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HomeProjectsRepower Project Follow-Up: Donzi 38 ZFX Gains 17 MPH with Verado 400R Outboards

Repower Project Follow-Up: Donzi 38 ZFX Gains 17 MPH with Verado 400R Outboards

In January, I wrote about the repower/restoration of a Donzi 38 ZFX center console that Dave Govatos at MDG Performance Marine in Edgewater, Md., was working on. Part of the project was swapping out the triple Mercury 250-hp Verado outboard engines for a trio of Mercury Racing Verado 400Rs.

“The new motors really woke it up,” said Govatos, who has seen a top speed of 79 mph since repowering the boat, which topped out at 62 mph with the 250-hp engines. He has even participated in a couple of poker runs this year on Chesapeake Bay.


Thanks to 1,200-hp worth of Verado 400R outboards from Mercury Racing, this Donzi 38 ZFX runs nearly 80 mph.

“We ran with the 70-mph boats and we smoked a bunch of them with eight people in the boat,” he said.

Govatos had been running 22-inch-pitch propellers at 6,000 rpm with a 1.85:1 gear ratio with the 250-hp motors. With the Verado 400R outboards, Govatos can turn 24-inch-pitch props through 1.75:1 ratios and spin them closer to 7,000 rpm. He noticed that while the 250s’ power curve seemed to plateau at higher rpm, the 400Rs have the curve set to keep the power coming in the upper rpm ranges.

Previously, if he wanted to cruise at 50 mph, he was running the 250s at 5,300 to 5,500 rpm. With the Verado 400Rs, he cruises at 50 mph at 4,000 to 4,500 rpm. According to Govatos, the 38-footer rides well at those speeds.

“It feels like you’re doing nothing,” he said.

When Govatos does nail the throttles at 55 or 60 mph, he said the acceleration plants him hard against the cockpit’s new bolsters, which were handled by Premier Performance Interiors in Sarasota, Fla. The interior upgrade also included a second set of bolsters aft of those at the helm station.

Govatos has the Verado 400Rs mounted in the same position as the 250-hp motors—he thinks he can raise them a bit to see what that produces for performance gains. If they’re noteworthy, we’ll update his progress.

Related story: Repower Project: Triple Verado 400Rs to Breathe New Life Into 38-Foot Donzi