by Jeni Bone
The story behind a brand is often fascinating, but when that story involves a coalition of aeronautical experts, astrophysicists and military scientists, it is a compelling read indeed.
Slava Rodionov and Neil Webster - Sydney International Boat Show
So the founder and GM of BRIG, the unassuming Slava Rodionov, recounts the birth of the brand.
'In Ukraine, we have not so much the boating culture,' says, referring to the town of Kharkov, 800kms from the Black Sea or any other waterway. 'But when the USSR was disbanded, our town which was predominantly involved in aeronautical activity for the government and military, many people were out of a job.'
This highly trained workforce was now at a loose end. 'We are all physicists, mathematicians, engineers. Of course, designing and building a boat was logical,' he quips.
The first prototype was a simple rowing boat, made of Soviet materials, which Slava recalls 'were not so good'. In fact, and he cringes when he remembers, the first container load was promptly sent back from its buyers in Sweden. 'That’s when we decided to build the boats using high quality materials we developed ourselves.'
In 1994, BRIG launched on the international scene at Boot Dusseldorf. 'We listened to feedback and improved the design and the quality,' he says. 'In 1999, we made our first fibreglass RIB. And since then, we have produced over 40 models – 17 of which are available in Australia.'
Now, 21 years on, BRIG is the biggest selling RIB in Europe and has 68% of the market in Australia.
'It was not so much an evolution, but a revolution in the concept of RIBs,' says Neil Webster, owner of Sirocco Marine which is the exclusive dealer for the brand in Australia. 'They went from robust rescue boat boasting stability and strength, to having all these key features as well as being good looking. They’re sexy!'
At this year’s Sydney International Boat Show Sirocco Marine had its largest display of inflatable boats ever, with 27 BRIG boats, including the launch of the BRIG Eagle 650, the launch of the Williams 445 Turbojet in Australia and the launch of the Sealegs 7.7 Cabin Boat into the Sydney market.
The new Brig Eagle 650 incorporates a number of significant improvements and innovations. Every moulding above the waterline is all new resulting in a cutting-edge new model with sharper lines and greater visual impact.
Designers have added more surface area to the dash to accommodate navigation instruments including the very latest big screen GPS units.
For easy entry and exit there are now larger steps either side of the engine which will allow a wider boarding ladder to be fitted. Once aboard, the seating has been updated for better comfort and support, and legroom increased for backseat passengers. Designers have also been more generous in their use of stainless steel ensuring more functionality and durability.
At 6.5m, the Eagle 650 is a versatile, trailerable day boat or tender. Weighing just 450kg, it is always 'ready to go' and offers a fun alternative to the tinnie.
'They are safe and light, durable, responsive and versatile,' says Neil. 'They’re great for families, wakeboarding, whale watching, commuting. They offer excellent fuel economy. But above all, they offer a smooth ride over the top of the waves.'
More at www.siroccomarine.com