HBI Inflatables and Hunt Yachts have created the Hunt HBI 30 Center console, a boat with a RIB construction and a yacht-grade finish. If you ever wondered what you’d get by cross-breeding the marine military-industrial complex with boating’s high society, just take a look at this unlikely yet attractive creation.
Unlike most rigid bottom inflatables, this one’s a serious fashion statement with eye-catching details like all-teak decking, carbon-fiber accents at the helm, a deep blue collar, and a full glass enclosure at the console. You want it to entertain as well as it looks? There’s an optional “cocktail module,” with a refrigerator and bar.
The Hunt HBI is highly customizable and comes in a wide range of power options. (Read the conversation Boats.com published last spring with Hunt Yachts President Peter Van Lancker. here) The boat I played with at the Annapolis Boat Show had a pair of 225-hp Yamaha four-stroke outboards slung on the transom, but you can choose a single 350 Yamaha, twin 250’s, a 370-hp. jack-shafted Volvo-Penta D6 diesel inboard, or a 435-hp Volvo coupled to an UltraJet 305 jet drive. With the standard powerplants the boat breaks 42-mph, and by upping the ante, HBI says you can hit 50. And with a 150-gallon fuel capacity, you can run this boat for just about as long as you like.
Run it, you will—and in big seas, if you choose. The RIB design provides an incredibly smooth ride, and this 6,500 pound hull was originally designed for the America’s Cup tenders. The 28 foot, nine inch hull is solid glass, decks are cored with PVC foam, and stringers are foam-cored E-glass. A vinylester skin coat caps off the fiberglass construction. But the most interesting construction feature lies hidden from the eyes, underneath that seven-chamber inflatable collar. You can get a glimpse of it by standing behind the boat, and looking at the small wing-like structure under the aft end of the tube. That’s the end of a full-length extruded chine, on which the tube rests. By building this on, instead of merely mounting the collar on the fiberglass gunwale, this boat essentially has a massive spray rail ringing the decks. That means the ride is not only smooth, it’s also unusually dry.
Some RIBS function well, but have few creature comforts. Not so, on the Hunt HBI. The console has a stand-up head with six feet of headroom and a freshwater sink, there’s an insulated 24-quart cooler built in under the forward console seat, and the bowdeck can be fitted out with horse-shoe shaped seating over stowage compartments. There’s also a huge stowage area under the aft seat. And as you’d expect on any other Hunt, cushions are hand-stitched, custom-channeled vinyl—you even get to choose the contrasting piping.
So, what’s the down-side? You’ll need to drop at least a quarter mil to ride home in the Hunt HBI. But we think it’s worth it—the marine military-industrial complex may never be the same, and boating’s high society certainly won’t be, either.