Osprey Inflatables Viper
Review by Paul Mahy
Salcombe was the setting for my first test of the Osprey range and I
was looking forward to it. Famed for its quaint location and feared for
its bar, I had visions of long rolling swells and seas to get stuck into.
So, I duly got stuck into the world famed rite of glass lifting the
to appease the Gods of course.
Apparently I appeased a little too much as the following morning revealed sunshine
normally reserved for June and a sea pulling off a convincing impression of a
At 6.5 metres, the Osprey is a popular size. Her tubes are grey with
bright yellow flashing, a black rubbing strake runs from fore to aft. This
boat is far from looking dull. The tubes look smart and neat set off
lines and grab handles port and starboard.
All this, on the white hull, gives the boat a fresh appearance. A double "A" frame
encompasses the transom,poised on which is a 150 hp Mariner Optimax. On the non-slip
deck there"s seating for six. There are four pod seats directly behind the console
and a two-man bench seat on the front.
Storage is found in spaces under the seat bases, as well as behind and in front
of the console. There is an anchor locker in the bow and even more storage space
the console top that opens up revealing a deep storage space.
No effort has been spared on the hull either. Weighing in at 480kg, she has a
very substantial build. During construction, the mould is double gelled, ready
for the first layup which is of 2.5 oz chopped strand matting. The layup is a
2.5 oz woven roving sandwiched between two 1.5 oz chopped strand layers and the
third layup is simply a repeat cycle of the sandwich layer.
Extra strength is found by the placing of ply stringers running along the spray
rails, after which a series of bulkheads then run every half metre starting eight
inches from the transom. All in all a very strong hull. Having heard the tech
stuff, we then quietly left Salcombe behind as we headed out to sea and opened
her up. The power surged on and we popped onto the
plane quickly. I throttled back to maintain a good planing speed and
then threw the helm over for a few turns.
She stuck to the water well and I gradually increased the power, weaving her
from lock to lock. I was surprised at how stable and sure footed she remained.
Thanks to careful planning, this craft actually achieves 6.5 metres of boat length.
In other craft the overall length includes the tube. On the Osprey, the sheer
in the bow actually forms the bow, with little protrusion from the tube itself.
Therefore the actual boat length isn"t increased falsely. The console was comfortable,
as were the controls. Sea star hydraulic steering competently delivered helm
and the Optimax provided bags of power.
Once again the maximum engine rating was above the 150hp we tested at
200hp, but we achieved an easy 55 mph with the 150 hp, which for me would
be the better option of the two. There were apologies in the form of
the lack of windscreen.
The console provided some deflection, be it limited. I am told that will change
imminently. As for the navigation set-up, it was simple enough and user friendly
for both driver and navigator. Our test craft had a waterproof Navico Axis VHF
and a Garmin 235 GPS sounder, both within easy reach.
Gary Mirley of Boat a Jetski World has taken on the Osprey Inflatables UK and
Ireland dealership. Now Gary is a bit of a dark horse. Not many people would
suspect that underneath that smooth exterior lurks a man with a sadistic taste
for speed and rubber! But far from emulating a politician"s private life, Gary"s
preferences come as a result of an extensive ribbing background and there"s not
a lot about any sort of ribbing that Gary hasn"t had first hand experience
of. Ten years of cruising and racing with BIBOA led to a five year
stint on the race committee, add that to numerous years of sailing.
All in all, the Osprey displayed a good all round package. Designed to be a RIB,
she performs as such providing safety and fun all in the same boat. I liked the
way she tracked through the sea, although it was a real disappointment not to
find any sort of swell, wave, or wake that could even encourage the hull to part
company with the surface. Having said that, all the indications pointed to the
fact that she will behave very well in poor conditions. In fact, Osprey will
be taking part in most of the endurance races this year.