Yacht Class n°27 (dec 2021/jan-feb 2022)
Built for speed, the largest Ribco welcomed us on board during the Monaco Yacht Show with a surprise: a new engine configuration, with two Mercury V12 600 hp Verado ! As usual, performance is on the menu.
Written by Philippe Leblond – Photos : P.L.
In the early 2000s, Ribco Marine obtained a licence to build a range of RIB in Greece, adapted from the British shipyard Scorpion, famous among offshore performance enthusiasts. Since then, the Greek shipyard has gone beyond and produces even larger models than its British ‘mentor’, like the Venom 39 & 44. With a deep triple stepped hull, designed by Lorne Cambell, this 44 foot RIB is designed to sustain high average speeds in rough seas. Let’s see what can achieve in this area the most powerful Mercury, the brand new Verado 600 hp, the outboard segment’s first and only V12 powerhead.
Moored at the Port Hercules, where is based Ribco’s importer, Monaco Rib Boats, the Venom 44, like her sisters, seems even longer and more aggressive than she is because of her architecture, typical of high-performance monohulls: a narrow deep-V hull (only 3.52 m wide and 13.15 m long) with a slender bow. The transom accommodates two colossal blocks (572 kg each): the new and super-powerful Mercury Verado V12, 600 hp outboards… The calm before the storm? Before unleashing this substantial cavalry, let’s first take a tour on board… The Venom 44, like the other Ribco Marine models, has the identity of a GT of the sea that some competitors, such as the Greeks Technohull & BSK Skipper, are also cultivating. This “cocktail” was initially created by English brands like Revenger, Pascoe, Scorpion, Cobra, etc that had the idea to combine a sword-like hull with a deep V and some comfort elements borrowed from the Italian RIB culture. This combination Ribco takes it even further, as we can see on the Venom 44 with two large sunbeds, numerous real seats and comfort equipment such as a refrigerator (under the front seats), a shower, a washbasin and a toilet (in the console). And that’s not it: the Venom 44 is also suitable for coastal camping thanks to two double berths, located under the forward and aft solariums, with privacy curtains.
An ergonomic helm station
Although comfortable anchorage has a significant place in the specifications, the Venom 44 has not lost sight of the essentials with a carefully designed helm. The two rows of bolster seats for the pilot and co-pilot, and three passengers just behind them, are not there just to “look good”… A RIB expected to hit 72 knots thanks to a power output that can reach 1 350 hp (on this model, three Mercury 450 Racing) needs to provide secure seats with something to hold on to! To improve the weight/power ratio, the Greek shipyard has opted for a carbon fibre hard-top, thus saving 100 kg of weight, which also gives the boat a lower centre of gravity. The hardtop and its windscreen provide excellent protection for the five passengers occupying the two rows of bucket seats. The dashboard is large enough to accommodate a large Raymarine instrument cluster, the SmartCraft display and Mercury analog instruments. The footrest and centre console supporting the engine controls and manoeuvring joystick also contribute to offer a comfortable and efficient piloting position. However, the compass is not in the helmsman’s line of sight, which is surprising… Ribco’s manufacturing quality is omnipresent, from the neat assembly of the floats, the precise cut of the upholstery, the shine of the gel-coat to the regular application of solid teak on the deck… the finish does not invite criticism. The same is true for the quality of the stainless-steel fittings… On this subject, it should be noted the presence of a second anchor with windlass on the swim platform, in a Scandinavian style!
Lately, the new Mercury V12 with rotating base plate and double propeller has been getting a lot of publicity… We were eager to see it in action! First acceleration, and… a slight disappointment. Despite the two-speed transmission and the double propellers, the thrust is not lightning fast considering all this power. With 6”1 to lift off (20 knots in 5”1), the punch is really not at the level we expected it to be. As for the “character” of this Mercury V12 tandem, it is mostly from 4 000 rpm, as we were pressed against the bucket seat, that we felt the extent of the output power. The discretion of these huge blocks is surprising, as is the total absence of vibrations. They are perfect to enjoy long family trips at high speed. True, the V12 perform best at 4 000 rpm (41.3 knots). That makes Calvi only two and a half hours distant from Nice ! So why not have lunch in Corsica?
Given the installed capacity, another reason for satisfaction is the efficiency, with an excellent 0.31 mile travelled per litre and, above all, this impressive cruising speed: 41.3 knots! The fact that this unit delivers her best ratio at such a high speed is fully consistent with the GT of the sea that is the Venom 44. These figures were recorded by the shipyard, along with a Mercury technician. For our part, we were only able to reach 64 knots because of a water body quite unconducive to speed measurements. As for the behaviour, the Ribco easily cut through the waves (swell and chop of about one metre) and turned safely at (very) high speed. Nevertheless, we are not convinced that this V12 tandem is the right choice for this RIB… During landing and acceleration, the phenomenal torque produced by the V12 shook the boat. The Mercury 450 Racing seems to be more in the spirit of this sea racer. In fact, with three of them (maximum power allowed), the Venom 44 would have reached 72 knots! However, the larger Ribco is also available with 3 x Mercury Verado 300 V8 that should deliver quite acceptable performances !