Greg Copp tests the latest Eagle to fly from the Brig nest …
Ten years ago the idea of a fast RIB not fitted with jockey or shock-mitigating seats was unacceptable to many hard-core RIB fanatics. However, the big-RIB concept has expanded to a larger audience, and Brig are a prominent player in this field. Built in Ukraine, these boats are as strong as they are practical, without forgetting those stylish touches that any modern family RIB is now expected to be garnished with. Not surprisingly, there is a strong Med dimension in the form of a blunt bow complete with a pulpit ‘step off’ for those high Mediterranean docksides, a double sun pad infill and the all-important bimini. Behind the scenes, the attention to detail is not lacking either. The storage compartments are neatly lined, and a feature I liked in particular was the hidden windlass in the forepeak locker, which, courtesy of deck-mounted stainless foot switches, runs an otherwise unnoticed claw anchor poking out through the stem.
Of course, what will sell this boat more than any other feature is the heads. No family RIB beyond 8m is worth its salt without one. This boat not only has a proper flushing toilet, but due to the depth of the compartment it has sufficient headroom for an adult male to stand up in it – just. You also get a sink and a slim storage locker. The trick is to build a console that can house a heads without it being obvious, and I think Brig have done a good job of this. I will say that the door catch needs to be improved, as unless you make a good job of making sure it is shut, the less-than-engaging catch can allow the door to fly open – small potatoes, but then it is a 90K RIB. The console is nicely finished, particularly the stainless inset primary switches, the carbon black dash and the top-mounted starboard-side compartment complete with a USB charging facility. The windscreen is a serious piece of work. You might think, ‘Well, it should be, shouldn’t it? It is on a 50-knot RIB after all.’ But windscreens on RIBs are sometimes not man enough for the job. This one, however, is made of bulletproof perspex left over from the last Bond film. It is also fixed at each corner with substantial pillars. The seat is a flip-up bolster type, which, unless you are on a relaxed cruise, you will flip up and stand against with your feet wedged forward on the console.
The aft bench seat sits over a well-designed storage section. The seat lifts, assisted by two gas struts, to reveal a dedicated secure storage area for the table and its two legs. Next to it sits the battery cut-off switches, and on the other side the water tank. Somebody has bothered to think about this to the point that the table and its legs are secured against the possibility of ‘spirited driving’. The table, complete with inset cup holders, is easily set on top of its two mounting legs. Decking is courtesy of SeaDek. It is a thick and chunky variation on synthetic teak, which, like the hull and tubes, is available in various colours. It is easily crafted, so you have the option of replacing sections without a problem, and should you choose, you can have your boat name laser-cut into it.
Driving the Eagle 8
Helm ergonomics are very good. In particular, you can either look perfectly over the screen with a good view of the bow when standing or easily through it when seated. You do not get the screen top in your line of sight, especially as there is no frame. The wind is totally denied you, thanks to what is a decent console. The dash layout works well, with the throttles and wheel easily to hand and the plotter and engine instruments under your line of sight, though a bigger plotter would be ideal.
It is very quick ‒ as it should be. With 350hp on the prop and two counterrotating propellers losing not an inch of grip, this boat hits 30 knots comfortably in under 7 seconds, and 3 seconds later she is past 40 knots. Most 8m RIBs are more than happy with 250 or 300hp, so a DF350 is a bit of a beast on the back of the Eagle 8, but a manageable one. This boat is built like the proverbial brick outhouse, so the big V6 Suzuki is not an issue for it. The boat ran well into the fairly moderate weather of the day right up to its top speed of 48 knots. It does not creak or complain, though I will say that above 40 knots she likes around 50 per cent trim out on the outboard to squeeze those last knots from her. Into the weather, you will get a small amount of chine slap above 40 knots, simply because she has a moderate deep-vee hull and a reasonable amount of beam, so to soften the ride in these conditions you need to trim the bow down to under 25 per cent. This is par for the course with a lot of boats, and the only downside is you get a slightly wetter ride in the process. Running with the weather on the stern, not too surprisingly, is a different kettle of fish. Trim her out to 50 per cent and off you go. The ride is stable with no chine walking, bearing in mind that the tubes sit well clear of the water at planing speed.
Throwing this boat through the corners is when the beast starts to show its teeth. Its twin-prop engine hangs on like no other outboard, which is great ‒ you just need to be aware that it can turn more tightly than you may expect or want. I came across this with the twin DF350-powered 10.5m Brig Eagle, which, if you were careless enough with the throttles and the wheel, would have your internal organs pushing against your ribcage. Most single-prop powerboats, when pushed hard in the corners, slide the stern, which, if it is not excessive, is not an issue and many people do not even realise it is happening ‒ and if they do, they often use it to good effect. The DF350 changes the rules as it will exit turns very sharply, losing little speed in the process. This is great for water sports ‒ just get used to it, otherwise you could inadvertently slingshot one of your friends out of a ringo, and anyone sitting on the aft bench may not be overly impressed.
The electro-hydraulic steering fitted to the Eagle also has a big bearing on this, as it is fantastically responsive ‒ indeed it could be argued that it is too responsive. The alternative is a hydraulic system, which I am told is only suitable for bodybuilders, making it a no-go. It is simply a case of coming to terms with just how responsive this boat is, because it is an asset, particularly when you come to berth the boat, as you can spin the wheel from lock to lock virtually in the blink of an eye.
Verdict on the Brig Eagle 8m
The Eagle 8 is a boat aimed at the mainstream of RIB demand that is big enough for a family day out while offering enough comfort and performance to appeal to everyone on board. There will always be a trade-off ‒ in this case it is the fact that there are only two forward-facing seats providing security for a fast rough-weather ride. This is a small price to pay for a boat that is unlikely to be used in such a manner, especially as it does what it is designed to do very well. You just have to remember it can turn more tightly than expected.
Fuel figures (Suzuki flow meter)
- RPM Speed (knots) LPH Fuel consumption (NMPG)
- 1500 6.1 7.6 3.7
- 2000 8.2 11.5 3.3
- 2500 13.5 17.5 3.5
- 3000 17.9 24.2 3.4
- 3500 21.8 31.4 3.2
- 4000 26.1 39.0 3.0
- 4500 31.4 51.0 2.8
- 5000 35.9 67.0 2.4
- 5500 41.7 85.0 2.2
- 6000 (WOT) 47.8 107.3 2.0
Range = 180 miles with a 20% reserve at 26 knots
What we thought
- Good performance
- Solid construction
- Large heads for an 8m RIB
- Good finish
- Responsive steering
- Lots of storage
- Engine tone above 5000rpm is quite noticeable
- Usual extras list pushing up price
Specification – Brig Eagle 8m
- LOA:8.0m (26ft 05in)
- Beam: 2.90m (9ft 8in)
- Draught: 0.50m (1ft 09in)
- Displacement: 1.7 tonnes (with 250hp Suzuki F250 and 100% fuel)
- Power options: 1 x 300hp Suzuki F300 or 1 x 350hp Suzuki F350
- Fuel capacity: 340L (75 imp gal)
- RCD category: B
- Test engine: 1 x 350hp Suzuki F350
From: £77,500 (inc. VAT) with Suzuki F300
As tested: £98,208 (inc. VAT)
47.8 knots ‒ sea conditions F3, with 70% fuel, 2 crew
Blackrock Yachting Ltd, Chichester Marina, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 7EJ – Tel.:01243 550042