If you want to find out how good your new boat will be as a long-range offshore cruiser, there’s one sure-fire way to find out: sail her to New Zealand from Europe.
- Well finished and well equipped with high-quality fittings
- Can maintain high average speeds
- Smooth, dry ride
- Easy to drive, but lots of fun, too
Built in Ukraine for the discerning European market, Brig’s range of high-quality RIBs has found favour with boaters all over the world, including New Zealand.
From modest beginnings eleven years ago when Peter Carlson first discovered Brig, Family Boats’ RIB sales have grown to such an extent Peter expects to sell hundreds this year, most of them Brigs. The Brig Eagle 6.7m and Eagle 8m models are among the best-selling in Family Boat’s current range.
The two Eagles are birds of a feather, with versatile layouts, good quality fittings, similar trim levels, the same high-quality Orca (Hypalon) tubes and comparable performance and handling.
The Eagle 8 benefits from extra length, of course, which translates into more space on deck, allowing a drop-in cockpit table, an isotherm refrigerator under the (larger) helm seats and a bigger centre console with a plumbed electric toilet (macerator and holding tank). The bigger boat also enjoys more console real estate for flush-mounted electronics – a Garmin MFD in this case – and a solid GRP hardtop instead of its smaller sibling’s black fabric bimini. Both boats have cockpit showers.
With its extra length the bigger boat can also handle more horsepower, so it’s potentially the quicker of the two, though both behave very much alike on the water, feeling safe, stable at any speed and treating occupants to a smooth, dry ride.
The Eagle 8, originally set up as Peter’s personal boat initially ran a 5.6-litre Yamaha XF425 V8 giving a top speed of 60 knots. Now sold, the RIB’s currently fitted with a more modest and much lighter 4.2-litre Yamaha F250 DES V6 – we saw a maximum of 44 knots during our run with the boat.
In contrast, the 6.7m Eagle is powered by Yamaha’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder F200 outboard with Sea Star hydraulic steering and electronic throttle and shift – the F250 DES on the Eagle 8 has Yamaha’s latest built-in digital electric steering system (DES) for effortless control.
With the four-pot on the transom, the Eagle 6.7 was capable of more than 40 knots, but like its bigger sibling, its speed is deceptive thanks to its smooth ride and reassuring steadiness, even when running at full throttle with the outboard trimmed right out.
Although Brigs come well equipped from the factory, Family Boats customises them for New Zealand boaters. Both Eagles feature removable bait boards that clip onto their transom towers. They also have rocket launchers. That said, neither could be described as a sport fishing boat, but like most RIBs, they’re great to cast from: stable at rest, easy to walk around and with plenty of open space in the bows.
Family Boats also fit the electronics – a 12-inch Garmin MFD for the Eagle 8 and a more modest Lowrance Elite for the 6.7. The 8 also gets a fridge, a top-end Fusion sound system with multiple speakers, multiple zones, a sub-woofer and separate amplifier, plus a Narva lightbar mounted on the front of the hardtop
Family Boats also fit the VHF radios. The Brigs’ stainless-steel anchors are deployed through the bows via capstan winches, operated remotely from the helm and tucked away nicely underneath the tubes.
While both Brigs share similar layouts, there’s just more space to play with in the bigger Eagle 8. The large centre console is offset to starboard, to give a wider walkway on the port side and easy access through a side door into the console. The wheel is on the port side of the console, which puts the helmsperson in the centre of the boat. The console and steeply angled acrylic windscreen provide good protection from the slipstream.
Double-width, twin helm seats have fold-up bases with bolsters. Upholstery fabric is smart looking Silvertex, as used by premium boatbuilders like Princess Yachts. The helm and cockpit areas also sport heavy-duty polished stainless-steel footrests, seat supports, handrails, vents, tower support, cleats and other detailing. The sturdy hardtop is mounted on white powder-coated stainless-steel tubing, securely bolted to the fibreglass console. SeaDek flooring is used throughout, complementing the Eagle’s silver-grey upholstery, which also extends to the vessel’s grab-rails – a luxurious detail.
In the self-draining cockpit, a high-backed, aft-facing bench seat addresses another bench seat across the transom, dominated by a stylish fibreglass radar/aerial tower. The cockpit table can be stowed in the spacious transom locker, which also houses twin batteries, isolation switching and the vessel’s water tank. With the table stowed, the cockpit is considerably more spacious and access to the transom, boarding ladder and swim steps becomes easier.
The Eagle 6.7 is much the same, only on a smaller scale. The bimini is canvas and the powder-coated tube supports are black, not white. The offset centre console is smaller and lacks the generous storage of its larger sibling, though there is dry storage under the seat at the front of the console, under the helm seats, in the console locker and inside the handy glovebox. The helm is a little cosier, though the seats are similarly good, the screen is lower and there’s less dashboard space, though easily enough for a full suite of electronics.
Like the Eagle 8, stainless steel is used to good effect for hand and footrails, including a wrap-around grab rail for the helm, and the same high-quality Silvertex fabric graces the RIB’s upholstery, including hand-holds. There’s a similar transom tower with a custom clip-on bait board, SeaDek flooring and a transom freshwater shower.
Forward of the console, both Brigs feature generous foredecks with raised bow platforms, the 8’s with upholstered bow cushions. Infills convert the entire foredeck of both boats into massive sun-loungers, the 6.7’s somewhat smaller. The Eagle 6.7 also has useful under-deck storage in the bow.
The 6.7’s console seat isn’t as wide as the 8’s, reflecting the console’s smaller size overall, but it remains a comfortable option for experiencing the wind in your face, especially since both boats are such dry runners.
Family Boats supplies the Brigs on good quality New Zealand -made dual-axle DMW trailers with override brakes on all wheels. The larger Eagle 8 weighs around 2.3 tonnes on the trailer, with its 340-litre tank full of fuel. The Eagle 6.7 comes in just under 1.5 tonnes with 191 litres of fuel onboard, so both boats are light enough to tow, though the Eagle 8 is overwidth with the tubes inflated, so you’ll need side panels/flags.
Although marginally faster with its big V6 engine, the Eagle 8 handles in a similar fashion to its smaller sibling, which shares the same hull design. Neither boat requires trim tabs, pronounced spray rails complement the black Orca tubes in keeping the vessels’ occupants dry, and moulded hull strakes lift the tubes clear of the water once power is applied. Both boats climb quickly onto the plane, maintaining a level attitude through the transition and continuing to ride level. The hulls respond well to engine trim and feel stable and poised at all times.
Of the two boats reviewed here, the Eagle 8 felt slightly more upmarket with its chrome Yamaha decals, all-white engine and effortless electric steering. The bigger console offers slightly better protection, too, and the hardtop feels more substantial.
However, there was little to choose between the two when it comes to ride quality and the Eagle 6.7’s 40-plus knot performance and snappy response trailed the Brig 8’s only marginally. But, while the four-cylinder F200’s standard Sea Star hydraulic steering works well and requires little steering effort, it doesn’t have the same premium feel as DES. Electronic throttle and shift systems are equally good on both boats.
Both RIBs impressed as being supremely easy to drive. The handling is benign, the controls responsive and the performance exhilarating without being frightening. When it comes to ride, especially when the sea gets up a bit, RIBs tend to spoil you, but these two are obviously exceptionally well sorted. In these boats you should be able to maintain a high average speed under most conditions.
The two Eagles are fun to drive and demonstrably have wide appeal with their versatile, family-friendly layouts. Whether the larger or the smaller is best for you depends on your circumstances, including how much you want to spend, but both Brigs provide a great boating experience./>