Lazzara Breeze 76: Boating Can Be A Breeze

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In business for more than 20 years, and building on a family history of boatbuilding that spans a half-century, Lazzara Yachts has made a mark on American boating. Lazzara’s evolution was plainly evident on a recent sea trial aboard the new Breeze 76, the most recent addition to the growing family of boats to come out of the innovative Tampa, Florida-based shipyard.

Dick Lazzara, at the helm of the newly launched cruiser with two of his constant companions—a cigar and a smart phone—jokes he’s called everyone out. And, in fact, we motor past a great number of Lazzara boats, out like us to enjoy a great blue sky, a mild breeze and minimal waves. Dick points to a boat cruising a few yards away from us. “There is a boat that I did 20 years ago,” he says. Hull Number 1 of the 76-footer series was launched in 1992, two years after he and brother Brad sold their shares in Gulfstar Yachts (a sailboat builder created by their father Vince Lazzara) and set out on their own with the idea of waking up the world of motor boating. The shipyard built about 50 of these alone.

Dick says this is the new generation of that first cruiser. This new model with the refreshing name of Breeze proves without a doubt that it is possible to improve on the classic American cruiser. The Breeze 76 features better maneuverability, a bigger flybridge and greater interior volume than the original. To boot, it is versatile, with a 20-knot cruising speed or a 1,100-nautical-mile range at 10 knots. It features a comfortable interior with five cabins (including a captain’s cabin), an open galley with breakfast nook, nice salon with dining area and a stylish décor that is comfortably modern. And did we mention maneuverability?

The Lazzara team has docked the boat in a hard-to-reach slip, one of the last spots along a narrow canal dead-ending with a low-lying bridge. For anyone other than a pro, extricating a conventional 78’ two-propeller, two-engine boat could be a sweat-inducing exercise.

Even if Dick is a pro—and a sailor, no less—it still is fun to watch how he executes a U-turn effortlessly, using the small joystick on the Breeze’s compact flybridge console, all the while carrying on a conversation with a couple of people standing near the helm. And as if to further prove his point (that this really is child’s play), he decides to pick up his wallet from another Lazzara docked along the canal, sliding sideways until we are within arm’s reach of the other boat. He pockets the forgotten wallet and off we go.

Several years ago, Lazzara Yachts’ chief designer and president Dick Lazzara decided to embrace a newer type of propulsion, which, in addition to the very real advantage of more economical fuel consumption, has added immensely to the pleasure of boating, making it more accessible to less experienced boaters and allowing boat designers to increase interior volume.

The innovative LSX series launched in 2006 featured Volvo Penta’s IPS, installed in a quadruple configuration. Then came the LSX 92, also equipped with quadruple IPS. Back then, Dick told me in an interview he was not planning on looking back. For this cruiser, he partnered with CMD and Zeus. The power comes from triple 600-hp Cummins MerCruiser diesels coupled to three tunnel-mounted Zeus pods, all controlled electronically. The system not only includes joystick control and autopilot, it has the handy Skyhook station-keeping feature. The latter, at the switch of a button, keeps the boat stationary, even in a current, without dropping anchor. We tested it in Port Everglades and despite a strong current, the boat did not move much from its coordinates. The yacht is also equipped with small, fast-moving fins by Trac, which the generators can run when the boat is at anchor. So, in effect, it has zero-speed stabilizers, not a common feature on boats this size.

The triple engines provide flexibility. It is possible, for instance, to shut one off and cruise with two. It’s helpful in case of a mechanical problem, and it’s also great to conserve fuel. We tried it, cruising at 10 knots or so, and you couldn’t tell the difference. You can putter around in the Bahamas and then hurry back to Fort Lauderdale, all on one tank of fuel if you play your cards right.

After we left the inlet and pointed the bow north, it was all perfectly pleasant cruising at 19 to 20-plus knots through an ocean uncharacteristically quiet for that time of the year. The boat was exceptionally level, gently riding the waves. So I decided to walk around.

The flybridge deck is spacious and cleverly laid out so that the skipper never has to feel that he or she is missing all the fun happening in the back. Dick says he got the idea from the Portuguese bridge on a big Lürssen to set the helm station aft of a nice salon with banquettes and tables forward. So whoever is handling the boat, especially on as beautiful a day as today, can chat amicably with up to 10 family members and friends without turning into a contortionist. It makes perfect sense. There’s a wet bar with stools and storage for towels, a table with banquette seating and room aft for beach chairs. A safety hatch closes off the stairs.

The aft deck is set with a nice table and another bench. The side decks are wide and protected with high rails, built-in steel-reinforced solid vinyl PVC and an overhang. The foredeck features another salon area. This particular hull has a fixed table and banquette seating, but the foredeck could just as well be set with a hi-lo table that could be covered with plush cushions and convert ed into a sunbathing area. That would make it perfect—“best seat in the house,” as Dick puts it.

The salon is bright and airy, with large panoramic windows. There is a small dining area on the port side, opposite a wet bar close to a side exit door and stylish interior stairs leading to the flybridge. Forward is a fully equipped galley and a nice spot for breakfast or lunch. Stairs lead to the lower-deck accommodations: the VIP in the bow, a cabin with twin beds and one with a double bed at centerline, and a great master stateroom with ensuite and walk-in closet with a window. The bed is positioned under the portside window facing the other set of portholes and a banquette. They are located close to the waterline, so you can watch the waves rise alongside. I did that for a while, listening for engine noise. It was minimal.

So is it possible to improve on a classic? Look what Lycra did for denim. This modern cruiser makes a very strong case that you can add technology and sophistication without losing the spirit of the classic American cruiser. ■

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LOA: 77'8" (23.67m)
LWL: 62'2" (18.95m)
Beam: 18'5" (5.61m)
Draft: 4'5" (1.35m)
Displacement (half load): 52.5 tons (47,600 kg)
Fuel capacity: 1,300 gal. (4,921 L)
Freshwater capacity: 300 gal. (1,136 L)
Engines: 3 x QSC8.3-liter, 600-hp Cummins
Transmission: CMD Zeus pod system
cruising speed: about 20 knots
Max.range: 1,100 nm@10 knots
Generators: 2 x Onan 23 kW
Construction: composite
Finish: UV-resistant gelcoat
Stabilizers: Trac fins
Design: Lazzara Yachts
Builder: Lazzara Yachts