Several builders using latest Volvo IPS models

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More than a dozen builders plan to equip boats with Volvo Penta’s new, more powerful pod-drive system with joystick steering — the IPS800 and IPS900, or “IPS 2,” according to the engine manufacturer.

The new Lazzara LSX 92, which will be on display at the Miami International Boat Show Feb. 12-16, is powered with four 700-hp IPS900s. “Besides Lazzara, we have an additional 12 IPS900 projects in various states of completion,” said Volvo Penta senior press coordinator Susan Lee.

The company said only four other builders have made the news official. Twin IPS900s will power new 49- and 57-foot express fishermen from Spencer Yachts and a 54-foot Ritchie Howell Express. Triple IPS900s will power the Sculley 54-foot convertible and the Freedom 56 Convertible.

“We’re very excited,” said Paul Spencer, founder and owner of sportfishing-yacht builder Spencer Yachts in Wanchese, N.C. “It’s progress. I believe if you’re not trying to do something better, then you’re not doing your best job.”

The 49-foot Spencer should be completed by next summer, and two IPS-powered 57-footers soon after, said Spencer. The company has built two other boats — both 43-footers — using Volvo Penta’s IPS600s.

“IPS enhances your ability to fish by increasing the maneuverability,” said Spencer, whose company provided the input that led to the system’s “Sport Fish” mode for quick-pivoting maneuvers during battles with big fish. “I consider myself a hard-core fisherman. I have been for 30 years. Any skepticism of IPS is just that — skepticism. Our skepticism went away after we put IPS in our 43s.”

Until now, IPS engines have been Volvo Penta 4- and 6-liter diesels with a maximum of 435 hp. The IPS lineup included five different models using diesel power from 260 to 435 hp: IPS350 (260 hp), IPS400 (300 hp), IPS450 (330 hp), IPS500 (370 hp) and IPS600 (435 hp). The engine manufacturer also offers two gas versions: the IPS500G (375 hp) and IPS550G (400 hp).

Volvo’s 11-liter D11 diesels provide the power for the IPS800 (600 hp) and IPS900 (700 hp). The pods, the drives and the props are all new — and around 20 percent larger, according to Lee. “Not a single component from the previous IPS has been reused in the IPS 2 pod,” she said.

“Larger engines with greater power and more than twice as much torque place enormous demands on drive units,” she said. The engine is equipped with a twin-entry turbo that enables pulse charging, a technique that, coupled with a mechanical compressor, provides powerful torque from low rpm. This technology is not used on the smaller IPS models, said Lee.

The new packages will be installable on boats  to 100 feet and provide all the advantages and characteristics that made the original IPS system so successful, according to the company. There is no difference for the driver, whether the boat is powered by two, three or four IPS systems, according to Lee. Acceleration and shifting occur in the same manner. The boatbuilder chooses the propeller according to the IPS model and top speed of the boat.

Builders are looking forward to the increased fuel efficiency and overall performance that IPS will bring their boats.

The Lazzara LSX 92, which debuted at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, cruises at 28 knots and reaches a top speed of 31 knots with its quad IPS package, said Lazzara president Dick Lazzara. The yacht would need 30 to 40 percent more horsepower with conventional inboard power to achieve those performance numbers, he said.

Chris Landry

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