- This Anglo-Italian RIB is a serious boat built for maximum appeal.
- Stingher manage this mix very well by building a boat that is fast and exciting to drive, while remaining safe in the process.
- It suffers no handling quirks, and by its forgiving nature is perfect for both novice and experienced helmsmen.
The Stingher 900GT is considered to be an effective blend of Italian style and British practicality, as Greg Copp describes …
Built in Italy and rigged and fitted out by MRL in the UK, this is one of a line of tough luxury RIBs with an impressive range of sensible design features. Only the hull and tubes are Italian built – everything else, from the synthetic teak decking to the engines, is specified and fitted by Southampton-based MRL. Having plenty of experience in this field, MRL have created a very ‘driver-focused’ boat, from shock-absorbing Scot seats to a wide range of engines from every manufacturer. Historically the RIB may be a British concept, but the Italians also share a passion in this field, and this shows in the Stingher.
The test boat was fitted with twin supercharged 200hp Mercury Verados, which, having already undergone 10 hours of prop testing, were perfectly pitched and fettled. What strikes you is the massive bottom-end power you get from having two supercharged engines, as within 7 seconds I was past 40 knots and climbing. It has a conventional non-stepped hull, which, I am told, is simply because it is aimed at being a ‘quirk-free’ point and shoot boat that all can enjoy. Purists may argue that a few extra knots could have been squeezed, and a few litres of fuel saved, by stepping the hull, but the truth is, this boat is both fast and frugal.
It also steers on rails – not that I would like to imply that it wouldn’t with steps, because that is not strictly the case. However, I could not induce the slightest hint of hull slide, try as I might. It has superbly precise steering that is both very quick to react to the wheel and totally composed. You do not feel the need to keep a check on whether you may inadvertently oversteer, as can be the case if the steering system is ramped up. It has electric power steering, which can be fine-tuned as required, and clearly somebody has spent some time setting this to this specific boat.
Running into what weather we had, the boat was reassuringly steady – no skittering at wide-open throttle that has you gripping the throttle with both hands. In real terms, she requires a small amount of trim out on the engines to squeeze the last of her 50 or so knots. Most of the time the trim gauge read around 3, and I threw her about in a spirited manner without any concern. Though it was a moderate day, Southampton Water always serves up quite a bit of Red Jet Ferry wake, which manifests itself as very short, sharp chop – perfect when caught right. Hitting these sharp 1m ridges of water at 40 knots is an easy task for the Stingher’s deep-vee hull, and this was made all the easier by the boat’s good fore and aft trim, as the bow kept its head down and got on with its job – showing no tendency to reach for the sky.
Something that needs specific mention and appreciation is the seats. The shock-absorbing Scot seats fitted to this boat are a must, as they take out so much body punishment. This boat might be able to hit ridges of water at speed with limited complaint, but without some degree of insulation it takes its toll on human flesh. If boats were subject to the same testing and safety standards that cars undergo, then these seats would likely become mandatory on anything considered remotely fast. There are two types of Scot seat offered: either with or without the short stump. Our test boat had stump seats, which enable you to stand, leaning into the seat base with your legs anchored either side of the stump – the same principle as standing over a jockey seat. This works a treat if you want to gain a bit more height to look over the bow at the wave pattern ahead. Deck rails enable the fitting of an extra pair of Scots, or adjustment of the leg length for the front pair as required.
Ergonomically the 900GT is very good – just the windscreen is a touch short if you are over 6ft. When seated you are hidden from the weather – but only just. The finish of the carbon dash is impressive, as are the gelcoat and the various stainless fittings that adorn the console, radar arch and transom area. Like many big sports RIBs it has a proper sea toilet entered via the console front. It is not that obvious at a glance, because locating the toilet as low as possible within the hull has not compromised the boat’s sleekly styled console.
The bow has impressive storage in the form of three lockers and a windlass locker. Of the three storage lockers, the largest central cavity is probably big enough for a roll-up tender, while of the two slimmer lockers, the starboard one connects to the central cavity, enabling the storage of waterskis. This forward area can be used either with the table or with the table dropped down to make an infill. It can also convert to a sun pad.
The aft section also has the option of a teak table, providing you do not have an extra pair of Scots. The bench seating is suitably recessed to keep any occupants dry. If you need to access the transom platform you can step around the radar arch courtesy of teak-topped coamings on either quarter. The aft bench seat opens to reveal both another storage cavity and an impressive array of system controls. The system is built around not only easy access and maintenance but effective problem management. I have not often seen this level of precautionary engineering in a RIB. To start with, there are battery shut-off triggers at the helm for each of the three batteries: twin engine and one domestic/system battery.
In the aft cavity there is a series of trips/fuses for all system components plus a bridging system. This enables all or some of the batteries to be quickly linked in parallel if one or some of them are flat, enabling at least one engine to be started, and then subsequently the others. In reality, it is unlikely that any batteries will go flat as there is a solar charger on the radar arch. In the port quarter, the power steering pump is conveniently located along with the transom shower pump. There is also a bilge blower as would normally be fitted to an inboard engine bay, just in case of fuel spillage when cleaning or draining the fuel filter/separators.
This Anglo-Italian RIB is a serious boat built for maximum appeal. Stingher manage this mix very well by building a boat that is fast and exciting to drive, while remaining safe in the process. It suffers no handling quirks, and by its forgiving nature is perfect for both novice and experienced helmsmen. What is particularly impressive is the MRL engineering input behind the scenes, which has been clearly and cleverly thought out, to a level infrequently found on craft this size.
What we thought
- Great handling – very responsive steering, and sure-footed
- Soft-riding hull
- Rapid performance
- Great seats
- Solid build quality
- Good weather protection when seated
- Windscreen needs to be slightly taller if you are over 6ft
Fuel Figures (Mercury fuel flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (nmpg – both engines)
2500 13.0 2.5
3000 16.0 2.4
3500 26.0 3.5
4000 31.3 2.7
4500 38.0 2.7
5000 41.2 2.0
5500 47.9 1.8
6000 50.7 1.7
6075 (WOT) 52.0 1.7
LOA: 8.8m (29ft)
Beam: 3.0m (10ft 10in)
Transom deadrise angle: 23 degrees
Displacement: 2360kg (with twin 200hp Verados – dry)
Power options: Single 300–400 hp to twin 200–300 hp, all brands available
Fuel capacity: 370 litres (80 gallons)
RCD category: B for 14
Test engines: Twin 200hp Mercury Verados
52 knots (2-way average), moderate sea conditions, 2 crew, 25% fuel
0–40 knots: 7 seconds
From: £98,800 (inc. VAT)
As tested: £125,850 (inc. VAT)
Hampshire SO14 5QN
Photo credits: Greg Copp