Like most West Coast custom powerboat builders, Lavey Craft was decimated by the recession of 2008 and the lean years that followed. Orders for the Southern California company’s award-winning V-bottoms, deck boat and catamaran simply stopped coming, so Chris and Jeff Camire—the brothers who owned the company—did what they had to do to stay afloat. They took on service and repairs and even detailing work to keep their doors open.
About two years ago, Jeff Camire left the company. A year later, Dave Sampson joined Chris Camire as a partner and the outfit was reborn as Lavey Craft Motorsports. They still owned the tooling for all of the Lavey Craft models, but out of necessity they sought business opportunities beyond boat building. That led them to the fiberglass parts fabrication world, in particular making aftermarket body kits for the wildly popular Polaris RZR off-road vehicles. The move made perfect sense as Lavey Craft’s reputation for fiberglass work—showcased in the boat-builder’s products during the years—was unmatched.
With an upcoming new 29 NuEra V-bottom closed-deck sportboat scheduled to be ready for the 2017 season, Sampson and Camire hope to be headed back to the sportboat world, albeit one careful step at a time The project actually is a collaboration between the boat builder and John Mosetti, a Texas-based powerboat industry veteran who originally hails from the East Coast, and his brother, Richard.
The Mosetti brothers are commissioning the 29-footer, and will build its 540-cubic-inch, 650-hp naturally aspirated, electronically fuel-injected engine with aluminum cylinder heads. The engine likely will be paired with a Mercury Bravo XR or IMCO drive.
The point of the showcase project, according to the folks involved, is to spark the single-engine sportboat market in the Midwest and Northeast. To that end, the Mosettis will take the boat on tour next year. (John Mosetti owns the Boats Unlimited dealership in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, while his brother still lives in New York.)
“You have to get out there and draw interest,” said John Mosetti, who plans to run the boat in several major events next year including the Buffalo Poker Run, Lake Lanier and Boyne Thunder. “I would love to bring a single-engine V-hull back into the market. It won’t have an open bow or a mid-cabin. It will be a cuddy cabin boat.”
“We are trying to inject some life back into the brand,” said Sampson. “We built a boat last summer, a 24-footer with some new features including a fiberglass pan and a few new twists. We’ve been talking with John [Mosetti] for quite some time, and he has a lot of marine industry experience.
“A 29-foot V-bottom is about the biggest boat you can push with a single engine and still have good performance—and one that most guys can still afford,” he continued. “Our 29 is big enough handle big water to a certain degree, but small enough to be affordable. There aren’t many people making them anymore.”
The key to success—or at least a big part of it—for the new 29-footer will be its list price. Sampson said the boat should retail for $152,800 with a MerCruiser 8.2L engine. And while that’s far from small change for many buyers, it could help spark a sportboat revival. The Mosetti brothers, Camire and Sampson, at least, are banking on it.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.