10m Brig Ea­gle

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY PETER EL­LIOTT

The RIB turn­ing heads. Masses of power and su­perbly-fin­ished, the BRIG is a ves­sel with pres­ence.

“Money can’t buy hap­pi­ness” is an apho­rism at­trib­uted to 18th cen­tury French philoso­pher Jean-jac­ques Rousseau. But it’s been bas­tardised over the years. What he ac­tu­ally wrote was “Money buys ev­ery­thing ex­cept moral­ity and cit­i­zens” – but then he wasn’t around in the age of Face­book, was he?

To­day the apho­rism’s usu­ally of­fered by some snide git with the all charm of a dropped pie, and frankly, I to­tally dis­agree. If you can con­vince me that money can’t buy hap­pi­ness, I’ll eat my shorts.

But why the hell would I start a boat re­view with some crap homily about dosh? Well, to be hon­est, you’ll have to be a bit cashed-up to own a boat like this one, and it would help to have it moored in the play­ground that is Pauanui. Of course, to achieve this will re­quire ded­i­ca­tion. But why the hell do we work for 40 years – if not to get to the point where your money can buy you hap­pi­ness? You get my drift?

Any­way… I ar­rive early to meet the happy owner of the boat for re­view at a beau­ti­ful house nes­tled in the en­clave of a coastal wa­ter­way. There are sun-soaked views over to the pointy wooded hills of kids’ fairy tales, mist-wreathed val­leys be­hind, and gleam­ing mir­rored wa­ters beck­on­ing out front. Breath­tak­ing.

It feels as close to ac­tual paradise as suc­cess in life and work can de­liver. Only the oc­ca­sional he­li­copter, or light plane land­ing at the nearby airstrip breaks the early morn­ing calm. Clutch­ing a cof­fee I wan­der down the front steps to­wards the dock and take in the sight of the gleam­ing BRIG Ea­gle 10.

She is long and low and pretty. The big 65cm di­am­e­ter Hy­palon tubes run­ning the length of both sides gleam darkly in con­trast to the white of the hull, ter­mi­nat­ing at the tran­som in twin, glow­ing Yamaha 300hp fourstrokes. Good lord – quick­ish then. And sur­pris­ing.

The BRIG name was born round 25 years ago from the Rus­sian space pro­gramme and when the big po­lit­i­cal change oc­curred, they took that space tech­nol­ogy and turned it to good use in hull hy­dro­dy­nam­ics and boat build­ing. To­day BRIG is Europe’s largest RIB sup­plier, and an­nu­ally de­liv­ers thou­sands of ves­sels around the globe – in­clud­ing to Dow­nun­der.

Ten me­tres is a goodly length for a RIB and the boat is in pro­por­tion, so it plays tricks on your eyes and it’s not till you see some­one stand­ing at the helm that you grasp its true size. There are plans to of­fer the Ea­gle

10 with a fi­bre­glass bi­mini and clears, and some sun pro­tec­tion in ‘ozone-hole coun­try’ would be a sen­si­ble pre­cau­tion.

The steeply-raked hull dis­perses wa­ter ef­fi­ciently, as­sisted by those huge tubes that fur­ther sup­press H O ingress. Not a big sea day for our re­view – only a me­tre of swell and some chop in the af­ter­noon over the Tairua Bar, but noth­ing we threw at her re­sulted in a sin­gle drop of wa­ter com­ing aboard. She’s a very dry boat.

The fin­ish is ex­em­plary, with many well thought out fea­tures: pad­ding on the helm sta­tion arm­rests, dis­ap­pear­ing hatch closers, padded and mono­grammed back­rests, and sleek rub­ber deck tread grooved in a teak look, to name just a few.

Up front, the squared-off bow be­trays BRIG’S mil­i­tary be­gin­nings with the tubes wrap­ping right around the front post. Di­rectly be­neath is the rec­tan­gu­lar stain­less steel an­chor en­try through which a knuck­led joint is cou­pled to a large stain­less Sarca an­chor.

A length of stain­less steel chain is sup­plied stan­dard with the an­chor line, and is wrapped onto a ro­tat­ing Lew­mar drum winch hid­den un­der the front hatch. This can be driven ei­ther from the forward po­si­tion, with up/down buttons set near the hatch cover, or from the helm sta­tion it­self.

No mat­ter the an­gle of re­trieve the knuckle en­sures that the an­chor ro­tates to drop, and then snugs up firm against the rec­tan­gu­lar plate. The an­chor it­self has a rec­tan­gu­lar sec­tion that fits over the hole to keep wa­ter out. Smart.

If re­triev­ing the an­chor from the helm sta­tion, the Garmin MFD can be switched to a video-cam­era feed from the locker, so you can see when it’s nearly home. It’s a clever, sim­ple and very use­ful tool, mak­ing an­chor­ing a breeze with­out shout­ing or di­vorce.

Rid­ing up front, there are 14 hand­holds on the front tubes, and a large sunbed atop the sunken cabin, with padded mono­grammed back­rests forward of the helm sta­tion. To port of the helm sta­tion is a lock­able door, held open by strong mag­nets. This gives way to a head neatly stowed un­der a shelf to the star­board side. The dou­ble berth could eas­ily ac­com­mo­date an in­ter­na­tional bas­ket-baller when the in-fills are in­stalled.

There are in­spec­tion hatches and fuse boxes in­side the cabin area too, en­sur­ing dry­ness and ease of ac­cess to the back of the in­stru­ments. Un­like most RIBS, the Ea­gle has stor­age ga­lore, seem­ingly un­der every seat and hatch. To the rear is a large board­ing plat­form; it’s slightly mon­stered by those lurk­ing Yamaha bruis­ers, but a lad­der to port al­lows divers to board eas­ily.

The re­turn be­hind the rear seat­ing holds the fuel filler cap, and to star­board un­der a chromed flip-top is the fresh­wa­ter shower. Two wa­ter tanks pro­vide wa­ter for the gal­ley sink unit and for the rear deck shower. Wastew­a­ter can be pumped out at sea or to hold­ing-tanks on land.

Six peo­ple will fit com­fort­ably around the rear seat­ing sta­tions, ei­ther side of a dou­ble-stan­chioned, re­mov­able ta­ble. It stows neatly be­neath the forward berth. The rear of the helm sta­tion hides a full gal­ley, with sink and gas hob and prep area, and be­low, also on the port side, is a de­cent-sized Isotherm fridge.

The helm sta­tion has a wide bench seat split into two, and it tilts so you can drive seated or stand­ing. Con­trols are sim­ple, un­clut­tered and clean. A wrap-around, tinted wind­screen swipes weather and wet­ness over the top. In­stru­men­ta­tion is beau­ti­ful and the mul­ti­touch Garmin XSV 7416 16-inch widescreen unit comes with world­wide maps pre­in­stalled. It of­fers CHIRP sonar with Clear Vü and Side Vü – pro­vid­ing near-pho­to­graphic qual­ity im­ages of the seafloor.

GPS is up­dated 10 times a sec­ond and the Garmin also gives Axis and FLIR cam­era sup­port. It is con­nected to a thump­ing Fu­sion Stereo sys­tem com­plete with six speak­ers and a sub­woofer, which se­ri­ously pounds when driven hard. To the right the sim­ple twin Yamaha engine con­trols, with trim and tilt, are tight and easy to use. Above is the clean and clear Yamaha Engine man­age­ment unit.

Atop is a bin­na­cle com­pass, and on the star­board side a trans­par­ent, lid­ded com­part­ment for bi­nos and phones. Hand-holds for the nav­i­ga­tor are prom­i­nent and strong. But one note of cau­tion: in a big sea, or if fall­ing off a wave, I noted that the edge of the wind­screen was di­rectly in line with my face, my teeth in par­tic­u­lar. I’d be keen on a padded bar over that edge, and it would give a better hand­hold for the pas­sen­ger.

PER­FOR­MANCE

The at­trac­tive Gussi Italia wheel feels like a sportscar’s, and so does the boat’s per­for­mance. And it’s here the helm-and-power combo truly im­press. I’ve rarely felt such in­stan­ta­neous, smoothly-con­trolled power, out of the hole and up on to plane. She’s quick and soft-rid­ing, but the word that came to mind again and again was poise. Driven hard in the turn, it showed ab­so­lutely no ten­dency to cav­i­tate or chine walk.

Pre­dictable, swift and con­fi­dence in­spir­ing, this boat will take se­ri­ous sea in its stride and deal with it su­perbly – there’s a rea­son that these ves­sels are used as watch boats, pi­lots and for Coast­guard ops.

Back­ing up will bring a lit­tle wa­ter onto the tran­som deck, but ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity is in­cred­i­ble with those op­pos­able en­gines, de­liv­er­ing a spin within its own length. We popped it out of the wa­ter over some swells at the bar and it held straight, land­ing squarely with­out crash­ing hard.

The 3.4m beam of­fers acres of space for all sort of ac­tiv­i­ties. While not pri­mar­ily a fisher, such ac­tiv­i­ties have been catered for with the ad­di­tion of rod hold­ers and a bait board, but good stor­age fa­cil­i­ties also mean this is an ex­cel­lent dive ten­der for larger par­ties.

Ham­mer down, you are go­ing to get there quickly too: top speed is nearly 100kph. There’s 580 litres of fuel ca­pac­ity aboard, and you may need it with those two big Yamaha mus­cle­men guz­zling away if the taps are held wide open for a while.

Fin­ished to a world-beat­ing stan­dard through­out, there is also an air of mil­i­tary mus­cle about the de­liv­ery. Oc­ca­sion­ally one boards a boat where the fin­ish is per­fect but del­i­cate, and feels like it won’t pass the test of time too well. Not so here. The fit­tings are strong, hinges are beefy, and the decks are rock solid. Drink hold­ers, for ex­am­ple have rub­ber bases and lin­ers, en­sur­ing that glass will not break, and there is light­ing in­side them for night use.

So this RIB has ex­cep­tional sea-keep­ing abil­ity, oo­dles of room for dive gear, acres of floor space for par­ties, seat­ing ga­lore, a cabin for sleep­ing and stuff, a head with pri­vacy for the women, ex­cep­tional elec­tronic wiz­ardry with GPS, fish fin­der, stereo, video in­puts and much, much more.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive, goes like the clap­pers, has the poise of a Rus­sian bal­let dancer, and a solid her­itage of 27 years of de­liv­ery through­out the world. So, yes, you pay for it, but in this in­stance I think it’s fair to say that Rousseau and his moody pro­nounce­ments be­long back in the 18th cen­tury.

Money can buy hap­pi­ness. And one of those hap­pi­nesses would be a big, safe, fast, party-go­ing BRIG RIB. BNZ

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