- Seated or standing, the helm set-up works very well.
- The attention to detail across the boat is impressive.
- Like its bigger siblings, the driving experience is perfectly honed with nothing left to chance.
Used Boat – Hunton 904 RIB
Greg Copp reviews an old take on an even older design with a splash of luxury thrown in for good measure …
When Hunton Powerboats launched the 904 9m RIB in 2006, its sleek contemporary lines gave their first RIB a distinct Hunton character. However, truth be known, this boat’s inflatable exterior concealed an older design. Inside the tubes sits the hull of the old Gazelle 28, the boat that started it all for Jeff Hunton 20 years earlier. Using an older race boat design to build a RIB is a proven concept. Revenger did it when they used the lower section of their race-winning Don Shead-designed Revenger 25 to create a hull for their 27 RIB. It worked very well, which I can confirm having owned one. However, the Hunton 904 has taken the big RIB concept a lot further than Revenger did, by adding a big chunk of luxury into this seriously rapid boat.
The old Gazelle 28 hull lends itself well to the design of the 904, as it has the beam as well as the length to pack key ingredients in. One simple thing that most RIBs lack and need is a toilet, and the 904 has one, and a sea toilet at that, complete with sink. It is not that obvious as it is accessed by a side door, but the design uses every inch of height from the keel to the tiny coachroof to provide a facility that makes this a credible family boat. In front of the toilet sits a built-in concealed electric cool box, and forward of that the usual V-shaped sun pad. The bow houses an enclosed windlass compartment, which also serves to provide stiffening to the forward sponson section in the event of stuffing the bow.
In keeping with the rest of the high-quality design, the sunken rear seat offers not only plenty of comfort but also plenty of security thanks to the raised coamings on each quarter – essential if you want to drive this boat fast without complaints from the crew. On an outboard boat this seating area is both larger and deeper due to the extra space afforded by outboard engines. Aft of this expanse of comfort is either a sun pad sitting over an engine bay housing a 370hp Volvo D6, as with the boat featured here, or a pair of outboards flanked by two small bathing platforms. In either format there is an optional bathing ladder.
Like its bigger siblings, the driving experience is perfectly honed with nothing left to chance. The helm ergonomics are spot on, with throttles where your hand falls, and a wrap-around seat with flip-down bolster for that all-important standing position. I will fault the original 904 console design for only being able to fit an 8″ plotter, which, though perfectly adequate, was later upstaged with a bigger display. The 904 sported a short stainless mast behind the helm seating, which is in keeping with the boat’s sporting character. However, the subsequent 10m 1005, which replaced the 904, was given a T top to cater for its intended role as a superyacht tender.
Needless to say, the hull is a serious deep vee with a transom deadrise angle of 24°, while having a fairly wide beam of 2.74m. This produces a very sure-footed ride when turning hard, as well as being sharp enough to cut its way through choppy head seas. This boat is no lightweight as it displaces nearly 2 tonnes all up, and I recall from having driven one of the first 904s that it is reassuringly solid and easily shrugs off any punishment.
True to form, engine options are not restricted to any one brand. Some of the first 904s had supercharged 275hp Mercury Verados, which I found blissfully silent at tickover, yet they produced a massive surge of power from idle to the boat’s maximum speed just shy of 60 knots. The boat featured here has a 370hp Volvo D6, which will push it to around 48 knots and return around 5mpg at a 40-knot cruising speed. Though I have always preferred outboards on RIBs, you can’t argue with the long-legged economy that a D6 in a 904 offers.
Points to consider
There are many options, with twin outboards being the most popular. Single sterndrives were also offered in the form of the 370hp Volvo D6, which actually weighs more than a pair of 300hp Mercury Verados. However, this is a good option if you are not after that top-end rush that a pair of big outboard engines give, as diesel fuel can always be sourced, and the torque of a D6 will still make for a quick boat.
The toilet is an option and not standard, so it is worth bearing this in mind if this is a crucial aspect to owning this boat. A hot shower became an option on the bigger 1005 – ideal for water sports enthusiasts. Like the boat featured, a bimini is another optional luxury; however, it is hard to stow with an outboard-powered boat.
Only 12 904s and six 1005s have been built, so these boats are very hard to find. Not surprisingly, they hold their value very well, accentuated by the fact that some are bought as superyacht tenders so get little use and are infrequently offered for sale.
- Hull type: Deep-vee planing
- Current values: £60,000 plus
- RCD category: B
- Length overall: 29ft 8in (9.04m)
- Beam: 9ft 2in (2.74m)
- Draught: 2ft 10in (0.86m)
- Displacement: 2000kg
- Fuel capacity: 75 gallons (340 litres)
- Cruising range: 300 miles with a 20% reserve at 40 knots (single 370hp Volvo D6)
- 180 miles with a 20% reserve at 40 knots (twin 250–300 hp outboards)