Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Sealegs – The new concept in amphibious RIBS

Published on March 17, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

“I love that moment, it’s real magic, when you’re on the ground there’s some turmoil, we feel substance, and then we’re in liquid. It’s an extraordinary feeling when you move from one state to the other”.

This is none other than superhuman designer Philippe Starck commentating on his Sealegs experience for French TV.

Sealegs is a New-Zealand-based company, which launched in 2003 to cater to both recreational and professional (coastguards, military) markets.

Its amphibious RIBs have sold like hot cakes across the globe (there are more than 950 in existence so far) as they have motorised, retractable, steerable wheels which make launching and retrieval child’s play.

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With 6.1m, 7.1m and 7.7m recreational models available, plus a Sealegs designed by Starck for Starck, these special boats are fashioned for family fun and adventure and are ideally suited to young children, who are safer inside the boat during launching and retrieving, and for older people who find it tough to manhandle boats onto trailers and ramps. In fact Jean-Baptiste Salmon of Sealegs Europe said “we have customers age 65 who thank me for adding five more years to their boating life”.

Research says that Sealegs owners use their boat, on average, up to ten times more than they officially thought.

Hardly surprising. Its land-water capabilities offer great freedom with no more offshore anchoring, no more boat beaching and no wet feet.

Initially, Sealegs sold three quarters of its product in Australia and New Zealand, mainly to those lucky enough to have waterfront homes and who relished the fast launch as it allowed them to seize small windows of opportunity of good weather to go for a blast across the water. Now the balance has shifted with around 65% of sales made elsewhere.

Sealegs USA is doing wonderfully, as is Jean-Baptiste’s territory of Europe, in particular France – where Monsieur Starck uses his.

 

Starck’s French TV interview took place in the French oyster capital of Cap Ferret, to the west of Arcachon Bay off Bordeaux, an area where the tide recedes dramatically. His Sealegs allows him to be free. “It’s so as not to be hindered by the tide. Tides are wonderful, they are the most beautiful things in the world – except for when you want to get from one place to the other.

This amphibious vehicle, I’ve tried all of them, I’ve bought all of them, but nothing worked like it. It means you can leave home at low tide and come back at high tide. This is freedom!”

You could also imagine commercially minded beachside bars and restaurants, such as Nikki Beach and Ibiza’s famous Blue Marlin, using a Sealegs to keep their VIPs dry ship to shore, the amphibious RIBs also make formidable superyacht tenders. Speaking of VIPs, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used a Sealegs during their 2014 New Zealand Royal Tour – if it’s good enough for royalty…

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In-water, a Sealegs is driven and used as normal with a responsive hull delivering a smooth top speed of 74km/h. On approach to shore the magic starts.

Simply throttle back to idle, tilt up slightly, hit a button and deploy the three retractable ‘legs’. They’re down in about ten seconds and then the Sealegs can be driven ashore (up to 25-degree grades of sand, rocks, mud) at a more-than-satisfactory 7km/h. The front of the RIB lowers to an easy clamber-off level for disembarkation. It’s a shame Sealegs aren’t street legal…

Sealegs aren’t cheap, priced in excess of 100,000 euros for basic models, visit www.sealegs.com to find your nearest dealer.

Mallorca-based www.easyboats.com has a second-hand 7.1 metre for sale in immaculate condition. Same owner from new (June 2013) she has 60 hours on the clock and is priced at 150,000 euros (tax paid).

To see a Sealegs in action watch this video.

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