The coach’s RIB

When Yachting New Zealand be­gan look­ing for the ‘ul­ti­mate sup­port boat’, it turned to Lancer In­dus­tries. The col­lab­o­ra­tion de­liv­ered a pair of hot­ties.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY NOR­MAN HOLTZHAUSEN

YNZ’S Lancer coach­ing RIB is pur­pose-de­signed.

As New Zealand’s old­est man­u­fac­turer of ‘rub­ber ducks’ – and with more than 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing Hy­palon in­flat­able boats – Lancer had the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to de­sign and build to YNZ’S ex­act­ing re­quire­ments.

The project was in in­cu­ba­tion for around 18 months, with ini­tial dis­cus­sions, con­cepts and de­sign re­quire­ments started over two years ago. The boats would be in con­stant use, and needed to be ca­pa­ble of beach launch­ing.

This im­plied they needed to be tough enough to han­dle surf con­di­tions and able to be run up on a shin­gle beach or left on a con­crete boat ramp while the trailer is fetched. A re­in­forced alu­minium hull was the only way to go, pro­vid­ing tough­ness and rigid­ity while keep­ing the boat light enough for sin­gle-handed launch­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Ian Neely, Act­ing High Per­for­mance Man­ager at

YNZ and a key mem­ber of the project team, coach­ing staff can be out on the boats up to six days a week. With cur­rent work­place health and safety reg­u­la­tions YNZ has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure com­fort and prevent in­juries for the reg­u­lar users.

So a hull that was com­fort­able at speed through the Hau­raki Gulf chop was cru­cial, ideally “a five-me­tre hull that rides like an eight-me­tre.” This is achieved by the 28° deep vee amid­ships, a plumb bow with a knife-like 76° en­try an­gle, and Lancer’s patented ‘3T’ tube de­sign which in­te­grates the tube’s cush­ion­ing ef­fect into the ride char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Those tubes also help keep the in­te­rior dry, again a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion in Auck­land’s choppy con­di­tions. Sail­ing sel­dom stops for wind or rain, and the hull and tube pro­file de­flect spray down and away from the oc­cu­pants. Two sets of neg­a­tive chines fur­ther as­sist in de­flect­ing water, while giv­ing di­rec­tional con­trol dur­ing cor­ner­ing.

An­other chal­lenge was set by the need for ‘Clean Decks’, since course marks and other paraphernalia are of­ten car­ried on board. On the other hand, every­thing be­low deck had to have good ac­cess, while the abil­ity to run all day meant that re­mov­able tote tanks was the only sen­si­ble op­tion.

This led to a clever strad­dle-seat that opens side­ways to re­veal a locker ca­pa­ble of stor­ing two Yamaha 24-litre fuel tanks. This keeps the weight low and well-balanced while pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess to all lines and ca­bles hid­den beneath the decks.

Once the re­quire­ments had been es­tab­lished and the de­sign fi­nalised, it was the Yachting Youth World Cham­pi­onships held in Auck­land at the end of 2016 that proved the im­pe­tus for the project to get go­ing. A gen­er­ous spon­sor­ship from Pak ’n Save en­abled the first two RK5000S to be built, with Lancer’s legacy yel­low-coloured Hy­palon tubes fit­ting the advertising brief ex­actly.

The fi­nal piece of the project was propul­sion, and here YNZ was clear it wanted stan­dard run­ning gear. The boats get thrashed, and the en­gines are likely to be re­placed sev­eral times dur­ing the life­time of the hulls. Us­ing off-the-shelf en­gines and props sim­pli­fies ser­vic­ing, re­pairs and even­tual re­place­ment, and keeps every­thing cost-ef­fec­tive.

YNZ chose the Yamaha FT60 four-stroke, a rock-solid engine

that’s quiet-run­ning, eco­nom­i­cal and yet has plenty of grunt. The long-shaft model com­bined with the high-thrust gear­box op­tion en­sures that no mat­ter how tightly the boat is turned the engine will not cav­i­tate, an­other im­por­tant safety con­sid­er­a­tion.

We took the boats into the Hau­raki Gulf in typ­i­cal con­di­tions – about 15 knots of wind and a short and nasty chop. Def­i­nitely all-weather-jacket con­di­tions, but pretty stan­dard for sailors. Lancer bor­rowed both yel­low RK5000S back from YNZ (YNZ’S other coach­ing boats are a more dis­creet grey) and we launched from the con­crete ramp in Taka­puna on Auck­land’s North Shore.

Very quickly we dis­cov­ered what these boats were about. One of the com­mon ac­tions of a coach boat is to turn sud­denly and sharply, and it needs to do this with­out throw­ing the oc­cu­pants out the boat. The boat ex­cels at this, and han­dling is fan­tas­tic.

Even at 15 knots they can be turned 180° in just over twice their hull length, with the hull cant­ing over to en­sure the oc­cu­pants re­main com­fort­able. We did tight fig­ure-eights at speed, not a typ­i­cal ma­noeu­vre, but one the ves­sel’s rel­ished.

Setting and re­triev­ing buoys is easy even when sin­gle-handed, thanks to the close-quar­ters ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity of the boat. The cen­tre con­sole and mo­torcy­cle-type seat lay­out make it easy to move around the deck, with noth­ing in the way to trip up the coach who

will have his eyes out on the water rather than look­ing at his feet. Once the job’s done the Yamaha FT60 gets the boat up and go­ing again very quickly in­deed.

Scoot­ing along the chop at max­i­mum speed of around 30 knots was no prob­lem, with that fine en­try cut­ting through and smooth­ing out the ride. Top speed used to be al­most ir­rel­e­vant when coach­ing sail­ing, but with mod­ern foil­ing boats that’s all changed. For­tu­nately, the Lancer RK5000 has no prob­lem keep­ing up with all of YNZ’S rac­ing classes.

The pon­toons form a very ef­fec­tive fender all around, and raft­ing along­side an­other boat is easy and safe. To prevent snags the rope grab han­dles that are com­monly in­stalled on the out­side of RIBS has been left off but a sturdy rope on the in­side pro­vides grab points for any oc­cu­pants sit­ting on the pon­toons.

The boats have now been in al­most con­stant use for

around nine months, and Neely says YNZ “is re­ally happy with how the de­sign per­forms and the fi­nal out­come.” Lancer has fur­ther ex­tended the range, with a 4m and a 6.5m model now also avail­able. De­mand for the RK5000 has been good, in­clud­ing a pair just de­liv­ered to the Tu­valu Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

This may be a pur­pose-built work­boat de­signed for coach­ing, but there is a lot to like about this even as a recre­ational ves­sel. The com­fort­able and dry-run­ning but tough hull, fan­tas­tic han­dling and quiet, eco­nom­i­cal engine are a great com­bi­na­tion. Other ac­ces­sories are avail­able, in­clud­ing bi­mini top, un­der­floor fuel tanks, light­ing and elec­tron­ics pack­ages.

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