Published in: Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Features > Buzzi RIB 42 Sport (Page 1/1)

Buzzi RIB 42 Sport

During a test on Italy's Lake Como, Dag Pike finds in the Buzzi 42 a rigid inflatable boat that offers comfort, handling – and over 60 knots of speed

I have done sea trials on hundreds of yachts over the years and always there has always been aspects of the design or the handling that have made them less than perfect. Finally, after all these years, I have found the perfect boat and it is a boat that is so good that it leaves all the others in the shade. The Buzzi RIB 42 is simply brilliant in its concept and execution, and when you see this level of perfection you have to ask why other builders and designers cannot come up with equally good solutions.

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The RIB 42 is excellent in every way, and it is extremely fast. With a speed of over 60 knots, this has to be one of the fastest production boats on the market. When it comes to building boats with this sort of speed, it is easy to pack in the power and let the driver sort it out. What is brilliant about the RIB 42 is the superb handling, enabling you to use the high speed with considerable safety and confidence, knowing that the boat will not let you down.

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Another aspect of the RIB 42’s design is its versatility. Earlier versions are now in use as superyacht tenders, where they combine a dignified ride ashore with spirited high performance when you want to blow away the cobwebs. It makes an exciting stand alone sports boat with overnight accommodation for two and it can also function as a fast cruising boat, with its 400-mile range allowing extensive cruising possibilities. There are even versions being used by some navies for high-speed interception. Within the basic concept, there are many possibilities.

The need for speed

When I built the world’s first RIB 43 years ago, I never envisaged anything like this. I took an early prototype of the RIB 42 out into a force nine storm, where it coped brilliantly with the short, steep waves. There were no worries about the safety and security of the design in these conditions and the fine entry and the additional stability provided by the inflatable tubes meant that I enjoyed driving the boat in these wild conditions rather than having to hang on for dear life. The hull is a deep vee with two steps and with a deadrise of 24 degrees. In short, this is a hull that can cope with adverse sea conditions.

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One of the factors that makes you feel so secure is the Tecno seating. Like the rest of the boat, these seats have been specially designed for the job and give comfort and support when the boat is moving in waves, with the figure hugging bolsters and their electrically adjustable squabs playing a great supporting role. There are four of these in the large cockpit, so everyone can enjoy the ride in considerable comfort.

For power, the version I tested had a pair of the latest diesels from the Cummins range. These new engines produce 635 horsepower each, and they fit snugly into the engine compartment that lies under the rear sun bed. A number of alternate engines available, ranging from a pair of 440 horsepower Yanmar diesels up to a pair of 865 horsepower Caterpillars, so it is possible to tailor the speed according to your requirements. Even with the smaller engines, speeds of over 50 knots are attainable, so whatever you choose you are going to have exciting performance.

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With all of the engine options except the two most powerful, it is possible to specify a two-speed gearbox from ZF Industries. This will allow better acceleration at lower speeds and a higher top speed, so you get a more responsive boat. This option would be particularly valuable with the smaller engine choices. We did not have this gearbox fitted to the boat that we tested, but there was a new secret weapon from the Buzzi arsenal to improve the performance in a different way.

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The RIB 42 is fitted with Trimax Surface Drives. This is an automatic trim system that controls the fast acting flaps as the boat comes onto the plane and accelerates away up to top speed. Normally, with any type of surface drive, you need to be something of an octopus when controlling the boat as it starts to plane. There are the flaps to adjust, the power trim to control, plus the throttles and the steering. It can be a quite a handful, but with this automatic trim system, everything is done for you. All you have to do is start the engines, open the throttles and go. It’s like waving a magic wand, with smooth and controlled acceleration. This contributes considerably to the joy of driving this boat.

Low profile, high performance

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The stunning profile of the RIB 42 has been kept low and sleek, a factor that would help stowage into the garage of a super yacht. The inflatable tube that surrounds the hull fines away towards the bow, which accentuates the RIB 42’s sleek lines. When the boat is at rest, the tubes are level with the water so that there is excellent stability. 

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At speed, the tubes lift clear of the water to reduce resistance, but they are there ready with extra buoyancy if the boat heels in waves or when turning. This gives an excellent controlled ride, which means that you can enjoy the full performance of this boat even in adverse conditions. 

At the helm the controls are exactly where you want them and you feel fully in control of things. There are the electronic engine panels and for navigation there is a chart plotter display. The low windscreen offers good wind protection without restricting the visibility. My one criticism of the RIB 42 is that these displays might be difficult to read at times when the sun reflects from them.

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The central door gives access to the compact cabin. There is a settee on each side with a central table that lowers to create a double bed. On the port side, there is a basic galley with a sink and a microwave oven, while on the starboard side there is a complete bathroom with shower and toilet. It is enough for an overnight stop, but the RIB 42 would most likely be used as a day boat.

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The design and technology used in the RIB 42 show just what can be achieved when the problems of fast boat driving are fully analysed and solutions found. Forty years of fast boating experience comes together in this design, and Fabio Buzzi will not accept second best. When he cannot find the right equipment for the job, he will design and manufacturer a solution. If only more builders and designers adopted this attitude we would have many more fine boats available. Each RIB 42 is designed to individual requirements, and they are all built under the watchful eye of the maestro.

What a joy it was driving this boat. With simple and straightforward controls, a boater can focus on enjoying the ride. This was pure thoroughbred performance from the master of fast boat design, Fabio Buzzi. While much of the focus of recent development in the FB Design shipyard has been on military craft, this RIB 42 demonstrates that they have not ignored the leisure boating sector. The RIB 42 is the first of a range of fast leisure boats that will be marketed under the Buzzi brand name. If there are more like this in the pipeline, we can look forward to an exciting fast boat future.

Technical Specifications – Buzzi 42 Sport RIB

Length                                     43 ft

Beam                                       12 ft

Draft                                         3 ft

Bridge clearance                        5 ft

Displacement                          12600 to 20100 lbs depending of engines

Fuel capacity                          490 gals

Engines                                    2 x 635 hp Cummins diesels

Optional engines                     2 x 440 hp Yanmar diesels

                                                2 x 600 hp Isotta Fraschini diesels

                                                2 x 510 hp Caterpillar C9 diesels

                                                2 x 710 hp Caterpillar C12 diesels

                                                2 x 865 hp Caterpillar diesels

Propulsion                              ZF gearbox and Trimax Surface Drives

Design                                     FB Design