The yacht molds and other assets of Florida-based Lazzara Yachts are in the hands of new owners. It’s the Avanti Ocean Group, which is owned in turn by a private investor and two members of the Lazzara family. The builder will now be known as Lazzara Custom Yachts.
The family members involved are Joe Lazzara, who was design director at Lazzara Yachts, and Steve Lazzara, a manager at the shipyard. The third partner is Geoff Bond, whose background is unknown. Public records show that Avanti Ocean Group was formed in September 2014.
According to a press release, Avanti Ocean Group will operate as both Lazzara Custom Yachts and Tampa Marine Services. Lazzara Custom Yachts will offer yachts and megayachts from 64 to 130 feet LOA (about 19.5 to 39.6 meters, respectively). That is the same size range that the former yacht builder focused on, with the 116-foot Serenity, completed in 2008, being its largest delivery to date. As for Tampa Marine Services, it will focus on refit and maintenance work for yachts, both power and sail, to 160 feet (about 48.8 meters). Tampa Marine Services has a 300-ton TraveLift for haul-outs.
Lazzara Custom Yachts and Tampa Marine Services will occupy a seven-acre facility (above) across the street from Lazzara Yachts’ former yard in Tampa. Joe Lazzara, now president of Lazzara Custom Yachts, confirms that the site is the former Trident Shipworks yard. Trident filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and the property was occupied by a few parties following that. In fact, Joe Lazzara says, even though new sheds and offices are being added, there are about 10 boats, a mix of Coast Guard vessels and yachts, being worked on there at present by his team.”We’ve been doing Lazzara refits for a while in Fort Lauderdale and St. Augustine, but we wanted to do full service,” he explains, referring to yachts built by other shipyards. He adds that his team has never marketed the program, until now.
Joe Lazzara also says that both fiberglass and metal yachts will be welcomed for refit. They’ll be worked on in separate buildings than where lay-up of Lazzara Custom Yachts’ hulls will take place, of course. Furthermore, he states, refits are being publicized because of a few factors. First, plenty of yachts stay in the Naples area, near Tampa. Second, Tampa Marine Services owns a 300-ton TraveLift, one of the largest on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Equally important, the major refit players on the East Coast of Florida are busy, with a four- to five-month wait time for the next available slot, he claims. Tampa Marine Services, by contrast, can take on new work within the next four to five weeks, he says.
In the press release, Steve Lazzara, chief financial officer for Lazzara Custom Yachts, states that the company is debt-free and can therefore “develop new products and take care of our customers in a way that historically made our family so successful.” Lazzara Yachts was established in 1990 by brothers Brad and Dick Lazzara. They were sons of a famed boatbuilder as well: Vince Lazzara, who established Gulfstar Yachts, a sailboat manufacturer, in the 1970s. Vince was an early adopter of fiberglass boatbuilding in the decades prior as well. Brad and Dick Lazzara joined him in the company, selling their interest in the late 1980s to establish Lazzara Yachts and therefore focus on power yachts. The ground-breaking Lazzara 76 was their first launch, in 1992. Both the LOA and the semi-custom approach were unusual for the time. Lazzara Yachts went on to delivery about 170 yachts, including the LSX 92 pictured at top. It also brought in an investor in 2001, the Crest Group, though the pair parted ways early last year.