# 01 In the beginning …

Tony Le ElliottBellows

hotRIBS sent me a RIBster Profile to fill in and I got to think that perhaps a little history on the RIB might not go amiss. So I thought that I might jot down a few facts to tell you, illustrious surfers, just how things got started 50 years ago. I have added a few words on how things are going now and a bit of advice for when choosing a RIB.

I was a late developer when it came to learning to swim, I was twelve, it was 1951, and I had a very healthy respect for the sea and still have. God help those that don’t have this respect. I was given my first inflatable back in 1947 when war surplus goods were being flogged off and about eight children ended up at Blakeney with these orange, one-man survival dinghies, all paddling like stink, and that must be the first-ever recorded inflatable boat race.

In 1965, seven years into what was supposed to be a military career, I go the urge to build a pure conventional inflatable. It was 14ft and not a success. The inflatable collar was OK and turned out just as I had planned, but the floorboards were a disaster and the transom height was about 30 inches!

I sold it to a diver from Dover for £110. However, like many boat builders, I was always thinking of the next boat before I had finished the one I was currently building. The man from Dover was happy and whilst I was over the moon with his dosh the boat was a mean ‘dubber-duck’. In a swell, the floorboards would open up and take your leg off at the ankle. There was little rigidity, so the nose would submarine in a following sea, getting bent backwards under the hull! The speed was not fantastic.