Barry Thompson looks at the latest Doral Alegria, the first boat in Australasia powered by Zeus pod drives.
The Doral Alegria XL is the largest of a nine model sports cruiser line up from one of Canada’s most highly respected boat builders. With a history dating back over 35 years, Doral has established an international branding with representation in over 25 countries.
While the brand has been in Australia now for a number of years, it has only recently been available in New Zealand. Noel McKenzie, of Laurie Collins Marine in Auckland landed the first Doral just prior to Xmas 2007 and with it introduced the first boat in Australasia with the new CMD Zeus drive.
While we detailed the Zeus extensively in the previous issue of PMY, we didn’t talk a lot about the Doral Alegria, the boat used for the release. After Noel spent the summer break learning all he could about this awesome package, I got the opportunity to try it out for myself.
I have long been an exponent of the pod drive and while I am now very familiar with the Volvo IPS, the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Zeus powered boat for more than a quick press day was exciting.
So before we go into the finer details of the boat, I need to extol the virtues of Zeus. Right from the start the Zeus transforms the boat and without it I am quite sure it would not be anywhere near as good. Good perhaps but not great. To drive a pod drive boat is the ultimate buzz, especially when you have a certain bent for speed and handling.
The Alegria is available in shaft or pod drives with both Volvo IPS and CMD Zeus offered. Noel stated that from all the enquires he has had he can’t see himself bringing in a shaft drive version.
Most 15m sports boats such as the Doral perform fine with conventional shafts or stern drives, but it’s not until you actually get to spend some serious time at the helm that you appreciate the difference the Zeus pod drive makes.
Firstly there is the performance of the Doral Alegria. With a pair of 500hp Cummins 8.3 litre engines through conventional shafts the top speed is around 27.5 knots. With a pair of CMD Zeus QSB 480S that increases to around 35.5 knots. An increase of 8 knots.
Fuel consumption ratios are also better with Zeus with a maximum of 0.72nmpg/51.1 gph @3440 rpm, against 0.54nmpg/50.7gph @ 27.5 knots for the shaft drive 8.3 litre Cummins. Best cruise for the Zeus was around 26.5 knots @ 2750 rpm for 30.3gph/0.88nmpg. The shaft drive model has the sweat spot at 14.1 knots @ 1750rpm for 18.1gph/0.78nmpg. Running the shaft boat at the same speed as the Zeus – 26.5 knots – fuel consumption is nearly 36 gph @ 2250 rpm for 0.65 nmpg.
Acceleration is also quicker throughout the range with Zeus, especially from holeshot. But it is the precise control that you have over conventional drives that really stands out. You can play with the Zeus powered Alegria like a small runabout. It has instant response, with a fine balance between what you command the boat to do and how remarkably quick it reacts.
With the Skyhook electronic anchor option your whole approach to boating changes. You simply stop where you want, turn on Skyhook and the twin Zeus pods do all the work. Via GPS Skyhook just simply holds your boat virtually right on the spot you asked it to. If you park in a fast flowing stream you can really see the two drives working together to hold position. Within the confines of the marina the boat doesn’t move and the pods do their thing very quietly.
Then there’s the fact that you can ‘walk’ the boat sideways into a dock or down a narrow fairway to your marina. Great concept that really works.
All this new technology costs, be it IPS or Zeus, but if you are happy to pay for the new technology then go for it. The Doral Alegria with shaft drives is available from $NZ979,000 /$A???????. With CMD Zeus and a few other extras, the boat I tested had a $NZ1.1 million price tag. Personally I reckon it was worth every extra dollar!
When you first step aboard the Alegria you can’t help but be impressed with the cockpit layout. There is an atmosphere of entertaining, but with the right concessions for comfortable cruising. If you are content to leave the keen fishermen on the boarding platform, which has a couple of built-in wet lockers for the bait and catch, then the large cockpit is ready for day or night time use. This is a boat that doesn’t come with any rod storage, but there is certainly an overkill on the drink and bottle holders.
Large wrap-around squabs provide excellent seating both fore and aft, with a wet bar, complete with sink unit, bbq and fridge/freezer to port. The starboard side couch is over 3m long.
The helm is contoured with varnished cherry timber, with ample space for all the necessary controls and instruments. Along with the controls and electronic instrumentation that comes with the engine, including Smartcraft, our test boat was also fitted with the Raymarine E120 nav system.
You can use one of three driving positions. There is the standard double helm seat with thickly padded squabs, which you can also convert to a raised bolster or if you prefer you can stand to drive.
For all-round protection the Alegria comes with a fibreglass hardtop with clears and there is even a rear awning to protect the remainder of the cockpit from the harsh UV rays when the boat’s moored for extended periods. The cockpit sole is finished with laminated teak flooring, which extends through to the large boarding platform.
A neat feature is the collapsible ladder over the companionway glass sliding door to the lower deck areas and foldaway centre windscreen for ease of access to the foredeck. There’s even a sliding flyscreen door for bug protection.
Being the XL version due to the pod drive implants, there is extra space available inside with the aft cabin benefiting by almost a metre. Although low in profile, there is ample sitting headroom over the double berth and enough standing room on the port side, where there is a vanity, stool and full height locker.
Alongside is the head/shower compartment, which is also used by the rest of the boat as the day head. A green Corian bench top and raised bowl add a nice touch.
Alegria is a two-cabin boat and unlike some of its competitors it has two completely private cabins. The second cabin is in the forepeak where a queen size double berth is surrounded by plenty of storage areas including two hanging lockers with aromatic cedar lining. Standard for the cabin is a dedicated air conditioning, plus natural light and ventilation is available from side and deck ports.
The forward cabin has its own en-suite, which is a fully grp moulding with composite vanity top, with wood trim and raised glass bowl, plus a Vacuflush head. Opposite is a full size shower with teak seat and opening port for light and ventilation.
Separating the two cabins is the internal lounge and galley area, with a combination of high gloss light and dark timbers, cream leathers and a brushed Milano stainless steel galley bench.
The galley is surrounded by extra large overhead lockers, and comes with a convection microwave, two burner electric stove, fridge, freezer, trash receptacle and stainless steel stove fan. It is extremely well set out and offers generous bench space for food prep and serving.
Opposite the galley, an adjustable table base drops down to allow you to turn the dining area into another berth and like the other two cabins does offer a degree of privacy. The saloon sole is a combination of carpet over fibreglass and timber flooring for the high traffic areas. A TV and DVD player can be mounted on the forward bulkhead.
Silver venetian blinds, with mood and direct pelmet lighting accentuate the simple yet elegant decor of the saloon.
The Doral Alegria is just one of many entrants in the sport cruiser market and it joins some serious tough competitors. However it has the right pedigree, good styling and undoubtedly the performance to succeed. C’est Magnifique!
- Design Name: Doral Alegria
- Designer: Doral
- Year Launched: 2008
- LOA: 14.42m
- LOH : 13.79m
- Beam :4.22m
- Deadrise: 19 deg
- Draft: 1.04m
- Displacement: 14 tonne (est)
- Max Speed: 36 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Fuel Cap: 1500 litres
Water Cap: 350 litres
- Construction : grp/balsa core
- Engines: 2 x CMD QSB 480 Zeus
- Base Price: $NZ979,000
- Price as Reviewed: $NZ1.1 million