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Demand for RIBs runs hot

This year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show was a “pleasant surprise” for Neil Webster, Managing Director of Sirocco Marine, specialists in Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) and exhibitor at the show for 20 years.

Neil Webster, Slava and Mykola Rodionov

“We entered the show with no expectations, given the economic uncertainty and high levels of competition in our segment, but we were very happy with the results,” he said, adding that the upper end of the sailing and motor yacht sales drove a lot of sales and leads.

“The top end is still buoyant,” Neil observed. “This drove the sale of the larger, more luxurious and highly-optioned RIBs, including the BRIG Eagle 8 and 10 and the larger Zodiacs, and the 460 Williams Jet Tenders which were likely going to 80 and 100-foot motor yachts.”

The fine weather drew the crowds and Neil reported satisfaction with the quality of boat show visitors this year.

“We caught up with customers past and present, and there were visitors from every state at the show. Our Melbourne dealer sold several boats, and we were quite happy across all the brands.”

On display were 30 boats from BRIG, Zodiac and Williams Jet tenders, along with Sirocco-branded RIB tenders.

Slava Rodionov, co-founder and CEO of BRIG, which manufactures in Ukraine, attended SCIBS 2024 with his wife and son, meeting owners and informing them of the brand’s continued production, despite the challenges of manufacturing during war.

Sirocco Marine has been Australian dealer for BRIG since 2006 and received the BRIG International Dealer of the Year Award for five consecutive years.

Slava, a regular visitor to SCIBS and the Sydney International Boat Show since 2008, who then had to cease visiting Australia because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said it was exhilarating to be back.

During the pandemic, from 2020, Slava said the BRIG management was preparing to put off staff, but their fears were unfounded.

“Business was rocketing! We had to triple production to keep up with orders from 2020 to 2022.”

The Russian invasion which began 24 February 2022 impacted the factory’s production, but they are back and more determined to keep delivering BRIG models to international markets.

“We are very lucky that we have no problem with parts supply and good relations with suppliers of parts and materials,” continued Slava. “There is a lot of goodwill there. We have a good reputation with all our suppliers.”

Along with BRIG, Zodiac, Williams and Sirocco-branded RIBs, Sirocco Marine displayed a neat day boat from the Netherlands, the Sirocco 730i.

The 7.3-metre vessel boasts an inboard diesel engine, offering owners more economical, low maintenance, family-friendly cruising.

Slava Rodionov, Ryan Slater and Neil Webster

Ryan Slater, Director of Sirocco Marine Queensland said the response to the Sirocco 730i attracted a lot of interest and praise for its “traditional looks”.

“It’s such a pretty boat, compared to other open day boats. People were also impressed with the new Honda 350 horsepower engine which launched at SCIBS 2024.

“Another positive was the line-up of 2024 BRIG models, and seeing Slava back here for the first time in a few years,” Ryan added.

“Sunday was the strongest day for us this year, compared to Thursdays traditionally. Then we had a strong week post-show with deals done and on-water trials.

“The Sirocco range of RIB tenders made in Ukraine were popular, with quite a few sales. We’re looking forward to more in Sydney!”

Sirocco Marine will exhibit at the 2024 Sydney International Boat Show in the ICC, 1 to 4 August 2024.