Watersports with your RIB

Despite the lifting of many of the COVID restrictions, leisure time abroad remains uncertain.  This year we’re all going to be looking at how we can have the most fun in the UK.

A RIB boat is a great way to get out on the Solent and explore the coastline and local harbours, but if you want to supercharge excitement levels for any of your adrenaline starved crew then watersports should put a smile on their faces.  Gone are the days when it was just water skiing, today there is a plethora of speed-related activities you can organise for off the back of your boat.

Ballistic 6.5m RIBChoosing the right RIB for your summer shouldn’t just be about how big you can get the wake for wakeboarding or how fast you can ski.  To keep everyone happy from children to adults it is worth carefully thinking through what is the right RIB for you. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself:

  1. How big do you need the boat to be? Unless you’re only going to be doing short hops then you need to plan for people to be able to store belongings and to be able to stand up and move about the boat.
  2. What activities would you like to do on the boat? Are you planning to use the boat for skiing, wakeboarding, snorkelling and scuba diving? All of these activities require kit to be carried on the boat which will need to be safely stowed. 
  3. Are you a strictly fair weather boater? If you’re only going to be using your boat in calm waters then you can go for a slightly smaller boat.
  4. How are you going to store your boat? For convenience, you may have already decided you are going to keep your boat in the Drystack or maybe you want to have a boat that is easy to tow so you can store the boat at home and easily transport it to different locations?

The right boat for…

Water Skiing

You need a boat that can accelerate quickly to give the person skiing a good chance of getting up on the skis. The boat also needs to be able to stay in a straight line whilst creating the minimum wake.  Boats with a wide surface area touching the water are good for skiing as the wider area touching the water enables the boat to plane more quickly whilst keeping the amount of wake to the minimum.

Boats with inboard, direct-drive engines are the best boats for skiing because:

  1. Direct-drive engine – there is no gearing on a direct drive engine so more of the power immediately pushes against the water providing better acceleration.
  2. Propellor position – if the propellor is underneath the hull it means the boat can plane faster, and the closer the propellor is to the centre of the boat the easier it is to stay on a straight line.

In reality, most people use outboards because they are cheaper and easier to maintain.


For wakeboarding, you need a boat that can create water launch pads to help get the wakeboard up into the air. Ideally, the boat will be a v-drive layout.  This layout means the engine weight is towards the aft of the boat and provides a larger wake. It’s also easier for wakeboarders if they have a higher tow point.  A tower or rack enables the wakeboarder to be pulled up onto the water more easily. For new wakeboarders, the A-Frame makes it easier to hold on and for those at the next level, the angle of the A-Frame gives you more of a chance to get your wakeboard out of the water and into that all-important air space. If you are serious about your wakeboarding you should look at a boat where you can change how much ballast is in the boat.  Basically, by adding water and therefore weight to ballast tanks you can increase the size of the wake.

From Ballistic RIBs there is a great article on all the watersports you can do from a RIB.

Boats for Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

For snorkelling it’s quite straightforward, you simply need a boat that can go into shallow waters and that people can easily get off and on the boat.  For scuba diving, there is a lot more equipment and some of it is heavy. You will need space on the boat to properly store the equipment whilst the boat is moving and you’ll also need room on the boat to put on and take off equipment. RIBs are popular for both snorkelling and scuba diving because they are usually easy to get into and out of the water.


Jetboats are driven through the water by a jet of water ejected from the back of the boat.  Jetboats usually sit high on the water, which means they plane very easily with minimal wake, and at the same time, they are highly manoeuvrable and can be quickly brought to a stop.  The downside is they can be difficult to steer in a straight line at very slow speeds. Because Jetboats have fewer moving parts than traditional outboards they are a safer boat when there are people in the water and for this reason, they are known to be great for towing people on inflatables.

At Trafalgar Wharf and RIBs For Sale we have extensive experience of launching, storing, buying and selling RIBs. We’re a friendly team with a passion for boating and we’re always pleased to share our knowledge. Contact us.

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