by Steve Lague

Brig describes its Eagle series of rigid inflatable boats as luxury cruisers that are capable of taking you places in comfort and at significant speed. The Eagle 780, which took four years to develop, is the biggest boat built by the Ukraine boat builder that produces over 5000 vessels, across more than 40 models, each year.
Inflatables have become the norm in Australia as small tenders and now the bigger rigid inflatables, with their unparalleled stability, incredible performance and soft ride, are starting to win more and more support. This ride is a result of marrying a deep-vee fibreglass hull, the 780 has an incredible 28deg deadrise, to inflatable tubes, (Brig uses the incredibly tough Hypolon in the construction of its tubes) that are fixed around the perimeter. The Brig hull is foam filled and has Kevlar reinforced stringers and a composite deck that not only increases the strength of the boat but helps keep its weight down.
The tubes are constructed as five separate compartments, which means even if one is damaged, something Brig says is quite difficult to do anyway, only one section will deflate adding a some peace of mind in such an event. Even if there is a catastrophic failure and the whole tube was somehow damaged the hull will still float without the aid of the tubes. The Brig 780 Eagle is capable of carrying 16 people, all in comfort, and can be used for touring, swimming, diving, picnicking, wakeboarding, fishing or simply carrying a load of passengers from one boat to the next.

Brig 780 Eagle 7WHAT YOU GET
The 780 Eagle has an open layout that makes maximum use of onboard space. There is seating for 10 and those who miss out will find the tubes a very comfortable place to sit, even on an extended voyage over rough water.
There is a platform at the bow of the boat that can be used for boarding as well as providing a strong mount for pop-up cleats and storage for the electric anchor motor and chain. The anchor is housed well out of the way under the bow plate. Behind this section is a large seat with storage below. The seat can comfortably accommodate a couple of people and can also be used as a sunlounge when the boat is at anchor. There also is provision for a table to be set-up in the bow, with additional seating at the front of the centre console creating a comfortable conversation pit.
The console, which is more like a small cabin with 1.52m of headroom, is set to starboard, a feature of all Brig rigid inflatables. The offset console creates one, good-sized walkthrough on the port side. On the test boat the inside of the console was a large storage area, accessed via a lockable hatch door on the side, but the cabin is designed to accommodate a toilet and there is plenty of space. The only issue is it can feel a little closed in when the door is shut because there are no windows.
Considering the open design of this boat, storage space is not an issue, even with a toilet fitted there is still room for a few bags in the cabin area. There is the storage at the bow, though I am not sure I would put anything that could not get a bit wet in there. There is also storage under the driver’s seat and another cavernous storage area under the rear seat, which lifts hydraulically, though that does also house the batteries.
At the helm there is a split bolster seat, which makes it equally comfortable todrive standing or sitting, accommodating the driver and a passenger behind the wide dash. Because the console is set to starboard, the driving position is on the portside of the helm putting the skipper in the centre of the boat. On the test boat the large moulded dash was fitted with a 9-inch Raymarine e-Hybrid electronics package and Yamaha digital instruments. There was also a switch panel for bilge pumps, anchor, lights and a freshwater shower (there is a built-in 125-litre freshwater tank under the floor). On the starboard side of the dash there is a twin cup holder and a glove box large enough to store mobile phones and other valuables. The one issue with this is the tinted clear plastic lid could make it a bit oven-like in the summer, which is not a great mix with mobile phones and the like.

Brig 780 Eagle 11
Brig 780 Eagle 6The helm is covered by a stainless steel T-Top, with six rod-holders across the back, with a bimini providing protection from the sun.
Behind the driver seat is more built in storage for small items you want to keep secure and dry as well as four built-in cupholders and a hatch to access the storage under the seat. A picnic table can be erected at the rear between the helm seat and the stern seat mentioned earlier. Behind the rear seat there is a ski pole and there is swim platform on the port transom that has a boarding ladder, making it easy to get back in the boat after a swim.

POWER
The recommended power for the 780 Eagle is between 200 and 300hp with Brig recommending 250hp as the ideal power pack. The test boat was fitted with a big 300hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard and according to WA Brig representative, Mark Mawby, most boats sold in this State have the bigger motor fitted.
In conditions you would experience very regularly in WA, with a south-westerly breeze and 1-1.5m swell the big rigid inflatable was a joy to drive. During the test we reached a top speed of just over 35knots, which was a bit shy of the reported top speed of 40knots. Unfortunately the electronics had not yet been properly wired up so we could not test the fuel consumption.
Brig 780 Eagle 19
Brig 780 Eagle 21ON THE WATER
After fully testing this engine the big Eagle certainly did not feel overpowered, though that may also be testament to Brig’s high-performance hull and the big pontoons that keep it dry and stable.
The Brig tested by BoatAdvice was the smaller 700 Navigator which had a real sporty feel with throw you back in your seat acceleration. In comparison the 780 Eagle was like driving a luxury limousine. Everything seemed more relaxed while the extra weight, and length, of the 780 meant it was not as easy to throw around. Whether we were plowing into, running with or going across the swell the boat sat nice and flat. It is one of the few “smaller” boats where I felt more at ease sitting down to drive.
Even in the slightly-testing conditions you could travel at 20 to 25kts in comfort. Despite the boat being almost totally open to the elements it stayed dry on board with the spray from the hull hitting the tubes and deflecting downwards.
Steering is light through the Seastar hydraulic steering system and handling is also impressive as the air tubes keep the boat flat through turns. This stability applies equally at rest even with everyone clambering to one side of the boat.

ON THE TRAILER
While the Brig 780 is 7.8m long and 2.9m wide it only weighs 2550kg making it light enough to be towed by a big 4WD. Brig says you can also reduce the width by deflating the pontoons which means you will not require any special permits.
In WA it comes standard with a dual-axle multi-roller trailer.

OVERVIEW
Brig says this is a boat that can be used for simply cruising around bays, fishing, diving, watersports or simply to carry a large number of people from one boat to the next. After spending time behind the wheel you can see yourself doing all of those things.
Brig 780 Eagle 18
The other thing that is hard to overlook on this boat is the finish. It is impeccable. A lot of time and resources have gone into ensuring the flagship of the Brig range is exactly that.
At $140,000 it is not a cheap boat but what you are getting is a beautiful looking boat that is well finished, extremely versatile and handles rough conditions extraordinarily well.
The test boat was supplied by Sirocco Marine Perth in South Fremantle.
Brig 780 Eagle 7NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (from) $125,000 (with trailer)
As Tested: $140,000 (with trailer)
Length Overall: 7.85m
Beam: 2.90m
Tube Diameter: 580mm
Recommended Power: 200-300hp
Engine Fitted: 300hp Yamaha four-stroke
Carrying capacity: 16
Fuel Tank: 340-litres

POSITIVES
Beautifully finished
Load carrying capacity
Performance

NEGATIVES
Price