Reviewed by Paul Lemmer – RIB Magazine
It is often felt that the European RIB manufacturers have the drop on us Brits when it comes to quality and finish. This new boat from Skua aims to blend Continental quality and styling with British sea keeping, and the results are quite impressive.
Before looking at the interior let’s get to grips with the hull. Technically speaking, the hull of the Skua RB6 is not a new design, as its distinctive shape was instantly recognisable a well-respected hull design from the past. Fortunately the design was very effective, and with its new improved makeover the hull provides the Skua with a good ride and respectable performance.
Unlike the majority of RIBs, the Skua’s buoyancy tubes are not glued to the hull they are mechanically fastened, and despite appearing circular behind the fibreglass topsides, they are, in fact, ‘D’ section. Because of this unusual attachment method, the craft is constructed more like a full GRP boat in that it has flat GRP sides, with the flat section of the ‘D’ tubes fastened to them. This not only makes for an attractive finish to the interior, it also provides more interior space, rigidity to the craft’s structure, and allows cleats and other hardware to be attached to the fibreglass topsides/upstands.
Despite being based upon a proven hull, there is nothing old about the looks and layout of the interior, which takes advantage of modern design aesthetics. The craft is dominated by a large aluminium wakeboard/ski frame. This provides a useful handhold when stepping aboard from a pontoon. To the best of my knowledge the Skua is the first production RIB to be fitted with such a frame. Initially, I was not sure if it was a little ‘OTT’, but the more I looked at it the more it seemed to enhance the craft’s appearance. It is removable, and Skua are working on a quick- release system for the superyacht market and for others who would appreciate the detachable option. Skua also recognise the frame’s potential as a structure for a removable fabric canopy.
The sporty interior of the RB6 is attractive and well finished. The contrast of teak-style decking, stainless steel rails and clean colour scheme gives this boat a distinctive style.
Starting with the Continental-style bow, there is a large, thickly padded bow cushion that extends well aft, providing a reasonable sunbathing area. Below this raised cushion area is a deep locker that can be used for stowing the anchor and other kit.
Next we have a comfortable two-person bench style seat. This opens to give excellent access to the inside of the console and the dashboard electrics. The fuel tank is stored here, but moving it under deck would free up some much needed dry storage space.
The well-proportioned console is a lesson in simple good looks and ergonomics. It is raked at just the right angle, has a broad, flat, spacious dashboard. The flat windscreen offers optimum protection and visibility, although it does need a grab rail to its leading edge for safety purposes.
Good handholds to this unit are also in abundance, and the back lower section is curved to provide plenty of legroom for the helmsman and navigator.
The RB6’s beam is wide enough to allow space on both sides of the console for a boarding step. However I found this too high to be of any practical use. Since pointing this out, future craft will now have a much lower step to improve movement around the interior and to aid access.
The two front seats are very sports boat orientated, being the swivelling pedestal type. They are relatively comfortable though I did wonder how the occupants would fair after a few hours in a choppy sea.
The rear seats are the most controversial aspect of the RIB’s interior. They are not uncomfortable but legroom is restricted and it seems a shame not to make better use of space having a three-person bench seat with a folding section to allow the engine to fully tilt up and allow access to the bathing/splashwell area.
In terms of dry storage, there is a lack of this at present in the rear of the craft, but once again it is Skua’s intention to integrate dry storage compartments into the bulk heads behind the head restraints.
Finally, to the on-water test and how this proven, once-commercial hull compares with its leisure counterparts.
On the day of the test we had the opportunity to test the boat in calm and high swell conditions and were suitably impressed by its performance in both sea states.
It handled and cornered well in the calm, gave a good turn of speed, and rode well in the chop, feeling very stiff and rigid with no shakes or rattles.
Overall, this sports RIB gets the thumbs up. It has an air of quality about it not seen in many RIB’s of this size and gives a reassuring ride normally associated with bigger craft.
As a superyacht tender, family runabout or just a fast, fun, cruising RIB, the Skua RB6 is a sure-footed, good-quality, well priced package and we hope this new brand enjoys the success it deserves.