The Italian Solaris 47 is intended to meet both sides of the performance-cruiser equation – and reward the discerning sailor.
- Exceptional seakeeping
- Electronics and entertainment
- Power and poise
- Long, low and pretty
- Very dry boat
- Storage galore
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.
“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 four-strokes. 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 H2O 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.
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.