Dick Lazzara loves pods—pod drives that is. As I crank his new 92-foot LSX into a high-bank turn at 31 knots, he looks at me, extracts his cigar from his mouth, and announces, "This is the future. I don't want to build another boat without pods." Sitting at the flying-bridge helm on a crisp, clear fall morning, I couldn't agree more. I never want to drive another boat without pods.
Obviously I'm emotional. I'm having what a friend of mine calls "big, dirty fun" with a yacht that's a study in contrasts: big but agile, mannerly but exciting, cushy but athletic, complex but simple. As to the latter, she's got more electronic doo-dads than Bill Gates' house yet she can be handled—including docking and undocking—by any doofus. Volvo Penta's IPS joystick control is part of the reason, but so is the boat's uncommon flexibility. With minimal bow rise throughout the range, any speed is perfectly fine with the LSX 92 (although there is a bit of a sweet spot at 2000 rpm).
Not only is there no hump, there isn't even a bulge. No trim tabs to mess with either, athwartships anomalies being adroitly addressed by electronic Trac stabilizers interfaced with the IPS. Driving is point and shoot, thanks to Volvo's elegant fly-by-wire steering. Unlike many electronic systems that feel about as connected to the boat as a video-game control, this one has the feedback of a pure mechanical system. It's also relatively quick: about 31⁄2 turns lock to lock. I say about because Lazzara programmed in "soft stops" where wheel travel ceases—unless you add muscle, in which case you can get another ten degrees or so of "rudder". That might come in handy if you suddenly come upon a lobster pot. Or if you just want to have a little big, dirty fun of your own.
My enthusiasm for pods stems from what they let this boat do; Lazzara's is as much about what they let him do, as both builder and designer. And he is a designer. At Lazzara Yachts, projects begin not on some CAD screen but in Dick's head, where crazy ideas (like a four-engine boat) and not-so-crazy ones have been rattling around for four decades. Those that make the cut migrate to paper and only then to the CAD studio.
This is relevant because Dick Lazzara and IPS—at least in its multi-engine manifestation—have evolved together. He has the instinct for weights and balances that is key to a successful multi-engine IPS installation in which so much mass is so far aft. (The 92's flat running angles are proof of his success.) He also knows lamination. One of the problems with a multiple-IPS installation—especially the four-engine kind—is that by the time you cut those big holes out of the bottom for the drives, there's not much fiberglass left to hold the boat together. What there is on the 92 is maximized by a laminate developed by Lazzara. Such savvy explains why the 92 can be stiff as a piece of rebar and not have a single full-height internal bulkhead.
The absence of bulkheads creates an uncommonly open plan in which you can nearly look through the boat from fore to aft on the main level and gaze from the lower helm down into the galley and eating area. If you're walking forward down the hallway from the lower-deck aft master (which in a straight-inboard boat would be engine room), you pass port and starboard guest staterooms. Flip a switch, and the bulkheads on either side become transparent and you can look through the hull-side windows to the water. Indeed the 92's got more glass area than an aquarium, from hull-side windows in the master to an an enormous windshield, to what's basically a solid-glass bulkhead separating the saloon from the cockpit. Despite the plethora of polished zebra wood, this is by no means one of those traditional dark, yacht-clubby interiors.
In fact, there's almost nothing traditional about the 92, and that's the way Lazzara conceived her. His two quad-IPS LSXs (the other being the 75) are iconoclasts, but the 92 makes the 75 look conservative. For starters, she sports the aggressive profile of a classic open boat (think Pershing or Mangusta) while having a practical flying bridge.
Then there's the fold-down balcony with Jacuzzi spa off a separate room in the master. Yeah, it's a gimmick but having sat there, I can tell you it's way cool. And it again showcases Lazzara's lamination expertise—another big hole he contended with. Or the Lazzara Beach Lounge, a garage-swim platform that morphs into an outdoor theater, complete with 42" LCD TV. Or the cockpit sunshade that extends from the hardtop. Or the sunroof over the lower station, which when you open it, manages not to create a roar. Tricks all, but ones that follow a singular theme: bringing the outside in.
As you'd expect of a boat that benefits from every lamination trick imaginable (vacuum bagging, E glass, graphite-balsa coring, graphite reinforcement), the 92 is relatively light—half-load displacement is 136,000 pounds on this first hull. Lazzara expects to trim 2,500 pounds by the time the 92 sees production. Combine moderate displacement with an absence of strut, shaft, and rudder drag and the efficiency of forward-facing, counter-rotating props, and you've got a recipe for efficiency—relatively speaking. At 2000 rpm, the 92 burns 84 gph at better than 25 knots. The most similar boat we've tested may be the Pershing 88 we did in August 2001 ("Mega-Sport Import"). Powered by two 1,830-hp MTU 16V2000s and Arneson drives, she made 25.2 knots at 1800 rpm and burned 120 gph. Admittedly, it's risky to compare an eight-year-old boat with a new one, but still...
There's one final IPS benefit Lazzara has used to full advantage: The far-aft position engine placement and integral underwater exhaust system produce a boat that doesn't need thousands of pounds of acoustical insulation. At 2150 rpm, I took decibel readings in every habitable space, and not one hit exceeded 68 dB-A, just over the level of normal conversation. What sound I did measure was water impacting the hull.
As good as the 92 is, she won't please everyone. This is a big, flashy, open boat that'll be just a bit much for some. But while these boaters may not want the flash, they surely will want the performance, spaciousness, and fuel efficiency that the marriage of IPS and Dick Lazzara's brain yields. But what can they do? After all, no one makes the motoryacht version of the LSX 92.
At least not yet.
For more information on Lazzara Yachts, including contact information,click here.
Things can get a bit complicated in an engine room housing four big diesels. A designer has to remember that certain pieces of gear have to be accessible. Like these sea water strainers, which are mounted horizontally, instead of the traditional vertical orientation, to save space. Each engine's strainer is mounted directly in front of it, along with its duplex Racor 900 fuel-water separator, just steps from the main engine-room door. So it's easy to see and service both, although if you have to pull some eel grass from a strainer, you'll probably spill some sea water into the bilge when you open it. A small price to pay for such convenience.—R.T.
138,000-Btu, 6-zone A/C; Headhunter MSDs; Lazzara 64-channel ISIS 500 vessel-monitoring system; 2/Onan 27.5-kW gensets w/ enclosures; Glendinning Cablemaster; isolation transformer; 3/40-amp Charles battery chargers; 3/20" and 3/15" LCD helm displays: Furuno NavNet system w/ 72-mile radar, GPS, depthsounder, and Sirius weather station; Simrad AP28EVC autopilot w/ repeater; KVH Tracvision; Anixter CCTV; 8/LCD TVs; p&s docking stations; 2/warping winches; Private Terrace; Miele washer and dryer
painted hull, deck, and bridge; Lazzara Beach Lounge; passarelle; ASEA shore power system; exterior teak; 12'6" Novurania tender; SeaDoo RXP 215 PWC; 32" LCD pop-up TV; Sunbrella package; underwater lighting; Jacuzzi spa in master baalcony room; 1,400-gpd Sea Recovery watermaker; electronic blinds on windshield; Brownie Hookah diving package; 4/ additional satellite HDTV receivers
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 4/680-hp Volvo Penta IPS 900 diesel inboards (preproduction)
- Transmission/Ratio: Volvo Penta/1.59:1
- Props: Volvo Penta P3 nibral
- Price as Tested: $8,892,825
This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.