Tested by Capt. Chris KellyIf at first glance you think the Protector 28 looks like a Coast Guard or military-type vessel, you're right. She was originally developed for the New Zealand Coast Guard as a rough-water tender, and a few years ago, Howie Shiebler saw the boat in action during TV coverage of the America's Cup. This San Francisco businessman was so impressed--and so in need of a boat that could handle the rough chop of San Francisco Bay--he contacted the builder and today he owns Protector USA, the exclusive US importer for the Protector line of rigid bottom inflatables.While the 28 looks commercial, she is also well-suited for recreational performance boating. Starting aft, the cockpit sole comes standard with rubber "sure foot" padding that does a great job of keeping your feet planted, even when wet. Teak decking is an option here. Twin lockers on either side of the transom provide easy access to the priming bulbs for the outboards and battery switches, and a centerline cover pulls forward to reveal the oil reservoir tanks. The engines themselves--a pair of Yamaha 200-hp HPDIs on our test vessel--are protected from any dock incursions by a beefy stainless steel bracket. In keeping with her commercial roots, a stainless steel towing bitt is also standard here--great for towing skiers and wakeboarders.Moving forward, there are two helm seats with drop-down bolster bottoms just aft the high windshield, and trust me, you'll want to be standing and locked in to the seats if you're doing any kind of performance maneuvers as we did on test day (watch the video!)At the helm Protector allocates plenty of room to flushmount your choice of electronics, and our boat had three Yamaha digital displays--one for each engine and one for speed. Though the single-lever throttles (with in-handle trim switch) are located in a recessed box in the inwale, testing showed that was not an impediment for overall control.Below decks, you do have to duck down to get into the cabin, which provides welcome respite from a hot sun with two seven-foot long berths that can be used for stowage or taking naps. There are no overnighting amenities here, but there is a compact electric head in the cabin. Bring your own cooler for lunch and drinks storage.Moving up to the foredeck, you are once again reminded of the commercial origins of the Protector as you emerge to the bow through a 2' x 3'tinted "Armor plate" lexan-type hatch with no less than dog latches to keep it securely locked in place. Fully forward, there is an optional second towing bit as well as an anchor locker.Turning our attention now to performance, here's where this high-end RIB really stands out. We did our photoshoot by chasing a 55-foot Hatteras throwing a 4-5 foot wake as we ran straight into the wind and another 2-3 foot chop--perfect conditions for testing a RIB such as this. Shiebler actually pinned the throttles as he blasted us through the Hatteras' wake, and the boat knifed right through them like they weren't even there. Most imporantly, you never get the feeling that even rollers like this will somehow slide the boat sideways, and this is thanks in part to her strakes and deep-V bow. She delivers a soft landing upon re-entry from airborne, and it's tough to get any spray on the windshield, even when running the boat as hard as we did on test day. At the end of the day, I was treated to a wide-open-throttle 360-turn. The Protector carves initially into it, then slides a bit as the tubes hit the water, but this is an absolutely safe (but not recommended) maneuver to perform on this boat. She also showed incredible accelleration, going from zero to 30-mph in about 4 seconds! How's that for in-your-face performance?With a price tage starting well above $100,000, the Protector 28 is not for everyone. All in all, however, she's a very unique sportboat for those who want real performance and the ability to go out--and get home--in almost any weather. Applications that quickly come to mind include those who may live on islands and commute to the mainland (nice limo!), as a dependable tender to a large yacht, as a towing boat of course (Sea Tow International owns a few), and as a stand-alone sportboat for anyone who's looking for a super-smooth ride and high-quality construction.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Protector 28 Cabin Model is 53.3 mph (85.8 kph), burning 39.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 147.62 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Protector 28 Cabin Model is 35.8 mph (57.6 kph), and the boat gets 2.09 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.89 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 235 miles (378.2 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 200-hp Yamaha HPDI outboards.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!