The Cannes Boat Show is full of boats conjured into beautiful reality from the imaginations of high-end design houses - but few boats, however large or exclusive, possess the power to outdo the SACS Strider 18 in terms of sheer impact.
Now certainly, the SACS yard of Milan in Italy is responsible for some fairly commonplace craft. In fact, it builds a fleet of 20 models across three product lines (Sport, Individual and Top Class), including some relatively everyday hulls from as little as five metres in length. However, as the flagship of the nine-strong ‘Top Class’ fleet, the Strider 18 is designed to be just that bit more special than the boat next-door...
At 17 metres (56ft) in length, 5 metres (17ft) in the beam and around 19 tonnes in weight, it is a truly vast platform - and in addition to ten square metres of sunbathing space and seating for 22 people, it also offers the option of 2,400 horsepower of diesel grunt allied to Arneson surface drives for a top end in excess of 50 knots. In short, the SACS Strider 18 might be a RIB, but it’s on an altogether more theatrical and self-indulgent scale than most of us have ever seen before.
Open deck layout
Designed to enable fast, long-distance offshore cruising for you, your family and your friends, the Strider 18 is plainly configured to maximise the usability of its deck space. This centres around a lavish, leather-trimmed, four-man helm station, which is protected by a rigid Hard Top and equipped with a pair of lateral exits to take you out onto the side decks. Once there, you have the choice of three primary living areas, one at the stern, one in the cockpit and the other in the bow – and as you might expect, they are all extremely generous in their proportions.
In the stern section, you get a vast two-part sunpad above the engine bay. There’s also a garage and a davit back here, suitable for a small outboard-powered tender, plus a useful teak-lined walkway, which takes you from the swim platform between the sunbeds to the deepset cockpit amidships. Here, a large, twin-table dining arrangement is framed by wraparound seating on all sides, offering a lavish ten-man communal gathering area as safe and well appointed as any you are likely to see. However, if you want a change of scenery, you can head forward again - past the pleasantly raked helm structure to the bow deck, where a combination of forward and inward facing benches adds a further eight-man seating section to the Strider’s impressive upper-deck arrangement.
Below decks compromise
On any RIB, two of the most prohibitive flaws tend to involve lack of inboard space and shortage of genuine dry storage – and while the Strider manages to sidestep these endemic pitfalls by means of its sheer size, the use of space down below is neither as clever nor as thoughtful as I would like.
There are three key spaces down here – a master cabin in the V of the bow, a heads compartment to starboard and a guest cabin for three, with a single berth to starboard and a double to port. However, the bow layout on the foredeck of this boat means that, despite the enjoyable prevalence of predictably high-end Italian fabrics (hardwoods, leather and marble), the headroom down below is extremely tight. Natural light also struggles to find its way into the cabins and the result for the Skipper of the Strider 18 is a double berth that is a bit small, a bit awkward, a bit dark and (dare I say it) a bit depressing. In fairness, if I saw this space on a 22-foot cuddy, it would come across as perfectly adequate, but you could easily pay in excess of a million Euros for this boat, so when you head down below for a nap, you deserve something that is at least capable of putting a smile on your face.
Similarly, the three-berth aft cabin makes little sense on a craft of such a generous scale and such a premium price. It might be attractively appointed, but sleeping for three in a single room makes it feel more like a hotel dormitory than a bespoke guest room. I would therefore like to see a simple fore and aft bulkhead separating this cabin into a pair of convertible twins, taking the sleeping capacity to six and generating much more in the way of privacy and versatility. In addition, I might also choose to sacrifice a bit of furniture on the upper deck by opting for the raised sunbathing platform instead of the forward seating area. By doing so, the roof in the master cabin can then elevated by three feet or so, generating a much brighter, more open and more relaxing space down below.
By the builder’s own very frank admission, the Strider 18 is designed upon the laudable guiding criteria of “charm and exaggeration” – and when you see this boat in the flesh, that could hardly be more evident. As a 22-man RIB with 50-knot performance and all the unashamed bravado you could want, it is a worthy exponent of the Italians’ infamous predilection for automotive excess at the occasional expense of clear-thinking pragmatism. However, if you like the look of the Strider 18, it might be worth waiting a while. As I was leaving the show, I heard a whisper that this current 18-metre flagship will shortly be knocked down the pecking order by an even more ambitious 22-metre craft. Now that really would be something to turn heads...
SACS Strider 18 Specifications
Fuel capacity: 2 x 980 litres
Water capacity: 250 litres
People capacity: 22
Sleeping capacity: 5 (two berths)
Engines: twin 800 - 1,200hp Man diesels
Drives: Arneson Surface Drives
Top speed: 40 - 52 knots
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