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Lomac GT 8.5 - Quite literally, Magnifico.

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 4 Jul 2022 23:08 PDT

There’s just something about RIBs. I mean yes, we’ve all got ribs (boom boom), but all RIBs ain’t RIBs, if you know what I mean. Useful and practical on the whole, and inherently safe, most of them are very stable and predominantly dry. After that, however, they diverge quite significantly, and we’re not just talking about overall quality, either.

Alas, it is more about type, form, and functionality. Very swiftly, RIBs either evoke feelings of a lusty 4WD, or make you feel like you’re about to set your lap time at the infamous Nordschleife. They really are poles apart when it comes to that.

Now depending on from whence you hail, your initial exposure to the veritable RIB will have probably placed you into one or other of the camps. You might have laid marks for yacht racing from a more utilitarian version, or had to use one as a tender to a much larger vessel.

Equally, your whole knowledge of the sector might be blasting out to a fabulous Grotto for a swim, and then later gliding into a swanky port, where style, a little bit of understated bling, and maybe a rack of outboards on the back to denote the business end of the equation is what you need to get that certain cut through that one requires in those parts.

Most manufacturers do one or the other style, not many do both, only a handful do a quality job, and even fewer go from say 3.5m to 15m or so. This is why Lomac really can say they have RIB for your kind of boating, but we’ll come to that a bit later.

For now, the most important thing to note is the relatively new Lomac logo. The two dots on the ends of the ‘C’ denote the end caps of the pontoons of their boats, but the big new element is the clear and distinctive inclusion of their hometown, Milano, right their under their name.

If you cannot wait, don’t want to know about the brand, and just want to read about the Granturismo 8.5 itself, then jump to the section below, now!

Looking good. It’s important.

Two things come to mind when you think of Lombardia’s capital – Fashion and Food. They’re both pretty special, known all over the world for it, and it is also a big part of what Lomac are trying to say. Now the famed Monza track is not that far away either, and Ferrari have been known to be there occasionally with the odd ‘PROVA’ car, too.

So, to get a handle on that encasement and the boats, I spoke with Flagstaff Marine’s Alessandro (Alex) Vicinanza, who is himself also of Milanese descent. I asked him to tell us a bit about why they’ve really tried to drive home the design aspect. “First of all, Milano is the capital of design in fashion and good style. So obviously there’s a focus on that, but also because it’s a family tradition. The Lo Manto family who own Lomac are born and bred in Milan, to be exact in the Brianza district, which is just North of Milan and is famed for a lot of factories, and hard workers, so they are also focussing on a good heritage too.”

Indeed it does say a lot in one word. However design in the overall sense is not just the aesthetic, but also naval architecture, because some of these RIBs are blisteringly quick. “Definitely the hull is the most important thing on the boat and didn’t come about in just one day. We are talking about a 60-year, three generation heritage here”, said Vicinanza.

“It’s been a long journey with testing and design, going to Lake Como to try and try and try the boats.” Lomac were the first European yard to create a RIB, and that was back in the early 80s. Vicinanza added, “The positioning of the boats at the top in terms of performance has been done without sacrificing the style of the boat, and you also have got stability, and turn in as part of the equation as well.”

“One of the very nice things about Lomac is that you can start with a 6 or 7 metre craft and easily go out in the open ocean to go whale watching. The designs are a collaboration between our in-house team and a famous group of naval architects, with whom Lomac have been working together with for 35 years now.”

Including the class leading Hypalon tubes, there is a real Italian feel or flair to it all. “We think the boat can be your own style. It doesn’t need to be the same colour for everybody. We give over 100 different types of choice just for the fabric on the tubes seating, interior, and cushions. Customisation is what makes the difference. You can have your own boat with your own taste and I think that is very important.”

Made in Italy.

So the craft are very much Milanese, and this includes the 100% vinylester resin-infused hulls and cabin tops – all made in Brianza. As mentioned earlier, Lomac have a mesmerising array of craft on offer to suit every budget and need, all the way from a 3.5m yacht (sailboat) tender, to a 15m Über-Express Dayboat. For Australia, Flagstaff Marine is going focus more on three product lines, with an emphasis (but certainly not a myopic concentration) on the 5-7m bracket.

There is the Turismo, which is sort of your more traditional, everyday family leisure style RIB to spend a good day on the water. Gran Turismo is written as one word in the Lomac world, and the letters GT are used by everything, including Kia to denote their sporty versions. Truth is that GT actually stands for a transcontinental express, and staying with the automotive side of it, brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati have spearheaded that from all the way back in the 60s. Consider the Lomac Granturismos as the nautical equivalent.

Lomac also produce an Adrenalina line, which pretty much stands exactly for what that is. Being skinnier, and even sleeker are the visual queues to match.

Now I think there’s quite a decent offering in the 5-7 metre category across a number of those specific model lines. Of course you can really go to town and throw enormous budgets at it and do whatever you want thereafter, but I was really impressed to understand that there’s one of the Adrenalinas at 7 metres.

“We call it the baby Adrenalina, but it is far from being a baby. The seaworthiness of that boat is just simply unbelievable. In the last ten years Lomac have won many awards in Europe with the Adrenalina and its hull.”

Lomac Adrenalina 8.5 video

So the Italians and the Greeks effectively own the express RIB market. As Vicinanza says, and remember he’s Italian at heart, “We love speed. However, we also want to provide comfort on board at the same time as having a lot of fun.”

There is no doubt that Lomac well and truly fits into that higher end of the seaworthiness/design/quality discussion at the upper end of the spectrum where Capelli, Technohull, and Ribco also exist. Laughing in that Mediterranean way, Vicinanza adds, “We say we don’t compete; we’re friends; we know each other. We know everybody and we try to have a good relationship.” If you can remember the lunch scene in Ford v Ferrari you probably have all you’ll need to understand that delightful nuance.

As you can see Lomac also do a small tender, but that customisation factor means they are also really popular in the large tender market for private yachts. “At craft over 5 metres we really come to the fore with our fashion and style due to the full personalisation of the colour, so that the RIB can match the mothership.

Power on, dude.

Now you can have the engine brand of your choice. Possibly at the moment that actually reflects much more upon the difficulty of actually getting an engine(s) in the first place, especially in Australia. “Luckily we have a partnership with the most famous brands - Yamaha, Suzuki, Mercury, Honda - so in one way or another we can find an engine. Unfortunately it’s a common thing, and it’s not just for us, it’s the same for everybody.”

Given where global supply and logistics stand at the moment, you’d have to ask about the supply of the RIBs themselves, now wouldn’t you. There are a few here in Australia already, and a few more have been sold immediately before arrival, so what does the picture look like? “We’re going pretty well at the moment. We have a good turnover. Usually the production at the moment for us can vary between three weeks to eight weeks ex-factory, so that’s pretty good.”

“We have a container arriving just about now to add to supply. Obviously it depends on the size and the type of your Lomac RIB as to when it will arrive, but I want to say, which I think is important, is we can actually have Mercury engines delivered on the boat from Italy. It can sometimes be actually quicker than supplying the engine here. This is exactly what happened with our Adrenalina 10.5 that we sold to a very nice customer in Sydney. It arrived all set up and ready to go, direct from Milan”, said Vicinanza in closing.

And so now the boat itself

Well all of that has set up the brand and all that it stands for, so what is it like to drive. Well, go back to the heading and you find the word, Magnifico. Yes, magnificent describes the style, the touch of all the surfaces, and the look. If I had to complain it is that these days I am adverse to the sun, and there is no fixed cover as standard, such as there is with the glorious Granturismo 14.

I mean you kind of want a top that fits. Yes you could make something, but it won’t be the same. Certainly there is a world of demountable options on offer for when you are at rest, so it’s time to remember that at the kinds of speeds these things do, your hair is slicked back pretty tight. The bonus is that you won’t be in the sun for long, so pull the neck gaiter right up, put on the wrap around sunnies, turn the cap around backwards, button up the collar on the long sleeve UV top, and go for it. They won’t see the smile under said neck gaiter, but you’ll feel it.

Now anyone can belt along on flat water, and with the twin Suzuki 200s, our Granturismo 8.5 will easily make 48 to 50 knots depending on load and conditions, and be burning 80l/ph per side. 10 to 15 minutes will get you a lot of places at Mach 1.5, you know…

At a more leisurely 28 to 30 knot cruise you have come back to 20 to 25 litres per hour per side, and you’ll still be at a lot of places in under 30 minutes. It will also mean your 410 litres of bunkering will go a lot further. A lot!

I have to say at this point how impressed I was with Suzuki’s twin cam, 16 valve VVT, high-compression, 2.9 litre four-bangers. Getting this kind of power without the need to be a V6 means the power to weight discussion works out well, too. At 230kg, it is easily 30 kilos saved per donk over a six, to say nothing of less thirst, either…

They also reminded me a lot of the silence you equate with Hondas, and that was not so much a surprise, but an added bonus. It is quite likely that the balancer shafts helped a bit there, and certainly did in terms of reduced vibration.

Yet the trump card had to be response. I am tipping this is the torque talking. No figure or curve is readily available, but seeing as the motor is completely square at 97mm x 97mm, I think we have found our answer, for it is stroke that delivers torque.

So why am I so impressed? Well, we were inside on the Gold Coast’s Broadwater when Flagstaff Marine’s Micah Lane asked if I wanted to go outside. Ah, that would be, ‘Yes please!’ You see the weather had been a bit ordinary of late, and whilst the breeze was in the 15-20 knot bracket, the seaway on the Southport Bar easily had 4-5m faces on them, courtesy of the rampant SE swell, spun up well out into the Tasman Sea.

I am pretty sure I gave Micah a hefty hip and shoulder as I took over, sorry about that, but there was no way I was going to miss out. We could achieve 12-15 knots heading out, which meant a bit of throttle action. And remember, this is just an 8.5m boat with a 2.23m beam and only displaces 1950 kilos. I found the turn in and overall seaworthiness to be first rate, and this of course means you feel safe. Given that we were the only ones out there, I kind of enjoyed that!

After enough fun it was time to pick the wave to turn on, and march back in. 25-30 knots was easily achievable, and obviously backing off so as not to launch off the tops. Again, the torque required to do this was evident. Spinning the head around to look at what was behind you and using the boat to place yourself where you wanted to be was utterly joyous. Throttle, wheel, feet, eyes – simpatico. And now you see why the heading is, ‘magnifico’.

So yes, the hull and engines are a sublimely good match. So what of the former then? Well, in the picture you’ll see the pronounced and slightly reversed top chine. It does a great job with spray deflection, provides for wicked stability and surefootedness, especially on turn in, and then there’s the big ticket. It really works with not going down the mine. I believe this is why I was able to come back in so hard and fast. Having power is one thing. Having the ability to point and shoot is completely another, for tramlining at speed can be utterly disastrous, especially in a sea.

Lomac Granturismo 8.5 Video

The Lomac Granturismo 8.5 has a 12-person capacity for dayboating, and more than enough room for two to get a good night’s sleep. The bathroom offers full amenity, and gracious accessibility. You have 70 litres of water on board for rinse type showers, and good storage in the cabin and under seats etc.

I like RIBs. I like dayboating. After a thorough party with this RIB, I can say I like Lomac. All right, it is a bit more than that. So if you want to have an affair with an Italian, and you already have the Alfa Romeo, then go and see the team at Flagstaff Marine about a Lomac. It is like Monza meets Scaloppini di Vitello, the Duomo, Da Vinci, La Scala, classic and enrapturing style, a Ristretto (or three), a life lived and loved hard, as well as Aperitivos and Digestivos. Think of it as why you lust after an Alfetta GTV6, long after they have passed their use by date. Viva Italia!