The latest offering from Avon Inflatable is a rugged little beast that behaves like a pump action shotgun. Fast out of the hole and once up and running ‘ thanks to the excellent cushioning effect generated by the rigid inflatable hull ‘ she handles the rough stuff like a surf rescue rubber ducky.
The 490 is the largest model in the Avon Sea Sport range, which combine a sophisticated rigid-inflatable craft with excellent performance and an impressive array of luxury standard inclusions for a vessel of this style. There are four models in the Sea Sport range ‘ 3.2m, 3.6 and 4m ‘ that have all established reputations as stylish, performance tenders.
When designing this large Sea Sport Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), Avon envisaged that it would still be able to rest neatly on the transom, or bridge deck of a 70ft luxury cruiser, but with optional features such as teak laid decks and stern steps that would elevate this RIB to the luxury tender class.
Features such as a boarding pole, full instrumentation, stern stowage compartment with a light and electronic telescopic stern navigation light, help set the 490 Sea Sport apart from you average tiller driven inflatable tender. But even if you don’t have the luxury cruiser itching for a stylish tender to hang from its davits, you could still be in the market for a 490.
This top notch RIB is also a standalone open RIB that’s sure to turn heads when you nudge her onto a beach on a sunny summers day. And you never know, onlookers at the beach might be fooled into thinking that you actually ‘do’ have a massive motoryacht anchored out yonder.
As far as a history lesson goes, Avon was originally a British company, but now it’s part of the group that incorporates Zodiac. But Avon consider their craft to be elite RIBs. The tubes are made from Hypalon, which offer a lifetime of good looks, plus they are covered by a 10-year transferable fabric guarantee.
But back to this test. The weather on the day was mixture of gusting winds and scattered rain out on a busy Sydney Harbour. But after several months of no rain and raging drought, we weren’t about to complain about the looming weather. We based ourselves around the entrance to the Lane Cove River to escape the gusty southerly and took the Avon 490 for a burl up the harbour, then out around Cockatoo Island and Balmain.
This boat could really go and was a snitch to handle. I confidently pushed the 100 horses mounted on her transom to the limit. And even sudden bursts of harbour chop caused no surprises. If anything, I would have liked to spend more time at the helm, just for the fun of it, but Adam from All Inflatables at Brookvale who supplied the test boat, quickly pointed out that after our test the boat was to be delivered to a client. Don’t worry, we were gentle on her.
Her top speed with the outboard leg at three quarter trim was around 38knots (44mph), but the new Yamaha four-stroke cruised beautifully at around 4200rpm doing 25 knots. But what really grabbed the team’s attention was that it took next to no time to feel comfortable driving this craft. The wheel and throttle position were ideal and visibility was second to none.
By its nature, the rigid inflatable hull, combined with plenty of seat padding, delivers one of the smoothest rides around for a craft of this size. There was plenty of chop to mess about in and provided you can hang on there was no stopping this boat. There was enough weight in the hull to keep her nose from lifting in a headwind, while at low speeds she could only be described as super stable.
The craft has five independent air chambers, so a hole in one won’t sink her and there’s enough beam to allow everyone to sit inside the craft. This is why the stainless steel grab handles are designed to be used from inside the craft. This boat was also packed with features such as large bow and stern storage areas and a long floor ski locker.
But quality doesn’t come cheap and this little package of air, plastic, metal and wood will set you back a around $51,000 as tested, give or take a few bucks. But if its style and performance you’re looking for, then the new Sea Sport 490 is a package well worth considering.
The Avon 490 Sea Sport Deluxe was powered by a four-stroke 100hp Yamaha outboard. The 414kg hull was light enough for the four-stroke engine to deliver nimble results, which confirmed that the 100hp power option was a top choice. The rig planed quickly at 3000rpm, while with the leg at about half trim, maximum rpm was right where it should have been suggesting that the 19′ prop was also ideal for this rig.