The 1990s often seem barely past, a somewhat more distant yesterday, but nothing particularly distant. Yet, more than twenty years have passed, pushing those memories away from us and, perhaps, causing some truly excellent boats to fade in memory. When in doubt, as a reminder that there is also a really good second-hand market, here is a list of top boats from the February 2008 issue of Boats by Motor, 14 real exceptional“Youngtimers,” glories of the 1990s.
You may be interested in this article:
Apreamare Emerald 76 C – 7.50 m 
Planing Sorrentine goiters were invented in the 1980s, by Aprea. This was a remarkable innovation that was able to rattle abundantly in the boating world. If, until then, the gozzo was a slow, working boat, it immediately became a pleasure boat, on par with a ‘real’ speedboat. The Emerald 75 C, or the cabin version (7.50 x 2.99 m, sleeps 2+2), is one of the models that best represented the synthesis of classic lines, comfort and performance.
Powered by two inboards of 165 hp each, this planing gozzo reaches a top speed of 32 knots, thanks to its variable geometry hull, hidden under the guise of a displacement boat originally created for fishing. To the delight of sunbathers, the Emerald 75 has a sundeck (about 4 sq. m.) while boasting a warm and cozy interior (which in open-plan solution offers four comfortable beds), a kitchenette and a bathroom. The quality of craftsmanship in construction and finishing, for which Aprea is rightly famous, should also not be forgotten. Born in 1998 and produced, with a few differences, until 2005, the Emerald 75 C cost about 160 million liras at the time.
Performance 707 – 7.5 m 
Performance is a name certainly not chosen by chance; in fact, the Larian brand owes its international reputation to its hulls born to race, to offer breathtaking performance in total safety. One of the most successful models, along with the equally “mythical” 1107 is the 707 (7.50 x 2.50 m, sleeps 2) launched in the mid-1980s and long-lived in production. A first major restyling with changes also to the hull was made in 1992, while in 1997 the lines were softened, particularly in the stern sections, which nevertheless remain very clean and, overall, true to their origins.
Sleek profile, low freeboard and no stanchions or roll bars for this “pure” powerboat, often characterized by bold colors to emphasize its sporty vocation. Offered with a wide choice of engines, both single- and twin-engine, it was mainly sold with the 300-hp Mercruiser 350 Mag, but some units were even equipped with much greater powers, up to 485 hp, allowing it to pass the 50-knot wall with ease, touching 60. The deck is typical of the 1990s speedboat, with a full-beam aft sundeck, followed by a sofa. Two wraparound seats suitable for standing are reserved for the pilot and co-pilot. Of note is the beautiful dashboard, which often echoes the colors of the hull.
Fiart 27 Sport – 8.76 m 
It was one of the most successful models in the history of the Fiart brand in the last century. Offered in Sport and Cabin versions, the Fiart 27 (8.30 x. 2.74 m, sleeps 2/4) was produced from 1991/92 until 2002, when it was replaced by the Genius 28. Its strong point was its deep-V hull, which remained unchanged even on the 28 and was able to cut through waves with particular agility, as well as offering interesting performance. Top speeds around 40 knots thanks to 2×205 hp gasoline. On the other hand, the deck was distinguished by the unusual, especially for those times, solution of the passage to the bow through the opening of the central section of the windshield.
The Sport version, designed primarily for day trips, offers the classic full-width aft sundeck, followed by a sofa arranged by beam, served after the 2001 redesign by a cabinet with refrigerator, sink, and stove. A cabin with a dinette that converts to a double berth and a concealed toilet under the cushions completed the package. In contrast, the Cabin version, dedicated to an initial approach to cruising, with a more rounded deck, features a larger, habitable cabin with a bathroom in a separate room, a small kitchenette, and an aft berth tucked under the cockpit. On deck, on the other hand, the large aft dinette with C-shaped sofa and fold-down dunnage table stands out, around which up to 8 people can be seated comfortably.
Columbus Romance 32 – 9.72 m 
The triumph of tradition revised in a modern key. With the creation of the Romance 32 (9.72 x 3.05 m, sleeps 2), Giacomo Colombo’s talent was expressed to the fullest extent ever seen in his time. It did indeed revive the charm of the typical wooden speedboat of the 1960s through ingenious construction technique. He succeeded in combining thick layers of mahogany laminate with fiberglass, both in the molds of the still life and the deck. Indeed, the Romance 32 boasts fine mahogany workmanship, yet combined with the ease of maintenance of a fiberglass hull. Its lines are the classic ones of the ‘dolce vita’ days, clean, sleek, with recessed aft sundeck. The bow area, obviously pulled to a mirror finish, sports a luster that evokes that of the artifacts of the most skilled luthiers.
Beautiful and practical is the convertible canopy, which shelters the entire cockpit and disappears into a special compartment in the back of the aft sofa. Although this is a day trip boat, below deck we appreciate the presence of a small toilet room and a double berth ideal for a siesta. Beneath this romantic, retro look lies a hull with strong marine qualities, capable of nimbly exceeding 36 knots.
Albemarle 305 – 10.40 m 
The lines of the American fisherman, characterized by a beautiful horse-rider cresting and a freeboard that slopes conspicuously into the stern sections, are always current and never cease to gain wide acceptance from the market. A particularly versatile and not-too-busy model is the Albemarle 305 Express (10.40 x 3.50 m; sleeps 3), which, while favoring outdoor living, offers a cozy cabin with three berths, dinette, kitchenette and bathroom. Designed for demanding deep-sea fishing trips, this Cape Hatteras-born 10m can count on a reliable, high-performance hull that, under the thrust of 630 hp (with strictly shaft-line transmissions), exceeds 30 knots. The considerable fuel reserve also stands out, guaranteeing a cruising range close to 400 miles.
The deck is designed in detail to be functional for fishing activities, with tanks for live bait, catch and fresh and salt water hoses for washing the cockpit. Cockpit that offers as much as 7 sq. m. free of clutter, making it appreciated even by those who do not dabble with hooks and reels. Models produced since 2002, i.e., the latest version, have more elaborate finishes and the upper edge of the padded inner cockpit perimeter.
Tornado 38 – 11.40 m 
That is how it was and that is how it has remained by continuing to like it. In vogue for more than 25 years, the Tornado 38 (11.40 x 3.74 m, sleeps 4+2) is the ultimate “Spartan” boat. Essential, made to always sail, to experience the sea is devoid of anything that could be ruined. True to its origins, today more than ever it is a boat against the current, but that is precisely its strength. In fact, it is aimed at that particular niche of the market that is insensitive to fashions but nevertheless likes to stand out and that prioritizes marine qualities and functionality over the purely aesthetic aspect. The lines of this 11 m are typical of 1970s ‘Hollywood speedboats’ with a flat deck, stern platform not integrated with the hull, and a low windshield divided into four sectors, all joined with distinctly angled edges. Inevitable is the full-width aft sundeck, followed by the sofa and two wraparound seats for pilot and co-pilot. No dinette or mobile bar: useless.
But it is below deck that spartanity takes over: everything is made of fiberglass using counter-molded blocks, a feature that also applies to the dinette table. What could be better for easy maintenance? Despite appearances, over the years the shipyard has always been very attentive to technological developments in plant and engine technology. Today, with less powerful engines, performance similar to that of the more powerful originals is achieved, providing at lower consumption, speeds well over 45 knots.
Itama 38 – 11.65 m 
It was the most coveted speedboat of the 1970s. In 1998 it was revived in a more modern key, but still without betraying the purity of lines of the previous legendary model, thus maintaining, the same timeless class. The sporty vocation of theItama 38 (11.65 x 3.75 m, sleeps 4) is underscored by its performance: it can reach 50 knots with optional engines and surface propellers, but already with 2×450 hp it exceeds 40 knots with a noise level of not even 80 decibels. The interiors are made the most of, with a large forward master stateroom, a nice bathroom, and a convertible living room, so it also lends itself to cruising. But it is on deck that the Itama 38 offers its best. Here we find a full-beam aft sundeck, a driver’s seat to match performance, and a dinette for five.
In 2004, the Itama 38 gave way to the Itama 40, much more than a restyling of it, but a true re-engineering resulting from the experiences of the yard’s technical department. However, the aesthetics remained the classic one with a flush bow deck and a prominent wraparound windshield, this time tested in Ferrari’s wind tunnel in Maranello. The interior layout has also remained virtually unchanged with the square from the layout reminiscent of those typical of the 1980s.
Pershing 37 – 11.80 m 
Pershing was synonymous with the “Italian style” cruising open due to its remarkable rounded lines, proposed, among the first, by this very shipyard on the Pershing 37 (11.78 x 3.25 m, sleeps 4+1). In 1999, at the time of its launch, it was a cutting-edge boat, then, a classic adept at passing unmolested through the seasons. Produced in dozens and dozens of examples, it boasts a longevity dictated not only by aesthetics, aided by a design that was innovative at the time, but also by a whole series of design features that have proven successful over time and are destined to remain ever relevant, such as the Scrimp vacuum construction. After all, a large aft sundeck, a versatile cockpit surrounded by domed side windows, and a dashboard with a sporty layout could only make it as appealing then as later.
Timeless then are its slender, streamlined lines, while the interior layout is also interesting, offered in two versions: open space or with a separate forward cabin, but always with four berths and separate toilets. Instead, the dinette changes, which in the former case is larger and full-beam, while in the latter it is moved to the left side. In the engine cove are, with rare exceptions, two Cat 350s or 370s in the latest models, capable of pushing the boat up to 35 knots.
Boats from the ’90s: Rose Island Lobster 38 – 11.80 m 
At its debut in 1999, it was hard to imagine that a boat born for lobster fishing along the coast of New England could become a successful Mediterranean pilot boat, and for a somewhat snobbish audience to boot. Yet, slowly, the Lobster 38 (11.80 x 3.67 m, sleeps 3+1) succeeded in the feat. Particularly in later years there was a growth in appreciation to that kind of design, but Rose Island’s Lobster 38 remained the quintessential Italian Lobster. A beautifully handcrafted boat built with great attention paid to the smallest details, functionality and above all to reliability and safety when sailing, but also to comfort at anchor.
In fact, its hull design, with a center keel provides excellent static stability, so much so that when the boat is stationary pitching and rolling are minimized. With no racing vocation, the Lobster 38 is the boat that always brings you home, unfazed by adverse weather conditions, very dry and soft on the wave and able to maintain cruising regimes between 23 and 24 knots, even in rough seas. In ’99 it was offered with the maximum 2×300 hp Cat engine at a price of 494 million.
Italcraft Sarima – 11.85 m 
The Sarima was a name that made Italian boating history in the 1960s, so much so that over 700 units were sold between 1960 and 1980. In ’99 the shipyard found new owners who were able to take up the ideas and concepts of that wonderful boat, renewing it with the latest technologies and bringing back the Sarima we are talking about today. A modern boat, however, with the retro flavor of its progenitor.
Always its flagship, the hull allows for good performance even with small engines. With two 230 hp the top speed exceeds 37 knots and with 2×350 hp it touches 45 knots, not to mention the Ultra version, with 2x 480 hp Volvos mated to Arneson AS08 transmissions. A large, full-width aft sundeck stands out on deck, while the interior is distinguished by understated elegance and height, which is close to six feet. A beautiful dinette and two spacious double cabins with double beds, served by a single toilet room, complete the interior
Menorquin 120 – 11.98 m 
The Menorquins, which are still very famous and valuable today, were born as a revival of the Balearic gozzo in the second half of the 1970s. They soon became a comfortable cruising boat, dedicated to those seeking safe, quiet and unhurried sailing. The Menorquin 120 (11.98 x 3.94 m, sleeps 4+3) was unveiled in 1999 and featured undemanding dimensions combined with more than fair habitability. Like all of the brand’s models set on the lines of Catalan goiters, the 120 is distinguished by its profile. The bow right is practically vertical and culminating in the traditional pernaccia, shaped in wood, and the stern design, particularly rounded.
Below deck, the rooms are warm and inviting, featuring extensive use of teak or iroko, evoking the sobriety of true seafaring tradition. There are large spaces for entertaining, both on the main and lower decks, which are joined by two beautiful cabins served by a bathroom worthy of the name. Absolutely not insignificant, too, are the generous storage volumes. The displacement hull, featuring a prominent center keel, ensures safe and comfortable sailing even in rough seas. Performance? Cruising speeds near 13/14 knots, with highs of about 19 knots.
Boats from the ’90s: Azimut AZ 40 – 12.35 m 
Azimut, now at the top of European shipbuilding, took off in ’92/93, when the first examples of the new line, characterized by the absence of edges, came out. Wraparound windows and that sleek, aggressive look that everyone later adopted were in fact born in those very years. A legendary boat, the AZ 40 (12.35 x 4.05 m, sleeps 4/6) was also Azimut’s first boat built with sophisticated systems, ahead of the domestic market, that made the hull lighter and with a stronger gelcoat. The interior of the AZ 40 was offered in two versions: with three cabins and galley on the broadside and with two cabins (one memorable owner’s cabin) and galley in a reserved area; here, too, corners gave way to curves.
Also noteworthy is the aft cockpit, which is usually sacrificed on flies: here it is an impressive eight square meters. A mention also for the fly, with room for five seats and a truly remarkable sundeck. The motorization, two 306-horsepower Volvo engines in the standard version, allows 32 knots of top speed and 27 knots of cruising speed at 2400 rpm. It was produced from 1993 to ’97.
Dellapasqua DC 12 – 12.60 m 
A workhorse of the Ravenna brand since the 1990s, the DC 12 underwent its first major redesign in ’97, and a further update in 2000. The latter gave a more modern slant to side windows, now without edges and with softer shapes. It was substantially revised and corrected in 2006. In fact, the DC 12 SL features the lengthening of the hull by about fifty centimeters, the modification of the transom design and the windows. The DC 12 S (13.10 x 4.30 m, sleeps 6+2) is not characterized by originality of form but by a very classic and understated feel.
Its more than well-tested hull ensures safe sailing even in rough seas, and its interior layout, with three cabins and two bathrooms, is ideal for long-range family cruising. There are versions with a kitchen on the main deck and others on a lower level. Of course, neither luxury nor attention to detail should be sought aboard the DC 12 S, but it is functionality that takes over. The cockpit well sheltered by the fly superstructure and the large aft deck are practical, while performance is just right for cruising use. With standard engine, 2×450 hp Cummins, the cruising speed is around 24 knots, for highs of about 27 knots.
Boats from the ’90s: Fiart Genius 40 – 12.68 m 
Functionality and habitability are the watchwords for the Fiart Mare shipyard, which has always stood out for its performance hulls while offering good comfort. No glitz but quality, the kind that does not need to show off but is witnessed by time. Fiarts were sturdy boats, destined to last through the years, the first shipyard in Europe to be made of composite and characterized by those essential lines that never wane. Among the various successful models, the Genius 40 (12.68x 4.02 m, sleeps 4+2) is the one that best sums up the yard’s philosophy in the late 1990s.
Designed in 1999, the Fiart Genius 40 was an express cruiser studied in detail, both technically and hydrodynamically, but also in terms of aesthetics and habitability. The interior layout includes two double cabins and two bathrooms, as well as a spacious convertible dinette. Or three cabins and one bathroom. But the real essence of the 40 Genius was the livability of its deck. Here we find a large cockpit furnished with a U-shaped sofa and served by a large table with an extendable top that disappears flush with the dunnage when not in use. This area can also be transformed into a sunbathing area of more than 4 square meters. Until 2005, when production ended, 192 units were sold, both inboard and outboard powered.