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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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Dominance Down Under!

Photos courtesy of Kim Baldwin.

Mercury Racing dominated the2016 Robinvale-Euston 80 ski racing event.
Mercury Racing dominated the2016 Robinvale-Euston 80 ski racing event.

We recently received exciting news from our friends at Mercury Australia. Mercury Racing powered boats dominated the Robinvale Euston 80 water ski racing event, clinching 11 victories in the Expert classes and an additional six wins in the social classes. The event took place March 12-13 on the mighty Murray River which separates New South Wales and Victoria. Check out race Recap Video.

Don Gulley (driver) and observer Kevin Boylan piloted Merc Force, a Mercury Racing QC4v 1650 powered hull with skiers Jake Tegart and Steven Rowe in tow to take top honors in the Super Class division. It would be the team’s first win in seven years. Ironically, their past win before was also at the Robinvale event.  Jessica Pearse, piloting the QC4v 1350 powered 99 Pyscho Clowns with observer Daniel McMahon and skiers Codie Rigg and Steven Berry in tow, finished a respectable second in Super Class.

“It’s been a long time coming. The last time we won was here in Robinvale. I even think we are a little quicker this time around,” Don said.

Record Setting Performance 

PIG-Arsenal
The Mercury Racing QC4v 1350 was the power behind Pigs Arsenal record setting performance in Unlimited Inboard competition.

QC4v 1350s were the power behind two record setting performances.  Chris Stevens (driver) and Mark Boyer (observer) piloted Pigs Arsenal, with skiers Sean Stevens and Jack Stevens in tow, to win the Unlimited Inboard Competition. They finished a full two seconds ahead of the previous record for the class.

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Merc Force F1 sliced a full 11 seconds off the previous record to capture the Women’s Expert category.

Merc Force F1, with Trent Souwer and Christian Apps driving and observing and skiers Chelsea Blight and Ellen Jones in tow, sliced a full 11 seconds off the previous record to capture the Women’s Expert category.

Clean Sweeps 

MasterForce
Mercury powered boats claimed a clean sweep in the Under 19 Boys Expert event.

Mercury powered boats claimed a clean sweep in the Under 19 Boys Expert event, with Temper 2, Master Force and Superbad finishing one, two and three – with a two minute gap back to the next finisher. SBR and Agent Orange, both sporting Mercury motors, collected Gold and Silver in the Unlimited Outboard competitions.

OptiMax 300XS outboard power swept the F2 class competition with Enforcer, Top Gun F2 and In Strife finishing 1-3.  OptiMax 300XS outboards also scored big in the highly competitive MOC contest with Hardback Racing and Hodge Marine Racing finishing 1-2. An OptiMax 250 SportXS powered Velocity Racing to win the SMOC category.

Mercury Racing also dominated the Under 19 Girls competition with Melt Down and Ballistic Still, both sporting OptiMax 300XS power, finishing 1-2.

Korrupt, sporting Mercury Racing 600 SCi sterndrive engine, clinched the competitive 70 MPH competition while OptiMax 250 SportXS outboards delivered No Cash and Southern Force to claim Gold and Silver respectively in the Sub Junior Girls category.

Congratulations to all of the teams in this very impressive showing of Mercury power. I look forward to sharing more good news from our friends down under as the 2016 water ski racing season progresses.

 

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Mercury Racing Powers MTI to Triple Crown Championship

2015 Superboat Unlimited World Champion. Photo credit. Pete Boden - Shoot 2 Thrill.
2015 Superboat Unlimited World Champions with Bob Bull (driver) and Randy Scism (throttles) Photo credit. Pete Boden – Shoot 2 Thrill.

I couldn’t wait to get in this morning to make some calls and write this post to celebrate Team CMS’s  Superboat Unlimited Offshore World Championship. My first conversation was with John Tomlinson – throttleman in CMS #03, a Mercury Racing 1650 powered 48-foot MTI cat with veteran Jeff Harris behind the wheel.

 

Port engine compartment damage resutling from the Team CRC collision with CMS "03. Photo credit: Speed on the Water
Hull damage resulting from the Team CRC collision with CMS #03. Photo credit: Speed on the Water

“The goal all along was to finish 1-2. Jeff and I placed second on Wednesday (race 1).  We were taken out early Friday (day 2) when Team CRC rode up on some rooster tails and ended up hitting us in turn 1, resulting with a gaping hole on the port side of the engine compartment,”Johnny said.

"The goal all along was to finish 1-2," john Tomlinson - Team CMS #03. Photo Credit: hammer Down Boating.
“The goal all along was to finish 1-2,” John Tomlinson – Team CMS #03. Photo Credit: Hammer Down Boating.

“On Sunday, Jeff and I were third going into the first turn. Bob (Bull) and Randy (Scism) (CMS #3) were on the inside and GEICO  was on the outside. We were pinched in the middle going through the turn. Once we came out into the rough – Jeff punched and we lever looked back,” said Johnny.

Winning Combination 

CMS #03 pilots Randy Scism (L) and Bob Bull.
CMS #3 pilots Randy Scism (L) and Bob Bull.

“MTI and Mercury Racing make a winning combination,” were the first words from Marine Technology, Inc., owner/CEO Randy Scism when we spoke this morning.

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

“Triple Crown champs; Superboat Unlimited National Championship, Superboat Unlimited World Championship and Class 1 World Championship. It’s been an awesome couple of weeks,” Randy expounded. This may be the first time in history Mercury Racing has captured the triple crown.

The two boat Team CMS team. Boat #03 with team owner Bob Bull (driver) and Randy Scism (throttleman). Boat #3 with Jeff Harris (driver) and John Tomlinson (throttles). Photo compliments of Marine Technology, Inc.
The two boat Team CMS team; Boat #3 with team owner Bob Bull (driver) and Randy Scism (throttles). Boat #03 with Jeff Harris (driver) and John Tomlinson (throttles). Photo compliments of Marine Technology, Inc.

“We had a great year,” said Team CMS #03 driver Jeff Harris. “We ran every SBI race and the Lake Race at LOTO as well. Throughout the year, the only races Johnny and I didn’t win were the ones Bob and Randy won,” Jeff said.

“The winning boats led every lap. A large part of that is the engines are so darn reliable – lap after lap – race after race. There simply are no issues and thus why the Mercury QC4vs are so dominant,” Jeff concluded.

We’ve Got Your Back 

I couldn’t wait to talk to Bob Bull this morning. As you would expect – he was ecstatic.  “The motors ran great in the ’52 (CMS #3). They had three races on them from the National Championships and we ran them all week in Key West as well. Good to go. No issues. They are super dependable and deliver a ton of power,” Bob said.

The Official Bob Bull - MTI Triple Crown Camp Shirt.
The Official Bob Bull – MTI Triple Crown Camp Shirt.

It was this time last year we launched our new Mercury Racing merchandise program.  One of the shirt designs the vendor came up with came up with features a sublimated design. The first rendering they shared featured race boats – but the art wasn’t representative of the modern offshore performance boat. I went through my archives and found a perfect overhead shot of a CMS MTI. It’s ironic – the design is a perfect tribute to MTI for their historic Triple Crown accomplishment and to Bob and Team CMS for their winning the 2015 Superboat Unlimited National and World Championships!

Randy Scism proudly displays the Superboat Unlimited Championship award with his wife Cherell and the legendary Reggie Fountain at his side.
Randy Scism proudly displays the Superboat Unlimited Championship award with his wife Cherell and the legendary Reggie Fountain at his side.

Congratulations again to Team CMS and MTI for your historic race season. I’m looking forward to catching up with you over the off season to see what you have planned for next year!

 

 

 

 

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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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Overachiever!

First launch of the Skater 318 with twin Verado 400R outboards.
First launch of the Skater 318 with twin Verado 400R outboards.

I recently experienced Skater’s new 318 catamaran. What a sweet ride! It is the first new Skater to be factory rigged with our hot new Verado 400R ouboards.

Mike Griffiths stops for a pose prior to testing.
Mike Griffiths stops for a pose prior to testing.

Our Product Integration Manager Mike Griffiths invited Skater to bring the boat to Fond du Lac to have it dialed in. The engines are one of the first to be equipped with our factory installed rear tie bar mounting kits. Read more

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Cat Nip!

The very first Skater catamaran powered by Verado 400R outboards.
The very first Skater catamaran powered by Verado 400R outboards. Photo credit: speedonthewater.com

The Verado 400R has fueled the resurgence of the outboard performance boat market. Multiple outboard (two or more) installations capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph require the use of an external rear tie bar assembly to keep the motors parallel and equalize loading. 

Factory Installed Tie Bar Kit

Verado 400Rs destined for go fast cats come with a factory installed rear tie bar mounting kit.
Verado 400Rs destined for go fast cats come with a factory installed rear tie bar mounting kit.

400Rs destined for go fast duty on catamaran hulls are equipped with a custom Mercury Racing designed rear tie bar kit. The factory installed kit includes custom rear engine mounts and a heavy duty, stainless steel tie bar wing plate.  The engine mounts feature an addendum for the mounting of the wing plate. A tie bar is not included.

A view of a port rear engine mount.
A view of a port rear engine mount.

The custom rear mounts are critical for safe and secure installation of the wing plate. They serve a function and –  at the same time – maintain the integrity, form and function of the 400Rs’ Advanced MidSection. Most people mount aftermarket rear tie bar wing plates via the powerhead studs. This places a great amount of stress on the studs, engine mounts and the powerhead which could lead to cylinder distortion and possible engine failure.

A view of the starboard engine mount.
A view of the starboard engine mount.

Verado 400Rs with factory installed tie bar kits are backed with a full warranty.  The Mercury product warranty does not cover any damaged related to the use of tie bar kits or other accessories not manufactured by Mercury Marine.

Sport Master

The 400R is the first Verado available with the race proven Sport Master gearcase.
The 400R is the first Verado available with the race proven Sport Master gearcase.

One of the features which differentiates the Verado 400R from all other four stroke outboards is the availability of the Sport Master gearcase. Designed  for boats capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph, Sport Master 400Rs deliver fresh adrenaline pumping excitement to the go fast cat world.

The factory installation process includes cutting custom slots into the AMS covers to allow room for the tie bar wing plate.
The factory installation process includes cutting custom slots into the AMS covers to allow room for the tie bar wing plate.

We are excited to see our high performance boat builders embrace the 400R. The response thus far has been phenomenal. The biggest kick I get is people seem to be as awestruck by the pure power and torque of the engine as they are its  drivability and and overall  quietness. People are as excited to be able to carry on a conversation at 80 mph as they are going for the big number. These are exciting times for sure.

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Rouen is Black as Day!

Photos Courtesy of Henri Thibault. Click to enlarge.

Defending Champion Philippe Chiappe Repeats in Rouen!

Mercury Racing swept the 52nd annual 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race. The race concluded Saturday, May 2nd. This was the third consecutive year race organizers diverted from the traditional April 30 start and fourth consecutive year the race was run over a two day period.

 

Close Race  

Defending champ Philippe Chiappe
From Russia with OptiMax Power!
From Russia with OptiMax & Class 2 Title!

Defending champion Philippe Chiappe, with Team Nollet #1  drivers Christophe Larigot, Peter and Nelson Morin won the race overall and Class 3 competition. Chiappe and team drove their Mercury S3000 race outboard powered hull a total of 784 laps to win the event.  Russian team Team New Star 1with Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST power, finished a mere one lap behind Chiappe – providing race fans with one the most exciting finishes in recent Rouen history.

 

Top 5

Team Navikart were an early adapter of OptiMax power and are always top contenders in Rouen.
Team Navikart were an early adapter of OptiMax power and are always top contenders in Rouen.
Bourgeot Racing Team completed 652 laps for a send place podium finish in Class 3 competition.
Bourgeot Racing Team completed 652 laps for a send place podium finish in Class 3 competition.

Team Navakart Racing #35 and Team Navakart Racing #32  finished 759 and 753 laps respectively for 3rd and 4th overall and 2-3 finish in Class 2 competition. Team Bourgeot Racing Team completed 652 laps to place fifth overall and and second in Class 3 competition. Team Pegase Racing Team and Team Autovision & Tullio Abbate rounded out 3-4 in Class 3 competition. All were powered by Mercury Racing outboards.

Class Act

Aeron Racing celebrates their Class 1 victory!
Aeron Racing celebrates their Class 1 victory!
The Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard dominated Class 1 competition.
The Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard dominated Class 1 competition.

The Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard dominated Class 1 competition, powering Arion Racing to victory with 480 laps completed. Team Magaur finished three laps behind to cinch a second place podium finish. Team Marine Inshore, Team Viking DKC and DEFI 24H Esigelec rounded out 3-5. All were powered by Mercury 60 EFI Formula Race outboards.

 

Postcard caption: Wish you were here!
Postcard caption: Wish you were here!

It’s hard to believe its been 15 years since I traveled to Rouen and witnessed Team Mercury’s historic race victory with low-emissions OptiMax outboards. Henri Thibault’s incredible photography makes me want to make a return trip to the magical French city on the River Seine to again experience this one-of-a-kind event.

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