This month, we managed to get our hands on an inflatable built for the Sedibeng Municipality. With a few key specifications in mind, the Government decided that the Infanta 6.7 is the craft to send in when everyone else is running away. Dean Castle takes a closer look at this Infanta SRi to see whether this is the right craft for the job — or not…
Normally we don’t feature photos like these within the pages of this magazine. But just because she isn’t kitted out as we’re accustomed to, it doesn’t mean she’s not worth a look. The Infanta 6.7 SRi does come in a conventional format with all the seats, handles and helm as you might expect, but this Infanta has been built as a ‘dive duck’ for underwater divers of the Sedibeng Municipality, meaning that in the way its designed it’s pretty much a specialist piece of work.
There’s not much to this specific Infanta. In essence, in accordance with her application, you could seat four kitted divers on the bow seating area (which surrounds the wood-finished, oxygen tank holder) and still be comfortable. There’s further seating for one on the seat built onto the front of the helm.By opting for the traditional leisure design, the tank holder is removed and cushions fit neatly to provide a sun lounger with the option to install a cocktail table.
As you might imagine, an anchor locker can be found in the dedicated compartment in the bow and there’s more storage space below the surrounding seats. Moving aft, you’ll find you won’t have to tiptoe around the helm station as the passageway between the binnacle and pontoons is more than adequate. There’s further seating at the stern that allows you to comfortably seat an additional three passengers. Here, neat stainless steel rails trace the cushioning to give the feeling of security. The helm is surprisingly comfortable with the controls perfectly placed in what feels to me like just the right position. A lot of skippers nowadays tend to dismiss the idea of standing while driving, but I really must admit that I was more than happy and relaxed at the helm throughout the review. I think this is largely due to the cushioned support for the skipper, meaning he or she merely leans against it as opposed to standing straight, which can indeed be exhausting.
At the helm you’ll find a simplistic design, leaving you to customize the craft to your needs, and of course your budget. If I can gripe about one aspect of the craft as reviewed, albeit a small issue; there’s a cigarette lighter built into the helm, which has got me pretty puzzled. While it is great to be able to charge your cellphone in an emergency or plug in a 12-volt hand-held light, I’m worried that it leaves just a bit of room for an accident.
The Infanta 6.7 SRi was fitted with twin 90 HP Honda 4-Strokes. What I like about this specific Honda motor is that it packs a decent amount of punch, while remaining frugal as can be. These 1 496 cc (four cylinder) outboards are said to produce the full 90 horses at exactly 5 800 rpm. And I suppose that’s about the same speed which Ares runs – and he’s the Greek God of War… These Honda’s owe their power to the huge amount of technology packed into each one, and relies on each system to perform in the exact way they were designed. Systems such as the programmed Electronic Fuel Injection, Lean Burn control and BLAST all do their parts to ensure reliability, performance and efficiency. However, the big benefit of the Honda brand is the availability of VTEC – which synchronizes the lift and duration of the intake valves both at low and high rpm.
This yields a longer, flatter torque curve which means the engine produces its maximum power — no matter the speed. The ride of the Infanta is soft and smooth, considering a chop had started to pick up on the water’s surface. Even at her top speed of 37 knots (6 500 rpm), this craft was dancing down the Vaal River under control and safe as houses.
What’s more, getting up and going is pretty quick too, and the hole-shot of the craft was quick at 2.9 seconds onto the plane, even at the higher altitude. This Infanta handled really well and did some impressive corners left and right without cavitation. While I found she did ride a bit bow-proud, I suspect this is in anticipation of the weight you’ll load in the bow. I really did enjoy the design of the helm while skippering. Although there’s just a small windscreen fitted, it is pretty effective in reducing the wind factor, leaving a gentle breeze skipping over my face and ensuring I kept cool.