HotRIBS - The online RIB Magazine
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  # 001
In The Beginning...
By Tony Lee-Elliott
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Tonys RIB - "Hush of Hythe"


The budget Class III Offshore racing was all the rage then and I wanted an inflatable with a deep vee hull and a good entry at the bows. So I set to, to build a long slim inflatable that would knife through the waves like a dart. 'Vutjun-Sturjun' did just that but her speed was crap to put it mildly, 50hp and only 20 mph! There must be something wrong somewhere.

I had learned about transom heights and 'propping' but this boat just did not want to 'go'. Eventually I cut a hole in the floorboards, big enough to get my head, a shoulder, arm and a torch through and with my brother Edward driving the boat, I had a hairy 'gander' at what was going on down below.

There were lots, and more! I had already gone to great lengths to get the hull fabric extra, extra, taut. However, the balanced weight of the craft, its crew, motor and gas etc. was all on the planing area which was flexing and had stretched, bowed and you name it to form a large dragging cup either side of the substantial wooden keel, just in front of the transom. So this is what an inflatable tries to do at speed.

Now luckily I did not throw the whole 'ish' away, but decided to stiffen the hull fabric by gluing on long pockets that ran fore and aft. Into these pockets I slid long ash timbers about 2" x 1" in section, about 4" apart and held them down at the transom by screwing a similar piece of timber 1" up from the bottom of the transom and then pinned them under.

Took bloody ages to put it all together but it worked! I now had a stiff deep vee hull that went fast enough to pull two skiers and did actually go through the water quite well. The RAF flew it to Sharjah for me and I taught many of my soldiers to water-ski during a 9 months lonely unaccompanied tour.

There was one problem. Getting it to the seaside, putting it all together and into the water was about half a day's work. So a trailer was purchased and the whole essence of having a fold up boat had disappeared.