Review: Lancer RL440 RIB

By: Norman Holtzhausen, Photography by: Norman Holtzhausen


Lancer RL440 RIB turning Lancer RL440 RIB turning
70 hp Yamaha outboard on Lancer RL440 RIB 70 hp Yamaha outboard on Lancer RL440 RIB
Bow on Lancer RL440 RIB Bow on Lancer RL440 RIB
Lancer RL440 RIB console layout Lancer RL440 RIB console layout
Lancer RL440 RIB storage Lancer RL440 RIB storage

The new Lancer RL440 sports RIB goes against the grain of inflatable boats as basic utility vessels. Built to the highest specs and luxury features, this Lancer RL44 sports RIB won’t look out of place on a superyacht

Lancer Industries is New Zealand’s oldest manufacturer of inflatable boats with more than 40 years of experience at building Hypalon inflatable boats. Its extensive range starts with the Lancer T230 tender and stretches all the way up to custom-built 20m boats made for America’s Cup syndicates.

Lancer makes complete boats, as well as providing tubes for other manufacturers’ production models. Apart from boats, the company also produces other inflatable products like water toys, inflatable collars, fluid storage systems and the unique Airodock temporary docking system.

 

Lancer Inflatables

Lancer RL440 RIB

The Lancer RL440 RIB is one of its leading contenders in the competitive recreational market. Aimed at those who want a smart and stylish option with sports performance, this boat has all the features of a larger vessel and the simplicity of operation of a smaller craft. Although the basic design of this hull is well established, Lancer has refreshed this model with new materials and finishes.

The underlying hull is now made of aluminum instead of the previous GRP and features a step in the hull cross-section that acts like strakes. This is claimed to improve efficiency and certainly in our test we found it rode exceptionally well, even through rough chop and swell. When running at speed the Hypalon tubes lift clear of the water reducing the wetted surface and hence drag resulting in excellent performance. Meanwhile, at rest the boat sits right down on the tubes providing maximum stability.

 

Layout and design

Lancer RL440 RIB layout

The test boat was fitted with a 70hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard motor fed from two tote tanks tucked behind the helm position. This motor provided eye-watering performance being right at the top of rated horsepower for this hull. A more modest 50hp would be more usual for a boat this size and provide more than adequate speed and power. However the new Yamaha F70 weighs only 4kg more than the 50hp version, so one could ask why not put the extra horses on. The boat was still well balanced and there are several advantages to having the more powerful motor

The boat is configured as a centre console with the wide unit located amidships both laterally and along the waterline. This keeps the weight distribution even at both rest and full throttle, especially when there are only one or two occupants. We found that even under hard acceleration the RIB remains level and stable, showing little of the dangerous lift in the bow that often afflicts very light boats. The central weight distribution also meant we could throw the boat around in tight turns without feeling uncomfortable.

The space behind the helm is used for holding the fuel tanks, keeping them snug and out of the way but leaving little usable space in the stern, apart from perhaps a place to stow a bag or two. The tote tanks also butt into the space under the helm seat as well, meaning no space for a locker under the seat either. The console is also fairly wide and reduces the ease of which one can move around the outside of the unit into the bow area.

The central console has space to support a range of instrumentation, although the test boat was not configured for fishing, so no chartplotter or fishfinder were installed. A Fusion stereo, VHF radio and the Yamaha electronic gauges completed the dash layout. The windscreen was small and although it did a reasonable job of deflecting the wind, it made no pretense of being an all-weather screen.

 

Handling and ride

Lancer RL440 RIB on the water

One thing that differentiates Lancer from the number of cheaper imports now available are the quality of the materials and techniques used. The use of Hypalon, which is the hardest-wearing of all inflatable boat fabrics, and Lancer’s double-taped seams means the longevity of its boats is legendary. Look around any harbour for the oldest still-floating work inflatable and it is most likely a Lancer. These are boats that simply do not die.

Once we finished the detail photos I had a chance to have a blast and what a rocketship this is. The over-the-top 70hp motor had a high-torque lifting prop from Propeller Services in Tauranga and meant the motor doesn’t cavitate no matter how hard the boat is turned. This caused some interesting photos as we wound the turns tighter and tighter creating our own whirlpool.

Straight-line acceleration is fantastic thanks to the motor-prop combo, the boat getting off the mark instantly and zipping from wave-top to wave-top with ease. We were soon running well above 20kts and in the conditions it felt very fast but we remained comfortable and completely in control. Although the tubes are clear of the water running ahead they are still there to act as giant shock absorbers when the boat returns to the water if it gets airborne. So in rough speeds a RIB can be run at higher speeds than a conventional rigid hull.

I’d forgotten what fun a boat like this is and had a great time throwing it around, launching off waves and generally just hooning about without ever feeling like I was about to lose control. It was with reluctance that I was eventually forced to relinquish the helm and get back on the photo boat.

 

The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Lancer RL440 RIB at rest

The Lancer RL440 RIB is supplied with a single-axle trailer. The Lancer RL440 RIB hull alone weighs just on 210kg and with the outboard and a full load of fuel, the entire displacement will only be around 350kg. This makes it an extremely easy towing proposition and it will easily fit into a standard garage.

This is a very neat little boat, beautifully finished to a standard not often seen in its class. The performance is eye-popping yet it remains one of the safest boats you will get in this size. Although not suited to hardcore fishing, the Lancer RL440 is a capable all-rounder that will find favour from those prepared to pay for an extremely well-built, locally manufactured boat rather than the lower-quality imported models that are flooding the market. 

 

Highs

• Beautiful finish

• What a fun ride!

 

Lows

• A squeeze to move around the console

• Not much locker space

 

Lancer RL440 RIB specs

Lancer RL440 RIB price: $39.995

Priced from

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Alloy hull w/ Hypalon tubes (diameter 450mm)

TYPE Rigid inflatable boat

LENGTH 4.4m (14.4ft)

BEAM 2m (6.6ft)

WEIGHT 210kg (hull)

DEADRISE 20°

 

CAPACITIES

FUEL 50lt (twin 25lt tote tanks)

RECOMMENDED HP RANGE 20 to 70

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Yamaha F70 outboard motor

TYPE Four-cylinder four-stroke petrol outboard motor

RATED HP 70

 

SUPPLIED BY

Lancer Industries

99 Central Park Drive,

Henderson, Auckland, 0610

Phone +64 9 837 1206

Web www.lancer.co.nz

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #251, March / April 2015. Why not subscribe today?

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