- If ‘super-RIBs’ are the next ‘big thing’, then Skipper BSK look more than set to satisfy this market.
- Anything to do with modifying something so fundamental as a hull or a deck is a major undertaking.
- For any boating enthusiast, the show’s 17 or so exhibition halls represent a multitudinous Aladdin’s cave of watery wonders.
HMS provides an insight into one of Europe’s most exciting RIB producers ‒ a company born on the banks of the Aegean Sea, where legends are made …
As we have reported in previous editions of PBR, Düsseldorf Boot is, without doubt, an incredible, world-class showcase. For any boating enthusiast, the show’s 17 or so exhibition halls represent a multitudinous Aladdin’s cave of watery wonders. Furthermore, among the wealth of product on display, there are certain exhibits that are genuinely outstanding: boats and innovative items of kit that have the ability to stop you dead in your tracks. In my view, the Skipper BSK display, situated in Hall 5, was just such a case in point ‒ a genuine ‘showstopper’.
As many of you will know, I have had a strong association with the RIB market for some 25 years now, but what I saw presented here by this Greek boatbuilder was wholly impressive by anyone’s standard. The two Skipper BSK RIBs exhibited by the company were not only impressive in terms of their sheer size, but also their fresh, modern approach to design and detailing was outstanding and very exciting to see.
A hull is born
Skipper BSK were established in 2000 and the first boat rolled off the production line a year later. In discussion with company director Alex Stavroulakis, BSK’s chief designer, he informed me how the brand was forged on the back of the Aegean RIB culture, and in particular the popular pastime of live-aboard island hopping and offshore RIB cruising. ‘Right from the start, I determined that we had to invest chiefly in the hull design,’ explains Stavroulakis. ‘Contrary to what many people think, the Aegean can be a very testing sea, capable of producing a very uncomfortable ride indeed. It was clear from the word go that we had to produce a design of hull that not only ran very level but also was ultimately soft-riding, particularly amid the short, sharp seas we encounter here. As a result, though, our home waters served as a great ‘test tank’ to develop our ideas and design concepts. Once we had the Aegean in all her moods cracked, we knew we were in possession of a hull design that had the potential to be of serious interest not only to our home market but, just as importantly, the foreign markets too.’
Now in the throes of producing their second generation of RIBs, the company has reworked its original hull designs and, in addition, modified the decks of all the craft in the five-boat range. ‘I would describe our approach to boat design as being quite aggressive,’ states Stavroulakis. ‘If I see a need to push through a change, then as a company we make those changes and commit the investment accordingly and without delay. Anything to do with modifying something so fundamental as a hull or a deck is a major undertaking. It’s bad enough when you’re talking about one model, but scale that up to five or more and you’re looking at a massive amount of commitment and financial investment. But our intense self-analysis and belief in the product is paying off as we are now reaping the rewards not only here in Greece, but also abroad. Both our big 12m vessel and its smaller 9m sibling, for instance, attracted very serious interest at Düsseldorf this year, and I’m happy to report that sales are most encouraging. Potential clients have to look long and hard to find anything like the type of high-performance, leisure-orientated “super-RIBs” we are building. That puts us in a very strong position indeed, and I, along with the company’s shareholders, am understandably very happy about this!’
Accolades & awards
The new generation of Skipper BSK boats can now boast the accolade of being awarded the Red Dot Design Award (brands such as Ferrari, Apple and other world-leading brands participate in these awards …) as well as other honours and innovation awards secured by Skipper BSK. The 10m model, in fact, achieved great status three years running when the Belgian team, Silver Racing Team 888, drove the boat to winning success with the craft hitting a top speed of 100mph in the UIM category S1. This particular Skipper BSK featured a twin-outboard 300hp engine rig. Noteworthy is the fact that this title-winning race hull is exactly the same as on all the other production craft in the range. The Skipper BSK hulls are stepped in their design and benefit from being very easy and economical to drive at low speeds due to the step preventing bow lift. This also means the boat can plane at speeds as low as 10 knots. Conversely, when being driven at high speeds, all the boats in the range handle as straight and true as an arrow.
‘The racing achievements were very useful indeed as they gave us great assurance in terms of our hull’s performance as well as its safety parameters,’ explains Stavroulakis. ‘Besides the Aegean, the race circuit has proved a brilliant testing ground. For private buyers desirous of buying a capable, predictable and efficient performance craft that also has the ability to look after them in any cruising scenario, they have the comfort and assurance of knowing our hull technology really is thoroughly proven.’
The BSK Skipper models feature a unique sponson-to-deck-height design that results in the tubes actually achieving their highest point amidships. This provides a very safe and secure gunwale height just at the point where crew and passengers are likely to require it the most. Big beamy boats have great appeal when it comes to offering a whole range of custom fit-outs too, and being built to order by hand means a customer has a virtually limitless options list at their disposal and an in-house design team to help fulfil their dream ‘wish list’.
If ‘super-RIBs’ are the next ‘big thing’, then Skipper BSK look more than set to satisfy this market. Plus, with a young, energetic production team at the helm, the company’s enthusiasm, energy and lust for innovation appears to have no bounds …
2020 will see Skipper BSK celebrate their 40th year in business ‒ a big achievement and one to be celebrated at next year’s Düsseldorf Boot. The company plans to mark this occasion with a special anniversary model. Skipper BSK models will also be rebadged and renamed in line with their actual LOA in feet ‒ 32X, 34NC, 42DS and so forth. Boot will also see a brand-new 34ft cabin model being released along with a new 38ft model. Exciting times ahead, then, for the team at Skipper BSK.