Skip to main content

Tiger on the Water

For me, the highlight of the 2017 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show was the chance I had to drive the Icelandic-built Rafnar 11-Meter in open water. As soon as we’d exited South Florida’s Hillsboro Inlet at the start of the festivities, Rafnar’s stateside rep Patrick Estebe stopped the boat, put the helm hard to port, suggested our Digital Editor John Turner and I “hang on,” panned and scanned for safety’s sake, and then abruptly firewalled the throttles, giving our two 250-horsepower Evinrude E-TEC G2 outboards the instantaneous juice. I was aghast! Attempting such a wild and crazy maneuver on just about any other boat—even, let’s say, a sweetly designed picklefork racer—would have meant we were toying with catastrophe.

But the Rafnar? With the sideways G forces of an amusement-park ride, no blowout or slide, and absolutely no bow rise, the darn thing made a turn that was as close to a hard-left as I’ve ever experienced on a boat. And then, in two heartbeats, we were blasting across the four-foot swell at approximately 40 knots, according to our onboard GPS. I was speechless, I gotta say, at least for a moment. And then I got really, really excited.

Video: Join Capt. Bill Pike on his wild ride in the video below:

   “You try it,” said Estebe, dismounting from the Rafnar’s saddle-like hydraulic helmseat. What ensued was one of the most esoteric boat-driving experiences I have ever had the chance to thoroughly enjoy. No matter where I aimed the nose of this catamaran-esque RIB with its U.S. patented “arc-of-circle” OK running surface, whether up-swell, down-swell, or side-swell, she simply zoomed along, never lifting her nose from her element, constantly maintaining the 40-knot top end or close to it, like she’d been sent for.

   “Holy Cripes!” I yelled as I pulled the sticks back at last. “This thing’s like a freakin’ tiger on the water.”

   “But a tame tiger,” corrected Estebe, who envisions modified Rafnars as megayacht tenders, “if you’re into tame.”