REVIEW: BRIG EAGLE 480

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


BRIG 480 RUBBER BOAT BRIG 480 RUBBER BOAT
BRIG EAGLE 480 IN AUSTRALIA BRIG EAGLE 480 IN AUSTRALIA
BRIG EAGLE 480 ON THE WATER BRIG EAGLE 480 ON THE WATER
BRIG EAGLE 480 STORAGE BRIG EAGLE 480 STORAGE
BRIG EAGLE 480 BOW STORAGE BRIG EAGLE 480 BOW STORAGE
BRIG EAGLE 480 AT REST BRIG EAGLE 480 AT REST

A day on Sydney Harbour with the Brig Eagle 480 convinces John Ford reports that it’s one of the best handling and well-balanced boats he has experienced.

Almost 22 years ago Slava Rodionnov found himself out of a job when the cold war ended and the Russian space industry was dismantled. Slava was an aeronautical engineer assigned to a facility building parts for Russia’s version of the space shuttle in the university town of Kharkov.

Unlike American spacecraft that splashed down in the ocean, the communist versions landed (bounced) on the ground supported by parachutes and protected by shock-absorbing tubes that inflated prior to landing.

When the Berlin wall came down signalling the end of the USSR, workers at the Kharkov plant continued to show up for a month until they realised they weren’t going to be paid. Eventually, a state representative arrived to announce that the town was now annexed as part of Ukraine and handed out shares in the building and its equipment to the 300 workers.

Slava and others reasoned that their aeronautical skills could translate to nautical applications and decided to use their expertise in synthetic rubber to manufacture inflatable boats. Initial models could be best described as pretty woeful but with perseverance the team has developed into an innovative design and production company where even today, ex-cosmonauts and engineers sit at sewing machines and work spray guns to craft inflatable boats.

These days Slava has taken over the helm and Brig has grown to become the largest builder of inflatable boats in the world.

 

BRIG INFLATABLES

BRIG EAGLE 480

Brig inflatables are constructed from either vinyl or Hypalon with the latter common on all higher quality boats. So what’s the hype with Hypalon you may ask? Simply put it’s a more robust material and has greater resistance to both UV exposure and punctures. It’s also considerably more expensive, but with judicious use and stored under cover the tubes should last for at least 15 years.

Construction of the Brig involves fixing the Hypalon tube to a fibreglass hull, moulded to a deep V shape to cut through water smoothly. The air filled tubes – around 0.3 Bar – provides stability at rest but lift almost clear of the water when underway.

The fibreglass hull is the rigid component of the Rigid Inflatable Boat – RIB – and the tubes are the inflatable section. In the case of the 480 there are five separate chambers in the collar for an added safety margin in the unlikely event of a puncture.

For such a small boat the carrying capacity of eight people is something of a surprise but such a payload explains the popularity of inflatables as tenders to large cruisers.

 

LAYOUT

BRIG EAGLE 480 LAYOUT

Getting aboard is simple, as the rubber tubes have non-slip pads along the topsides.

Also up front is a bow roller, stainless steel cleats and a large anchor locker as well as another storage locker with a screw- out cover to keep it watertight. Davit points are provided front and rear for lifting the boat out of the water for storage on your cruiser or harbourside jetty.

There is forward seating on washable Sunbrella-clad cushions over the storage locker and on a twin seat forward of the console, which is set to starboard allowing a port side walkway.

Part of the 480’s visual appeal is the neatly moulded console with its sharply raked tinted windscreen giving the boat a lithe, streamlined appearance. A small moulded fibreglass tower behind the helm houses navigation lights and a stainless ski mount and also helps tie the whole design together into a cohesive package.

 

HELM

BRIG EAGLE 480 HELM

Twin helm seats are set at a sensible distance back from the console to allow drivers of different heights to get comfortable at the wheel and a dash mounted engine control is within easy reach.

The console has a waterproof storage locker set into its lower section with a dash panel angled back to the skipper to provide good vision of the Honda instruments indicating revs, speed, fuel and trim. There’s also a 12V socket for charging phones or a attaching a spotlight. A Fusion stereo was the only option fitted to the test boat. Its waterproof speakers are set into the forward part of the console.

 

ENGINE

BRIG EAGLE 480 HONDA ENGINE

Recommended power is in the 60-100hp range so the 90hp Honda fitted tended to the maximum but performed so well that it could have been made for the 480. If the boat was to be used purely as a tender a smaller engine could suffice but I think it would detract from the high fun factor greater horsepower delivers.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

BRIG EAGLE 480 HANDLING

At rest the Eagle 480 illustrates the inherent stability of inflatables. This combined with their light weight and the cushioning nature of their air filled collars, has endeared them to the big boat community who frown upon anything with hard edges careening into their million dollar investments. However you don’t need to be a mega yacht owning media mogul or oil baron to justify ownership as these benefits also enhance the small boat’s versatility as a standalone dive platform or general family runabout.

BRIG EAGLE 480 AT SPEEDAs I clicked the throttle into gear and slowly accelerated, the boat gradually picked up speed and as it did the solid hull started to lift the air tubes clear of the water. The tubes impeded acceleration until the hull was planning at a bit over 3000rpm and 13kts(24kph), but then we advanced smoothly through the range to a maximum of 35kts(65kph) by which time the 16 valve four-stroke Honda was emitting a very pleasant high tech wail. Nailing the throttle from standstill however will engage the Honda’s BLAST feature enabling quicker acceleration and minimise bow lift – just remind everyone to hang on.

A full throttle run from rest with two aboard got the boat quickly clear of the water without any lift from the bow. One up, it was even more impressive, and without worrying about throwing passengers overboard I was able to give the boat a good workout across some nasty chop stirred up by the fleet of commercial vessels plying Sydney Harbour.

BRIG 480 INFLATABLEAcross this chop the ride was soft and safe as the air suspension soaked up any jolts and bangs that might be expected given the conditions. I also noticed how the tubes directed any spray kicked up by the hull, straight back down ensuring a dry ride across all directions of wind.

In the sheltered water around Shark Island I put the boat though a series of figure eights and sharp turns and it handled impeccably without any sign of cavitation no matter how hard I pressed. This is one of the best balanced hull and motor packages I have experienced and inspires confidence that it will do whatever is demanded of it. Handling is nothing short of sensational and it makes a strong case as an eight seat alternative to a jet ski without the noise or the risk of  being ejected from the harbour.

 

THE VERDICT

BRIG 480 RIGID INFLATABLE

As a family oriented application the combination of the hull and the 90hp Honda means tubes, wake boards and even a water skier could be easily towed for a fun family day. It would make a great vessel to keep an eye on youngsters learning to sail or as an easily handled harbour cruiser that can be effortlessly beached for picnics.

Priced in the high $40K with a quality trailer, the Brig Eagle 480 has a multitude of uses and is a quality product that should see years of service. It challenges any boat in its size for safety and handling. Moreover, its huge fun factor and incredible 950kg payload puts in at the front of  the pack. 

 

PERFORMANCE

3kts (5kmh)@1000 rpm

4kts (7kmh) @1500 rpm

5kts (9kmh) @2000rpm 

7kts (13kmh) @2500rpm

12kts (22kmh) @3000rpm

13kts (24kmh) @ 3100rpm (planing)

16kts (30kmh) @3500rpm

19kts (35kmh) @ 4000rpm

23kts (43kmh) @ 4500rpm 

26kts (48kmh) @ 5000rpm 

29kts (54kmh) @ 5500rpm 

32kts (59kmh) @ 6000rpm 

35kts (65kmh) @ 6500rpm (WOT)

 

BRIG EAGLE 480 SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$49,790

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Fusion radio. trailer

 

PRICED FROM

$45,230

 

GENERAL

Material Fibreglass and Hypalon

Type Rigid inflatable monohull

Length 4.8m

Beam 2.3m

Weight 420kg

 

CAPACITIES

People 8

Rec. HP 60 to100

Fuel 98lt

Water 39lt

 

ENGINE

Make/model Honda 90

Type Four-cylinder four-stroke petrol

Weight 163kg

Displacement 1496cc

Gear ratio 2.33:1

Propeller 16"

 

SUPPLIED BY

Sirocco Marine South,

79-81 Cawarra Road,

Caringbah, 2229, NSW.

Phone: (02) 0524 8288; 0410 13 14 38

Email: liam@siroccomarinesouth.com.au

Web: siroccomarinesouth.com

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #449, February / March 2014. Why not subscribe today?

 


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