Ship & Boat International eNews: September/October 2020
September marks the European launch of Highfield Boats' 2021 Sport range, a family-oriented series of luxury RIBs ranging from the 3m-long 300 to the 8m-long flagship 800 (pictured, right).
The launch was heralded by the company as a welcome relief after what’s been a challenging year, to say the least. “We had a very slow start to 2020, with huge uncertainty, but we’ve recovered well and will finish the year close to our original budget,” Steve Harrison, European brand manager at Highfield Boats, tells Ship & Boat International. “We are finding that customers who’d been saving money for a ‘rainy day’ have now decided that they should make their dream purchases and have some freedom.”
A specialist in aluminium-hulled boat production, Highfield Boats builds approximately 4,000 RIBs and tenders each year, typically sized between 2.4-9m, for both recreational and commercial/military users. The group manages a 15,000m2 boatbuilding facility in Weihai, China.
The 2021 Sport range offers different designs for various end user requirements. For instance, the 300, 330 and 360 models were designed as ‘easy to store’ tenders, featuring internal fuel tanks and lifting points. The 390, 420 and 460 types, meanwhile, are intended for large tender garages and platforms, with layouts that enable them to “cross over into the family day boat sector”, Highfield Boats says.
The 520 and 560 types are intended for family users or charter business. “These two models will self-drain on a mooring in northern climates, while a full sundeck option will ensure they are equally at home in warm waters,” the company explains.Meanwhie, the 650, 700 and 800 models have a bonus feature: stepped hulls, designed by naval architect Petter Martens of Berserk Design Racing, to enable users to pursue higher speeds. This hull is based on those used in race events such as the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race, but has also been adopted by UK lifeboats and German fireboats. The 800 can also be run with shock-mitigating seats, though as Harrison explains: “For most family buyers, this is not a consideration; we fit those seat types more often to our commercial patrol range.”
All RIBs in the 2021 Sport family will be outboard-powered. “Depending on the model, we can accommodate all hp ratings, and internal fuel tanks are fitted to each boat,” says Harrison. The smallest 300 model will feature a 30litre-capacity bow fuel tank, while the mid-range 520-560 RIBs will each carry a 100litre tank. The 650 and 700 models will carry 150litre tanks, and the 800 will feature a 285litre-capacity tank. “All our fuel tanks are positioned on the centreline of the boat, to help with weight distribution,” he adds.
Each 2021 Sport model will also feature LED internal lighting, a full navigation light package and an electronic bilge pump. Water ski tow posts and biminis can be ordered as options.