HMS sets foot on the water for the first time since his unfortunate high-speed encounter with an oak tree back in January. The lure? An opportunity to test the very latest edition to the Brig range, a sporty but purposeful new Brig 6m …
The world of RIBs has changed from specialist to mainstream, and as a result, diversity is the name of the game. Whereas at one time it could be assumed that 90% of RIBs were deep-vee-hulled, offshore-orientated, multifunction craft, these days the RIB concept has been developed to make a direct challenge to those territories previously held by traditional sports boats and even ski boats. For the buyer, this means that an understanding of the differences between the makes and models is important if the right boat is to be chosen. Not all RIBs are 4x4s of the sea.
So what type or category of RIB is the subject of our test here? The all-new Brig 6m Eagle is a notable example of a RIB designed to retain many of the typical 4×4 attributes associated with RIBs, but combined with strong sports boat influences. The Eagle is not a long-distance cruising craft, but then again it is not really set up as such. Neither is she designed for offshore ‘all-weather’ use. She would certainly look after you if the conditions got up, but her strengths lie more in her suitability for water sports and performing the role of a great leisure craft and coastal all-rounder.
Styling and design
In terms of her overall lines and aesthetics, this new model really makes a statement – delivering a very pleasing blend of serious ‘macho wow factor’ and sporty, eye-catching styling. Just look at the sweep and detailing of that stern arch, and the lazarette/double stern seat-cum-transom moulding, along with those low-set two-point cockpit seats, the contrasting SeaDek surfacing and the high-quality stainless steelwork. The purposeful-looking, carbon-finish Orca Hypalon fabric tubes are also well proportioned, even with the ‘bluff bow’, and tailored to perfection.
Full marks to Brig for the boat’s styling, which continues the brand’s identifiable appearance. The quality with which the fit-out is executed is laudable and gives further testimony as to why Brig have become one of the most successful brands within this sector – not just here in the UK but internationally.
Does it matter that these boats are built in Ukraine and are therefore not of British origin? After all, some companies make much of the latter in their marketing. Well, from the consumer’s perspective, what is he or she really seeking? Once a shortlist of makes and models has been made, it tends to be such things as build quality, functionality coupled to a pleasing degree of comfort and finish, and the quality of materials, including the detailing, that most likely begin to hone the business of final choice. A prospective owner will often find reassurance in an established name and that all-important ingredient: customer care. According to many in the trade, price actually figures further down the list than you might imagine. Brig UK score well in these areas, and the fact that their craft are built in a high-tech, large-output plant abroad gives the company advantages in terms of manufacturing, which in turn means price advantages for the consumer.
Another advantage the Brig corporation has is the means to regularly invest in new designs. For example, like the other new models rolled out by this company, each hull is designed from scratch and a new mould is then created. Brig claim that they don’t just chop or lengthen their hull designs from one new model to the next. Each one is exclusive. A lot of builders simply can’t afford to do this, however, and therefore they have to get the greatest longevity possible out of every hull designed. But each hull has an optimum performance length, and that’s why with some craft, the same hull form will perform well as one model and not so well as another. Brig, on the other hand, state that each new model has had the benefit of the draftsman’s fresh appraisal before a new hull mould begins the first part of the manufacturing process. This will likewise often apply to seating and helm consoles, as well as the rear seating and transom unit, as in the case of this particular Eagle model.
This all means that the overall appearance of the Eagle looks cohesive, with each element benefiting from being designed specifically for this particular model. Customisation, though synonymous with many RIB builders, is not what Brig are really about. Some of the models allow for a small list of options, but in the main, these are confined to the instrumentation and choice of engine horsepower. But this latest Eagle comes with a very comprehensive set of items, which means pretty much everything you’d want already comes provided.
In terms of electronics, the test boat was fitted with a Garmin EchoMap 65cv GPS/plotter and a Garmin 110i VHF radio – two great bits of kit. In addition, a Fusion RA70N stereo system with a pair of black FR4021 speakers takes care of the on-board entertainment. Another ‘item of choice’, though, is the weatherproofed Silvertex fabric used to upholster all the seating. By choosing from Silvertex’s extensive colour swatch, the owner can then really put his own stamp on the interior. In the case of the test boat, I thought the colour choice and the way it contrasted with the SeaDek surfacing was very striking. It must be said too that the latter really lifts the boat’s appearance. Besides being wholly functional, this synthetic deck surfacing is highly effective in giving the boat that touch of luxury.
The ergonomics of the craft work well, so whether you are fully sitting or have the helm seats flipped up as bum pads, the controls remain nicely to hand and the lines of sight to the compass and instrumentation are good from either position. The protection the windscreen affords with its stainless grab rail is very effective when seated underway, and even at speed it’s still possible to speak and be heard as the wind rushes over the top of your head. These two-point seats work well on this boat and represent a smart choice. Astern of these, the back seat lazarette is both spacious and comfortable and offers a useful degree of internal stowage. In fact, there’s plenty of the latter, with every unit on the boat being utilised to provide yet more storage space. Even the top of the dash behind the screen features a very useful perspex-lidded glovebox!
While the seating and associated units, including the helm console, are substantial, walkway access past the helm console on the port side is generous for a boat of this size. Upon reaching the foredeck, once again the space complements the style of craft and provides a valuable area for socialising, relaxing and accessing the anchor locker and associated bow cleat. But what I like about this Brig in particular is the plethora of handholds and the quality of the stainless steelwork throughout. The latter is substantial, solid and finished beautifully. The rear seat has armrests for additional security too, and the grab handles to the top sections of the console seating unit ahead are well placed for when passengers in the stern wish to stand when underway.
So what about the all-important driving experience? Well, as you can see from the photography and the corresponding FB video footage we posted on the PBR FB page, the conditions on the day of the test were idyllic. Milky flat seas gave no opportunity to put this boat through anything of a chop, but we did utilise the hefty wake of the seaward-bound Border Force patrol vessel to good effect, and to our relief, in the process, our fast-moving all-black presence somehow failed to attract the attentions of the Force’s weaponry!
There is no doubt in my mind that the Eagle’s 6m hull is of very sound design. I robustly put her through her paces to try to expose any weaknesses in her handling, but could find none. In addition, the more I drove her the more I liked her, my confidence growing in the hull’s grip and overall seakeeping.
As with all Brig Eagles, the hull features trim tab-like transom extensions. The thinking behind these is that they give greater all-round stability underway, thereby preventing the craft from being overtrimmed, which in turn should help to produce a ‘safer’ ride. While I appreciate the thinking and motives behind this element of the design, I personally don’t think they are necessary, and it’s quite noticeable too that these transom extensions limit the range and effectiveness of the engine trim when wishing to trim out. However, the boat showed herself to be well balanced, and sure-footed throughout all her full-lock turns, and there were no signs of side slip. When we did hit the big wake of the patrol vessel, the hull landed softly on her rear third and without flying her head in the process. The 121-litre underdeck fuel tank helps keep this boat’s COG well planted, but its capacity gives the boat a really healthy cruising range too (see performance recordings below).
The Eagle 6’s deep-vee hull measures a deadrise of 20 degrees at its midsection and 17 degrees at the transom. This hull has been fashioned, therefore, with the intention of ensuring a soft, sea-kindly ride, but with the ability to also lift itself up onto the plane quickly when required to do so – for instance, when towing a wakeboarder or waterskier.
The Suzuki 140hp fitted to the test boat gives the boat a true sports-type feel, but without a hint of ‘flightiness’ or unpredictability. This boat/engine combination therefore forms a great partnership. The Suzuki DF140A powering this craft is a genuine power-to-weight ratio class leader, which means the likelihood of the engine burdening the transom is fully minimised. In addition, the DF140A’s engine cover/cowling features a Suzuki-designed air induction port to provide maximum airflow, which translates to the delivering of maximum horsepower. This particular outboard was also the first 4-stroke to utilise an oil cooler, ensuring that the engine’s full horsepower is available under every condition. The DF140A is a sound and highly proven 4-stroke outboard, equally suited to powering a sports RIB such as the Eagle or a professional/offshore craft.
On the day of the test in perfect sea conditions, the Eagle topped out at 37 knots on the GPS, revving at 6000rpm and burning 44 litres an hour. In terms of cruising speed, she coursed through the water at a very economical 4000rpm, which delivered a speed of 24 knots and at a rate of fuel consumption that the dials showed as being a mere 13 litres an hour.
In summary, I would say the new Eagle 6 is the product of a practical and aesthetically pleasing approach to boat design. The construction quality, fixtures and individual fittings are all of the highest standard, and from a driving perspective, she’s a real little winner. A most likable RIB and one that will continue the Brig dynasty in fine style.
Tail of the Eagle
In terms of the evolution of the brand, the original Brig Eagle 600 (6m) came into production in 2001 and remained a great seller until 2006 when it was succeeded by the Eagle 645, which was in production from 2006 until 2011. In 2012, this latter model then became the Eagle 650 as we know it today – Brig’s best-selling model worldwide. The new Brig Eagle 600 is the company’s first genuine 6m luxury Eagle model since the original Eagle 600 of 2001.
- Capacity: 10 people
- Length: 5.95m
- Beam: 2.40m
- Tube diameter: 51cm
- No. of chambers: 5
- Category: C
- Weight of empty boat: 560kg
- Max. weight with fuel & engine (DF150 APL): 887kg
- Max. payload: 1070kg
- Min. power: 100hp
- Recommended power: 140hp
- Max. power: 150hp
- Fuel tank: 121 litres (built in)
- Freshwater tank capacity: 39 Litres
Birg 6 likes & dislikes
- the luxury design and practical layout
- many attractive features condensed into a relatively small boat
- the transom extensions, which limit the use of trim
As tested: £35,108.33 (ex. VAT)