2010 Donzi 38ZR & 38ZRC

Reviewed by Richard Crowder

Donzi 38 zrc

Ask any Donzi aficionado, of which there are thousands, and I am sure that to a person, they will attribute the stunning rebound, and almost re-birth, of this venerable hi-performance name in the past few years to one thing the coming on board of Craig Barrie, one of the best known and respected names in offshore racing and hi-performance boat building.

Craig’s influence is noticeable across Donzi's entire line-up of V-bottoms and center consoles, but perhaps most evident in the 38, a stalwart of its V-bottom offerings for many years. He has brought not only necessary upgrades to the construction and build-quality of its boats, but also more noticeable and desirable refinements and improvements to the design, appearance, finishing details, and aesthetic qualities.

Outwardly, the 38 ZR and 38ZRC (Competition) share almost the same ventilated dual-step, variable deadrise hull, dedicated 5-seat cockpit arrangement, and recommended maximum horsepower of 1075 per side, but after that, most comparisons become contrasts. Telling them apart is relatively easy as the ZR’s foredeck sports a raised section just ahead of the helm with a full-width venturi-type windscreen, whereas the ZRC’s foredeck is flat and sports dual quarter-canopy wind protection. Looking down on the two, the ZR has an integrated swim platform and foredeck anchor locker (both absent on the ZRC), and two interior ventilating deck hatches replaced with two stowage hatches on the ZRC. The ZR’s beam is 6” wider at 8’8” versus the ZRC at 8’2’’, and at an LOA of 38’8”, is 7” longer than the ZRC, due to the swim platform.

The biggest difference between the two is that the ZR has a full cabin with dedicated head compartment, mini-galley, facing lounges, and a V-berth all accessed through a sliding, curved, fibreglass entry door, while the ZRC is devoid of any cabin. Because of this, plus the lack of an added swim platform, narrower beam, plus lighter-weight construction, the ZRC weighs in 800 pounds lighter than the ZR, and as a result, power-for-power, is considerably faster.

The helms of the two boats are also noticeably different, with the ZRC being all business in its approach with available dual instrumentation and steering at both helms and center-mounted throttles, gears, and tab & trim controls. The primary driving position is on the port side. The ZR’s steering & controls are on the (usual) starboard side and the passenger dash sports a top-mounted cooler/storage and available GPS screen.

Both boats are set up for staggered engines to allow the props to be closer together. The ZR is offered with four Mercury Racing engines/drives from twin 525 EFI/Bravo 1’s to twin 850 SCi/#6’s. The ZRC offers a full complement of the customer’s choice of Mercury Racing, Ilmor, Sterling, Teague (or other builders) up to twin 1075 hp.

I have driven both boats, including Mercury Racing 1075’s with #6 drives in a ZRC and twin Mercury Racing 700SCi’s with NXT1 drives in a ZR and in both cases, the boat is exemplary in handling and predictability with no hairy moments whatsoever. They are both fast and stable and just a whole lot of fun. And yes, Donzi still builds the Classic 16, 18 & 22 models for which it is famous and which still bring knowing and knowledgeable nods of admiration and appreciation.

Length: 38' 1" 11.6 m
Beam: 8' 2"

2.48 m

Draft: 2' 4" 71 cm
Deadrise: variable  
Dry weight: 8700 lbs 3945 kg
Fuel Capacity: 210 US gals 795 l
Engine / Drive: Mercruiser Bravo I's or Dry Sump 6 Drives
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