spectrum of uses and applications including industrial, offshore, rescue operations, expeditions, and even fire and police service support work, as well as being a very popular tender for Superyacht owners and their guests.

The seakeeping, stability, buoyancy, speed and acceleration advantages of the RIB design are extremely well proven and undeniable. Pioneered 35 years ago, by the French inflatable manufacturer Zodiac, originally for military use, the concept is basically a rigid composite or aluminum hull which cuts through the water with minimum resistance, topped with inflatable tubes made from tough seawater and climate resistant materials such as Hypalon.

Heavy duty propulsion typically comes from one or two large outboards, or some with inboard engines, and power packages up to 500 or 600 HP are not uncommon. This produces an awesome planing high speed performance, resulting in the ultimate ‘white knuckle ride’ for anyone seeking such thrills on the water, in a virtually unsinkable boat.

So, it’s not for nothing that RIBs are frequently referred to as the SUV, or the 4 X 4 of the sea, and anyone who has ever driven one, will I am sure, fully attest to that description. – Full report

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