Lazercraft 740 Sportman Hardtop
By Ian Miller
Lazercraft 740 Sportman Hardtop
I donât think so! This is the serious blue water diverâs ultimate machine.
Lazercraft has a 20 year pedigree. Gavin Child at that stage was successfully building boats for commercial operators working out of Dunedin, Bluff and Stewart Island.
Their main prerequisites: strength, a good ride and durability â they got all of these.
In 1991 Lazercraft entered the recreational boat market with a flourish, the 560 GT, winning Fishing Boat of the New Zealand Boat Show with its first appearance. The boat brought with it all the techniques used in constructing commercial craft, with an even more comfortable ride. The extremely sleek good looks. of this boat had thousands of critics scratching their heads in disbelief – how could such a finish be managed using aluminium.
Nothing has changed other than different models have been introduced to deal with individual market sectors. The 740 Sportsman is undeniably one of these new generation models. It targets the requirements of those dedicated souls who are happy to travel 100 kms offshore in often very average conditions to reach their diving or fishing mecca.
What are the requirements of the modern day blue water diver?
Divers are traditionally messy creatures who need vast quantities of room. Whether itâs spearfishing, photography or just general recreational diving, an unpacked diverâs kit does cover a large area.
The six square metres of cockpit space in the 740 is bigger than a lot of boats twice its size.
Strength and Durability:
With their commercial pedigree the strength of Lazercraft boats is unquestionable. The key to making any boat strong and durable is to lock up the underfloor structure to eliminate any movement. With a 5mm hull and 4mm transom working away from laterally bracketed 600 mm centres, this is assured. A fully welded 3mm treadplate floor is sealed and pressure tested to survey specifications to form underfloor buoyancy compartments. Topsides and hardtop are all moulded in fibreglass with toughened 5mm glass panels and polycarbonate curved corner windows. Apart from a more stylised appearance the huge advantage of fibreglass is that all your fittings and extras can be
fitted without having to isolate non compatible metals which may
It has long been acknowledged that the Lazercraft is probably one of the softest riding aluminium hulls available. They were the first to feature a very fine bow entry which extended back into an accentuated flattened gull wing working off a 20 degree stern deadrise. (This must be a very good aluminium hull design as it is the most copied in the marine industry!)
Is often sacrificed with a very fine bow entry. Within a very short time of owning a Lazercraft, one learns quickly that the more weight you can load into the stern of the boat the better they ride and the more stable they become. The test boat was no exception. We had 100 litres of fuel on board with two full sets of scuba gear loaded in the rear lockers. The boat tracked perfectly and at 40km/h virtually turned within its own length. The Lectrotab electro mechanical trimtabs fitted do a great job in balancing the boat perfectly while under way. The Lazercraft hull design has a reputation for being very easy to push through the water. Although the test boat had 200 Hp on the back, it comes as no surprise that a 140 Hp engine will push the 740 to a healthy 40 mph. Our test boat had under an hour on the clock when we put it through its paces which really wasnât a fair test for the 200 Hp Saltwater series Mercury engine. To its credit, we still managed 50 mph at 5300 revs even with half a metre of sea running. A 32 mph cruise at 3800 revs was very relaxed and economical for those longer offshore excursions. Although we donât have an exact figure, this engine on similar rigs shows an economy of around 38 litres per hour at 3800 revs.
Comfort and Diveability:
The ride of the test boat was exceptional, one had to try very hard to get any sort of thump in a reasonably solid Motuihe Channel chop. Any spray that found its way over the gunwales was quickly despatched off the extended fibreglass hardtop.
Although the Sportsman is the basic version of the 740 hardtop, from a diverâs point of view it is fantastic. There are two six foot bunks in the bow where personal gear can be stowed out of the way or you can have a quick kip if desired. Two single helm/passenger seats on top of storage containers and a massive cockpit area flanked by two side shelves (wide enough to hold dive cylinders) greet you on exiting the cabin area. The stern is very tidy with lots of space for dive gear, fish bins etc to be stored under the transom. Batteries are located on raised shelves behind fold down hatches as pictured. Part of the enjoyment of owning such a beast, I believe, is to have minimum stress when towing such a large rig. Lazercraft build their own aluminium trailers to match their boats. They are beautifully balanced, extremely strong, while having a huge weight advantage over their galvanised steel counterparts. There would be very few total rigs of this size that even with a belly full of fuel it rolls off the weighbridge at under 2000 kgs. The trailers roller system is set up to allow drive-on loading, however for those not quite so confident, the walkway down the centre still makes for dry footed retrieval. Hydraulic brakes are fitted as standard.
Value for money:
The 740 Sportsman Hardtop as tested was in very basic format. However in saying that, we had at our fingertips a huge volume boat with enviable performance as a turn key operation for under $80,000. This included trim tabs, retractable boarding ladder, Hydrive hydraulic steering and a walk through transom. Engine installation, twin batteries and isolating switchâs are all part of the package The NYALAC coating on all aluminium surfaces is now standard. This excellent product protects aluminium from oxidation and will keep your alloy boat looking like
new for years.
The test boat is currently being fitted with Lowrance electronics and a Quick windlass rope/chain system by Family Boats who supplied and set up the 740 Sportsman. The Mercury 200 hp saltwater outboard motor was supplied by Gulfland Marine. in Whangaparoa. They are also a Lazercraft agent. For us, as keen divers/fishermen, this set up is perfect. For all you other keen boat people, the thought of acquiring a craft of this calibre with such a modest price tag and be able to furnish it to your exact requirements must surely be an exciting prospect.
Underfloor fuel capacity:
Performance with 200Hp Saltwater Series Mercury outboard:
150 miles (240 kms) @ 32 mph
52 mph @ 5300 revs
32 mph @ 3800 revs
Package as tested (no electronics):