Protector Boats boldly run into rough seas that would keep many weathered boaters home. The New Zealand builder has been manufacturing high-performance rigid inflatable boats for the Coast Guard since the mid-90s, but with proven seakeeping ability, the boats gained worldwide recognition and crossed over into a range of other markets.
Brian Peterson, co-founder of Any Water Yachts, one of two Protector dealers in the U.S., recalls one of his more interesting sales. “A very large commercial fishing company out of Alaska was buying the boats because the competition was listening in on their VHF about where to reach their fishing boats,” Peterson says. “They bought Protectors so they could put their guys on them, and instead of using the VHF they could just run to the fishing captains and communicate with them verbally. Those guys slept on these boats out in the Gulf of Alaska.”
Protector boats are meant to withstand large seas at speed, and the secret is in the hull design. The boats have extremely deep V-hulls that slice through the water, and the tube set takes the beating from the ocean. “What Protector, in my opinion, has done exceptionally better than any other RIBs out there is actually design the boat around the tubes,” says Peterson. “On the majority of the bigger RIBs in the marketplace, you can tell the boat was built and then the tubes were attached after the fact.”
Protector offers two lines of vessels: their Chase line of center consoles and their Targa line with hardtop cabins. The Targa line includes four models ranging from 31 to 41 feet, and the entire fleet recently underwent a complete redesignabove the waterline to improve upon its 20 years of proven success. Peterson and Any Water Yachts co-founder Andrew Carleton have been urging Protector to put more amenities on the boats since they began working with them more than 15 years ago, and although the company does not like to put anything on board that cannot withstand rough weather, they followed their advice to soften the interior and upgrade some other features.
Protector started by making new molds for the areas above the waterline. They made the windscreens significantly stronger, offset and deepened the companionway to provide more headroom in the cabin and give the owner more real estate at the dash, and added cup holders and other creature comforts. Protector also made a slight change to the hulls on the larger Targas.
Although Protector did not touch the Targa line’s running surface, the upgrades should slightly improve the ride. “They increased the overall stiffness of the cabin structure where it connects to the hull,” says Carleton, “so the boat is going to have a different character that will make it a smoother ride overall and enhance the toughness and durability so it’s even stronger than it was before.”
Peterson and Carleton ran one of the first prototypes in New Zealand, and Carleton reports that it “handled amazing, absolutely amazing.” They were running the boat full throttle at 70-plus knots on a calm day when they encountered 4-foot wakes, which the boat cut through easily without slowing down.” —Carly Sisson
Displ. 9,500 lbs.
Fuel 177 gal.
Power 2/400-hp Mercury Verados
Cruise Speed 28 knots
Top Speed 56 knots
Standard Horsepower 800