- In terms of aesthetic impact and sporting promise, there can be few RIBs in the world with greater stage presence than this.
- … there are several areas where the finish of the 737 falls short of these otherwise gratifying standards.
- What is equally striking, however, is the snug, intimate, wrap-around nature of the helming experience.
- Go easy with the trim and the result is a fast, flat and thoroughly planted 60-knot RIB.
Sarissa 737 Speedmaster
Alex Smith examines a fresh UK RIB option from high-performance Greek yard Sarissa.
Well, here’s a boat to stoke the imagination. Lying very flat and low-slung in the gentle swells off Port of Poole Marina, the immediate impression of the Greek Sarissa 737 is that its ‘Speedmaster’ moniker is likely to ring true. You see radically tapered tubes on a narrow-beamed hull, with long, sharp rows of spray rails and deep-cut steps. You see plunging, carbon-effect wasp-eye graphics on the front of a narrow, raked console. You see a brash, clashing palette of granite grey and livid crimson with oversized aft haunches and a compact low-profile screen. And perching aft with splendid menace, you see a new-generation Evinrude 300hp outboard, replete with its tightly corseted cowling, oblique, angular contours and boat-tailored colour coding. In terms of aesthetic impact and sporting promise, there can be few RIBs in the world with greater stage presence than this.
When you step on board, the design direction of the 737 is pleasingly plain. In spite of that tight beam, the use of narrow tubes, a compact console and substantial moulded sections means that movement of passengers is peculiarly easy. Storage is also a major plus on this boat, particularly toward the stern, where the absence of a sterndrive set-up leaves a vast cavern behind the aft bench for all your gear.
However, the scale of that aft space and its position relative to the helm station means legroom for those on the bench is severely limited. There is an alternative deck layout available, which shifts the bench further aft, so that would be well worth investigating. But while you’re at it, you should also request some liners, nets and compartments both here and inside the helm console in order to separate and contain the various sections and prevent your baggage clattering into pipes, wires, speakers and batteries.
Elsewhere, the standard features list looks very comprehensive. It includes a high-grade Hypalon collar, illuminated compass, electric anchor winch, dual battery system, built-in under-deck tanks and a slick starboard mast. However, the options list is certainly still worth investigating, not least for the beautifully conceived auxiliary outboard bracket. In stark contrast to the clumsy contraptions we find ourselves tolerating, Sarissa use a device that slides flat to starboard of the main engine and only hinges down over the transom when you push it aft in an emergency. And the ingenious ‘bow tent’ option is equally pleasing. Stretched between the forepeak and the helm console, it creates a quick-rig mini cabin, immediately broadening this sporting RIB’s potentially limited range of applications to incorporate the needs of modest summer cruisers and overnighting fans.
That’s all great news, but there are several areas where the finish of the 737 falls short of these otherwise gratifying standards. For instance, the carbon-style detailing on the front of the console looks rather cheap; and while some of the lids use gas rams, others lack the same treatment. Similarly, there’s an inconsistent mix of catch shapes, sizes and types, and while self-tappers are mercifully absent, the use of countersunk screws in flat surfaces without the appropriate countersink holes means there are several places where the screw heads’ sharp edges stand proud of the fibreglass.
In addition to being unlined, several of the storage spaces are also undrained – and while the batteries on the test boat are securely rigged, I would like to see them housed in dedicated boxes. The lids for the bow compartments and the console are also lacking in strength and, like the equally lightweight screen, they flex visibly when in use. It has been made plain that the UK importer is planning to remedy the screen issue with a curved (rather than flat) panel, and I don’t doubt that their fastidious approach will see a lot of these other issues similarly addressed. But it is plain to me that they will need to be, because this is an £89,000 boat aiming at the upper echelons of the market – and in that context, the small stuff matters.
There might be some issues with the finer elements of finish, but with expert rigging from Arran Scott, this Adam Younger hull performs quite beautifully. You make the transition to the plane in less than 2.5 seconds, and as you do so, that low-slung bow means you can easily keep track of the horizon. In fact, so open is the layout and so flat-running the attitude that even the patch of water directly in front of the boat remains clearly visible as the waterline hurries aft.
What is equally striking, however, is the snug, intimate, wrap-around nature of the helming experience. With compact dimensions, supportive seats, an accurate wheel, plenty of throttle response and a very intuitive layout, it feels almost as though you are wearing this boat like a made-to-measure jacket. The stiff, lightweight hull brings lashings of pace on the straight and plenty of capacity to dip the forward quarters and carve a hard turn – and all the while, you are serenaded by that Evinrude engine note: a blissfully fulsome and urgent sound, as engagingly direct and primeval as any modern engine could be.
When you consider the facts, the calibre of the experience makes good sense. After all, Arran himself is an experienced P1 racer and he rigs these boats with the same care as he lavishes on his race boat. Each Sarissa is individually assessed to bring the weight distribution, engine and prop into the most productive union possible. The only difference here is that in place of a race machine’s hard-edged twitchiness, Arran’s aim is to dial in the kind of accessibility and stability that will flatter and cosset the novice instead of scare the hell out of them. Go easy with the trim and the result is a fast, flat and thoroughly planted 60-knot RIB. But believe it or not, it’s also much more efficient than you think …
Hammering hard around a fast turn with the wheel and throttle set, the heeling moment is as secure and composed as you will ever see, and yet the additional drag of a controlled turn leaves the pace virtually unaltered. Straighten up and push on and that same fast-running, light-footed efficiency is equally evident. At anything from 20 to 50 knots, we are able to enjoy a range well in excess of 200 nautical miles from that 280-litre tank. In fact, at no point during this broad and generous cruising band does the fuel flow exceed 1.2 litres per nautical mile. That’s an impressive figure for a soft-running, narrow-beamed, high-performance boat, and it also helps explain the uncommon breadth of the quoted power band. While we’re told that the bottom-end 150 outboard (half that of the test boat) will generate excellent results, testing has also apparently proven that the Sarissa can exceed 40 knots with nothing more than a 115 on the transom.
As a fast, safe and fun conveyance with a huge wedge of eminently accessible performance, the 737 is already a compelling proposition. Certainly, it exhibits a few details that are more closely aligned with those of a preliminary demo boat than the finished article, and for that reason it cannot yet be considered the high-end, Scorpion-munching missile it might aspire to be. But with some extra time and money invested in the small stuff, I have no doubt that this beautifully rigged, novice-friendly thrill machine will sit very comfortably in the upper-middle echelons of the RIB market, where its combination of sporting prowess and approachable simplicity will win it plenty of zealous advocates.
- Impressive pickup
- Soft ride even at high speed
- Good running efficiency
- Excellent balance
- Surprising storage capacity
- Heat-shrunk electric connections
- Limited seating
- Tight legroom on aft bench
- Flimsy hatch lids
- Undrained storage spaces
- Catches and rams need standardisation
- Untidy finish in places
- RPM Fuel flow (l/h) Speed (knots) Range (Nm)
- 500 1.1 2.1 481.1
- 1000 3.0 4.9 411.6
- 1500 8.0 6.9 217.4
- 2000 17.6 8.8 126.0
- 2500 20.5 15.8 194.2
- 3000 24.2 20.1 209.3
- 3500 29.3 28.9 248.6
- 4000 40.5 36.0 224.0
- 4500 48.0 44.0 231.0
- 5000 61.6 51.8 211.9
- 5500 92.1 58.4 159.8
- 6000 92.2 61.1 167.0
- Length overall: 7.37m
- Beam: 2.42m
- Internal beam: 1m
- Standard boat weight: 800kg
- Maximum payload: 640kg
- Tube diameter: 30–45 cm
- Number of air chambers: 6
- Tube material: H/N Pennel Flipo 1.670 dtex
- Tube warranty: 3 years
- Hull warranty: 5 years
- People capacity: 6–8
- Fuel capacity: 280–560 litres
- Water capacity: 60 litres
- Deadrise: 24 degrees
- Suggested horsepower: 150–350 hp
Notable Standard Features
- Freshwater tank and shower
- Electric winch with chain and anchor
- Dual battery system with switching
- Bow sunbed (1.85 metres)
- Sport console and helm seats
- Inox mast
- Boarding ladder
- Fuel filter
- Illuminated compass
- Auxiliary outboard bracket
- Stern anchor and chain with electric winch
- Sun tent with supports
- Bow tent with supports
- Full boat cover
- Marine WC
- Teak decking