Launched for the new P1 International RIB Championship due to start in 2017, this boat has got to be the most capable and cost-effective adrenaline rush money can buy. At £45,000, it is a boat that brings powerboat racing to the average boater, while still offering a trailer-mounted family RIB for the weekend.
The qualifying criteria for P1 racing are strict, so Ross-Smith Marine’s boats are built to exactly the same spec. All of these 7.5m boats are powered by BRP’s Gen 2 E-TEC engines in 200hp high-output form. Based on the same 2-stroke 3441cc V6 engine as the standard 200/250/300hp G2 E-TECs, the 200 high-output (HO) version actually puts out 220hp. The boat weighs 1170kg including 240kg of engine. The hull has a 20-degree transom deadrise, which sharpens to 24 degrees just in front of the seats and finally 28 degrees further forward. It is built with three aggressive parallel spray rails, which, the boat’s designer Simon Wood Power told me, have a big effect on the boat’s efficiency, ride and handling in a following sea.
Settling into the spartan cockpit for the first time, what strikes you is how low down you are compared to a conventional jockey-seated RIB. The race bucket seats, sprung by mountain bike shock absorbers, are mounted just inches above the floor to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. You can have a 4″ insert to make the seats taller should you want, which I would recommend. The enclosed foam-cored cockpit is reinforced with carbon and internal aluminium tubes for impact protection when racing. Ergonomics could not be much easier with the hand throttle within easy reach, while the foot throttle can be quickly activated through the touch screen system display. A 7″ Simrad chartplotter sits in front of the navigator, and a small central compass makes the boat CE compliant. If you want to take friends or family out on pleasure trips, then the optional drop-in triple bench seat sits just inside the reinforced 36mm transom.
Driving the boat at displacement speed, especially when berthing, is a case of sitting up on the back of the seats in order to see clearly over the bow. Once you start powering up onto the plane, you briefly pass through a blind spot as the bow towers over your low seating position. Over 20 knots things start to level out, and once past 30 knots, sitting inches above the deck in a bucket seat starts to make sense. All of this takes a matter of seconds as this boat is blindingly quick, thanks to the massive low-down power delivery of the 2-stroke E-TEC engine. An E-TEC starts with a burble at low speed, adopts a menacing growl as you power up and then shrieks like a banshee when the engine comes on song over 3400rpm. Only a 2-stroke engine plays to your primeval senses like this and it complements this boat perfectly.
Our test day was calm, so any chop was either ferry wash or generated by the photo boat. What I soon found was that discretion is not the better part of valour if caught by residual rolling ferry chop at 30 knots, as the best way out was to nail the throttle to get the stern up and the bow down. This boat is noticeably sharp, not just at the forefoot of the hull, but also amidships, so running at 40 knots or more when it gains its poise is the way to drive it.
A lot of the time I drove the boat with just one bar of trim on the gauge, which is ideal at around 40 knots or less, but above that it only requires two more bars to reach its top speed of 64mph, or 56 knots in non-race terms. Importantly, the trim gauge is easy to read at a glance, and if you are driving the boat on the foot throttle as I was, you have an additional trim lever on the steering column to use. Alternatively you can use the conventional hand throttle, but I soon found that this boat’s potential is wasted without two hands on the wheel, especially as it does not have power steering. I am no race boat guru, but as Simon rightly said, the foot throttle is totally intuitive, not to mention the fact that it makes powering relentlessly in and out of high-speed tight turns a lot easier. What you do need to come to terms with is just how far you can or can’t push this boat in the corners. It turns very quickly and is sure-footed in the process, but with such a torquey engine in such a light boat, you get the feeling that you could overcook it in the turns. However, to its credit, it hung on when many others would have lost the plot, and never lost prop grip even when punching out of the hardest turns – and it is turning a 24″-pitch four-blade propeller.
This is aided by the fact that Ross-Smith Marine have done their homework regarding engine mounting height, and have consequently positioned the engine so that the cavitation plate is 7″ above the keel. In doing so, they have elevated the engine just enough not to compromise the propeller’s grip at lower speeds, while reducing drag at higher speeds. Their stated aim was to negate cavitation under acceleration and in the turns, while producing no adverse handling side effects. Wind protection is not bad considering there is no windscreen, but you do get some facial punishment when pushing the boat to its max.
The construction is conventional hand-laid polyester resin with chopped strand and biaxial GRP matting, reinforced by two 36mm ply stringers running the length of the boat, which run into large transom knees. Three lifting eyes are fitted as standard and the deck is built with a 10mm foam core, as is the cockpit. The seven chamber tubes are heavy-duty 1500 GSM Hypalon made by Venture Marine of Salisbury, who have a reputation for high-quality bespoke tubing. The 130L (30 gal) fuel tank capacity is tailored for P1 events, which could be a bit prohibitive for long-range pleasure use, even with E-TEC economy.
There is an offer period when this boat will cost just £44,995 for race use. This is subsidised to promote P1 racing and will only run for a few more boats. The leisure boat cost of £56,650, unlike the race boat, includes full engine and boat warranties, and £1,850 worth of rear seating. The only extras really worth mentioning are a Simrad Bluetooth stereo at £820 and an all-over cover at £780.
A truly outstanding boat that does exactly what it is meant to do, and not at an unrealistic cost. I had difficulty handing the keys back as this boat is just so drivable and blindingly fast to boot. It is evident that Ross-Marine, to their credit, have left no stone unturned, as not many RIBs powered by a 200hp engine can easily hit 56 knots. The handling is so reassuring that this boat will bring out the best in most helmsmen, and on top of that it has a miserly thirst.
Fuel figures (Evinrude flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Speed (mph) Fuel consumption (nmpg)
2500 13 15 3.4
3000 20 23 4.5
3500 32 37 4.9
4000 37 43 4.4
4500 42 48 4.1
5000 49 56 3.9
5400 (WOT) 56 64 3.7
What we thought
- Great handling
- Very quick acceleration
- 56-knot top speed
- Sure-footed steering in hard turns
- Solid build quality
- Economy – efficient hull
- No long overpriced extras list
- For pleasure use the fuel tank capacity could be restrictive
- LOA: 7.50m
- Beam: 2.41m
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 1150kg (with engine)
- Power options: 200hp Evinrude GE E-TEC HO
- Fuel capacity: 130 litres
- RCD category: C for 5
- Test engine: 200hp Evinrude GE E-TEC HO
- 56 knots/64mph (2-way average), with 70% fuel, 2 crew and mild sea conditions.
- Range: 110 miles at 30–35 knots with 20% reserve
£44,995 (inc. VAT) for race use (during offer period). £56,650 (inc. VAT) for leisure use including rear bench seat, 5-year engine warranty and 2-year boat warranty
Ross-Smith Marine Ltd
Haven Marine Park