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An acronym standing for Rigid Inflatable Boat. The origins of these fast, seaworthy craft, constructed of inflated rubber and powered by outboard engines, go back to the rubber inflatable craft of the Second World War (1939–45). During the 1950s improved rubber technology allowed for a more traditional boat shape to be constructed and for more powerful engines to be mounted. Around the same time a department of Atlantic College in west Wales, which used inflatables as safety boats for dinghy racing, started bonding sheets of plywood to the outside bottom of the inflatables to prevent excessive wear and tear. Experiments soon showed that altering an inflatable by adding plywood gave a more comfortable, and much faster, ride; and by the 1970s further development had incorporated the skills of yacht designers Don Shead and Ray Hunt, whose powerboat designs were well known for their seaworthiness at high speeds. Nowadays, a RIB's V-shaped keel is usually made from GRP. They are used by the armed forces of several nations, by the offshore oil and gas industries, by lifesaving organizations like the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, for diving, and for many other recreational purposes. In 2003 an 8.8-metre (29-ft) RIB won the Round Britain race in a world-record time of 33 hours, 11 minutes.Jones, C., Rigid Inflatable Boats (1992).

Subjects: Maritime History.

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