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White knuckle water ride in Paphos August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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Hold onto more than your hats for a fast paced, adrenalin pumping ride on the water

Imagine the bounciest bouncy castle or a bucking bronco that rears into the air partnered with a level of speed that makes the fillings in your teeth quiver – welcome to the latest adrenalin soaked water experience currently on offer.

Tiger Boats is a British owned operation that promises (and certainly delivers) a white-knuckle experience second to none, using two fully-licensed, rigid, inflatable boats that are currently the fastest mode of water transport on offer for thrill seekers.

Powered by a 450 twin 6cc 225 horsepower Yamaha engine these 8.5 m long boats have been specially adapted to indulge the inner speed freak of 14 passengers. Before you swing your leg over the long, rigid saddle that extends from prow to bow and strap your feet into the safety harnesses, you are given a short, but rather blunt safety talk. Skipper Russ Blondfield didn’t mince his words as he told us the speeds we would be traveling at then explained it was important not to stand ram rod straight or the G force could damage our lower backs. We should always try to relax the top half of our bodies, to bend the knees slightly at all times and use only thigh/calf muscles as shock absorbers and to bend in and out of corners just like on a motorbike.

There was one moment when I thought I might just chicken out, when Russ said “We will also try and get some air under the boat”. In my innocence I inquired exactly what that meant, only to be told by a snotty 15-year-old standing next to me on his fifth ride in five days, that’s when he goes full out with the throttle and the boat lifts right out of the water.

Holding fast to my life jacket, I nervously boarded. You have to be quite agile to swing your leg over the ‘saddle’, but trying to do this within such a confined space only marks those who have either had ballet training or are under the age of 12. The now smirking youth forced me to contort stiff limbs into position, and we were off. Gripping the safety handles on each side of the saddle offered some comfort as we sedately eased out of the harbour for a short ‘nursery’ run to see how we liked it.

The engine whirrs like it’s about to explode as you thunder across the waves, pounding the breakers, while nothing prepares you for being on the receiving end of an instant face lift while rocketing along the shore line with hotels passing by in a blur of concrete. The G-force had my three chins traveling sideways and my ears felt as if they had been pinned to the back of my neck. So much for the ‘nursery’ ride. When asked if we now all felt okay to go for ‘the burn’, I could only manage a strangled whimper. Within two seconds we were off again.

These boats can push out enough water per second on a speed run to fill the average swimming pool in under a minute, but, the inflatable collar that surrounds the boat means no danger comes from water being shipped aboard. Comforting though that may be, the 270? spins and the hydroplaning effect make this a really wild ride, and the great thing is you don’t feel sick, because your brain is far too occupied with holding on. Our party was soon baying for more.

Getting a bit of air under the boat means exactly that, you rocket along and then ‘whoosh’ the prow is out of the water and what follows is the water equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, ending with the ‘thump’ of an extreme vertical impact as the boat hits the water again.

This activity may not be ideal for the weakly constituted, but being aboard a projectile traveling at alarming speeds does deliver an almighty, glorious and much-needed high octane rush to the adrenalin flow. I staggered off the boat having lost 75 per cent of my IQ, legs shaking, fingers still in the hold on tight formation vowing I would just have to repeat the experience; I had at long last found my speed fix.

These rally cars of the sea may have a huge commercial fan base, but it’s not just from hardcore thrill fans seeking new kicks, they are used in a more serious manner by rescue services, law enforcement agencies and the military because of their speed, sturdiness and unique maneuverability.

According to skipper Russ’ business partner Nick Bilton, without paying customers on board the boats can reach speeds “way, way over what we currently offer to clients. You need to be accustomed to being on the boat at really high speeds so we stick to a medium speed line when dealing with clients – we don’t want to terrify them. We aim to thrill, offer fun, not danger but we both took one out one day and went from the harbour to Yeroskipou beach in 1.40 seconds, so that’s pretty quick”.

Tiger Boats > Tel: 99 665753 (Louise Bilton), Paphos Harbour. Price: £15 for adults, £12 for children (under 16s have to have an adult sign a permission slip for them to board and if younger than 12 they should be accompanied by an adult). Tiger Boats also offer a less adrenalin pounding coastal tour for 1.5 hours for £22.

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