power_boat_reviews-doral-largeErwin Zecha, owner of Canada's Doral International, plainly recognizes the importance of design and style, so he has both Christophe Lavigne and Luc St-Onge as his in-house design team at the original Doral facility in Grand Mère, Quebec.

As a builder of higher-end fiberglass express cruisers, Doral is almost alone in the domestic Canadian market. For a volume builder, the Canadian market is not enough to ensure business success. You have to win in the US market against all the domestic US builders and better yet, you need to penetrate other export markets, since the increase in the value of the Canadian dollar over the past couple of years has made Canadian boats 35% more while the US product has become 35% less here in Canada.

You cannot fight the battle on price alone. You need a superior and original product–one that will command a premium price and that will be at least a somewhat unique choice for owners.

That is where superior design can play a key role.

To help our readers know more about Doral and to hear in detail how the latest new Doral cruiser was developed, we first traveled to Grand Mère, toured the plant and interviewed Luc St-Onge. Armed with many photos of the new Doral Mediterra express cruiser, we then re-connected with Luc and joined head designer Christophe Lavigne in a photo-by-photo explanation of both the thinking and the creative execution behind the Mediterra. This is what they told us.

"Some of these photos were part of the 2-3 weeks of employee testing that Doral uses to determine the "livability" of its new models. Before they are released to the public, Doral employees take the boats cruising. They live, cook, eat and sleep onboard–young and old alike. The point is to learn how the boat functions and correct any deficiencies that may not have been anticipated in the design process."–Christophe

"A female passenger during the family testing enjoys the special bow seat. This is intended for calm day use only for safety reasons, but it is a very comfortable and enjoyable place to sit even for extended periods of time and it's perfect for exploring the shallows as you make your way into an Anchorage."–Christophe

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-2"Even the youngest among us enjoy driving the boat. During the family testing process, we discovered that the large space between the dashboard and the base of the windshield was a popular [and safe] place for children when cruising."–Christophe

 

 

 

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-3"Volvo Penta's IPS drive system has been has proven to be a marvelous performer and Doral's Mediterra was the first Canadian boat (and one of the very first in all of North America) to be designed for and fitted with the IPS drives. Doral is so committed to IPS that the Mediterra is only offered in an IPS power configuration. The center of gravity is balanced for the IPS and we worked very closely with Volvo Penta because it was the first installation ever outside of Volvo's own facilities in the US. The engines went in, in only two hours, demonstrating the effectiveness of our planning process and the accuracy of our mold production. We are very proud that Volvo Penta feels it is one of the best IPS applications so far."–Christophe

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-4"Christophe's son Leo is curled up on a forward deck sun lounge chair. The sun pads can be stowed but Doral includes two lounge chairs made from solid teak and stainless steel, each with an adjustable backrest. They can even be taken ashore as a beach chair; a good example of clever thinking."–Luc

 

 

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-5"Here is the weight test for the hardtop. That is me on the left while Bruno Desgagne is on the right. We were actually standing on the hardtop in the course of discussing the rigidity and stability of the roof and its support system."–Christophe

 

 

 

 

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-6"The aft cockpit gets a lot of attention in all express cruisers but we feel we did a great job with the Mediterra by including an electric barbecue grill, sink, refrigerator and an icemaker all handy for entertaining in the cockpit. This is basically a full second galley. Again there are entertainment systems, Caradon (Canadian-made) counter tops, and a high-gloss Italian varnished tabletop just like the finish inside the cabin and of course there's the whole Cockpit Cooler system with reverse cycle heating and air-conditioning. You can get five people around the table."–Christophe

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-7"The swim platform can be ordered with luxurious European type teak trim. We have trained our own local woodworkers to get such excellent results."–Luc

"Doral is shooting for a mix between the expensive European luxury look and the efficiency of the American type products."–Christophe

"This boat has an unusually large swim platform for its size and part of the reason is because the hull extends to the end to accommodate the IPS drives. We designed lift up hatches under which are large removable storage bins. Pull the bins out it and you get access to the IPS drive systems."–Luc

"Another important feature is the molded inside steps to make it easier for older people to come aboard from dockside."–Christophe

"The decking is all Burmese teak bedded in Sikaflex caulking."–Luc

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-8"The forward stateroom is a difficult place for creativity because the shape of the boat's bow dictates so much of which you can do with it. In this case the designers have given it an island bed with an innerspring mattress and one creative touch was to provide an electric backrest. This is a great innovation. It tilts the bed up for reading or watching the flat screen television that's on the bulkhead. The fiberglass inner liner becomes an important structural element."–Christophe

It's an expensive way to make a boat but we feel the quality justifies it. Also notice the quality of the fabrics. They have been selected and brought in from Europe.–Luc

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-9"The dinette has a classic Doral approach with a rounded shape for the seating, lots of storage and that highly polished Italian varnish on all of the woodwork. The overhead lockers featured curved doors that are produced as custom panels molded to shape by Doral. The lighting is also especially nice." –Luc

 

 

 

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-10"Doral is especially proud of the finish in the heads on board. These feature Italian faucets and bowl-type sinks mounted on a Cardoon counter top. Caradon is a Canadian product that is more expensive than Corian and it can be polished for the look Doral wanted, to complement the woodwork."–Christophe

"The round wooden vanity is finished in African mahogany called Makore with 10 coats of hand polished Italian varnish; a finish that is unique in North America."–Luc

 

 

 

 

power_boat_reviews-doral-11"The galley is particularly well equipped for this size of boat with a convection microwave, built-in coffee maker and brushed stainless steel appliances for a professional kitchen look. The NovaKool refrigerator and freezer are side-by-side units under the counters. The ceramic stovetop features two burners and the stainless steel pole serves as both a convenient handhold and a structural support for the hardtop above."–Christophe

Doral is recognized best for their express cruiser line and in that competitive environment, its boats would be regarded as high-end products. This philosophy and design approach has been extended to their new line of sport boats and both Luc and Christophe work together designing all the new product to be built in either the Grand Mere or the Midland plants. They're very open to visiting other markets and other boat builders always on the lookout for smart new designs.

Our congratulations on some very fine original new ideas.

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