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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Lazzara LSX Quad 75

The most memorable part of the sea trial I did on Lazzara's LSX Quad 75 started an hour or so after I'd maneuvered her free of her slip via a nifty joystick control and the most radical propulsion system on the market: four 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS-600 pod-type drives. I'd already relinquished my spot behind the wheel to Lazzara honcho Dick Lazzara, who, having switched from joystick to binnacle control to more easily deal with PMY's radar-gun-verified speed and acceleration runs, was now raring to demonstrate a few wild and crazy performance characteristics.

"Fabrizio," he barked, waving one of his signature hand-rolled Ramar cigars towards his chief of product development Fabrizio Loi, "crank up my man Bing for a minute."

Immediately the mellifluous words of the ol' crooner himself softly emanated from the saloon behind us, thanks to a Denon home-theater surround-sound system with iPod compatibility, progressive-scan Faroudja DVD player (with special picture-enhancing chip), scads of 70-watt speakers, and a hulking 140-watt subwoofer: "Oh give me land, lots of land under starry skies above...Don't fence me in..."

"Get this, Bill," chortled Lazzara, as he slowly but inexorably eased the Volvo Penta electronic sticks forward. "We're doin' 20 knots right now, and we got no trouble hearin' my good buddy Bing."

The 75 continued to powerfully but gracefully accelerate across the wilds of Tampa Bay, pushing Lazzara's excitement to even greater heights. "And now," he enthused, waving his cigar like a conductor at the Philharmonic, "we're doin' 25 knots...now 33 knots, top speed...and still we got no trouble hearin' Bing even if we open the moonroof!"

With this last statement, Lazzara hit a dashboard switch that hydraulically retracted a large, overhead panel, allowing lots of sunlight to pour down through the aerodynamically tweaked hardtop but not enough wind-associated noise to add a single decibel to the incredibly low readings I'd recorded earlier. And I do mean incredibly low! Throughout the lion's share of the rpm register, sound levels at the helm had been below 65 dB-A, the threshold of normal conversation. Only at cruise speed (3250 rpm) and wide-open throttle (3450 rpm) had they gone higher, but to just 67 dB-A and 68 dB-A, respectively.

"Man," I exclaimed, as Lazzara silenced The Bingster with a flourish that validated his favorite singer as well as the sound- and vibration-attenuating system that includes a modular monocoque interior elastomerically secured on high-durameter rubber isolators; two engine-room bulkheads separated by dead air and Soundown foam; a composite superstructure with an acoustical/thermal-insulating lining; paneling floating on Velcro fasteners; and of course, the soft-mount engine installation that IPS is famous for. "I can't remember the last time I tested a boat this quiet."

Energized by the comment, Lazzara jumped into the next aspect of his presentation: agility. After I was once again behind the wheel and he was riding shotgun, Lazzara suggested a hard-over turn, which I did, sending the 75 into a circle that had about half the turning radius, or maybe less, of a conventional inboard boat. This bit of sprightliness was cool but hardly mind-blowing—I'm familiar with IPS' corner-carving capabilities in open water—but what happened next was truly amazing. As Lazzara explained how the "automotive-type differential capabilities" of the 75's electronic, computerized IPS steering system can be made to sharpen turns well beyond hard over, I corkscrewed the boat into an ever-tightening series of circles by simply continuing to crank the wheel. "Whoa!" I exclaimed in the midst of a tight, adrenaline-rushy track around a big green bell buoy, "the faster I turn the wheel...the faster she turns."

"Great big express boat that handles like a runabout," Lazzara concluded once I'd calmed down enough to steady the 75 up on the Sunshine Skyway bridge and begin beelining west, with my helm chair electrically tweaked for maximum comfort and my adjustable LCD navigational display tilted just right. A meaningful pause ensued once I'd cleared the bridge, described a tight arc, and settled into the long trip east, back to Lazzara's manufacturing facility. He had one more trick up his sleeve, he said: I was gonna drive the 75 the whole way and then dock her stern first in the make-ready slip, a tricky little spot with a bunch of barnacle-encrusted pilings sticking out on one side.

The trip back was fun. What's not to like about a big, high-tech express with a superstructure reinforced with a steel and graphite matrix that mimics the roll cage of a Nascar racer; superb visibility via three giant insulated Pro-Curve windshield panels and an assortment of stylish, all-encompassing windows; and a host of groovy performance parameters including rousing top speed, modest running angles, and exceptionally low IPS-generated fuel-consumption numbers? But eventually I arrived at the slip with the obtrusive pilings. "Be careful," yelled Lazzara from the cockpit, pointing.

Although the 75 offers one joystick-control station at the helm and another in the cockpit, I opted for the former, thinking that once I'd lowered the window over the wet bar at the rear of the saloon, I'd have some decent sightlines over the stern and thereby get a good feel for maneuvering from inside the boat. I squeezed outboard of the helm chair, with my back to the starboard-side helm station and the joystick abaft my left shoulder. Then with my right hand I rotated the boat slightly and began backing in, adjusting my angle of approach with the knob at the top of the stick and easing astern with modest backward bumps to the stick itself.

"Two feet to port," Lazzara yelled to me from the cockpit as the current rushed the 75 toward the pilings. In response, I simply rocked the joystick to starboard so that we'd sidle back upstream and, almost simultaneously, bumped the stick astern a few times to get safely past the obstruction. Easy!

"Somethin' else, eh?" Lazzara proclaimed as I shut down the Volvo Pentas with a beatific smile on my face. And indeed, the LSX Quad 75 sport express is just that. She's one of the quietest, smoothest-performing vessels I've had the privilege of sea trialing in years. And as far as close-quarters maneuvering goes, I'd say virtually anyone oughta be able to dock her under normal conditions with just a dollop of training. Safely, soundly, and succinctly.

For more information on Lazzara Yachts, including contact information, click here.

This article originally appeared in the February 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.