It’s a little hard to get used to the idea that what we’re testing can be conceived as a luxury tender. Yet, the Zar 49 SL, where the initials stand for Sport Luxury line, is often used as a tender to service big yachts. In short, it’s actually a luxury tender.
Indeed, the Zar 49, the forefather of the Sport Luxury line, was created to improve and enlarge the qualities of Zar Formenti tender line. Openly inspired by the range which has made Piero and Luca Formenti‘s company internationally known for its luxury tender production, the SL line represents a considerable step forward in terms of design, performances and standard equipment.
Although this boat is not the latest model built by the shipyard, we decided to test it at the last Miami International Boat Show to appreciate its performances, as well as livability and real ergonomics of its deck. Since what immediately strikes when you see the entry level model of the Sport Luxury line is the remarkable cockpit design, whose details suggest the pursuit of an important goal: passenger safety and comfort while sailing, regardless whether the boat will be used as a tender for short trips or as a rib for longer cruises.
Let’s start from the first visual impact generated by the rib design. The corners which interrupt external lines, their discontinuity, like it or not, are immediately attractive. The Zar 49 doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s not an absolute value but this boat certainly has a strong personality and very harmonious lines which result into the great fluidity with which all parts merge together.
According to us, the result, at least in terms of appearance, is a very innovative design product which plays the card of sporty lines very well. On the other hand, functionality is the direct consequence of the experience of a production which has always focused on practicality, high quality materials and processing.
Tubulars, for example, are made of polyester, ypalon and neoprene whose junction to the hull is double and reinforced along the whole perimeter.
Functionality is also expressed by the two large swimming platforms located on the stern, the left one of which is equipped with a stainless-steel stepladder. They provide access to the pilot station, where the console is slightly decentralized on the starboard side. This way, instead of two narrow passages leading to the bow, there’s a single one comfortable access served by safe handrails on the left and a smaller but equally free passage on the opposite side.
Let’s focus on the pilot console for a while. The seat can accommodate two people and can be adjusted in order to steer the rib even in a semi-sitting position. On the other hand, rudders are adjustable in height. This is a great advantage because it ensures great adaptability according to the different physical conditions of the pilot. The station is therefore very ergonomic and equipped with a dashboard that, in the standard version, includes just the rev counter and a fuel indicator. However, there’s room enough to accommodate more equipment, including a map navigator to be installed on the starboard side.
In the Zar 49 we tested in Pompano Beach, about 50 km north of Miami, the fore triangle had the typical layout of a luxury tender, with the seats framing tubulars and one positioned next to the console. This way, the boat, which features a length of almost 5 metres, can accommodate 9 passengers.
The versatility of the rib allows to install an additional plan to protect the triangle and obtain a large sun pad for a more Mediterranean environment. All versions always feature spacious stowage volumes. There are, in fact, 8 lockers in total: four on the bow, one next to the console, another on the stern and two in the stern section of the cockpit. This way, also the needs of a crew involved in a day trip are fully met.
If aesthetics, design an high-quality materials are the key elements you can immediately notice on this Zar 49, hull is less visible but equally essential to contribute to the success of these boats. We’ll appreciate its qualities during our test but, even at berth, we can easily recognize the elements which make it exclusive and successful.
The final design results from the intuitions of Francesco Ambosini, the technical skills of Piero Formenti and the production of many prototypes. What we can see now is a deep V-shaped hull well-protected and reinforced by two side tunnels. Furthermore, the choice to delete the fore tubular and move the transom backwards makes the hull of the Zar 49 longer and therefore more performing compared to other boats of the same size.
We test the boat with a 15-knot east wind and an about half-a-metre wave which will gradually weaken during the day. We proceed slowly until the last signals which tell us we are still in waters free from low bottoms. The Suzuki 90 Hp engine runs silently at 1,800 rpm pushing us at 8 knots. This is the standard motorization envisaged by the manufacturer for the 40-100 Hp range.
With negative trim, we start to increase both engine revolutions and speed. We start surfing in 3 seconds at 11 knots, which means that progression is great. Indeed, at 4,000 rpm, speed is steady at 20 knots: just 500 revolutions more are sufficient to gain 5 knots. The bow wave stresses the rib but the pilot station is always protected and safe. Protected by the handrail, the post on the left, too, is quite safe and comfortable.
At this speed, we start to test the real qualities of the hull, running both against waves and on a beam wind which often exceeds 18 knots: the deck is always perfectly dry and water sprays are efficiently absorbed by side tunnels.
Course holding is particularly convincing in all sailing points. And the deep V-hull ensures an extraordinarily smooth impact on waves without compromising speed or steerability.
At full throttle we finally reach the maximum speed: 37 knots at 6,000 rpm. It’s something more than a simple speed measurement. It sounds like a promise made by the Zar 49: ” take some centimeters of wave off and I’ll give you all my 40 knots”.
Conditions of the sea trial. We experienced our test at Pompano Beach, Miami, with a wave of almost 50 cm, 15-not wind, two passengers on board and fuel tank at 30%
Suzuki 90 Hp engine
|Length Overall||4.90 m|
|Inner Length||4.90 m|
|Inner width||1.74 m|
|Unladen displacement||450 kg|
|Engine||Suzuki 90 Hp|
|CE certification||C category|