I’m fortunate to annually represent Mercury Racing at the Bass Master Classic in the Mercury booth. This year, a fisherman named Rick asked me if there was a Mercury prop that would work for him. He had recently purchased a 2012 Triton 19XS powered by an OptiMax Pro XS 200. Rick was frustrated with the performance. The sharp turns and switchbacks on the Bayou where he runs were causing his propeller to break loose. This forced him to back off the throttle, causing the boat to lose speed and drop off plane. Rick had contacted his Triton representative regarding the issue. Although they discussed various options, the rep suggested Rick continue using a three blade prop.
The performance facts that I gathered in our conversation pointed me to a Bravo I XS. I told Rick the prop is designed specifically for low-emissions 2-stroke OptiMax outboards. Rick responded, “Isn’t Bravo I a sterndrive prop?”
I explained the Bravo I was first conceived as a sterndrive prop. However, Mercury Racing modified it for use on outboards as well. At Racing, we sweat the details — creating a perfectly balanced prop with a tuned exhaust tube, durable blades, clean leading edges and uniform cup heights. All of these unique features work together for enhanced 2-stroke outboard performance.
Rick was genuinely interested in the Bravo I XS. He asked, “What kind of planing speed and top-end speed can I expect when compared to my current prop? More importantly, will the Bravo I XS stay hooked up in turns?” All good questions.
I had asked Rick if he had a jack plate. He said he did. I asked him to get a bench mark with the Bravo I XS by starting at Triton’s recommended engine height for a three-blade prop. I then suggested he raise the engine in 1/4″ increments until he finds the sweet spot. In Rick’s application, the sweet spot is 3/4″ up from factory recommended height.
The beauty of the Bravo I XS is it will allow increased engine height for better performance. The Bravo I XS actually gives a better hole shot at higher transom heights. What’s also cool is you’ll need to increase 1” of pitch to achieve the same RPM at wide open throttle. Increased pitch at the same full throttle RPM means greater top-end speed. It also yields greater efficiency and thus fuel economy as the propeller moves further through the water (and the engine works less) at cruise. Rick provided me with the following test information.
“Top speed with the 24″ Tempest Plus prop was 64.6 mph as measured on my Lowrance HDS-8. Top speed with the 25” Bravo I XS is 65.8 mph. Performance is noticeably better at mid-range speeds as the Triton now has more “snap” when I give it full throttle. My fishing partner noticed the difference too,” said Rick.
Rick continued, “It seems to me it’s more important than ever to have the boat running at optimal efficiency with the price of gas where it is. My home town of Picayune, Mississippi is about 50 miles from New Orleans. Louisiana has better bass fishing and thus I spend almost all my time fishing there. If you do a Google Earth search of the Southeast Louisiana Coast, you will see why having a boat that is nimble in turns is so vital.”
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2012 Triton 19XS with Mercury 200 Pro XS
Before: Tempest Plus
Engine height: Triton factory setting (sorry no numbers)
Propeller: Mercury Tempest Plus 24” pitch
Performance: Hole shot was great, falling off plan in slow speed turns, top speed 64.6 at 5800 RPM
After: Bravo I XS
Engine height: Rick raised it ¼” at a time going up a total of 1” bringing it back down to ¾” above factory setting
Propeller: Mercury Racing Bravo I XS 25” pitch
Performance: Hole shot was the same – great, locked in with slow speed turns, top speed 65.8 at 5800 RPM
Rick concluded, “The boat jumps on plane. Handling in twisty turns was incredible, even with the switchbacks. The boat never once dropped off plane. If that wasn’t enough, I actually gained top speed. Where I come from we have a saying for something like this, we call it “Lagniappe” (Lan-Yap). It means something extra; you’re giving your customers something extra with this prop. Good job.”