Hunton RIB: Speedster on the Solent
I think just figured out what I’m going to do one afternoon this June when I’m dodging another conference call at the office. I’m planning to visit the UK office of Boats.com and YachtWorld.com in Fareham at the end of the spring, and I’ve been a little worried that meetings with the U.S. office in Seattle, Washington, some 8 time zones to the west, might keep me drowsing at a conference table well into the evening. To counter that, I’ve committed to visiting a couple of British boatbuilders, but there are still a few empty spots on my dance card. With luck, one of the Hunton RIBs shown on this page might take me for a spin me around the dance floor (a.k.a., the Solent).
Hunton is not your average maker of RIBs (known as hard bottom inflatables on the western side of the Altantic where I live). Designer Jeff Hunton was an offshore powerboat racer in the 1970s, so performance has always been a common denominator in his designs. Interiors are built to owner specifications, which makes each one unique. Even though the company currently makes only two larger stern-drive boats…a 43-foot cruiser that goes over 50 knots, and a sleek 37-footer that goes even faster…an owner can feel as if the boat he buys is uniquely his.
The RIBs have racing hull lines, adapted to having inflatable tubes, and they can be inboard- or outboard-powered; the 9.04 (a 30-footer) will hit 60 knots with the latter, just over 50 with the former. Either seems pretty good, considering that the center console contains a head/shower/changing room.
Recently, word arrived that Hunton has a brand-new 1004 design, which will be shown at the RIBEX show at Cowes Yacht Haven in May. I’ll take the 904 if the new 10-meter model isn’t available, but look at all those seats! We could take most of the office along and blame the telephone company for the silence on our end of the conference call.