Category Archives: On the Water

Future Techs

I’ve led many tours of Mercury Racing over the past 28 years. People are constantly amazed to see our skilled labor handcrafting outboards, sterndrives, propellers and accessories. Some of the more common questions asked are, “where does your labor comes from and how do they learn their skills?”

The revised Mercury Racing site features an all-new page dedicated to our QC4v Refresh Program.
Mercury Racing technicians handcraft products with passion and perfection.

Our employees come with a strong skill set and work ethic in place. The only training needed are for things that may be specific to the job at hand. I attribute their strong  work ethic to the Midwest culture. In Fond du Lac, it most likely also stems from the rich German ethnic mix and heavy farming influence. I truly believe farming brings with it an inherent mechanical aptitude that has been ingrained within Mercury since the late Carl Kiekhaefer founded the company in 1939.

The education and interests of today’s generation has changed. Millennials grow up using technology – aspiring to play video games and becoming “device” experts from an early age. They are used to instant gratification.

I recently came across an article in Forbes magazine entitled, “Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools.”  The timing of the article couldn’t have been better.

Industries such as ours are beginning to feel the pinch in finding skilled labor with a strong work ethic and passion to build and service the products we manufacture. Many say Millennials don’t want to get their hands dirty or have the desire to actually learn skills to build or repair products. I personally believe they are as interested and as capable as ever. We just need to provide them the education and tools they need to succeed.

Millennial Diamond

michael-signorelli-talbot-1
Marine Service School Sophomore Michael Signorelli shadowed with Stock Outboard competitors Talbot at the 2015 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships. The twin Mercury 2.5 EFIs were prepped by his uncles Marty and Joe Signorelli (Diamond Marine).

Marty Signorelli – owner of Diamond Marine – a Mercury Racing dealer located in Ft. Lauderdale – made me aware of one school that is making a difference when it comes to filling the void in skilled labor. His nephew Michael attends Coral Shores High School in Key Largo, Florida. The school has a dedicated marine vocational program. Students who attend the 4-year program learn skills to service marine engines. Upon graduation they can enter the work force as a marine mechanic or further their education in a vocational tech school. I spoke with instructor Chris Catlett regarding the program. Chris has been teaching  for 12 years. He is a 20-year Coast Guard Veteran with over 30 years of marine experience. Over 100 students are currently attending the program.

merc-racing1
Marine Service School Instructor Chris Catlett (L) with former student Blye Hofstetter and Michael Signorelli.

“Mercury Marine helped launch the Marine Service School program. We have 60 Mercury outboards made up of a mix of 2-stroke and 4-stroke models. The kids learn  everything; from  rebuilding powerheads and gearcases to diagnosing and repairing hydraulic and electrical systems. We are one of five marine mechanic trade schools in the nation which provide students an alternative to a formal four year college education,” said Chris.

For the past several years, Chris has taken the students to Key West for the annual Super Boat International Offshore World Championships. This past year eight students got to work with the race teams.

“The kids see the boats go past the school on their way down to Key West for the races. I feel it is important for them to see the engines in use – be it the recreational outboards they work on day in and day out or the exotic – high powered race motors they see competing in the extreme race environment. They get to see cutting edge technology in their own backyard, ” Chris said.

2-Stroke DNA

Michael Signorelli has mechanical aptitude built into his DNA. His uncle Marty and Joe are legendary in their ability to maximize the performance of  our legacy 2.5 EFI 2-stroke competition outboards. A future in marine is his destiny. His father Frank is a private boat captain. Michael, now a sophomore, started the Marine Service School program in 2015. His first project was rebuilding a 2-stroke 9.9 h.p. Mercury. He has since moved on to rebuilding 75 h.p. models and beyond.  Michael is very interested in engineering. His particular interest is navel architecture. Like mechanics and engine builders – the marine industry can never have enough navel architects.

We are thankful for instructors such as Chris Catlett and the various vocational programs around the country. I am confident program graduates will  provide tech support for Mercury and Mercury Racing products well into the future.

 

 

 

 

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Brian’s FS Experience

Brian-Alumacraft
AlumaCraft Trophy 195 with 200 Pro Verado

Brian Huinker called me recently for prop advice on a boat he and his nephew bought together. Brian is a Technical Application Manager for Mercury Marine.

Brian and his nephew Mike Huinker bought an Alumacraft Trophy 195 with a 200 Pro Verado. With his work – Brian travels with an assortment of tools and props to assist dealers and builders in their boat setup. Brian has realized success in the past with the stock, stainless steel 3-blade propeller. He happened to have a 19-inch 3-blade in his support van – so he mounted it on the Verado. Brian mentioned he had heard good things regarding our Bravo I FS. His nephew Googled it and found a variety of information (there’s more to that – read on 🙂

Calm Before the Storm

Mike Huinker with his daughter Sammy and son Lukas.
Mike Huinker with his daughter Sammy and son Lukas.

It was right after Brian had dialed the boat in with the 3-blade that he and his nephew packed their gear and were off to Northern Minnesota for their annual fishing trip on on Lake Winnibigoshish. Their first day out was beautiful. The water was calm and the fish were biting! 🙂  The 19-inch 3-blade turned the 200 Pro Verado 5800 rpm at 50 mph. Unfortunately, the weather turned and the calm serenity of the first day was a distant memory.

Headwinds

The wind stirred the lake into a fury of rough water. Mike was driving – doing all he could to battle the rough seas.

“We were getting pounded and wet. It was a rough day on the water,” Brian said.

The wind picked up even more on the next day. Brian was busy loading his gear – getting ready to head out when he noticed Mike working on the back of the engine. As he got closer he could see he was changing the prop. It was not just any prop. He was installing a 20-inch pitch Bravo I FS.

“Looking at the prop, I looked at him and asked, did you borrow one? No he said.” I ordered it. I’m thinking wow, must have been good YouTubes and other positive news for him to order one,” said Brian.

“My research I found YouTube videos of Steve Miller and Jim Saric discussing the Bravo I FS . Then early last spring another YouTube video of Gary Parsons (professional walleye angler) talking about the FS and I was sold.  I had the prop before we took delivery of the boat,” Mike said.

Game Changer 

Mike first leaned about the Bravo I FS online.
Mike first learned about the Bravo I FS online.

Brian and Mike proceeded to put their rain gear on expecting another rough and wet day on the water. They take off and were about half way to their fishing spot when Brian asked Mike if he was driving the boat differently from the previous day. Mike said no.

“I was able to push the throttle harder and the boat handled so much better in the rough conditions. We were not getting pounded, the boat had a much better ride and we were staying much drier,” Mike said.

“We were impressed with the boat. The Bravo I FS changed everything about it. It made a believer out of us,” Brian said.

Now instead of dreading the day on the rough waters, Brian and Mike are able to enjoy the ride to their fishing spot.

Sometime later they were able to find calm water.

Sammy topping off the gearcase with lube.
Master Mechanic Lukas topping off the gearcase with lube.

“With the engine mounted at the second hole (same height as with the 3-blade stainess) they matched the 5800 rpm engine speed and 50 mph top speed. Mike then raised the engine up to the third hole while also adding a trolling motor and three batteries in the front compartment.  The added weight didn’t affect the FS a bit. The engine turned 5800 rpm’s all day at 50 mph,” Brian exclaimed.

Good stuff. I look forward to hearing from Brian again to see how he and Mike are doing now that the weather is turning nicer and their Alumacraft is dialed in for some serious fishing. 🙂

 

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Fishin’ with a Mission!

Pro Max 3
Eli’s ride; a Stroker 21 DC bass boat featuring Mercury OptiMax 250 XS outboard power!

There is nothing better than getting a call from a customer who is ecstatic with the the performance of our products. Eli Delany, a longtime customer and tournament angler, called recently to share results he is experiencing with Pro Finish Pro Max props on his OptiMax 250 XS powered 21′ Stroker DC bass boat.

Eli with his son and first mate, Luke.
Eli with his son and first mate, Luke.

Eli, a seasoned veteran, is a member of the Mercury Pro Team. He has also been a member of a BASS Divisional Championship team in recent years. Eli’s tournament fishing is fueled with passion – not just for the sport but also to promote awareness for Autism – something that is near and dear to Eli’s heart. When I asked if I could share his test results, Eli jokingly responded, “I’m not sure my competitors will believe how fast the Pro Max goes on my rig!”

Pro Max 8
The 250XS, fitted with a 1.62:1 Sport Master gearcase, is mounted on a 14″ hydraulic jack plate.

Eli runs both 32″ and 30″ Pro Max wheels on his rig. The 250XS, fitted with a 1.62:1 Sport Master gearcase, is mounted on a 14″ hydraulic jack plate.

“My rig ran 102.3 mph with 32″ Pro Max fresh out of the box. The boat was under a light load, with the trolling motor, all batteries and electronics onboard,” said Eli.

That is very impressive – given his 250 XS is well seasoned. Eli went on to tell me he is also experimenting with a 30″ Pro Max wheel.

“I just started playing with the 30″ Pro Max.  I got in excess of 95 mph under tournament load,” Eli said.

Pro Max 5
“Eli’s rig ran 102.3 mph with 32” Pro Max fresh out of the box.

“What I like about the Pro Max is its acceleration! It’s significantly faster than another brand prop I run of a similar pitch. It also carries a load very well,” said Eli.

These are very impressive numbers. Eli credits much of his success to his mechanic Glenn Taylor, a Mercury Master Technician since 1983.

Eli’s passion and enthusiasm is contagious. I admire people like him who share their positive energy, time and talent to promote important causes such as Autism Awareness. We are proud to be associated with his mission.

 

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Mercury Racing Powers Team Abu Dhabi to Class 1 World Championship!

Mercury Racing Class 1 Race sterndrives power Ballough and Tomlinson to the 2015 Class 1 World Championship. Photo Credit: Simon Palfrader
Mercury Racing Class 1 Race sterndrives power Ballough and Tomlinson to the 2015 Class 1 World Championship.
Photo Credit: Simon Palfrader

American offshore racing veterans Gary Ballough (driver) and Johnny Tomlinson (throttles) piloted Abu Dhabi #6, a MTI catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing Class 1 Race sterndrives, to win the 2015 Class 1 World Championship! The season finale event took place on the teams’ home waters as part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final event for the 2015 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat season.

Abu Dhabi's victory marks the first time in 15 years a V8 powered boat has captured the Class 1 title.
Abu Dhabi’s victory marks the first time in 15 years a V8 powered boat has captured the Class 1 title. Photo Credit: Simon Palfrader.

Johnny and Gary placed third in qualify on Thursday, giving Team Abu Dhabi an eight point advantage going into the final event. They needed to either beat or finish immediately behind T-Bone Station (Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella) to cinch the title. Read more

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FS Miller

Steve's boat is similar to this Lund Pro-V 2075.
Steve’s boat is similar to this Lund Pro-V 2075.
Steve's Verado 300 Pro Fourstroke.
Steve’s Verado 300 Pro Fourstroke.

My good friend Steve Miller recently bought a 2014 Lund Pro-V 2075. Steve is the Senior Category Manager for Mercury Marine. He was heavily involved with the Verado from day one and also on the ground floor of the 150 Fourstroke launch as well as the launch of its 75-115 siblings. He knows the products – inside and out. Its only natural his 2075 Lund features Verado 300 Pro Fourstroke power. Steve uses the boat for both fishing and family time on the water.  Read more

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Outerlimits Sets Vee Bottom Kilo Speed Records

Worlds fastest vee-bottom strolling down the Pamlico.
Worlds fastest vee-bottom strolling down the Pamlico. Photo Credit: David Clark.

Congratulations to Mike Fiore, Brian Forehand, Joe Sgro and Dr. Michael Janssen in establishing all new Unlimited Vee Bottom and SV Single kilo speed records. The American Power Boat Association sanctioned the special event records for Outerlimits Powerboats. I first learned of the initial record via a Speed on the Water post early Monday. Brian (Forehand) drove and throttled the SV 43 Outerlimits, powered by twin 1650 RACE sterndrives, to a two-way average speed of 174.938 mph. The former vee bottom kilo record of 171.88 mph was set by Reggie Fountain and Ben Robertson in 2004. Fountain and Robertson drove a 42-foot Fountain on the same course as used today.

The many talents behind the  historic event.
The many talents behind the historic event.

Early this morning my phone lit up with multiple messages – the first being from Mike (Fiore); post this on Facebook right away. I was ecstatic to learn Brian (Forehand) and and Joe (Sgro) made back-to-back passes of 179.500 mph and 181.422 in the SV 43 for a new APBA Unlimited Vee-Bottom kilo speed record of 180.47 mph! Reggie Fountain was top of  mind since Monday. His record of 10 years is broken and not by a Fountain. His former employee was behind the wheel for multiple records and all of the action took place in front of his house. I had to call him. Read more

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Bravo I FS Performance Update

The Bravo I FS propeller features Mercury's patented Performance Vent System (PVS).
The Bravo I FS propeller features Mercury’s patented Performance Vent System (PVS).

I just received this fantastic video from professional Musky angler Jim Saric – the Musky Hunter.  My friend Steve Miller followed up with Jim a year after first loaning him a 22″ Bravo I FS for his Verado Pro 250 powered Ranger 620VS. We could not have asked for better testimonial. Others have shared similar results with the FS in a variety of outboard applications, including bass, flats, cat flats, bay boats, offshore center consoles as well as sterndrive deck boats and vee bottoms under medium to heavy load. We’ve recently  added 20″ and 21″ pitch sizes and the patented Mercury Performance Vent System (PVS) across the Bravo I FS prop line.


Video courtesy of Jim Saric – The Musky Hunter Television Show.

Good stuff, Jim. Enjoy the prop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Look – New Products

Our bold new look.
Our bold new look.
Racing-Icon---Blue-Matte
Our new M-icon floats on a pool of brilliant Mercury Racing blue.

Here we go! Another Miami Boat Show is underway and like always, we have tons of news to share. As we celebrate Mercury’s 75th anniversary we have released our new Mercury Racing logo. The new branding celebrates our rich Racing heritage while promoting our technological leadership in high performance propulsion. All Mercury Racing sterndrive engines on display in the Mercury booth feature the new branding. As usual, we have a number of exciting new products at the show.

540 Sterndrive

Detailed photo of the dual water pickups on the new Bravo One XR Sport gearcase.
A detailed view of the dual water pickups on the Bravo One XR Sport gearcase.
The all new 540 sterndrive.
The all new 540 sterndrive.

Our all-new 8.6L 540 sterndrive replaces the 8.2L 525 EFI.  It outperforms it’s sibling in a variety of fronts. A 21 cubic inch displacement advantage enables the 540 to provide 13 percent more torque for enhanced hole shot and an additional 50 ft-lb of peak torque. It also  delivers superior fuel efficiency and range compared to its 525 sibling. All this power and efficiency comes from 87 posted octane (R+M)/2, or 91 RON (global) pump gas. Digital throttle & shift replace mechanical cables – providing the operator with an intuitive control experience. The 540 complies with both EPA and CARB emissions requirements.

Also being debuted is the new Bravo One XR Sport sterndrive. The new Sport gearcase is two inches shorter than a standard Bravo or Sport Master. The gearcase shape provides enhanced hydrodynamics compared to the standard length Sport Master. Dual water pickups increase water flow for enhanced cooling in a variety of applications. The 540 on display in the Mercury booth features the new drive coupled with an integrated transom sytem (ITS). Cigarette Racing has a pair of 540s in their gorgeous 38 Top Gun VIP edition. Read more

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FS Deck Boat

The Bravo I FS - now for both outboards and sterndrives.
The Pro Finish Bravo I FS propeller.
The Bravo I FS prop turned on this 565 powered Nordic Deck Boat
Mercury Racing’s Bravo I FS prop turned on this 565 powered Nordic Deck Boat.

I just got some great news from Mike Griffiths – our resident product integration expert. Mike has been helping me dial-in an assortment of props for various applications. Mike and I tested props with anglers during Mercury’s National Walleye Tournament in Fond du Lac earlier this summer. Mike claims he is not an outboard guy, but you would never know it. It didn’t take him long to transfer his sterndrive performance boat knowledge to enhance the set-up of an average outboard walleye rig.

A number of anglers were smiling after reaping the benefits of Mike’s work on their boats. Mike provided input on weight distribution, engine height, trim tab positions and of course, props. The Bravo One XS was the star wheel for Optis; the Pro Finish Bravo I FS was more often than not the wheel of choice for Pro Verado folks. Read more

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Aussie Assault!

Wayne Mawer cinches the 2013 Mens Open World Championship.
Wayne Mawer cinches the 2013 Men’s Open World Championship. Photo credit: Bill Lacroix Pictures.
When I posted this on our Facebook page the first comment was, where's the skier?
When I posted this on our Facebook page the first comment was, where’s the skier? Photo Credit: Vanessa Eyles – Cyclonic Images.

Give it up for the Australians and their total domination of the 2013 Water Ski Racing World Championships! The event, held in Tenerife, Spain, concluded Sunday after four rounds of racing. Mercury Racing propulsion was the power in front of all six class world champions. As you can see, conditions were more ideal for an offshore race than ski racing.

To me – running a 21 foot boat with a QC4v 1350 stuffed between the stringers would be a handful. Racing it would another thing all together.

Trudi Stout's 1350 powered boat was hullin the mail! Photo credit: Billy LaCroix Pictures.
Trudi Stout’s 1075 SCi powered boat was haulin’ the mail! Photo credit: Billy Lacroix Pictures.
Women's Open World Champ Trudi Stout.  Photo credit: Billy LaCroix Pictures.
Women’s Open World Champ Trudi Stout. Photo credit: Billy Lacroix Pictures.

But to ski behind that? No thanks. I can’t imagine going as fast as they do on calm water. Ski racing in big water where your tow boat is periodically airborne? Forget about it! That takes some serious skill, stamina and pure guts!

Guy Williamson, our Service Director in Australia sent me an e-mail with the outstanding results. Read more

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Huron Heroes

Marc Granet exclaims victory in Port Huron.
Marc Granet exclaims victory in Port Huron. Photo credit: Marc Granet.
OPA bracket racing is all about accleration out of the turns! Photo credit: Chris Kosin.
OPA bracket racing is all about acceleration out of the turns! Photo credit: Chris Kosin.

“M for Mercury! M for Miss GEICO! M for Magnificent!” Those were the first words from Gary Goodell upon my congratulatory call to him Monday morning regarding Miss GEICO’s convincing win last weekend in Port Huron. OPA’s bracket race rule, with a speed cap of 135 mph, puts a spotlight on driving skill and acceleration. Miss GEICO’s  QC4v 1650’s are unparaled when it comes to acceleration. Time in and out of the turns were the deciding factor in this bracket race.

Bracket racing accentuates the 1650's rapid acceleration. Photo credit: Naplesimage.
Bracket racing accentuates the 1650’s massive torque and acceleration.
Team GEICO. Front row. Mike Griffiths (L) Johnny Bauer (R). Second row (L-R). Marc Granet, ??, ??, Louis Stray, Scotty Begovich, ??, Gart Stray, ??, ??. Missing. Gary goodell, Scott Coltan.
Team GEICO. Front row (L-R): Mike Griffiths and Johnny “Boost” Bauer. Second row (L-R): Marc Granet, Patrick Cleavland, Bruce Tobison, Mary Manke, Scotty Begovich, Dave DiPatrilo, Gary Stray, Craig Wilson, Macah Paul. Photo Credit: Louise Stray.

“The 1650s ran flawlessly. They respond and pull like no other. They are a blast to drive,” said Miss GEICO driver Marc Granet. “We enjoyed having  Mike Griffiths (Mercury Racing Product Integration Manager) and (Mercury Racing Engineering Tech) Johnny Bauer with us for the weekend,”

Marc said. “It was an insightful weekend. We learned alot. The team is continuing to gel.  The 1650s continue to impress us  – and our competitors,” Marc exclaimed. Marc said there was one moment when they were concerned about the engines. “We we slowing down upon completing the race and I started to hear an odd rumble sound. Scotty [Begovich] heard it too. It was a few seconds later before we realized it was the roar of hundreds of fans along the Sarnia, Ontario side of the St. Clair river. The response was overwhelming!,” said Marc. Read more

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Bravo I FS Performance Update

The Boat Doc is a full line Mercury and Triton Boats dealer.
The Boat Doc is a full line Mercury and Triton Boats dealer.

Man – I love this time of year. Things are humming here at Mercury Racing. In fact – I’m so jammed – I really shouldn’t be taking the time to write this. I just couldn’t wait to share the latest news regarding our Bravo I FS propeller.

I recently provided  22-24″ pitch FS wheels to Josh Wiesner who owns The Boat Doc, a local Mercury dealership in Lomira, Wisconsin. Josh agreed to conduct a performance test, comparing the 4-blade Bravo I FS with the 3-blade Tempest Plus. The test boat was a 2013 Triton 216 Fishunter powered by a Verado 300 Pro Fourstroke.

Power to the Water

The all new Pro Finish Bravo I FS.
The Pro Finish Bravo I FS.

Josh couldn’t have picked a worse time to test. It was a week-long stretch of 85 degree temps and unusually high humidity. Thanks to electronic boost control, the supercharged 300 Pro Fourstroke didn’t miss a beat.

The 300 Pro Fourstroke was first rigged with a 22″ pitch Tempest Plus. The boat ran 62 mph @ 6150 rpm with full fuel, two guys and a boat load of gear. Josh then switched to the 24″ pitch FS and began his run. Over time – he was able to raise the engine by one-half inch.  At that setting the boat ran 64.9 mph at 6050 rpm. The engine height, (measured from bottom of the cavitation plate to boat bottom) was 4-7/8 inches.

Whats Up Doc?
The Triton likes the Bravo I FS.  Although hole shots were similar, the FS provided enhanced bow lift, faster acceleration and nearly three mile per hour gain in top-end speed. A big change – particularly when under heavy loads as Josh has demonstrated.

Thanks, Josh for taking the time out your busy schedule – and literally sweating the details in your Bravo I FS test session. We appreciate it and I know our readers will find your results useful as well.

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Thunder in Paradise!

Boat-Dock
Boyne City Marina was transformed to Thunder Boat Row June 12-13!
A lull in activity at the Mercury truck later in the evening on Friday..
A lull in activity at the Mercury truck Friday evening.

Kevin Skiba and I just returned from the 10th annual Boyne Thunder poker run. It is rare to come off of any travel feeling refreshed. But this event was refreshing – in many ways. As I had mentioned in my previous post, Boyne City is very close to my home town of Sault Ste. Marie. Driving across Michigan’s Upper Penninsula and over the mighty Mackinac bridge brought back many memories as we made our trek to paradise. I had forgotten how beautiful the area truly is.

All hands on deck for the drivers meeting Saturday morning.
All hands on deck for the drivers meeting Saturday morning.
OptiMax 250XS and 300XS powered cats were part of the mix.
OptiMax 250XS and 300XS powered cats were part of the mix.

We were impressed by the amount of people roaming about the waterfront upon our arrival Friday afternoon. Tad Whitten said our display truck was busy from the moment he arrived. Main street was jammed with people checking out the classic cars and performance boats.  It was great to see the community support an event in such a grand way. The incredible weather didn’t hurt either. Read more

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Rinker Wins Maple City Grand Prix

Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics

LaPorte action-867
Terry Rinker was again dialed-in and the one to beat.
Maple City Grand Prix race organizers (L-R): Jason Miller,  Blair Milo, Mayor of LaPorte, Jack Arnette, President of LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Maple City Grand Prix race organizers (L-R): Jason Miller, Blair Milo, Mayor of LaPorte, Jack Arnette, President of LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Defending 2012 F1 High Points Champion Terry Rinker won the inaugural Maple City Grand Prix Sunday, June 2, in LaPorte, Indiana. The race was round two of the 2013 US Formula 1 Powerboat Tour.

“It was great to win a race in my home state,” said Terry Rinker. “I had family, friends and even former classmates cheering me on,” Terry said. Contributing Mercury Racing photographer Paul Kemiel, who lives in Michigan City, Indiana, was instrumental in bringing the excitement of outboard tunnel boat racing to LaPorte. “I’ve been involved with promoting the SBI Great Lakes Grand Prix since its inception,” said Paul. “Jason Miller, Sports Development Manager for the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, asked for my input regarding other types of powerboat racing they could bring to the area. I told them Stone Lake was a natural for F1 tunnel boats,” Paul said.

LaPorte action-548
Laporte was Tammy Wolf’s first F1 race. She went to the event to get more seat time in her new OptiMax 200XS SST powered F2 boat.
LaPorte portraits-50
Drivers resorted to signing Mercury Racing decals after running out of autograph cards.

US Formula 1 Powerboat Tour President Jose Mendana worked with race organizer Jason Miller to put on the event. “The community was very excited.  The amount of people who showed up for the boat parade and street party was incredible,” said Jose.

“LaPorte was phenomenal. Crowds of people were constantly by the boats asking for autographs,” said Tammy Wolf.  “It was the most phenomenal North American race I’ve been to in some time,” Tammy said.

Tammy went to LaPorte to continue testing of her new Mercury OptiMax 200 XS SST race outboard powered F2 ride. She knew she wouldn’t be competitive with the higher horsepower F1 boats. “I thought I was fast until the first F1 boat blew past me! I still have my training wheels on, I’m giving the boys headaches,” said Tammy. “I don’t think they are used to girl drivers. I thought I would be one of the guys…they don’t seem to quite know what to do with me,” Tammy said. “Chris Fairchild took me under his wing and let me pit with him for the weekend,”said Tammy. “Tammy is doing great. She is still learning the differences between SST60 and F2. I thought she adapted well to the right-hand turn in LaPorte,” said Chris. Read more

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Bravo for Go Fast Charters

Captain Sam (L) and his son Joe.
(L-R) Go Fast Fishing Charters Captains Joe and Sam Maisano.

It’s been a year since we introduced the Bravo I FS outboard propeller. It was originally developed for single engine four stroke outboard applications. We’ll, it didn’t take long for the word to spread regarding the prop’s performance. Folks running multiple four stroke outboard rigs started asking for right and left-hand rotation sets of the popular prop.

Bravo I FS test boat: 32-foot Donzi ZF center console.
Twin Verado 300s with 1.75: HD gearcases.

Being the conservative person I am, I opted to first work with a handful of people running various hull types to prove the concept before releasing the counter rotation Bravo I FS models. It took longer than I thought to get feedback from the field.

I  grew frustrated because I wasn’t getting any details regarding performance results. All I would get was, “They’re great! Thanks. ” or more often than not – no news at all. It was like pulling teeth. I found out over time the props worked so well that they wanted to keep their performance secret to themselves. Eventually, I got the detailed information I was looking for and I am happy to share it with you here. Read more

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Fast Mercs – From Toronto to Miami

This OptiMax 200XS tunnel race boat is front and center in the Mercury Marine booth at the Toronto International Boat Show.
Canadian driver Tammy Wolf and her female teammates finished a respectable 4th in Class 2 and 9th overall at the 2102 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race.

It’s show time! The Toronto International Boat Show opened last night and runs for the next nine days. The Mercury booth features a beautiful OptiMax 200XS SST powered tunnel race boat that is sure to draw people into the booth. Tammy Wolf, a driver with the all female team who competed at the 2012 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race, will be on hand to meet and greet fans.

Meanwhile, in the frozen tundra of Fond du Lac, people at Racing and Mercury headquarters are busy preparing for the upcoming Miami International Boat Show. Mercury has a vast array of exciting products to show and talk about. True to our Miami history, Racing will again have a few new things to share as well 🙂 Read more

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Sound Bites from Paradise – Part 2

Video highlights from the 2012 Key West Poker Run Presented by Mercury Racing.
Nor-Tech’s 477 Super Vee with twin 1350s.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Mercury Racing. I hope you had a joyous Christmas with family and friends. For those of who may have missed our Facebook Holiday Countdown, Check it out! MercFan has to have the coolest Christmas tree on the planet!

It’s hard to believe 2013 is a only few days away.  I’m looking forward to a fresh start. We have some exciting things to share again in Miami and we’ll be sporting some new wheels in time for the Lake Havasu Boat Show and Desert Storm Poker Run. Lot’s of exciting things planned for the new year. In the mean time, I thought you might enjoy some more visuals from Key West.

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Sound Bites from Paradise

The 1350 stands guard in Mercury Racing’s Poker Run Village exhibit. Photo courtesy Stu Jones – Florida Powerboat Club.
Video highlights from the 2012 Key West Poker Run Presented by Mercury Racing.

It’s been just over a month since the running of the 20th annual Key West Poker Run. Kevin Skiba did a nice job of summarizing the activities in his November 16 post.  American Performance Television (APTV) captured on board excitement of participants enjoying the run in their Mercury powered boats.

Dealers, boat builders, owners and racers alike share their thoughts regarding Mercury Racing propulsion products. Enjoy!

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Musky Hunter

The all new Pro Finish Bravo I FS.
The power behind Jim Saric’s 620VS Fisherman Series. Photo credit: Jim Saric.

At Mercury Racing we’re really pumped with the performance of our new Bravo I FS props. With some help from my angling friends, the application of the Bravo sterndrive prop on four stroke outboards was an instant success. We first focused on the single engine applications.

Long time friend and coworker Steve Miller, Senior Category Manager for Mercury, recently fished with Professional Musky angler Jim Saric. We gave Steve a 22″ pitch Bravo I FS for Jim to try on his Verado Pro 250 powered Ranger 620VS.

Video courtesy of Jim Saric – The Musky Hunter Television Show.

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Key West Poker Run Recap

The QC4v 1350 sterndrive always draws a crowd.
Mercury Racing was recognized for our title sponsorship at the Friday Night sponsor party.

Whew! I’m just getting back to a “normal” schedule after last week’s Key West Poker Run. It was a great event. We had people at the Mercury Racing truck from the moment we unloaded our 1350 and 565 display engines through the 10:00 p.m. closing time. It was non-stop action Thursday through Saturday. It’s always fun to meet and greet folks who enjoy our products. It is equally enjoyable to establish new relationships with future customers.

This year was the 20th anniversary of the event. Stu Jones and the Florida Powerboat Club staff didn’t disappoint. This has to be the largest gathering of performance boats on earth. It is also the largest gathering of performance boat builders and dealers. Industry movers and shakers included Reggie Fountain, Randy Scism (MTI), Peter Hledin (Skater), Chad Braver (Cigarette), Todd Warner (Statement), Nils Johnson and Trond Schou (Nor-Tech), Paul Loguidice (Hustler), David Woods and Scott Shogren (Pier 57). Read more

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99 Psycho Clowns Sweep Round 1 of Australian Water Ski Championship

The 99 Psycho Clowns on their way to sweeping Round 1 of the 2012 Australian Water Ski Racing Championship. Photo credit: Derek Mounty
99 Psycho Clowns driver Danial McMahon and observer Ian Baker. Photo credit: Vanessa Eyles Photo/Cyclonic Images.

I think of Stealers Wheel’s song, “Stuck in the Middle With You”, whenever I come across news regarding Australia’s 99 Psycho Clowns water ski racing team. The Mercury 1350 powered team dominated Round 1 of the 2012 Australian Water Ski Championships, Sunday, September 16. The race was held on Bramble Bay, North of Brisbane.

In seeing some of the photos regarding the event, I’m thinking 99 Psycho Clowns skier, Wayne Mawer, had his own version of the epic tune going through his head. “Clowns in front of me, racers to my right – here I am….” You truly have to respect these guys for what they’ve accomplished.

Two time world champion skier, Wayne Mawer, suits up for another race. Photo credit: Vanessa Eyles Photo/Cyclonic Images.
Imagine being in the boat under these conditions. And the skier? Forget about it! Photo credit: 99 Psycho Clowns.

Imagine racing a 21-foot boat in which our potent quad cam, four valve 1350 sterndrive takes up half of the interior! That’s gotta be a rush on its own. Now think about strapping a board under your feet and hanging on as the twin turbocharged engine, producing 1300 lb. ft. of torque, pulls you across the water at speeds never before seen from a production sterndrive. Then, throw a bunch of competitors into the mix! It takes a lot of courage and talent to race on smooth water. Now, add some messy weather. Water ski racing in the rough requires a whole new skill set. Read more

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Rinker Romps OPC Nationals…Again!

Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Terry celebrates his winning the SST 200 National Championship.

Terry Rinker swept three of 10 classes at the 27th annual Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) National Championships. The event, held on the Kankakee River, is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA).

Terry repeated his 2011 performance by claiming both SST 120 and F1 OPC National Championships. He also claimed the new SST 200 OPC National Championship. The defending Mod U champ surrendered that title to Chris Fairchild.

SST 120

Team AMSOIL’s Terry Rinker (#10) and son Ashton finished 1st and 5th respectively in SST 120 competition.

A total 10 boats lined up for start of the SST 120 30-lap final on Sunday. Terry Rinker dominated the event, finishing an impressive 36 seconds ahead of Brent Dillard for the championship.  Lee Daniel, Mark Jakob and Terry’s son Ashton rounded out 3-5. All were powered by Mercury SST 120 race outboards.

F1

Merv Bjork qualified for pole position in Heat 2 of F1 qualifying with OptiMax power.
Chris’s wild spin after losing steering at 115 mph!

Chris Fairchild earned the pole for the F1 20-lap final. Unfortunately, mechanical gremlins took him out of the race about mid way through. “A steering cable broke at the drum at 115 mph. The boat took a hard left to the infield. The G-forces were so great, the tail cone was sucked inside the combing board,” Chris said. Thankfully, Chris was unscathed. Terry Rinker went on to romp this class too, finishing 34 seconds ahead of Mark Welch for his second consecutive F1 National Championship.  Jeff Shepherd finished third. OptiMax 200XS SST powered Merv Bjork and Donny Lick rounded out 4-5 in a class featuring purpose built Mercury race outboards of much greater power. Read more

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Mercury Racing puts up Big Numbers at LOTO

Bob Bull’s 48 MTI with twin 1350s was clocked at 186 mph to earn the Manufacturer Cat Top Gun award. Photo credit: Speed on the Water.
Mike Fiore sets a 99 mph single engine production vee bottom speed record in the 565 powered SV29 Outerlimits. Photo credit: Naples Image.

Outerlimits’ Mike Fiore was the first person I called upon seeing the Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO) Shootout results.  Mercury powered Outerlimits won four classes. Mike won the NV2F1 (single engine production vee bottom) class with a top speed of 99 mph in Mike Everson’s 565 powered SV29. A Bravo One XR Sport Master coupled to a 32″ Lab Finished Maximus propeller put the power to the water.

“It’s really impressive if you think about it. The new 565 provides the same performance as the 600 SCi, Mike said. Mike continued, “We were 15 mph faster than the next boat in our class. That is huge – particularly given the 565 is naturally aspirated”

Outerlimits was well represented at LOTO. Photo credit: Speed on the Water.
Joel Begin and Mike Fiore flying through the traps in Joel’s 1350 powered SV52 Outerlimits. Photo credit: Naples Image.

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565 Fuel Economy: Impressive. Most impressive!

Now here’s something noteworthy: 3.2 MPG on 89 octane pump gas! This is real-world, family boating experience in a new 29 Outerlimits vee bottom with Mercury Racing’s 565.

The business end: Bravo One XR Sport Master with Maximus Short Tube prop.
Mike Everson warms up his new OL’s 565 prior to testing.

Mike Everson is the proud, new owner of this beautiful rig. And he lives near us! So, we invited Mike to Fond du Lac for some data collection on his Outerlimits. Mike Griffiths, one of our field techs, gathered some fuel consumption data on Lake Winnebago; however, Mike Everson shared his following weekend experience, too. He covered 124 miles with his family on the Mississippi River. (Hey, it’s his new boat, you would too!) He averaged 3.2 MPG over those 124 miles. Impressive.

Here is Mike Griffiths’ drier, more clinical data:

Prop: Maximus 15.625 x 32 five blade propeller.

Test load: Three, pizza and cola fueled, adult males (maturity level, indeterminate) and a full 89 octane fuel load.

Weather: clear, 90 degrees F, wind 4 MPH, gusting to 10 MPH

Engine RPM, boat speed and fuel mileage:

Two Mikes and a Jason head out for data. Yea, right – data.
Carbon fiber, carbon fiber and more carbon fiber… all pushed around by 8.7 liters worth of ponies.

3000 RPM = 46 MPH = 2.76 MPG

3500 RPM = 55 MPH = 3.20 MPG

4000 RPM = 66 MPH = 3.26 MPG

4500 RPM = 75 MPH = 2.97 MPG

5000 RPM = 84 MPH = 2.71 MPG

5250 RPM = 93 MPH = 2.67 MPG

 

Sweet! Lake conditions limited our ability to extract the 29’s absolute top performance. (Outerlimits’ builder, Mike Fiore, noted 98 MPH top end back at the factory.) However, 93 MPH with three people and a full fuel load is respectable — especially attaining 2.7 MPG with the digital throttle held wide open! [In Darth Vader’s raspy, measured delivery…] “Impressive. Most impressive.”

 

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OptiMax Powers Fairchild to SST 200 UIM/APBA World Championship

Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Chris adds another UIM World Championship trophy to his collection.
Chris Fairchild captured the 2012 SST 200 World Championship in this OptiMax powered boat of his own design.

Reigning SST 120 World Champion Chris Fairchild won the 2012 SST 200 UIM/APBA World Championship Sunday, July 22. The championship consists of four heats of racing at the PNC Trenton Roar on the River outboard tunnel boat race, an annual event that takes place on the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan.

Chris earned a pole position by winning the one lap time trials on Saturday. His two heat race wins on Saturday and a second place finish behind Dan Orchard in Heat three on Sunday provided him enough points to clinch the championship. Dan, Donny Lick, Mark Proffitt and Jimmie Merleau rounded out 2-5 in overall championship points. All were powered by Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards.

Seven out of 10 competitors relied on OptiMax power. This was the largest gathering to date of low-emissions, 2-stroke Mercury outboards in a U.S. tunnel boat competition.

The event marked the largest gathering to date of OptiMax powered competitors in U.S. outboard tunnel boat competition.
Dan Orchard finished second overall. OptiMax power swept the event.

The event title was updated from SST 120 to SST 200 World Championship this year. Formula 2 competitors running the traditional Mercury SST 120 race outboard voted to separate the scoring of SST 120 and OptiMax 200XS SST powered boats for all 2012 American Power Boat Association (APBA) sanctioned events. The change makes SST 120s legal to run in SST 200 events; but an OptiMax 200XS SST is not legal and thus points are not accumulated in SST 120 competition.

The Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) would have nothing to do with the battle between the original SST 120 class and the new SST 200 class featuring Mercury’s low-emissions OptiMax technology, especially since the SST 120 is still winning races.  They gave an ultimatum stating “There will be only one world championship.” Trenton race organizers decided to go with SST 200 – acknowledging OptiMax as the preferred power for Formula 2 outboard tunnel boat competition. Read more

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OptiMax Roars in Bay City; Rinker Wins F1

Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Opti Early Adopter David McCormick proudly waves the checkered flag to the spectators.
Donny Lick captures his first Bay City victory in this OptiMax powered Lee hull.

Mercury OptiMax powered boats swept the Formula 2 competition at the 25th annual Dow Bay City River Roar Sunday, June 24. A total of 13 boats lined up for the 30-lap final on the Saginaw River in Bay City, Michigan. The race was round two of the 2012 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour.

David McCormick, crew chief for F2 winner Donny Lick gave me a play-by-play of their victorious weekend. “Chris Fairchild won the first of two qualifying heats, with Donny in second. We changed props and it was all Donny – flag-to-flag- in heat 2,” exclaimed David. Fellow OptiMax competitors Jimmie Merleau and Chris Fairchild rounded out 2-3. Donny got the pole position for Sunday’s 30-lap final – with Chris, Jimmie, Dan Orchard and Merv Bjork rounding out the top five- all with OptiMax 200s,” said David. Ruban Ascencio was the lone OptiMax driver in the remaining field along with four traditional Mercury SST 120 outboard powered boats and two F1 Sport entries (featuring carburetted 2.5 Liter Mercury outboards).

A total of six OptiMax powered boats competed in the 30-lap F2 final.
2012 Dow Bay City River Roar F2 Champion Donny Lick.

Donny lead the 30-lap final from the start with Chris Fairchild in hot pursuit. As the race wore on, traffic began to build. Donny got blocked by traffic on lap 28. Chris made a move and was successful in getting around Donny for the lead. His lead was brief, as by lap 29, he too was blocked and Donny regained the lead to capture the checkered flag. Chris, Jimmie, Merv and Dan rounded out 2-5. Chris summed up the event by saying,  “Donny ran a good race. It was great to see the Optis finish strong.”

“It was just a fantastic weekend. This was my first major series win since I got into tunnel boat racing in 2000. And I just realized it was Donny’s first major F2 victory since he started back in 2006,” said David.

I had asked Donny if he had ever run in Bay City before. He rattled off the different years and blown powerheads or broken equipment that went along with them. “Thank you Mercury Racing for developing such an awesome motor. This thing just keeps running and running – we don’t really have to do anything to it. It’s much easier to run and maintain than the 120s. It’s certainly more economical; in both fuel usage and cost of ownership,” Donny said.

David McCormick was one of the early adopters of the OptiMax race engine. “We first ran the Optis three years ago. It’s been a learning curve for us. It’s taken this long for the racing community to accept it. I think the results here prove it is a viable engine. We’re excited for our next major race, the Three Rivers Regatta, July 3-4, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” David concluded.

 F1 in Black& White

Terry Rinker airs it out over Saginaw to capture his fourth Bay City victory.
Terry Rinker clinches his fourth Bay City River Roar victory.

Terry Rinker of Tampa, Florida dusted off his 2005 Lee tunnel boat to win the F1 competition. The field of 12 had a surprise entry with the return of veteran tunnel boat ace Tim Seebold. This was Tim’s first powerboat race in almost two years. I believe this was the first time in history a Seebold qualified for a race in an engine other than black in color and a boat that was not of their own design. Tim qualified in a V-6 Johnson powered DAC hull. A blown powerhead forced him to start last on the dock in a backup Johnson powered Seebold for the 50-lap final. His father Bill Seebold was on the radios.

Lynn Simburger #72 running with Tim Seebold in the 50-lap F1 final.

I asked Terry what it was like to see Tim compete with Johnson power. “It was good to see Tim back. He’s a tough competitor, no matter what he’s driving. Chris [Fairchild] is always tough to beat as well.” Chris had similar words to say. “Terry ran a great race. I finished seven seconds behind him and 12 seconds ahead of Tim in his 3.0 Liter Johnson. I’m happy with that – given I run stock 2.5 Liter Mercury power,” Chris said. Seebold, Brian Venton and Steve Lee rounded out 3-5. All, with the exception of Seebold, were powered by Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboards.

This was Terry’s fourth Bay City victory – the last was back in 2006. “Bay City is always tough. Its just a rough race – you never know what the next lap will bring,” Terry said.

The next round for the Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour is the Roar on the River, July 20-22, Trenton Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Months Out: a 565 Update!

It’s been a few months since the Miami introduction of Mercury Racing’s 565 horsepower, 8.7 liter engine. I thought I’d check in with the “early adopters” for their impressions. I suspected I would be pleased; I was right.

The universal highlights:

Hustler 344 Cheetah "burns nothin!" with 565's. Photo courtesy of Hustler Powerboats.
Mercury Racing ZeroEffort Digital controls perfectly compliment this very tasteful helm. Photo courtesy of Cigarette Racing.

1)   exceptional top end performance,

2)   unexpectedly good fuel economy!

3)   seductively smooth shift and throttle and

4)   amazing time-to-plane and mid-range acceleration!

 

 

Nordic's 24SX catamaran tops 100 mph with a single Mercury Racing 565. Photo by Robert Brown, courtesy of Sportboat Magazine.

Top End. Nordic’s new 24SX catamaran, with a single 565, is routinely “over the 100 mph mark,” according to Nordic GM, Kevin Doane. Cigarette’s 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH runs, well… 90+! “Really, it’s 90++!” says Skip Braver. “It shifts like it has 1350’s,” he continued. Nor-Tech’s 420 Monte Carlo “tops 86 mph” in the words of Scott Conrad. Formula’s Miami show boat, 400 FX Super Sport, is running 63 mph for its owner (2 people, full of fuel and water). Whatever your boating preference, that is excellent performance from these engines in a wide range of boat types.

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Women Attack Rouen!

OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards dominated the 2000 24 Hours of Rouen.
The OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard powered boat Tammy Wolf and Team OTR will be racing in Rouen.

An International, all-female team will compete for the first time in the 48th annual 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race, May 26-28.  Olympic Team Rouennais (OTR) drivers include Bimba Sjoholm of Sweden, Marie-Line Hericher of France, Norwegian Mette Bjerknaes and Canadian Tammy Wolf.  The ladies’ attack vessel will use a Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST outboard to race against competitors with like power — those with Mercury SST 120 race outboards in Class 2. They’ll also be up against more powerful Mercury S3000 race outboard powered entries in Class 3. With OptiMax’s fuel economy advantage, Team OTR has a real shot at an overall win.

Veteran female F1 driver Marit Stromoy of Norway, who is also competing in Rouen for the first time, will campaign a Mercury S3000 powered boat in Class 3 competition.

Tammy Wolf

Tammy Wolf has over 17 years of power boat racing experience. Photo courtesy Tamy Wolf.
The girls gave their boat new paint to reflect their historic team. Photo courtesy Tammy Wolf.

This is Tammy’s first Rouen experience. “It is a dream come true to attend such a legendary and historical event. I never thought I would have the opportunity to compete in the toughest and most challenging tunnel boat race in the world,” said Tammy. No new comer, she’s been racing boats for over 17 years.

I asked Tammy how the team came about. “The team was chosen by Team Manager Albert Hericher (Marie’s husband) and Operations Manager Carl Kinder. They reviewed the top female tunnel boat drivers in the world and I am honored to be one who was hand-picked for this team,” Tammy said.  Two-time Rouen champion Chris Fairchild has been giving her guidance over the past couple of months. “Chris taught me Rouen is not won on the first lap. The race will equally be about survival and speed. I believe a constant strong performance is needed to be successful,” said Tammy. “Driving in Rouen is an honor; finishing in Rouen is a great achievement; a podium finish will be a dream. The most incredible part of this journey is the amazing support I have had from Mercury, Peters and May, my family, friends and fans,” Tammy said. Read more

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Aussie Optis

Guy Williamson from our Australian office sent me exciting news recently regarding our OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard. The latest generation of  the low emissions 2-stroke made a big impact at its Australian Formula Powerboat GP debut. The second round of the national series was held April 28-30 on the Clarence River in Grafton, Australia.

Mercury OptiMax changes the game for Australian Formula Poweboat GP racing. Photo credit: nashypics.com
Low-e OptiMax outboards place 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in F1 competition. Mercury F-1 outboards were 1st and 4th. Photo credit: nashypics.com

In a David vs Goliath performance, The three OptiMax entries finished 2-3 and 5th in Formula 1 competition. Apparently the Australian powerboat racing governing body has not yet finished its technical inspection and rule book for the 200 h.p. engine designed for Formula 2 competition. Those wishing to race were forced to move up into the Formula 1 class and compete against 300 h.p. Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboard powered hulls. Any way you look at it, it’s an all Mercury victory.

Reigning 2011 Australian F1 champion Damien Mackenzie continued his winning streak in Grafton. Although Damien was able to fend off the pesty F2 Opti entries – three of his fellow F1 competitors weren’t so lucky. Mercury OptiMax, driven by Michael Page, finished second, just ahead of fellow Opti competitor Grant Trask in My Home Now. Gavin Simmons finished behind the two OptiMax powered entries in his Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboard powered hull. Page and Trask are now 4th and 5th in the F1 points chase – despite their running F2 class engines and missing the 2012 season opener.

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Friends in a Storm: Desert Storm at 159

Somehow, still images don’t quite convey the atmosphere of a poker run. My last post, just after Desert Storm, (and Rick Mackie’s just before) described the breadth of the activities. We posted some photos of the new boats, both on display and in the water. Nevertheless, there’s nothing quite like going on board and feeling the vibe — especially with friends.

Phantom on her way to Card Stop #1.

I managed to hitch a ride with my new friend, Ken Armstrong, on board his 1350 powered 48 MTI “Phantom” for the poker run on Friday and found myself cruising at 159 mph! Hearing “Come on. Let’s go!” I wasn’t about to go back to the rental car for either my GoPro or Drift HD170 camera. So, I videoed with my Flip camera – hand held, no less. My audio sucks, but that’s a function of Ken’s stereo (complete with hydraulically actuated speaker hatches) blowing away the puny mic of my humble little camera – not Ken’s on-board sound system, which could entertain Las Vegas without leaving Lake Havasu! Read more

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Boiling Water in the Desert

Gary Williams’ M31 DCB challenges the “big power” and full race boats. Dave Hemmingson enjoys being the first boat brand to the card stop.

I had a blast at Desert Storm this year. (Or should I say “once again this year!”?) The first West Coast showing of our new 565 was at the Havasu Boat Show just last week — and we had one on display at Desert Storm’s street party and another in a 24 Nordic!  And in even greater numbers than last year, Mercury Racing QC4v engines were back.

Frisini 43 Catania, with Dr. Jasper at the helm, running Lake Havasu.

Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) had four customers’ boats with QC4v power. Marine Technology Inc‘s (MTI) 1350 powered “Phantom” 48 was pounding out tunes as well as boat speed — its twin 1350s performing dual roles of power and musical accompaniment. (I tagged along with owner, Ken Armstrong, and his crew for the poker run — and the party that seems to spring up wherever he goes. Wow! I think “Phantom” could idle on its sub-woofers alone.) And there’s more! Dr. Gabe Jasper’s brand new, bright red and silver Frisini 43 Catania catamaran with 1350’s made its desert debut as well.

Ken Armstrong’s Phantom themed MTI is a real crowd pleaser — unless you’re among the crowd left in his wake.

Dave Hemmingson enjoys turning heads with Mercury Racing QC4v’s. At Desert Storm last year, DCB was ripping up Lake Havasu with Mike Stevenson’s stunning orange and black, 2,700 horsepower M35 Wide Body. In 2010, Gary Williams’ 1350 powered M31 recorded 176.4 mph. This year, with the same 1350s coupled to a new pair of Mercury Racing Pro-Finish CNC props, the metallic green rocket ship ran over 180 mph  — on pump gas! The official speed record for a single engine boat this year? Troy Rapp’s DCB F29. Sporting a single Mercury 1350, the 29-foot cat clocked an astounding 129 mph in Saturday’s shootout!  Read more

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Bravo on the Bayou

Mercury Marine reps celebrate another BASS Classic victory. (L-R) Scott Reichow, Kevin "KB" Brown, Mike Shedivy, Randy Qualls (Legend Boats), Chris Lane (2012 Classic Winner), Michelle Kilburn, Steve Miller
The Pro Finish Bravo I XS outboard propeller features a tuned exhaust tube with large one-inch vent holes for enhanced 2-stroke outboard performance.

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?” Read more

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Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 3: Prep & Drive

Pre-run inspection of a 700 SCi powered DCB catamaran. Photo credit: Tres Martin's Performance Boat School.
Twin OptiMax 300XS outboards rigged on a 30-foot Spectre catamaran.

In my previous post (Part 2) regarding high performance boat operation, I reviewed basic information on rigging fit and function. Now its time to head to the ramp.

While the boat is still on the trailer, walk around for a visual inspection of the hull.  Next, climb aboard for a visual inspection of the interior and engine compartment (motor well for outboards): ensure everything is in place and secure. Don’t forget the drain plug(s)!  Check your other safety accessories: aboard? In secure locations?

Helm of a DCB M35 catamaran powered by twin 700 SCi sterndrives.
Helm of 50-foot Cigarette Marauder with twin 1350 sterndrives.

Once your boat is launched,  review the helm to familiarize yourself with the location and function of all instruments and controls. Make sure the steering wheel, throttle and shift controls are well within your reach and that you are comfortable with their operation.

If your boat is fitted with K-Plane trim tabs, be comfortable with the location and operation of the tab trim switches. The driver needs to know the location and function of accessory switches such as bilge blower, bilge pump, running lights, horn, courtesy lights and related fuses, or circuit breakers. Read more

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Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 2: Rigging Fit & Function

Spring is a great time for newbie and veteran performance boaters alike to get familiar with their craft. For starters, you should review your owners manuals — really, you should — and review the key components of your new boat.

The 300XS is very popular for singe and multiple engine applications.
The 300XS on this Hydrostream features a 20-inch mid section and Sport Master gearcase.

Performance boats vary widely in propulsion and size. Outboards come in 20, 25 and 30-inch drive shaft lengths to accommodate a variety of applications. Mercury (and other brand) outboards are fitted with a standard gearcase for most applications. Hulls that can take advantage of the high power-to-weight ratio of a 300XS may benefit from its wide range of gearcase options. Similarly, Mercury Racing offers a variety of sterndrives for differing power capacities and hull types.

Mercury Racing’s high styled Zero Effort Digital controls.

Mechanical control: High performance outboards are usually rigged with with dual steering cables, a shift cable, throttle cable and fuel line. With performance sterndrives, throttle and shift are accomplished with cables, but steering is hydraulic. These include 600 SCi  and 700 SCi Mercury Racing packages.

Digital control: On Digital Throttle & Shift compatible outboards, such as the 400R and sterndrives including the 520, 540, 565, 860, 11001350 and 1550 mechanical throttle and shift cables are gone — replaced with a single electronic cable. Steering is either electric (Verado) or hydraulic (MerCruiser). Read more

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Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 1: Introduction

A Nor-Tech catamaran boat powered by twin 850 SCi sterndrives. Photo credit. Florida Powerboat Club.
The boys from Sunsation enjoy their time on the water. Photo credit: Naplesimage.

With Spring in the air, the timing is right to review the basics of high performance boat operation to ensure you and your passengers have a safe and enjoyable Summer on the water. We include a Guide to Hi-Performance Boat Operation with every engine we ship. We encourage new and current owners to review the book and then get some in-boat driving lessons from your local high performance dealer. Those who do not have a qualified driving instructor in their area may want to consider Tres Martin’s Performance Boat School.

Our operation guide is packed with general performance boating information including a list of descriptive terms relating to propellers, hull types and overall boat performance.  Let’s first review the various performance boat hull configurations.

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Islamorada Poker Run Fun!

 

Verados almost everywhere!

Florida Powerboat Club’s (FPC) Miami to Islamorada poker run follows the world’s best boat show. It’s unusually interesting because of that timing: Many of the Miami Show boats make their first outings with Stu Jones’ club. I counted eight show boats on Thursday’s wave.

OK, poker runs are about the fun, relationships and a common interest in performance boating. But my focus is mostly on our customers and their hardware (my job!)…

This year, I hitched a ride on Thursday with Derek Wachob, his family and friends. Their new 42 Cigarette Huntress is powered with five of the Mercury Racing designed 350SCi Verados! What a ride! And the sound system: young Madison sure can “shake that groove thing”! (So can Abby – and probably anyone else within about two miles.) Derek reloaded and made the trek again on Friday in his sinister black ZR 48 MTI.

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Fred’s Window on the Miami Show

Cigarette 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH: Update of a classic and first installation of 565’s.
Demonstrating the 565 in Nor-Tech's 420 Monte Carlo, the author with a prospect, Rex.
Demonstrating the 565 in Nor-Tech’s 420 Monte Carlo, the author with a prospect — my personal friend, Rex.

What a couple of weeks! For me, the Miami Show is about the best activity one can still call work. We rolled out Racing’s new, 8.7 liter, digital throttle and shift, 565 hp propulsion package. That gave me plenty of excuses to hang out with customers of Mercury, Cigarette, Dave’s Custom Boats, Formula and Nor-Tech.

The abundance of new boats powered with 1350, 1100, 700SCi, 525EFI or 350SCi’s didn’t spoil my attitude, either.

What better way to cap off a successful Miami International Boat Show than a poker run with Stu Jones and his Florida Powerboat Club to Islamorada? That’s some great folks with whom to share time!

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Breakout Show!

Fred with the all-new 565 sterndrive. Photo courtesy of Charles Plueddeman - Boats.com.
Even competitors came by to check out our new products.

My first indication this was going to be a breakout Miami show was first thing Thursday. We had a huge gathering of media and trade professionals  for our 10:05 a.m. press conference.

Kevin Grodzki was first up to unveil the Mercury 150 Fourstroke outboard for its debut appearance at the world’s largest boat show. Fred Kiekhaefer followed with his unveiling of our all-new 565 sterndrive. Both engine’s were very well received. From that point on – the show was a non-stop-go.

We had two free-standing static 565 engine displays at the show – one in the Mercury booth and one in Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) booth.

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RetroJet

The 1959 Glass Craft Aero Dynamic Citation as it looked prior to the restoration.
A custom graphic adorns the top of the replica "alien" engine cowling.

Chris Fairchild is a busy guy. His passion is powerboat racing. He’s been racing tunnel boats for over 20 years.  He not only races his own boats in F1 and SST 120 classes, he also builds and repairs race engines and gearcases. He manages to do this in addition to his “real job” of building custom homes with his father, Jim. So, when he sent me pictures of his latest project, I wasn’t surprised. But it still impresses me that he accomplishes what he does with all of the things going on in his life.

A neurosurgeon approached Chris with the idea of restoring the family boat he grew up with.  The boat started life as a 1959 Glass Craft Aero Dynamic Citation outboard runabout.  The doctor wanted to restore the Glass Craft so he could have something to run on the river during the limited time he is “off-duty.” The challenge was the water levels are too low for traditional outboard propulsion. The doctor asked Chris if the boat could be converted to a jet boat. Chris, always up for a challenge and a journey into the unknown, said, “why not?” Read more

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Fred’s Key West Adventure!

John Rosatti and crew as we prepare to depart Miami. (Photo courtesy of Intercept Boats.)

What started as a spectacular week in the Florida keys was clouded by tragedy: the deaths of Bob Morgan, Jeff Tillman and Joey Gratton because of individual boat blow-overs while racing in SBI’s Key West World Championships. Very sad and they will be missed. Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these gentlemen from all of us at Mercury Racing.

It is a beautiful day. With a full load of fuel aboard, we made way at 118 mph in the 50 foot Cigarette Marauder.

In contrast, the Florida Powerboat Club poker run from Miami to Key West was both safe and fun! Stu Jones’ event attracted over 175 entrants with more than 160 boats making the trek in four waves; one each day, Tuesday through Friday. I had the opportunity to meet many new friends and catch up with some I haven’t seen for a while. Read more

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Rinkers’ Romp!

Terry and Rob Rinker celebrate Rob’s SST 60 National Championship.

Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Terry and Rob Rinker enjoyed a historic Labor Day weekend in Kankakee, Ill. The father/son outboard tunnel boat racers claimed four out of ten titles at the 26th annual Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) National Championships. The event, held on the Kankakee River, is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA). Kankakee is prerequisite for any driver hoping for induction into the APBA’s Hall of Champions. Success here puts you in the record books forever.

Terry Rinker captures the 2011 SST 120 National Championship.

Terry won SST 120, F1 and Mod U National Championships. I believe he is the first to capture three OPC National titles in one year. And to make the holiday weekend even sweeter, Terry’s son Robbie was crowned SST 60 National Champ. SST 120, Champ and Mod U classes feature Mercury V-6 race outboards. Outboard Marine Corporation Johnson and Evinrude race outboards are featured in SST 60 racing.

The Rinker’s record setting four class sweep is historic. The weather was as well. I’ve been to Kankakee a few times during my race support days. It was usually hot and muggy. Mother Nature brought a wild mix of weather this year. Extreme wind gusts were the greatest challenge for the lightweight tunnel race boats. Read more

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Pump Gas Rules at LOTO!

First, the shootout format (for those who are unaware): Enter the one mile course at 40 mph. At the drop of a green flag, accelerate as fast as possible to the highest speed you can reach by the radar gun one mile away. Sounds simple.

Hats off to Canadian, William Tomlinson, and his 6,000 hp 50 ft Mystic turbine powered catamaran – with the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout top speed of 208 mph! Whew!!! William wins the patience contest, too, with two very clean runs…that did not trip the radar guns. That had to be frustrating. Chip Romer performed flawlessly in his 388 Skater at 191 mph. Nice driving!

Port 1350 engine in Bob’s pleasure 48 MTI.
Bob Bull’s 48 MTI exits at 175 mph. Top gun – if there were a class for pump gas!

However, the pump gas shootout was between American, Bob Bull, and Norwegian, Tor Staubo. Both ran 48 MTI cats (Bob had two at the event!) with twin 1350 hp Mercury Racing turbocharged engines. And both came fully armed with professionals along side: Bob carried Randy Scism, owner of MTI. Tor enlisted another world champion, Johny Tomlinson, for the sticks. Read more

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Walleye Prop

Mercury Racing Lab Finished Bravo I Outboard Propeller.
Mercury Racing Pro Finish Bravo I XS outboard propeller.

You may wonder how we go about testing props. We have a number of our own outboard and sterndrive boats that we use for initial testing. Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer of getting feedback from those who use the product everyday in the real world. Recently, I wanted feedback on performance differences between our Lab Finished Bravo I and Pro Finish Bravo I XS outboard props. My target applications were Walleye and bass anglers.

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OptiMax Powers Fairchild to SST 120 UIM/APBA World Championship

Photos:Paul Kemiel Photographics

2011 UIM/APBA SST 120 World Champ Chris Fairchild in low level flight over the Detroit River.

I first learned Chris Fairchild won the 2011 SST 120 UIM/APBA World Championship Sunday, July 24, in a voice mail  from my photographer buddy, Paul Kemiel. The championship consists of four heats of racing at the PNC Trenton Roar on the River outboard tunnel boat race, an annual event that takes place on the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan. Chris won the event with an OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard, defeating  a field of 15 boats, including defending SST 120 World Champion and fellow OptiMax competitor Jimmie Merleau.

Chris called me Monday. With a summer cold, he didn’t sound like a recently crowned champion. It was a while into our conversation before the topic of his accomplishment even came up – after a prompt from me.  Read more

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OptiMax Powers Kris Shepard to Bay City F2 Victory

Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Kris Shephard’s boat suffered a gaping hole in the starboard sponson after colliding with Jeff Reno in turn one. A roll of duct tape and two restarts later, Kris captured the F2 checkered flag.

Kris Shepard of Antioch, Illinois, driving his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard Hoffchild hull, won the 30-lap Dow Bay City River Roar Formula 2 race Sunday, June 26.  The race was round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour tunnel boat racing series. See my blog, Shaun Torrente Wins Bay City River Roar for coverage on the Formula 1 race.

Kris started from the pole in a rough race.  He and Jeff Reno collided going into in turn one. Neither flipped – but the incident created a gaping three foot hole on the starboard sponson of Kris’s boat.

Kris Shepard takes a victory lap in his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard powered Hoffchild hull.

“It was filling up with water in the turns,” said Kris. As luck would have it, the race was stopped shortly after when another competitor flipped. Chris Fairchild and 20 fellow racers and crew members worked feverishly in the pits – cover the hole with duct tape and whatever else they could find. Kris said he would have never been able to finish the race – let alone win – without their help.  Read more

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Shaun Torrente Wins Bay City River Roar

Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics

The 24th annual Dow Bay City River Roar tunnel boat race, round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour, concluded Sunday, June 26. And like the past 23 years – this year didn’t disappoint.  Bay City, Michigan  was one of my favorite stops when I followed the series’ with our outboard race support truck back in the 1990s. The Saginaw River, contained with sea walls, is always full of surprises. I’ve witnessed more blow overs and wicked barrel rolls at this race than I care to remember. Ask any driver who has experienced it and they will tell you Bay City is one of the most challenging tunnel boat races in the world.

Weather conditions this year were near perfect. It was sunny all weekend- with temps in the mid 60s during testing on Friday, warming up to a comfortable mid 70s on Saturday for qualify and low 80s for the final races on Sunday. The winds picked up at race time, creating a rough chop against the current.

Shaun Torrente won the Bay City River Roar Formula 1 race. He led the 11 boat field from start-to-finish.

Miami, Florida native Shaun Torrente has always been an exciting driver to watch. At 32, he is a young, skillful driver who isn’t afraid to take chances. That personality trait can make the difference between winning and second place. it can also mean the difference between winning and not finishing. Shaun has matured as a driver since I last saw him race. He is now competing on the UIM F1H2O Formula 1 circuit for Peters & May Racing, with race experiences throughout Europe as well as Qatar and Portugal. Read more

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Memorial Day – A Time to Reflect and Appreciate

A patriotic photo from our 1999 Mercury Racing sterndrive catalog.

Happy Memorial Day! The U.S. holiday brings with it a flood of emotions. First and foremost, it is a time to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

The holiday also marks the start of summer. And this year – God knows – summer can’t come soon enough. In Wisconsin – we can whine and cry about our wet, cold Spring or what seems more like the Winter that won’t end. But, with the exception of a few areas, we have escaped unscathed compared to the destruction experienced in the South, the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, New Zealand floods, and other areas affected by mother nature. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by recent storms and natural disasters.

I love summer. I think most people do. Believe it or not – I don’t currently own a boat. But the combination of a VERY long Winter and cold, wet Spring has me yearning to get on the water. I look forward to taking my seven year old son fishing, swimming, tubing, and just enjoy our time on the water. Spending time with my son brings fond memories of myself growing up in Michigan and spending the summers at our family cottage on Lake Superior. I look forward to warmer weather and enjoying outdoor fun with friends and family. I’m sure you are as well.

Be safe and have fun out on the water!

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1350s in Nordic 43 Enforcer!

The Nordic 43 Enforcer catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 sterndrives.

Randy Davis, owner of Nordic Boats, idles by Card Stop #2 during the 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run. This was the maiden voyage of Randy’s new Nordic 43 Enforcer catamaran – and, clearly, he was both impressed and delighted. It is powered with Mercury Racing’s 1350 engine and M8 drive packages. As nice as this boat runs and accelerates, I can’t help but be amazed by the idle quality of its quad cam, four valve engines.

As Randy’s crew glided by for their card, I wanted to capture the engines’ sound. Everybody else aboard just wanted to banter. I guess some people are normal, but I’m an unapologetic engine geek. Nevertheless, I caught some of the idle sound. Johnny B did a great job on the engine calibration! It just purred. Randy’s team did a very tidy installation! The 43 Enforcer’s beauty belies its intense performance.

For wide open engine sound, see and hear the pass by video footage on DCB’s M31 (Gary’s green one) and M35 (Mike’s orange one) and the fleet of 48 MTI’s (Derek’s black one; Bob’s more-or-less orange one and Albert’s uh, very colorful one)! I love the desert colors!

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1350 McCulloch Boulevard!

The 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run is over. And man, what a show it was. We arrived Wednesday in time for the Desert Storm open house party at Oregon Custom Marine (OCM). OCM is a Frisini Motorsports dealer selling Spectre, Sonic and Frisini Motorsports boat brands. We had a great time. We caught up with old friends and met some new ones, too. OCM’s facility is first class. Our thanks to OCM, Lake Havasu Marine Association, Jim Nichols and the Desert Storm organization for their hospitality.

Opening Day

“1350 McCulloch Boulevard.” Home of the Mercury Racing street party display.
Derek Wachob’s 1350 MTI Corvette ZR48 boat. The matching ZR-1 Corvette was parked just to the rear of the boat.

Thursday was the fifth annual Desert Storm Street Party. This was the largest gathering of high performance boats, marine propulsion and tow vehicles ever assembled. McCulloch Boulevard was jammed with displays on both sides of the street for more than a mile. Our Mercury Racing truck was parked in a prime location — perfect for one old gear-head. He looked up from his wheelchair at our QC4v 1100 and said, “Lord Jesus, have mercy.” Gotta be the quote of the day. Read more

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Racing’s Miami Experience

The 2011 Miami Boat Show was a great success. Almost everyone in the industry was upbeat. Deals were made, boats were sold and Mercury Racing propulsion was featured in numerous boats at the show – including eight 1350 powered boats!

We hit the ground early on Thursday, Feb. 17, opening day. Fred Kiekhaefer got things rolling with a 10:15 a..m. press conference in the Mercury booth where he unveiled the new 1100 sterndrive.

Cigarette Racing unveiled the all-new 42X Ducati boat powered by twin Mercury Racing 1100 engines coupled to NXT #6 SSM sterndrives.
Staggered 1100s neatly insgtalled in the Cigarette 42X Ducati.

Fred assisted Cigarette Racing later Thursday evening with the unveiling of the new 42X Ducati boat featuring Mercury Racing’s new 1100 engines coupled to NXT #6 SSM drives.

As Fred mentioned in his earlier blog (Theres a new predator in Miami), Cigarette, MTI, DCB and Nor-Tech all had boats on static display featuring 1350 power. Bob Bull’s 1350 powered MTI 48 Race/Pleasure was the talk of the in-water show.  Read more

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Dave’s 1350 Experience

Dave Hemmingson is stoked. His company, Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) in El Cajon, California is the first West Coast OEM boat builder to experience our new 1350 sterndrive engine packages. See Fred Kiekhaefer’s post Halloween Party at Dave’s where he documents the October 27 shipment of the DCB engines.

Photo of the 1350s installed prior to the the plumbing of exhaust and final rigging. Foam air intakes are fitted to the turbos for rigging and initial boat testing.
A view of the M8 drives awaiting the fitment of the tie-bar and Mercury Racing Pro Finish 5-blade CNC cleaver propellers.

Mike Griffiths, one of our installation specialists, traveled to DCB to assist with the initial install of the engines in a 31M Wide Body.

Mike met up with the DCB team in Lake Havasu City, Arizona after the Thanksgiving Holiday. He arrived armed with an array of our new Pro Finish 5-blade CNC Cleaver props for the December 2nd sea trials. You have to “sea” the sea trial videos, below! Read more

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Pro Finish

New Pro Finish, 5-blade, CNC Cleaver propellers for sterndrives, were officially released Friday, October 1. They have already been making waves on race courses and in boat builder tests. These highly polished props fill the need for a durable propeller with stamina for Big Fat Monster Torque and surface piercing impact of the Mercury Racing’s 1350 and M8 sterndrive.

Team AMSOIL – Photo Courtesy Pete Boden Shoot2Thrill Pix

Bob Teague, throttleman/owner of the Mercury Racing 525 EFI-powered Team AMSOIL Super Cat Lite offshore race boat, recently won two consecutive offshore races with the new props. Read more

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MTI Spooled Up!

Mercury Racing 1350 Install in Bob Bull’s 48 Race/Pleasure

I just got off the phone with Randy Scism at Marine Technology, Inc., (MTI). They first tested Bob Bull’s Mercury Racing 1350 powered MTI 48 Race/Pleasure Thursday, October 21 near the MTI facility. Mercury Racing Product Integration Manager, Mike Griffiths, worked closely with MTI in this, the first install of 1350s in a catamaran and the first 1350 install for the Wentzville, Missouri based company.

First Catamaran Installation of Mercury Racing 1350 Sterndrives

The installation went very smoothly – culminating with the on-water test Thursday. Test time was limited due to water conditions and the need to transport the boat to Florida.  It will be on static display in the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, at Pier 57/MTI in-water slips October 28-Nov 1. Read more

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