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Spotlight On Donzi 38 ZRC No. 1

Several months ago, Indianapolis-based performance-boat owner Robert Lipps reached out about coverage of a new Advantage 29 X-Flight ordered. Not having reported on any new builds from the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., builder, in several years, I jumped at the opportunity and am looking forward to covering the delivery when it happens next month.

Donzi 38 ZRC hull No. 1 isn’t just part of the brand’s past—it will play a role in its future.

In the meantime, Lipps sent me a few photos of his current boat, a Donzi 38 ZRC powered by twin 710-hp Ilmor Marine engines with Arneson drives. He bought the boat 11 years ago as an all-white bare hull and thanks to his renovation efforts during the years—plus a Mitcher T paintjob—the 38-footer looks new.

But it’s not. In fact, as hull No. 2001-001 the 21-year-old boat was the first Donzi 38 ZRC built by the company, which was then located in Sarasota, Fla.

“It was built by the engineers at Donzi as a pleasure-boat,” said Lipps. “It never ran as a raceboat, though it was used as a paceboat for a few years. Doug Valentine (formerly with Donzi Marine) told me they used to call it the ‘lead sled’ because it was built so heavy.

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Lake Cumberland in Kentucky is home-water for Robert Lipps’ Donzi 38 ZRC.

The boat currently is at Caldwell Marine Designs in North Carolina with company principal Pete Caldwell, the son of marine industry great Jim Caldwell, its original hull designer. The younger Caldwell blueprinted the hull for Lipps after he purchased it from an owner in the Midwest.

Craig Barrie, who has been hired to lead Donzi into the future, said the boat will play a significant role in the development of future Donzi offerings.

“It’s a footprint we will use going forward,” he said. “It’s a great running surface with design detail that will spill into the next new developments.”

Beyond that, Barrie declined to offer specifics.

Lipps said he should have his 38 ZRC back in a week and he’s looking forward to running it on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky this season, where he and his wife have a second home.

“It’s just a fun boat and easy boat to drive,” he said. “And it’s fun for passengers, too, because there is a great view from every seat.”

Though it looks new, Lipps’ Donzi 38 ZRC is 21 years old.

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