THE Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is upgrading its fleet of rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), replacing standard outboards with Mercury jet drives.
The club has fitted an 80hp Mercury jet drive to one of its RIBS and is set to follow suit with another three. Based at Pittwater, north of Sydney, the yacht club offers year round inshore and offshore racing, cruising, sail training and courses and boasts a 350-vessel marina. A club-wide safety review was behind the decision to turn to jets.
“We do a lot of learn to sail classes and other sail training activities involving 7-16 year olds,” said the club’s Sailing Manager, Brendan Rourke. “With our coaches operating the support RIBS. The concern is the proximity if someone capsizes in a dinghy for example. We use prop guards of course but if you have jets then the risk of a prop injury is removed entirely.”
Jet drives provide the Club with many other benefits besides additional safety. With a jet drive an RIB can spin in its own length, it can instantly stop and reverse direction, and there are no more concerns about shallow water. Because a jet drive has no lower unit extending below the hull, it can operate in water sometimes inaccessible for a propeller-driven outboard.
“As part of our sail training activities we regularly come ashore at a beach so now we can drive the RIB onto the sand without worrying about the risk of breaking anything,” Brendan said. “There’s no doubt that a jet-powered RIB handles differently, but our coaches have been getting the hang of it in 10 minutes so it’s not a concern at all. In fact, I’d say the jet improves the RIBs overall performance. I’m actually surprised they are not more widely used.”
For more information on Mercury jet drives go to www.mercurymarine.com