Boat Review Date: October 2010
Author: Mike Brown
Brigs were square-rigged sailing workhorses, nothing like the current batch of vessels using the word as a brand name. The member of the new generation I reviewed, a Brig Eagle 780H is a 45-knot rigid inflatable – about as far as you can get from the original.
Currently, one assumes most manufactured items come from China or elsewhere in Asia, but this one is European and, also out of the ordinary, is cheaper than anything comparable. Nor is it an assembly of Asian parts: look at every fitting and you see brand names from Italy and Switzerland. Something unusual is going on here.
Including unusual lightness; the makers claim 40,000 man-hours went into designing this range and making the moulds. The engineering of every particle of the boat and the hand laying of the fibreglass resulted in a hull weight of just over one tonne, and a towing weight fully loaded of well under 2.5 tonnes. Exceptional for a 7.8m RIB, and meaning it is towable by a medium-sized 4WD or ute – once you have the permit for a wide trailer: the beam is 2.9m.
The standard power unit is a 300hp Yamaha, the maximum the boat is rated for. It takes it to a top speed between 45 and 50 knots and gets it there remarkably quickly. The factory claim is 0 – 40 knots in under 5 seconds; according to our basic timing efforts it achieves it. Whether accelerating hard or barely at all there was no rise and fall of the bow; transition to planing was undetectable.
Practically everything you could want comes as standard. The only extras on the review boat were a Bimini that retracts into the Targa arch, a 12-inch touch screen navigation system, and a stereo. They lifted the price to AUD $125,000 from the base AUD $115,000.
This is a boat that lets you use a big percentage of the maximum speed, and normal cruising speed could be 30 – 35 knots. But most of the time you would use gentler speeds – the 780 is at least as much a social boat as it is a sports boat. The official people capacity is 16 and you could fit that many in – RIBs provide soft seating all around the sides – but with about half that number on board it would be spacious. Gracious too: there are any number of drink holders, abundant handholds for getting around, and cork decking offering luxury to bare feet.
There are purpose-built seats for ten, distributed the length of the boat. Deck sockets give a choice of positions for the table to service them. The double helm seat-bolster is extremely comfortable, but the pick of the seats is the rear lounge. The combination of an intrinsically soft ride, well-tuned resilience in the seat material, and positioning in the lowest motion area gives, well, an armchair ride. Beneath the lounge is a vast storage space, matching the similar space under the sun lounge in the bow.
The console is large, virtually a cabin. In standard form it provides yet more storage, but it can be fitted out as a toilet. The whole structure is offset to starboard to give easy walking down the port side; its bulk gives good protection to the helm position. The dash panel is a model of understatement: apart from the touch screen it carries a Yamaha digital multi-screen and a VHF radio.
Among the many clever design touches one really stands out for me: the anchoring system. For the most part RIBs do not handle this very well – the combination of chain, anchor and inflatable tube being awkward. The 780 solves it by stowing the anchor in a hawse pipe within the hull beneath the tube. The stainless steel anchor, with matching stainless chain, is lowered and hauled by a power windlass.
For most people all the features a big fast RIB might have are academic unless the boat provides fun to go with them; it has to be a pleasure to drive. The 780 has fun in spades. The driving position is good, handling is tight and crisp, and the big Yamaha’s electronic controls are smoothness itself.Lowdown
Price as reviewed AUD $125,000
Price from AUD $115,000
Hull weight 1,080kg
Fuel capacity 340L
Fresh water 125L
Motor fitted 300hp Yamaha 4-stroke