Like 40 is the new 30 when it comes to age, the custom 80-foot sport-fisher of today is really the new 60-footer. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but when I started fishing more than 30 years ago, I don’t believe anyone could have guessed that you would ever be able to successfully fish out of an 80-foot boat. Since then, technology and design have come a long way, and these days it’s not uncommon to find yourself fishing alongside some very competitive crews in boats longer than 80 feet on a regular basis. So when I was asked to do a review of the just-splashed 80 Weaver hull No. 21, I couldn’t wait to get behind the controls and see what she could do.
I met up with the boat’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. Donato, and their captain and builder, Jim Weaver, on the dock in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the boat was tied up. We also brought along famed photographer Scott Kerrigan, but he wasn’t traveling on board; he would be taking to the air to capture the action from above in a chase helicopter.
When I walked up to the boat, a couple of details immediately caught my eye; first, the full custom tower and four-spreader hydraulic Rupp riggers share a matching satin anodizing from Palm Beach Towers, rather than the standard high-gloss anodizing or brushed finish seen on most boats. It looked terrific. Second, the custom helm chairs and the fighting chair, with a thicker than usual rocket launcher from Release Marine, really stood out as well. The boat looked very nice, but it didn’t look like an 80-footer! If someone hadn’t told me that this boat was 80 feet long, I would have guessed it was a 70-footer. Her narrow beam and her beautifully sleek lines do a great job of camouflaging her length — she did not have the unwieldy look of most 80-footers.
Jim Weaver walked up just minutes after me, and we jumped in the cockpit. Just as I was about to put my shoes in the beautiful Release Marine teak step box, Mrs. Donato opened the automatic sliding door to quickly introduce herself and to inform me that that was not the place for shoes. “We have a place for everything on this boat, and the shoes go in the second step going up to the door,” she said before inviting me into the salon for the tour.
As I entered the salon, Mrs. Donato explained that she and her husband have a large family and that the five-stateroom, five-head layout of the boat was to accommodate the family and crew on their many extended trips to the Caribbean and Central and South America.
On the starboard side to the aft sits a massive L-shaped sofa, and there’s a large U-shaped dinette forward of that. To port aft you’ll find the large entertainment center with a pop-up undercounter flat-screen TV. Forward of the entertainment center, a bar runs more than half the length of the salon, with the four bar stools running almost down the centerline of the salon. You could easily sit 12 or 15 people comfortably in this salon.
The galley comes fully equipped with three Sub-Zero refrigerators, a large oven, a microwave and a dishwasher, all neatly under the counter. Two large stovetops with four burners also hide nicely under the countertops when they’re not in use.
There’s more than enough cabinet space for everything you need in this full-service galley, which was built to accommodate groups. As you move forward of the galley into the companionway, before going down the steps you’ll find two utility rooms, one to port and one to starboard. The room to port sports a wine cooler, two Sub-Zero freezers, more electronics and storage, and a built-in humidor for Mr. Donato’s cigars. The starboard door hides the laundry room, which is complete with a full-size washer and dryer and a custom fold-out ironing board and hanging rack to air dry clothes. And there’s even more storage.