Best of the Best 2005: Speedboats

The balance and handling that enabled Donzi’s 38 ZR raceboat to win seven American Power Boat Association (APBA) championships have trickled down to the more family-friendly production version of the craft.  Endowed with the same advanced hydrodynamics and composite structural technology as its more competitive sibling, the ZR also retains the raceboat’s low-profile bow, which, in addition to reducing drag, enhances the pilot’s ability to see what lies ahead—a feature that should not be marginalized with a boat that can reach triple-digit speeds. A low deck rail, flush-mounted deck hatches, recessed navigation lights, and stainless steel intake vents, besides serving their functional purposes, maintain aerodynamics and complement the ZR’s clean design lines.

“We kept it light,” says Josh Stickles, Donzi’s vice president of marketing. “Performance was the main criterion.” Still, the deep-V hull contains a comfortable cabin, where facing love seats convert to a V-berth, and a sink, compact refrigerator, and microwave oven form the galley. The head includes a freshwater sink and a shower. A 35-foot version of the ZR was launched late last year, and a 43-footer became available this spring.

However, the 38 ZR is the direct descendant of the champion, and those not wanting to stray too far from the boat’s racing roots can opt for the Daytona package, which reduces the ZR’s weight by offering a half-cabin that eliminates the galley and head compartment. The package also includes performance-enhancing features such as 30-inch billet trim tabs, Latham extension boxes, and lab-finished props. A three-man, electrically adjustable aft bolster with stainless steel T-shaped handles provides some comfort for riders, and a mirrored engine hatch enables you to display the powerplant when the boat is docked.

The ZR is constructed of lightweight fiberglass laminate, a vacuum-infused core, and a composite, glass-encapsulated stringer system. A full-length keel stringer—exactly like the one on the ZR racing model—provides rigidity. Paired with the variable deadrise two-step hull, it helps deliver what Donzi claims is the best rough-water ride available.


The engine options range from twin 525 hp EFI Mercury Racing motors (which place the boat’s base price at $276,000) that propel the ZR to a top speed of 94 mph to twin 1,075 hp Mercury Racing powerplants that have yet to be tested but are expected to produce a top speed of 115 mph. The staggered engines are positioned near the boat’s centerline to enhance balance. If an owner has other ideas about how to power the ZR, Donzi says that it is willing to listen.


Donzi, 941.727.0622, www.donzimarine.com

Smoking Gun

With a completely new hull and deck design, the Cigarette Top Gun 39 Unlimited represents an evolution of its predecessor, the popular Top Gun 38. The interior includes seating for six, but to remain belowdecks is to deny yourself the full sensation of breaking 100 mph aboard a Top Gun powered by a trio of 600 hp Mercury Racing motors.

The tilt steering can be mounted to starboard or on the centerline, and all gauges are angled toward the driver’s line of vision. The hydraulic sliding companionway door will not rattle at speed, and when closed, its molded step shape allows easy access to the deck. With the Billet trim package, any or all of the vessel’s metal components, from the swim steps to the speaker grills, are machined from aluminum billets that are then brightly anodized. A Top Gun 39 equipped with staggered dual 525 hp Mercury engines has a base price of  $461,000 and a top speed in excess of 90 mph.

Cigarette, 305.931.4564, www.cigaretteracing.com


Wind Sprinter

Eliminator Boats built a 33-foot catamaran with F15-type canopies for its dealer Tim Arrington, who then had MTT install a 1,650 hp turbine engine. “She goes 130 mph on a single drive unit and burns any kind of fuel,” says Arrington, who plans to ship the Eliminator Turbine 33 hull number one to an owner in the Mediterranean.

In addition to improving the boat’s aerodynamics, the canopies offer another wind-related benefit. “You can talk to each other at 130 without using headphones,” says Eliminator national sales manager Jim Foley. Eliminator will mold any requested design motifs, from flames to fades to pinstripes, into the gel coat. A V-berth for two, an ice chest, and a portable head make the speedster capable of accommodating an overnight stay. With the turbine, the boat is priced at $447,000. Instruction is available from the manufacturer on how to drive the cat—an offer you should consider seriously when purchasing a boat capable of exceeding 100 mph.


Eliminator Boats, 951.681.1222, www.eliminatorboat.com

Poker Player

After six months of patiently testing and tweaking a running plug, Jay Pilini, owner of Spectre Powerboats, was confident he had achieved the design that he had envisioned. He then built hull number one based on the shape of that plug and discovered that his patience indeed was a virtue, for the Spectre 32 does not require trim tabs. Furthermore, its deep cockpit, three feet of freeboard, and wraparound windshield protect pilot, copilot, and passengers from the wind. Powered by a pair of MerCruiser 525 EFI engines (which put the boat’s base price at $251,500), the Spectre 32 will reach speeds of more than 110 mph. When equipped with twin Viper V-10 engines ($277,000)—the same 625 hp engine that powers Chrysler’s sports car—the boat will exceed 120 mph.

Designed for poker runs and other adrenaline-charged activities, the Spectre 32 has no interior, but it does include ample storage space around the cockpit and behind the rear seat, which can take the form of a bench or a trio of bolstered buckets. Livorsi throttles and shifters occupy a center console that is mounted between the front seats and is easily accessed by the driver or copilot.


Spectre Powerboats, 727.573.2213, www.spectrepowerboats.com

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