San Francisco to Los Angeles Diesel Powerboat Record Falls

Team Scarab earns Nordskog/Powerboat magazine trophy.

November 3rd 2003
It look less than seven hours for Team Scarab, shown after their arrival in Marina Del Rey, to make the run from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

It look less than seven hours for Team Scarab, shown after their arrival in Marina Del Rey, to make the run from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — Four veteran mariners battled the seas against the clock to set a new APBA/UIM World record Sunday, October 26. Dan MacNamara, Driver/Throttles, Johnny Lindstrom, Navigator, Rique Ford, and Captain Nigel Hook completed the 425 mile course from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 6 hours and 43 minutes, in the new prototype 48′ Team Scarab powered by Cummins-MerCruiser diesels.

The team shattered existing diesel record for the run, which was set by martial arts great and action-film star Chuck Norris in 1988, by 58 minutes and 38 seconds. Norris set the record in a Scarab powered by 3208 Caterpillar diesels.

Owner of the Team Scarab and founder of the Scarab name in boating, Larry Smith, has created a legacy of diesel-powered endurance records — all in Scarab powerboats — that have included the Round Britain (50′ Scarab), Chicago to Detroit (Scarab, drivers Chuck Norris, Walter Peyton), Venice to Monte Carlo (Scarab, driver Michael Reagan), Tampa to Maimi (Scarab, driver Kyle Petty), New Orleans to St. Louis (Scarab, driver Don Johnson) and San Francisco to Los Angeles (Scarab, driver Chuck Norris).

“We are seeing the emergence of new high performance production diesels, radically changing the offshore performance market, and endurance runs like this one are the proving grounds”, said Smith referring to the ZF shaft-driven, twin stock 480 Cummins diesels that powered the 48′ Team SCARAB. “This is a new era in marine propulsion demonstrating economy, reliability and performance, that is quiet and clean for the environment. This new boat is our prototype for a new line of 50-plus-foot diesel performance express cruisers.”

“We burned just 261 gallons all day, which included our 7 a.m. start from Sausalito, a fly by Fisherman’s Wharf before the official clock triggered as we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and onto our final stopping point at the California Yacht Club inside the Marina del Rey harbor.” said Driver, Dan MacNamara. Owner of Team Archer Marine, MacNamara rigged the boat from start to finish and was at the helm during all of the 60-plus hours of testing prior to the run. Apart from two brief times, he steered the boat the entire way under the expert direction of Johhny Lindstrom. Lindstrom, a veteran of many endurance runs, is also president of Baytronics South, specialists in marine electronics and whose clients run the gamut from high performance boaters to owners of pristine yachts such as Johnny Carson.

The team had clearly done its homework on the weather, and had great visibility for the whole trip. In fact, the predicted fog out of the San Francisco bay and breakers vaporized. Also the raging smoke from the Southern California fires did little to hamper their path. Always prepared, the team was outfitted with the latest array of electronics from Furuno.

“As we burst under the Golden Gate Bridge looking back we could see the rising sun illuminating the backdrop like it was on fire,” said Rique Ford, the alternate driver on the team. “At times we were 20 miles off the coast, mainly we could view quite well the sights of Big Sur, Pebble Beach, the mystique of Monterey, San Simeon. We passed familiar Oil Derricks close to Santa Barbara and Ventura that we race around in the Pacific Offshore races.”

The history of this endurance event dates back to 1929. In fact, it was the final race in the 1966 APBA National Championship Series. The entrants competing in this event read like the Who’s Who of Offshore Legends: Don Aronow, Dick Bertram, Bill Wishnick, Del Louis, Bobby Ratboard of Magnum, Ritchie Powers, Bob Nordskog and Larry Smith. Fittingly, Larry “Scarab” Smith won that race.

To commemorate the record and honor inductee to the Detroit Motorsports Hall of Fame, and founder of Powerboat Magazine, a perpetual trophy was initiated as the “Robert A. Nordskog Powerboat Magazine Trophy”. Bob Nordskog, as he was known to the racing community, competed in these endurance challenges over three decades and still holds the petrol record on the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles course at 5 hours, 57 minutes, 22 seconds set on September 12, 1988.

All individuals and manufacturers are invited to attempt this challenge of Men and Machine against the high seas. To qualify for the “Robert A. Nordskog Powerboat Magazine Trophy” the requirement is for high-performance monohulls that shall not exceed 50 feet in length, built from production molds and powered by production marine diesel engines, with no restrictions on drives, transmissions, or propellers, as long as they are available to the public and warranted by the manufacturer. Adjustable devices that make use of external aero- or hydrodynamic forces are prohibited. Other basic rules, restrictions and guidelines apply and can be obtained by contacting Powerboat Magazine or the APBA.