Dave Hyer's Thoughts About His Zodiac Pro 850 Optimum
The following is a letter written to Reed Yacht Sales and Zodiac Boats by one of our recent customers.
"I apologize for not getting this out to you sooner. I figured I would give you some brief history first to help paint the picture as to why we bought the 850, especially since I am constantly getting asked, "Why did you buy a 30 foot inflatable?!!"
I grew up racing small sailboats and my parents were taking me to regattas all along the East Coast. At most of these events, you could not see the racing from land. My Dad, also being a sailor, wanted to be able to watch me race and get out and spectate on the race course, which put us in the market for an inflatable. After a lot of research we bought a new 1999 Zodiac Pro Open 550 with a 115 Yamaha. This boat was one of the best inflatables out there and we trailered it all over for sailing events and even for family vacations. It was the fastest (top speed was about 55mph), driest ride and ease of use 18 foot boat you could have. Aside from having a problem with the tube set - the tubes turned yellow and red after 7 years and got sticky - we never had any other issues. Zodiac said they knew of the problem and sent us a new tube set at no cost even though the tubes were out of warranty.
Fast forward to about a year ago, and now we are tossing around the idea of buying a bigger center console powerboat since the 550 is starting to feel a little small. It was a natural and easy decision for us to first look at Zodiac because of how much we love the 550 and the way Zodiac took care of us with the problem we had with the tubes on the 550. I saw that Brent from Reed Yacht Sales had just sold the first Pro 850 Optimum which caught my eye immediately, however that boat had twin 200's which I was a little disappointed about. Once I saw that the next 850 Brent was getting had twin 250's, we became much more serious about purchasing the boat. We ended up buying the boat in May of this year and first thing I have to say is that for the price of the 850, it is one of they best buys for the money. I looked at Regulators, Sea Hunts, Yellowfins, Sportsmans, you name it and the prices of those boats are still a shock. We bought the boat with a custom made all aluminum double axle trailer and my Dad and I drove to Michigan to pick it up and drive it back home with us. To be able to deflate the tubes and lay them inside the boat, to make it legal width for driving is great and super easy.
Getting back to wanting the twin 250's instead of the 200's was because this boat can hold a lot of people and I have always liked to not have to push the throttles all the way down to get the boat to plane off when its loaded up. With 8 people on the boat, all you need is about half throttle to get it up and going. The boat cruises at 35mph running at about 3300 RPMS burning 14 gallons of fuel per hour. It doesn't get much better then that!!!! I have been told top speed is 63mph and so far I have gotten it up to 59mph. Even at that speed you feel in control and the boat responds and handles like it should. The boat goes through any chop or waves with ease and the handling is exceptional with the deep V hull. Having the toilet and sink inside the console is a great amenity when its needed. The massive tow post on the back is great for towing our 22 foot racing sailboat since that boat does not have an engine, as well as for wakeboarding and tubing. The electronics package on the boat is fantastic. We did add a radar to the boat since it is needed at times here in the Northeast.
There is a lot of storage room between the double bow locker up front and the under seat compartment in the back which gets into the hull where the batteries and fuel filters are etc. Speaking of that, Zodiac did a great job with the running of wires, cables and organization of everything. It truly shows the quality of work that went into building the boat. I love the outboard motor extension bracket, which I definitely think helps with the handling of the boat, plus is gives you so much more room to stand back there when your getting out of the water using the ladder.
The amount of compliments I get on the boat is amazing. Every where I go people are asking me about it and admiring it. I've talked more about this boat all summer than anything else! I can't say enough about the professionalism and exceptional customer service that Brent and his team at Reed Yacht Sales gave us. I've been very pleased with the experience from day one.
Alan, I know this is going to the folks over in France and I hope this gives them the feedback they were looking for. Please feel free to send back any specific questions that they or you might have at any time. I would be more than happy to elaborate or accommodate in any way I can.
Thanks for building a kick ass boat!