Greg Copp explores Rupert Marine’s R8 RIB and suggests that some secrets are best not kept …
As boat shows can imply, there is a seemingly never-ending series of new brands entering the market. However, the reality is often slightly different, as many of these companies are simply new to us, while in their home waters they have been making their mark for years, if not decades. Scandinavia is a perfect example, as not only does this area have an established history in boatbuilding, but its inhabitants have an established history in using them. Consequently, many of these inevitably well-made seagoing craft never make it to our shores.
Rupert are a perfect example of this. The company is a Swedish yard that has been building motor yachts, commercial vessels and powerboats since 1996. They were the first Swedish yard to launch a RIB, and their design ethos is obvious in their R range – a series of tough pleasure boats with a military-like DNA. The R8 is one of four boats, ranging from 5 to 8 metres, that make up the Rupert R range.
Based on the long-standing and proven Rupert 26, this boat has had ’20 years of refining’. It comes in three variations: the R8 J, which is fitted with jockey seats; the R8 SS, which has a single bench seat; and the R8 DBS, which has double bench seats as featured. The hull is a non-stepped, deep-vee, multi-strake design, roughly similar in concept to a Ring hull but with more strakes, and the transom deadrise angle is 20 degrees.
Our test boat had the optional canvas-covered T-top and the most powerful engine option, the V6 Yamaha F300. It can be specified with the smaller 4-cylinder F200 or the V6 F250, but the relatively small cost saving over the F300 hardly justifies compromising what is a great combination. Fitted with Orca Hypalon fabric-effect sponsons, and with grey GRP, this boat is as durable as it looks. Casting an eye over the stern section will reveal two substantial elephant trunk scuppers in the transom, something not often found in a pleasure RIB. Under the aft bench seat there is a large manual bilge pump draining the bilge, but surprisingly there was no automatic bilge pump fitted as standard. The stainless steel 55-gallon fuel tank, located under the console and forward deck section, sits just forward of amidships. In the bow there is an interesting ‘inverted U-shaped’ Samson post, which I am informed also serves as a breather for the fuel tank. What it does do well is route the bowline up from the forward deck-mounted U-bolt so that it does not rub the tube. Just aft of this is located a neatly lined anchor locker, covered with a very abrasive and highly effective non-stick deck coating that extends over the entire boat. There is also the option of teak decking, which some might consider slightly out of character for this dark stealth-like vessel.
The helm design is simple and ergonomically effective, with what you need where you want it. All wind blast is deflected, and visibility over the bow when standing is very good. Touches like a lockable glovebox and cup holders remind you that this is actually a pleasure boat. The double bench seat of the DBS version can convert quickly into an aft-facing sunbed by folding the seat backs forward. The heavy-duty T-top framework and super-tough windscreen construction both feel like they have been hewn from granite. Access to the twin batteries and electrics is through a waterproof hatch on the front of the console, just behind the optional waterproof Peli case.
Driving the R8
The Rupert reminded me what it was years back that drew me to the large single-engine RIB. This boat is simply so drivable, having virtually no quirks, that it soon becomes an instinctive experience. The first thing that will strike you is the immediate response to the throttle. It does have 300hp powering 1.6 tonnes, so it should be quick off the mark, but few 8m boats can hit 30 knots in 6 seconds and 40 knots in 9. I have always found that Yamaha’s 4.2L V6 F300 provides a superb dollop of low-down grunt, and this boat uses every drop of this power to great effect. The 17.5in-pitch prop suits it perfectly, and the R8 seems to have the outboard motor height spot on. The engine spins relentlessly up to its maximum of 6000rpm at 46 knots, requiring 50% trim to squeeze the best from her. If you want, you can simply leave the leg tucked in, as it has good natural fore and aft trim, and you only lose just under 3 knots at this setting. If you were to order this boat without the optional T-top, it would likely touch 50 knots, but I got the feeling that would take something away from its practical character. Fuel burn is good, with a low-speed sweet spot of 27 knots at 3500rpm producing 4nmpg. If you need to, you can keep on the plane right down to 14 knots, but the fact is, the R8 is at its happiest around 40 knots, and, sea state depending, you get the feeling you could comfortably cover some sea miles at this speed.
In the turns this boat is arguably more impressive than it is in a straight line. It heels superbly, and you soon find yourself pushing it tighter and tighter – made all the better by the fact that there is no cavitation when powering out of a turn. There is ‘virtually’ zero hull slip. I say ‘virtually’ because the occasional hull slip is so small that you only know about it because the hull quickly gets a grip before you know it, and then you will feel it bite. This is not a fault of the boat, but rather the ‘spirited driving’ that you will be hard pushed to resist. In this situation, you will instinctively counter the ‘bite’ with a quick flick of the wheel, which is where electrical power steering would come in handy, as in stock form the R8 comes with a SeaStar hydraulic system.
Pushing past 40 knots, she runs reassuringly composed, and heading into the weather you feel the benefit of the hull’s sharp forefoot. The ride is soft and dry, and the short Solent chop makes no impression on what is clearly a solid construction. Hitting ferry wake at 40 knots is something the Rupert has no issues with, as she keeps her nose level and then lands without the back-jarring bang that can make you think twice about enjoying yourself. Given this boat’s ability to be driven hard in rough sea conditions, armrests between the individual helm seating would be a good idea, as would concave seat bolsters, as the ideal helm position is standing.
Whether it is the multi-strake hull design or not, the fact is, this boat works very well. It develops a good amount of hydrodynamic lift early in the transition-to-planing cycle and maintains good hull attitude across its performance spectrum. I might be a bit old-school, but given how capable this boat is when pushed, the jockey seat R8 J version would be my choice. Being predictably safe, it is a boat that the less experienced helmsman will easily get to grips with – and feel able to use to its full potential. Though it is yet another six-figure-sum RIB, it is clearly one that does what it says on the tin.
Our test boat had the optional canvas-covered T-top and the most powerful engine option, the V6 Yamaha F300. It can be specified with the smaller 4-cylinder F200 or the V6 F250, but the relatively small cost saving over the F300 hardly justifies compromising what is a great combination.
What we thought
- Great handling and exceedingly sure-footed
- Soft-riding hull
- Great performance
- Very solid build quality
- The test boat did not have an automatic bilge pump in the hull.
- LOA: 8m
- Beam: 2.75m
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 1600kg (dry with Yamaha F300)
- Power options: Yamaha F200, F225, F250, F300
- Fuel capacity: 250L
- RCD category: B for 8
- Test engines: Yamaha F300
- 46.2 knots (2-way average), sea conditions F3, crew 2, fuel 50%
- From: £104,000 (inc. VAT) (200hp Yamaha F200) delivered to UK
- As tested: £122,000 (inc. VAT) (with teak decking) delivered to UK
MCC Marine, Unit 2 Firefly Rd, Hamble Point Marina, School Lane, Hamble, Southampton, Hampshire SO3 14JD