Breaking the 50-knot wall: Italcraft Drago (13m), the record boat – Classic Boat


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Italcraft Dragon
Italcraft Drago, the first diesel-powered production boat to break through 50 knots of speed

It was the boat that made generations dream, the record-breaking speedboat, an all-Italian unicum, and a milestone not only in our shipbuilding industry, but in motor boating in general. Presented in Genoa in 1972, it was a masterpiece of Italcraft Shipyards, a tamed monster, the first capable of breaking through 50 knots of speed, reaching 55, the first to mount surface propellers: it is theItalcraft Drago, a

Classic Boat

cult boat, signed Renato “Sonny” Levi.

Italcraft Drago

Thirteen meters long and strong with 55 knots of top speed, the Dragon was an incredible boat, nothing ever seen before. A pleasure boat powered by two diesel engines and capable of exceeding 50 knots… It was a complete success, making it the progenitor of a successful series of boats. A success previously set by the shipyard, sure, with the


and the
, but now destined for the highest heights, as the near-contemporary
Mini Dragon
, the 8.5-meter, 47-knot speed version.

Italcraft Mini Dragon – Just 8.5 meters long it was capable of 47 knots

Italcraft Drago – Historical Background

By the 1960s, buoyed by the success of their boats, Italcraft Shipyards began their rise to the top of the power boating industry, reaching the heights of pleasure boating, a position then destined only for the biggest brands. During this “happy” period, with the growing success of Offshore racing, the Sonnino brothers (founders of the shipyard), approached the brilliant Renato “Sonny” Levi with one goal in mind, to make a revolutionary boat, the first production and recreational boat capable of reaching fifty knots with a diesel engine.

In short, an unprecedented challenge, resulting in a resounding success that will revolutionize boating forever. In fact, Levi will find the solution in a more than novel innovation with surface propellers and “Step Drive” configuration.

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Italcraft Drago – Project

Several innovative attentions were applied to the construction of the Drago, starting with the new surface propeller propulsion system-introduced for the first time in 1969 by the Aeromarina Division of Italcraft Shipyards, precisely for the development of the Drago project-with a step-drive hull. A small revolution capable of reducing all friction in the water, improving speed by 20 percent compared to another configuration with the same power-to-weight ratio. To this was added an excellent hull in terms of construction techniques as well.

Indeed, typical marine plywood was abandoned and replaced by careful construction of mahogany laminated wood reinforced with epoxy resins. A solution that managed to keep the weight within only 5,500 pounds. The result, more than evident, earned the dragon immediate success, so much so that it remained in production from 1972 to 1987, also serving several military applications, including as a fast patrol boat with the Guardia di Finanza.


Step Drive (comparison of two Levi designs) – Step drive, introduced with the Dragon, allows 20 percent higher speed for the same weight/power, lower fuel consumption, decreased exhaust noise and easier glide. Note that with surface propellers, only half of the blade is immersed, thus reducing the friction generated by the propeller itself

Italcraft Dragon – Spaces

In addition to her unparalleled speed, the Dragon also surprised with its man-high interior spaciousness, which was not compromised by the hull’s sleek and streamlined lines, and the comfort of the cockpit and aft sundeck.

Indeed, the Dragon was surprisingly adept at combining its performance qualities with the habitability of its interior spaces, strong with as many as 4 beds, separate toilet room and kitchen.


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Italcraft Drago – Data Sheet

Length Over All (LOA) 13.00 m
Length at Waterline (LWL) 9.90 m
Baglio Massimo 2.62 m
Dive 0.53 m
Displacement 5,500 / 6000 kg
Diesel Engines 2x D Cummins VT8 370 hp

2x Isotta Fraschini 350 hp

Maximum Speed 55 knots
Fuel Tank 900 lt
Fresh Water Tank 200L
Beds 4
Kitchen yes
Toilet rooms 1
Building Materials laminated mahogany reinforced GRP
Fairing Renato “Sonny” Levi
Shipyards Italcraft

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