Features July 2008 Issue

Practical Sailor Tests Lightweight 10-foot Rigid Inflatable Boats

AB, Achilles, Caribe, and Zodiac stand out in a field of fixed-transom RIBs.

Eight fixed-transom Hypalon and PVC rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) from seven manufacturers were put through their paces as testers inspected each for on-the-water performance, inflation ease, lifting, seating, storage space, transom design, and hull design. RIB brands tested were AB, Avon, Achilles, Brig, Mercury, Caribe, and Zodiac. With a 9.9-horsepower Mercury outboard four-stroke engine pushing it, each dinghy was tested for speed, ability to plane, handling, tracking, stability, comfort level, and how well it deflected spray when powering through 1- to 2-foot wakes. The test RIBs from Achilles, Caribe, and Zodiac rated the highest in the field of fixed-transom rigid inflatable boats. Testers liked the ring-type oarlocks on the Caribe L10 and the Brig’s bow handle. Practical Sailor pet peeves included bad oar stowage on most of the boats and thin rub strakes. Although classified as “lightweight,” the average weight of these test boats was 136 pounds.

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