… the 760 remains a laudably rapid, stylish and entertaining family boat with a spacious deck and a rare degree of Britishness in both design and construction.
… it is clear that the 760 has the potential to forge itself a key niche in this busy market sector.
Alex Smith heads for Hayling Island to test the flagship of RIB-X’s recreational Explorer range.
There are plenty of modern options for the UK boater in pursuit of an affordable outboard-powered RIB of between 7 and 8 metres in length. Ribeye have certainly worked hard to improve and refocus their offering over the last 10 years; Piranha have shifted production of their larger RIBs from China to Poland, bringing major improvements in quality; and Ukrainian builders Brig have become key players not just in England’s south-west, but on the global stage. And yet with their parallel product lines of commercial craft, SOLAS-approved boats and wildly attractive superyacht tender designs, all conceived and constructed at the same production facility near Leicester, RIB-X have all the assets necessary to make their recreational RIBs something special.
The good, the bad and the unusual
The first thing that really stands out when you step aboard the 760 is the space. While the RIB-X’s beam of 2.65 metres is by no means overgenerous for a leisure RIB of this length, it seems to offer some outstanding internal capacity, particularly in the aft part of the cockpit. Here, the deck is used for a pair of benches: the first, a broad, three-man, forward-facing bench with lovely, firm cushion contours and excellent lateral grab rails; and the second, a smaller, two-man bench with a swinging backrest that can be rigged to face aft. In tandem with the two leaning posts at the helm, this creates some very useful quick-rig flexibility – enabling you either to run with seven forward-facing seats aft of the helm or to rig a very sociable aft dining station that will comfortably accommodate five.
Rather cleverly, the table for this aft dining section isn’t simply stowed in one of the storage spaces in the conventional fashion. Instead, it forms part of the aft deck between the two bench seats. To rig it, you simply unlatch it from its recessed housing, precisely as you would the hatch of a regular storage box, before lifting it out and mounting it on the two removable legs. It’s an attractive nod to the freethinking design processes that define so many of the company’s superyacht tenders – and yet in this instance, there are a couple of issues. For a start, when the table is slotted into the deck, its leading edge extends beneath the base of the forward seat, making it unnecessarily awkward to handle. And secondly, the idea of dining on a surface that routinely gets trodden underfoot is likely to elicit as many raised eyebrows as admiring smiles.
However, it’s a pleasing (if imperfect) attempt at originality – and elsewhere, this dichotomy between the laudable and the flawed continues unabated. For instance, while the combination of matt grey Hypalon tubes, Flexiteek deck and high-end, tender-style upholstery is indisputably attractive, the boat’s arrangement of storage is not what it could be. There is a small space beneath the forward deck, but the use of steel supports instead of fibreglass mouldings for the two side seats limits the potential capacity – and that’s a situation not helped by the relative absence of under-deck storage aft of the console.
Similarly, the console itself offers some very useful internal capacity, but entry to its main section is achieved beneath the dash rather than through the console front, which means that access is compromised by pipes and cabling. And on a final note regarding storage (which, in fairness to the 760, is a weakness endemic to most recreational RIBs), the absence of proper seals around the edges of the primary aft storage box means a fair bit of seawater gets in. It’s by no means a critical problem, but it is no more desirable for your dry clothes than it is for the battery boxes and isolation switches.
Elsewhere, despite the generous provision of deck furniture, freedom of movement on the 760 is very good by RIB standards; and so too is the helm protection from that elevated screen. But again, these positives are qualified. I would like to see an angled foot brace for the driver and navigator; I would like to see the boat’s attractive outer finish run a little deeper into the internal recesses; and I would like to see the cushion on the swinging backrest dropped down, away from its steel frame, so that passengers on the move can get their fingers through the gap and use it as a proper grab rail. Both the design choices and the fit-out throw up as many queries as compliments, but when you get her up and running, the 760 experience is altogether more clean-cut …
Clean, quick and light
As you might expect, a combination of the optional 250hp engine, the forward helm position and the relatively shallow (17-degree) deadrise sees the 760 leap onto the plane in little more than a couple of seconds, whisking past 20 knots en route to a top end (with extremely generous trim and a touch of chine dancing) of nearly 43 knots. It’s a usefully nimble, rapid and responsive display – and it’s all the more effective when you ignore the RIB-X theory that these boats need little or nothing in the way of trim to perform at their best. On the contrary, treat the 760 to a proactive drive and in moderate conditions, with trim of between 40 and 55 %, it runs with much greater efficiency, pinning the waterline further aft, freeing up the revs and showing us an extra 3 knots at the top end. It also helps soften the ride, lifting the bow clear of the small stuff and allowing the hull to meet the chop not with a thud at the stem, but further aft, on the underside of the hull, at a more oblique (and more passenger-friendly) angle. True, once you get to around 65% on the trim dial, a bit of aeration starts to kick in and spoil the party, but there’s no doubt that the 760 responds very positively to driver input – and running it trim-free, with a ploughing bow, a lumpy ride and an inflated fuel bill does this boat a distinct injustice.
There were no major swells during our test, but these same traits (quick-response throttle and trim sensitivity) suggested that, although it is conceived as a family boat, the 760 ought to be pretty adept at surfing a following sea, even in quite lumpy conditions. Whether its relatively modest weight and easy planing characteristics would also translate so well in a challenging head sea is another matter – but either way, it bodes well that, despite the generous deck furniture and traditional, large-diameter tubes, there seemed to be very little windage or water ingress at pace, even with a decent breeze on the beam.
My only real reservation concerns the fuel tank. In standard fit-out, a fuel capacity of just 105 litres is prohibitively small, generating a cruising range of around 90nm (with a 10% safety margin in hand) and a range at wide-open throttle of just 40nm. Happily, the test boat featured the optional 170-litre stainless steel tank for figures of around 140 and 65 nm respectively; and for a further £350 you can upgrade that to 250 litres. But we tested this boat in ideal conditions with half a tank and just two at the helm. Throw another five people on board, plus a morning of water sports and an afternoon cruise, and as a 25-footer with a power bracket of from 200 to 300 hp, anything short of that top-end option would look distinctly mean.
It is plain that in its standard form, the Explorer 760 could do with greater seating adjustability, extra fuel capacity and an upgrade to its storage solutions, both in terms of scale and ingenuity. It is also plain that while the external finish looks very attractive, this demo boat would benefit from a greater degree of care in the execution of the finer details. And yet for all these reservations, the 760 remains a laudably rapid, stylish and entertaining family boat with a spacious deck and a rare degree of Britishness in both design and construction. Factor in RIB-X’s proven capacity for customer-tailored upgrade routes, allied to the company’s slick new showroom and demo centre at Northney Marina, and it is clear that the 760 has the potential to forge itself a key niche in this busy market sector.
- Spacious aft deck
- Plenty of seating
- British design and build
- Good looks
- Poor storage solutions
- Flawed table fitting
- Lack of seat adjustability
- Limited range
RPM L/H Knots Range (nm)
- 1000 4.5 5.1 173.4
- 1500 8.3 7.1 130.9
- 2000 10.6 8.9 128.5
- 2500 16.6 14.8 136.4
- 3000 (cruise) 21.5 20.0 142.3
- 3500 26.9 24.5 139.4
- 4000 43.9 29.1 101.4
- 4500 56.6 33.3 90.0
- 5000 64.0 36.4 87.0
- 5500 83.0 39.3 72.4
- 6000 (top end) 97.0 41.1 64.8
- Time to plane: 2.5 seconds
- Top speed: 42.8 knots
Notable standard features
- Suzuki DF200 outboard engine
- 105-litre integrated fuel tank
- Stainless steel A-frame with nav lights
- ‘Luxury’ upholstery
- Suzuki DF250 outboard engine
- 170/250-litre fuel tank
- LOA: 7.6m
- Beam: 2.65m
- Weight: 1400kg
- Tube diameter: 0.49m
- Tube compartments: 6
- People capacity: 12
- Fuel capacity: 105–250 litres
- Deadrise: 17 degrees
- Power: 200–300 hp
- Engine: Suzuki DF250
- Package price: From £55,300
- Price as tested: £70,500