Without question, the swift and sultry Donzi 38 Daytona is one of most outstanding performance boats on the market.

Without question, the swift and sultry Donzi 38 Daytona is one of most outstanding performance boats on the market.

New high-performance boats hit the market all the time, but not all are hits. Far from it — some impress in performance but disappoint in construction. Others look great, but feel totally lost in open water. Some pamper your tootsies, but put your feet to sleep when it comes to performance.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that none of this is acceptable to you. Let's say you're in the market for a 38-foot, high-performance offshore boat. You refuse to compromise and have the wallet to back up your boat-buying convictions. If this is you, then the Donzi 38 Daytona 38 is your boat.

For around $250,000, the 37'9"-long, 9'3"-wide model can be had with twin 470-horsepower HP500EFI motors from Mercury Racing. With heftier motors from the Mercury Racing line, such as the new HP575EFI or HP800SC, that price could jump to $350,000 and beyond, depending on the other options you happened to choose.

No question, that's spendy, but consider what you get. First, the boat is meticulously built with high-tech lamination materials including Kevlar and carbon fiber. The 38 Daytona is painted using a process developed by BASF called Diamont. The process includes five layers of ClearCote, each of which is buffed after application.

"It's the same paint system Porsche, Mercedes and BMW use," said Steve Simon, director of high-performance for Donzi Marine in Tallevast, Florida.

To reduce weight while beefing up structural integrity, the boat's hull and deck are vacuum-bagged, a construction process that "sucks out" all unnecessary resin. The hull and deck also are cored entirely with Baltek balsa.

Balsa, in fact, comes into to play in a major way again in the 38 Daytona. From top to bottom, the cabin is constructed of balsa. Cabin components such as cabinetry are glassed into place. This is a major departure from the popular deck liner concept, where the bulk of the cabin structure is part of the deck. According to Simon, the balsa-built cabin makes the 38 Daytona lighter and stronger.

Simon added that for 2001 the Donzi 38ZX, the basic platform for the upgraded 38 Daytona, will have a balsa-constructed cabin. The only significant change for the 38 Daytona for 2001 will be in the thickness of its balsa coring, which will go from 3/4-inch to 1-inch depending on placement to 1 inch throughout the boat.

As for the cabin itself, it features a full galley with a top-loading refrigerator and a stand-up head compartment. All cabin lighting is of the indirect and decidedly sultry kind. Like the upholstery for the two McLeod bolsters (with power drop-outs and footrests) and wrap-around bench in the cockpit, all upholstery in the cabin is color-matched to the red and blue accents of the boat. Those same color accents are founded in boat's engine compartment on the screw jacks that raise the engine hatch and diamond plate on the side of each motor.

Color matching, you see, is part of the Daytona package, right down to the bezels for the Gaffrig instruments at the helm. But the most impressive aspect of the Daytona package, at least in the case of the 38, is performance. The boat rides on a 22-degree deadrise, two-step bottom and feels substantial and stable in the rough conditions. It knifes through head-on, quartering and following seas softly and smoothly, even at speeds approaching 80 mph. Yet in smooth water, the 38 Daytona feels like a small hot rod. It accelerates explosively out of the hole. It enters turns with a comforting inward lean, holds that angle of attack throughout corners without any unsettling bobbles, and exits without minimal roll to the outside.

Expect the 38 Daytona to run in the 80-mph range with some of Mercury Racing's more powerful engines, or even a pair of custom-built motors, and you won't be disappointed. Assuming you're comfortable running at that speed, you also won't be intimidated. The 38 Daytona doesn't compromise stability at the expense of speed.

Truth be told, the 38 Daytona doesn't compromise anything.
Specifications: Donzi 38 Daytona
Length overall:37'9"
Dry weight:11,500 pounds
Transom deadrise:22 degrees
Fuel capacity:232 gallons

For more information
Donzi Marine
P.O. Box 987
Tallevast, FL 34270
(941) 727-0622.

Written by: Matt Trulio
Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.