21 Dec Four words to describe 2018: as exciting as ever!
Some things never change! And truer words were never spoken when it comes to describing a year in the life of TEAM REDBAY.
Every winter we say that we are going to rest our development talents for a season and enjoy building what we have, but it never seems to work that way! 2018 was as busy as ever and saw us deliver 2 completely new models!
The first new model produces was the new Stormforce 8.4 Expedition and was developed in partnership with longstanding customer and friend of TEAM REDBAY, Neil McCann. It was to be his third boat from the range and he had a very clear picture of what he wanted. To put it simply, Neil had the desire to replicate the comforts of his campervan in an Stormforce Expedition 8.4! He arrived at TEAM REDBAY HQ with his recently purchased van and asked Gary and Owen to make that into an 8.4! As a busy developer in Belfast, he wanted a boat that he could jump into at a moment’s notice and use to go get away from it all and go ‘wild camping’.
We came across significant challenges fitting the luxuries of a modern campervan into a RIB, but it is a challenge that we face most days. ‘Ornella’ is a stunning boat with a toilet/shower, hot/cold water systems, a galley with a diesel stove, a double berth forward, a single berth aft, internal and external dining areas, swivel comfort seats and an AV system including TV and DVD.
The 8.4 Expedition definitely breaks new ground in terms of comfort on board a boat of this size, but the design is obviously appealing as we have already booked 2 orders for 2019.
The 2nd development project of the 2018 season was the new Stormforce 1150 which I am sure none of you reading this have missed; with its sharp lines and stunning looks, it has been a real triumph of design and ingenuity. In truth, it has been a 4-way collaboration between the Redbay design office, McCollam Marine, and the initial customers, Anthony Best and John Brennan. We have always been lucky to have a loyal and committed customer base and we will continue to develop our models to meet customer desire.
With almost 100 Stormforce 11 boats in service and a design dating back to 2001, we knew in our hearts that we needed a refresh and we just had to find the customers with the desire to try something different and take a leap of faith.
In terms of functionality, the boat, in our eyes, is almost perfect. It has been described as punching well above its weight in terms of seakeeping and handling, so the design improvements needed were mainly going to be in terms of styling and aesthetics.
After countless discussions, a design brief was eventually drawn up and after the initial edits dropped on to the cutting room floor. Then, a very pleasing and stylish design quickly came to life in November 2017.
Next, came the challenge of building it! We had tasked the team with plugging, moulding and building a new model in just 7 months which truth be told, took a very understanding customer and 9 months! But in early August ‘Rocket’ took to the sea helmed by its new owner Anthony Best and it received plaudits from all who were lucky enough to get up close. The performance matched exactly that of the Stormforce 11; achieving 42 knots on initial sea-trials with the Yanmar 8LV-370 engine package and the design features were described as ‘groundbreaking’.
With one under our belt it was time to crack on with 1150 No.2, and this was very unique challenge. John and Adam Brennan had previously owned a Stormforce 7.4 and after a number of attempts to try and find a boat on the market to meet their needs, they realized that the boat did not exist. John had always admired the Stormforce 11 but fancied something with a softer interior and rounder edges. Jump to October 2017 and after a conversation and a design scribble with Redbay Boats, John said ‘lets do this!’.
Fast Forward to November 2018 and ‘Dromquinna’, the most stylish Stormforce to ever roll off the line, was born. John and Adam were heavily involved in every detail; from layout to materials to finish and worked closely with us to produce this very special boat.
With all the development going on through 2018, it is amazing that we had time to build any production models! But as usual, we like to eek every bit of energy from the Redbay engine and through the year we produced 19 boats which were a mix of Stormforce 650’s, 7.4’s, 8.4’s 950’s, a couple of 11 metres, and not forgetting a 1250.
The 1250 was commissioned by the Better Moments guys up in Svalbard which is at 78 degrees North and well within the artic circle. This was the 3rd boat commissioned by the Better moments team and by far the most interesting yet. It was based on our demonstrator boat Corryvreckan, albeit with one very significant design tweak; instead of our favoured stern-drive package, the boat was installed with larger 550 Hp engines on V gear boxes and Clements stern gear. The hull had to be modified to incorporate a tunnel to allow for the large diameter propellers and the top mould was adjusted to take the larger engine package. The efforts were worth it as the boat preformed beyond expectation.
‘Glacialis’ was customized to cope with the sub-zero temperatures and ice that can be expected daily, something that we do not encounter in Redbay and certainly do not fully understand. The bow had to be re-enforced and have a stainless protector plate fitted to offer protection from floating ice – a real and potential hazard for a standard GRP hull.
More amazing than the stunning new all black boat was the fact that once commissioned the owners jumped into it and sailed it on its own bottom from Redbay HQ all the way to Norway. The 2500 mile passage plan included a North Sea crossing and a 500 mile stretch of open Artic Ocean from Tromso to Svalbard. One can only but admire the gusto of Nikklas, the skipper, taking on such a challenge in a brand-new boat and one can only but appreciate that it takes a special type of boat to complete such a passage.
With ‘Glacilais’ delivered in June, it was back to basics and with great pleasure we delivered a raft of 650 and 7.4 sports boats for a number of very happy customers. We are often asked if we see the smaller boats as a distraction or annoyance. In truth, it is the total opposite; we get great pleasure from building our grass roots designs and seeing the enjoyments that they give to first time boaters.
After such a momentous year you would think that we might sit back and rest on our laurels through 2019, but not TEAM REDBAY. We are already 50% of the way through the most complex and technically challenging Stormforce 1650 build to date. ‘Lady Kate’ is has been commissioned as a Luxury version of the storm proof 1650. Weighing in at 25 tonnes, it is being installed with twin 900 Hp Volvo IPS systems which will push the boat to a speed of 40 knots. With sleeping accommodation for six persons, this will be the ultimate Expedition boat for an owner who wants to venture further than most would dream off. ‘Lady Kate’ will have a state of the art Volvo engine package, Mastervolt power and Garmin navigation systems on board and will push the boundaries of what a RIB boat can do anywhere. We highly anticipate that March 2019 will be a totally new chapter in the Redbay history books – watch this space!
Finally, we would like to thank all our customers old and new for their continued support and belief in our product, it is our pleasure to build what are very special boats for the most amazing people. Our passion is a product of your enthusiasm so keep up the good work, keep boating and above all, be safe.
Wishing you a great year afloat in 2019.