By Matt Trulio
The Big Picture: The Fastest Show on Water, Part II
Think the boats during the first leg of Powerboat magazine’s annual 100-mph roundup were fast? Get a load of this one.
If you really think about it, air travel is kind of a miracle. Right now, I’m somewhere over Arizona on a Boeing 767—the gods smiled and approved my upgrade to first class so I actually have enough space to open my tiny laptop—heading home to San Francisco. When I woke up this morning, I was in Fort Myers, Florida, where I’d just finished two days of testing some of the fastest recreational powerboats on the planet with the Powerboat magazine crew.
The battery on my noise-canceling headphones—OK, I’m a business-traveling cliché—quit about 15 minutes ago, so most of what I can hear is the drone of this aircraft’s turbine engines as we jet through the air at about 500 mph.
Turbine engines are remarkable. They create massive amounts of exceptionally reliable power, in this case 26,310-hp per engine. Without turbine power, there’s no way I could take off from Fort Myers at 7:20 a.m. and land in San Francisco at 11:20 a.m. on the same day. Turbine engines are what make a Boeing 767, to put it plainly, so damn fast.
So what happens when you put a pair of 1,800-hp (26,310-hp being a tad much) turbine engines in a 50-foot-long, full-canopy Mystic offshore racing catamaran? During the Fort Myers leg of Powerboat’s annual 100-mph roundup, I saw the results firsthand. I watched from a rescue boat as the boat roared across the protected bay between Captiva and Sanibel Islands and hit more than 180-mph before a mechanical issue slowed it down.
That’s right, 180-mph and the boat still had more in it—likely in the 200-mph range. You’ll get the complete performance story on this remarkable catamaran, as well as full-on “anatomy of” feature, in Powerboat’s Speed and Technology issue, later this summer.
Next to that, a 39-foot-long V-bottom that topped 130 mph seemed pretty tame. But the 39-footer from Statement Powerboats had something the 50-footer didn’t—a suspended “shock-absorbing” cockpit. Cynic that I can be, I first wrote off the feature as a gimmick. One ride in the boat convinced me that I was wrong. Seriously wrong.
You can read about that one, too, in the same issue.
We are starting our final descent now into San Francisco. A flight attendant has requested that we, the airborne people, turn off and stow our laptops, iPods and other “portable devices.” (I shudder to think.) The whine of the 767’s turbine engines has slowed, and their pitch is deeper. At least it will be until we land, the pilot reverses thrust and they scream like the remarkable beasts of burden they are.
Woke up in Florida and got back to California before noon. Flight might be an everyday miracle, but it’s a miracle nonetheless.
- Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.
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