Atlantic College’s Sea Safety Revolution


Elijah DeRoche,
March 7th, 2018


[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”600px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]In the early 1960s, students at Atlantic College in Wales began mapping plans for a sleeker, safer and more efficient lifeboat. The students built several prototypes, such as the “Psychedelic Surfer” seen in the picture above from 1969. What resulted as a part of the curriculum’s maritime studies class was the first ever inflatable boat with a wooden hull. The RIB, rigid-hulled inflatable boat, proved to outmaneuver its predecessors, so much so that the design triggered an increasing interest from the RNLI, Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
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When given the opportunity, the RNLI eagerly bought and implemented the patent for merely £1, a price reflecting UWC’s core values of service and action. The blueprints went on to model the Atlantic Class, a fleet of inshore lifeboats that are continuously used today across Britain.

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A modern day “Atlantic Class” Lifeboat – named after Atlantic College in Wales where these rigid inflatable lifeboats (RIBs) were first developed.

[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”600px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]Through years of service, UWCAC’s original prototype RIB was scraped and thought to be lost forever. That was, however, until the boat resurfaced in a storage container in Barry’s Sailing Club. Although covered in barnacles, sludge, and paint, the vessel was returned to the college, where the students embraced the arduous task of restoring to its initial state. It was there that UWCAC alum Robin Jenkins proposed the vessel be displayed at an exhibition at the De La War Pavilion. The brilliant idea arose that rather than trucking the RIB, it would be piloted to the exhibition by sea. Accompanied by a modern model of the RIB, the vessel voyaged hundreds of kilometers to East Sussex where it was displayed as an important symbol of Atlantic College and Kurt Hahn’s values.

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