March 02, 2006
RIB PIONEERS ON THE FRONTIER
For some reason, RIBs don’t share the same popularity here in the United States as they do in Europe. But their acceptance and reputation is growing leaps and bounds; in fact the RIB market is the fastest growing segment of the marine industry in the States today. Even still, Europe, and especially the UK, is about a dozen years ahead of the US RIB market. Brits have long enjoyed the many advantages of RIB’s while the vast majority of boaters here in the US are just beginning to understand what these boats are all about.
One of the best indications of how RIB popularity is gaining strength comes from evolving perceptions at boat shows. We started keeping track of people’s reactions and comments at recreational boat shows four years ago, at that time their comments said it all: “what is it?”, “what do you do with a boat like that?”, “those seats look like mail boxes”, “it must be like riding a horse”, “do you use the tubes to store fuel?” But with each year, acceptance and understanding of RIBs began to take hold as RIBs become more prevalent at shows and on our waters. Now the entertaining comments have all but ceased. Today, we’re at the point where everyone has probably at least seen a RIB. They may not fully understand the many benefits, but they’ve noticed the Coast Guard, local police or harbormaster, and even their own yacht club using RIB’s. With that comes understanding, acceptance, and a willingness to give them a try for themselves.
The challenge is, distinguishing a RIB – a RIGID inflatable boat from an inflatable dinghy or tender. Like anything new, an early bad experience can leave a sour taste in one’s mouth. We’ve talked to many people who think they’ve tried a RIB. Some equate the performance of their roll-up soft bottom dingy to a RIB or they’ve bought a yachty looking thing with lots of white cushions and cup holders and expected it to be the ultimate SUV of the seas. There is a big difference between a cushy yacht tender, a roll-up, and a RIB! Once they get out on a genuine RIB, they see for themselves what a RIB is all about – unbelievable performance, incredible safety, and unbeatable fun. After they’ve taken a spin, they’re hooked.
Today, those who own RIBs are proud to have something different. Something their neighbors don’t have. RIB buyers tend to be well educated, accomplished boaters, and thrive on being pioneers. In many cases, they’re looking for something new and an alternative to their generic looking solid sided boat that they get beaten and bruised on every weekend when there’s a chop or rough seas.
There’s almost a cult like following among RIB owners in the US. They love to talk to other RIB owners here and abroad – something you’d never see from the 20’ center console, solid sided crowd! RIB owners compare what they like, don’t like, how they use their boat, how it’s configured, powered, and equipped, and what kind of seas they took their RIB out in. There are even a couple of great online chat rooms that help facilitate these discussions; RIBnet & HOT RIBS, check them out!
The RIB market in the US is evolving and growing. It’s still very much in its infancy, a new frontier really, but all of us, RIB owners and manufacturers alike are proud to be sculptors shaping and forming the market. Pioneers in a way.
Posted by ribcraftusa at March 2, 2006 10:29 AMBack To Index