Atlantic 850

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The Atlantic 850 is no ordinary boat. Built for speed and comfort, this RIB relies on some decent math to make her as exceptional as she is. Paired with just twin Suzuki 140 HP’s, this boat is all “3, 2, 1, GO!”

There’s one fundamental to this boat – and you’re either going to want to read more or you’re simply going to turn the page – but before you decide, let me explain why the makers of this boat are a type of mad scientist practising the dark art. This boat is designed to run on hydrofoils; and to make sure we’re all of the same understanding, these are high grade stainless steel (SAF 2205) blades or foils in the tunnel of the hull which create lift (like an aeroplane wing in the water) and are designed to soften the ride and increase efficiency.

Hydrofoils aren’t a new type of technology; it’s just not widely used – probably because when it’s not done right, it turns the boat into a circus. So, this month, we check out a boat which has the foils done right – on the Atlantic 850 RIB.

Deck layout
The 850 is a big rigid inflatable. In fact, make that VERY big. For those working in feet, that’s 28 of them! Even so, she’s not particularly heavy for a craft this size – her total weight on the trailer is 2 050 kg dry, meaning you can get away with towing her with a Toyota Hilux 4×4.

The Atlantic 850 as reviewed is kitted out in the standard layout – but it is locally built in the Western Cape so should you really wish, you could request a few different options on your own 850.

Starting aft, there’s a neat bench seat for three passengers and sufficient back support. The cushioning on the base lifts to reveal some packing space for lifejackets or even a cooler box. The centre console style helm station allows passengers to easily walk around the boat. It’s equipped with the usual accessories, such as gauges, throttle box, and your choice of fish finder/GPS or VHF toys. The skipper and co-pilot get some pretty comfy seating on a jockey-type seat which offers you support in an almoststanding position.

RIB’s tend to not have much storage space onboard – but get set for the 850’s trick. The whole front section of the helm, including the seat, lifts to give great access to everything in the stowage – no more unpacking cupboards through a tiny door! The access is a little heavy to lift at the moment, but gas struts will be added for ease of use.

Further upfront, you’ll find seating for three passengers with stowage capacity for narrower items underneath. The only add-on missing that I’d like to see is the ability to install in a table of sorts on the bow.

I must say that there was one thing in particular that really surprised me on the 850. The rigging of electronic, fuel pipes, controls, etc., is all done to such a high level that it’s actually a bit of a pity that you’ll never get to see it.

Hydrofoils have been an extremely controversial bit of engineering, but you really do have to ride on them for yourself to know what they do. It’s easy enough to say this, but someone that doesn’t like how they perform was probably on a boat done incorrectly – or just hasn’t tried it themselves, which is usually the case. Just so that we’re 100% clear, you can’t simply have hydrofoils added to any boat, it has to be designed for them.

I’ve been familiar with hydrofoils for quite some time, and I must say, they can make quite a difference in the ride category – and there’s only one way to tell if they’re working properly on this boat and that’s to give them a go!


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