ONE BIG HARDTOP
The Lazercraft 930HT is big – very, very big. At 9.70m in overall length and 2.95m in beam, it’s the biggest boat we’ve tested for the magazine! Freddy Foote went to Dunedin and tested this awesome beast on a blustery Dunedin Harbour.
To date the Lazercraft 930 Hardtop is the biggest boat we’ve ever tested in 10 years of the magazine’s history. Before that, the honour was held by the Southern 920HT, which we tested only last month, although the Lazercraft is only 200mm longer and 150mm wider!
In fact, once you’re onboard the 930, it makes you think twice as to whether it’s a large trailerboat or a small launch!
With a changing market, for a lot of builders particularly in the aluminium-manufacturing segment, big boats are where it’s at, and for prominent Dunedin builder Lazercraft it’s no different.
With the company’s biggest production model, the 740 Hardtop selling well for a number of years, it was just a matter of time before a bigger model was designed.
“We’ve been asked for a long time to do a bigger model in the 9m bracket. A client came back to us, who had had a 740 for a number of years, and asked if he could have a bigger one, so we put our thinking cap on and got it going,” says Gavin Child, managing director of Lazercraft.
This particular 930, Southern Man III, had been built to the owner’s requirements to cater for extended trips away to such places as Fiordland, Manapouri, Wanaka, Queenstown and Stewart Island to name a few, which is why the boat has such an extensive enclosed saloon area.
This is the first of what the company intends will be three models, an 8.6m, 9.3m and a 10m.
“Everyone has their own ideas about how they want their boat set up, and we are only too happy to go through those ideas and find concepts that will work effectively. This particular boat has a huge saloon area on it, but we can shorten that and have a bigger cockpit if need be,” says Gavin.
While the cockpit isn’t as big as you would expect for a boat of its size, it is still plenty functional for a number of people to fish. Obviously being an inboard, a reasonable chunk of the cockpit is taken up with the engine and its box. To further enhance the cockpit, an extended boarding platform provides more space aft, and is finished with a stainless steel safety rail. A very large bait board also lifts up and attaches to the back of the transom, while the squabs on-top of the engine box lift up and two catch bins can be positioned.
For cleaning up the cockpit area, a venturi wash down hose is located in the aft port corner, while a pump assisted hose is located on the aft starboard corner. Large side shelves will accommodate items such as gaffs, boat hooks or rods.
In the forward section of the cockpit in the starboard corner is a fridge freezer unit that is fully removable. The owner opted not to have a fridge unit fitted into the main saloon, as it just didn’t suit his needs. A built-in fridge unit is available as an option.
A slide-out canvas awning is a great feature for the cockpit, providing protection from not only the sun but also that Fiordland rain!
The saloon is a really innovative part of the boat; where so much thought has gone into layout, concepts and practicality to make the most of the space available. The combined forward saloon and cabin areas have been designed in a way that you can accommodate six people overnight, plus an additional one or two, who could bunk down on the floor if need be.
On entering the saloon, a head and shower is located immediately to port. It’s accessed with a neat aluminium door, the same style as the doors to the cockpit. It provides full standing headroom and a window for ventilation. To fully waterproof it, the inside has been coated with a durable plastic coating, pretty much the same as what you would find on the tray of a ute. While it may not be everyone’s preference to have access to the head and shower from inside the saloon, it was the owner’s requirement on this particular boat. Purely because he didn’t want to have to do battle with the Fiordland mosquitos every time he goes to the head!
A heat exchanger is run off the Yanmar diesel to provide hot water to the boat. However, if you should wish a more steady supply of hot water, a califont is easily installed.
Again, to cater for the extended trips away, this 930 has also been fitted up with a full onboard sewage treatment system, with a 30L capacity, meaning that all waste can be treated to a level where it is able to be pumped out through a seacock.
Along the starboard side is the galley which contains an oven with cooker above and sink alongside. Plenty of drawer storage space is available right along the built-in unit. When the sink is not in use, the whole unit; with the exception of the oven, converts with the addition of squabs, into a large bench seat. The squabs are easily removed and stored.
As I mentioned earlier in the story, the owner of Southern Man III will be using it on a variety of South Island waters, and what’s more, year-round. A small 2kW diesel heater has been fitted underneath the helm seat, and while running almost silently, will blow out plenty of warm air into the saloon/cabin area, and also through some vents that will help keep the windscreen clear.
On the port side, an L-shaped settee has a variety of configurations. A table can fold out to full size and can also drop down so that a squab can be placed over it, converting the settee into a double berth. A side backrest can then lift up, and be locked into place using two aluminium stays, to form a bunk above. When it is all put back into place, with the table in the normal position, a passenger helm seat can also be positioned forward for when underway.
Forward in the cabin, two centre infills convert the vee-berth into a huge double, which is certainly big enough for two adults. A sliding door is also a great feature, to make the cabin private and seal it off from the saloon area. Plenty of storage space is also available in the cabin in behind lockers. A large deck hatch provides light and ventilation.
For those quiet nights while nestled in a bay somewhere in Doubtful Sound, a full entertainment system is available, which features a flip-down DVD screen that’s fitted just above the entrance to the cabin, and a CD player, both running through a number of speakers throughout the boat.
Storage space is plentiful in the saloon, with two large underfloor spaces available to hold dive bottles, and plenty of lockers and cubbyholes situated throughout the boat.
Lazercraft incorporates fibreglass into its boats, in the form of dashboards, and in fact the roof. The inside lining of the 930 is top class, with vinyl finishing the ceiling, and there are a number of handrails fitted above.
For the large amount of gear that’s been fitted into the boat, it runs some heavy duty power systems which include twin start-up batteries, twin house batteries, and a solar panel in the roof, which is designed to keep the batteries topped up, as the bilge pump will be on a float switch to keep the engine bay dry to cope with the Fiordland rainfall while sitting on a mooring.
Southern Ocean Experience
Test day was quite an experience to say the least! Having never boated on Dunedin’s harbour it was a new experience, and I was quite amazed at how long the harbour is, as we journeyed our way up through the channel markers, past Port Chalmers and towards the heads.
On arriving at the heads, wind against tide conditions had produced a blustery, rolling swell, which made me think, finally we get to test an appropriate boat in appropriate conditions! Leaving our camera boat behind (Lazercraft 580) we headed straight into the real rough stuff.
Lazercrafts traditionally have always been some of the best handling aluminium boats on the market, and while the 930 has an 18-degree deadrise, slightly shallower than that of the 740, it is still an excellent performer. Obviously for a boat its size the big 930 handled the conditions very well, as we played around in the swell and made good use of the twin wipers. In a following sea, the 930 tracked true and delivered a good ride despite the conditions. At times we had seemingly solid walls of water on the windscreen, and according to the guys on the camera boat, the 930 disappeared occasionally!
It’s a great boat to drive, the Yanmar 315hp diesel being a great match. The boat could be rigged with twin 4-stroke outboards, but with the ever rising price of petrol, a boat of this size is ideally suited to a diesel, and the performance is more than adequate – a 9.3m boat that can do nearly 38 mph!
The noise of the Yanmar wasn’t too bad; I was actually pleasantly surprised as to how unobtrusive the engine noise was. Certainly with the doors open you will hear it, but with them closed, we were able to converse without having to raise our voices.
Tabs are fitted, but we didn’t feel any need to use them, I think that the sheer size and weight of the boat meant that it would need to be some fierce wind to alter the boat’s ride.
The helm was busy with plenty of controls and dials – the Yanmar instruments, fuel flow meter, tab and winch controls, as well as a chunky Lowrance plotter/sounder.
Certainly, this rig is bordering on the absolute limit of a trailerboat. What’s more, to tow something this big you’re going to need a serious tow vehicle, something like a Ford F250 (a Kenworth would be ideal!). Of all the boats we’ve tested over 10 years, is this the ultimate weekender, or perhaps the ideal boat for extended trips away? Quite possibly!
- Model: Lazercraft 930 Hardtop
- Price as Tested: $250,000
- Packages from: $200,000
- Designer: Gavin Child
- Material: Aluminium
- Type: Hardtop
- LOA: 9.7m
- LOH: 9.3m
- Beam: 2.95m
- Deadrise: 18 degrees
- Hull Configuration: Moderate V monohull
- Trailerable Weight: 3500kg
- Height on Trailer: 3.15m
- Engine Capacity: 300-500hp
- Power Options: Sterndrive/twin outboards
- Fuel Capacity: 400L
- Water Capacity: 260L
- Black Water Capacity: 30L
- Make: Yanmar
- Model: 6LPA-STZP
- Horsepower: 315hp