Lazzera 80Power & Motoryacht Magazine Logo
By Capt. Bill Pike
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

Man, it was quiet on the upper deck of the Lazzara 80, despite the size of the crowd in the pilothouse and expansive sky lounge abaft it. There was some serious computer firepower on hand, too, evidenced by rafts of laptops scattered about on consoles and tabletops and whole hordes of gigabytes fizzing across the three VEI (Valhalla Enterprises Incorporated) active-matrix flat-screen displays on the steering console. And as for technical expertise, in addition to a jump-suited mechanic and a skinny propulsion guru in a tee-shirt, Lazzara’s director of engineering Tom Croft was present, along with general manager Mike Schenk, sea-trial guru Wayne Searles, and marketing v.p. Rich Lazzara. Yet another pivotal player onboard was a subcontractor of sorts--Gerry Janelle, president of Janelle Engineering, a South Florida firm that field tests equipment capable of measuring heretofore unmeasurable performance parameters during sea trials. Janelle was hunkered over a Pelican case stuffed with electronic componentry, ready to graph shaft horsepower, torque, and propeller slippage for both main engines.

Why all the silence, computer oomph, and tech talent on the 80 during PMY’s recent sea trials on Tampa Bay? The answer’s best summarized in one word: commitment. Whether the folks at Lazzara are securing a hull-to-deck joint with stainless steel bolts, 3M 5200, and wide swathes of fiberglass, or making a three-stateroom, six-head, trideck 80-footer available for a marine magazine, their intensity and thoroughness of purpose is palpable and hardly conducive to levity and chatter. While most manufacturers send a single rep along on the sea trials I do--a guy who frankly may or may not know the boat well--Lazzara had dispatched a veritable platoon of experts to make sure every question I had was accurately answered, every detail precisely explained, and every unforeseen circumstance rapidly addressed.

"Okay, Wayne," I said to Searles, lowering my radar gun momentarily, "how about turning her around so we can get some speed readings goin' the other way?"

Searles spun the wheel with a finger and the flat, brownish expanse of Tampa Bay’s Gadsden Cut began sweeping smoothly across the windshield panels. Having finished my own stint at the helm just 20 minutes before, the characteristics of the turn were familiar. The 80’s Hynautic hydraulic steering, with engine-driven power-assist, engendered a delicacy of control that was exquisite. Sightlines were fine, too, everywhere but directly aft. And, although the integral keel and protective, stainless steel skegs in way of the props were substantial enough to guarantee super tracking on straightaways, they kept lateral water pressure to a manageable level. Our turning radius was reasonable, and there was absolutely no tendency to lean outboard in hard-over turns like the one we were making, a characteristic of some vessels with lots of fore-and-aft structure below the waterline.

"That’s good," I said as the bow steadied up on a range marker just north of Big Bend Channel. With a murmured affirmative I could easily hear, Searles put a fine point on the remaining factor behind all the quietude onboard: Lazzara’s get-tough take on sound and vibration. Except for the planked-bamboo sole in the galley and the marble floors in the heads, all three of the 80’s decks are covered with Soundown carpet underlayment, as well as carpet. Moreover, paneling on bulkheads, overheads, and walls are secured with Velcro, a great sound-and-vibration decoupler. And then there’s the firewall that separates the engine room from the master: It’s approximately one foot thick, courtesy of alternating layers of Baltek AL600 balsa, dead-air space, and Soundown foam.

I’ve got a fairly sharp mind, at least for an old guy. After penciling the last speed-run numbers into my notebook and then comparing all or most of my test data with Janelle’s graphs, a vague feeling of discontent obtruded. Beyond the fact that the sea state was virtually flat, a condition hardly conducive to a good, feisty wring-out, there were other problems. For starters, the tachs were topping out at 2300 instead of the rated 2400 rpm. Then the new Blue Line electronic readouts on the dashboard were specifying a fuel burn almost 3 gph less than what the manufacturer’s fuel curves predict at WOT. And finally, Janelle’s laptop was consistently graphing a shaft-horsepower shortfall on both engines (see "Gerry’s Magical Portable Dyno," this story). Conclusion? Although the 36-mph top speed I’d recorded earlier was undeniably fast for an 80-footer, the diesels still seemed to be "layin' back," as we say in the South.

Croft explained that during earlier sea trials he and his team of engineers had used Janelle’s equipment and expertise, as well as their own, to confirm the horsepower deficit I was seeing. But while they’d spent lots of time trying to figure it out, they’d yet to have success. "All I know for sure right now is we’re a little short on horsepower and a little short on speed," he explained.

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