By Matt Trulio
Inside a 150-mph Pleasure Boat
Mercury Racing 1650 Race engines turn a 52-foot Outerlimits V-bottom into an aquatic rocket.
Less than 20 years ago, hitting 150 mph in a powerboat was far from common. For the most part, that kind of speed was limited to a few high-end offshore racing catamarans with big and most often temperamental power.
The thought of cracking the 150-mph mark in a V-bottom didn’t just seem far-fetched, it seemed downright terrifying, because V-bottoms are much less stable at high speed than catamarans. John Tomlinson has described driving a V-bottom at speeds above 120 mph as, “like trying to balance a bowling ball on a razor blade,” and as a multi-time offshore racing champion it’s fair to say he comes to his opinion honestly.
Today, there are any number of high-performance pleasure catamarans that can hit and exceed 150 mph with stability, but on the V-bottom side there’s only one. It’s the new Outerlimits Super Leggera 52 open-cockpit model powered by twin Mercury Racing 1650 Race engines that owner Dave Scotto of Ontario, Canada, recently brought to the annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri. The first pleasure boat to be equipped the 1,650-hp quad overhead cam turbocharged engines, Scotto’s 52-footer reached a radar-recorded 150 mph on the Shootout’s liquid-mile course with Mike Fiore, the owner and founder of Outerlimits in Bristol, R.I., behind the wheel. The full-cabin, stand-up cockpit model blew away the existing course record by more than 10 miles per hour.
“Advances in stepped hull technology, engine performance, and reliability are what made this achievement possible—and the 52 was rock-solid in every pass we made,” said Fiore, who bested the 52-footer’s mark during the Shootout with a run of 152 mph in 43-foot canopied Outerlimits raceboat with twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines. “We are very proud of what we accomplished this weekend, with the fastest pleasure and racing V-bottoms at the Shootout.”
Path To A Record Breaker
Few if any owners step right into something on the order of a 1650 engine-powered Outerlimits V-bottom, and Scotto is no exception. Since he was 17 years old, he has owned a slew of boats—from a 19-foot Panther ski-boat with a 250-hp outboard engine to his current beauty. A self-made entrepreneur who created a nail (the kind you hammer) importing business, the 46-year-old stair-stepped his way up to his current 52-footer.
He started his performance-boat progression with a used 32-foot Hustler that he restored and repowered. While renovating the Hustler he met Mike Fiore, who was still working at Hustler Powerboats with his father, Paul, who founded the company. Scotto later sold the 32-footer and bought a used 38-foot Scarab, which he also sold after restoring and repowering it.
In 2009, Scotto was ready to order his first brand-new go-fast boat.
“I kept in touch with Mike,” said Scotto. “I said to him, ‘One day I will own one of your boats.’ I ran my business hard for the next 10 years and made some money. When I was ready, I called Mike at Hustler, but they told me he didn’t work there anymore. So I got his number at Outerlimits at his first place in Bristol [R.I.] and I said, ‘Mike, I am ready to build a brand-new boat.’ I don’t think he believed me. The next moment I was on the road. I jumped in my truck and drove down there.”
Scotto and Fiore met for six hours. By the time Scotto headed back to Canada, he had ordered a Super Leggera 44 V-bottom powered by twin Mercury Racing 1075 SCi engines. He ran the boat hard for three years and fell in love with it.
But love is a funny and fickle thing when it comes to go-fast boat owners. In the fall of 2012, Scotto decided he wanted to go bigger, and ordered his SL 52.
“I initially ordered it with [Mercury Racing] 1350s, but then I went to the  Miami Boat Show with Mike,” said Scotto. “The guy at Mercury pulled the sheet off the 1650, and I said to Mike, ‘I want them.’ He said, ‘What are you talking about? Those are race engines. You don’t want them. You can’t even get them.’ So I left the boat show and went away on vacation.
“Mike was building my boat and sending me pictures while I was away—I’m the kind of guy who wants a pictures of his boat being built every day,” he continued. “I was sitting at the bar having a piña colada with a friend and I get a text from Mike. It says, ‘Dave, do you really want 1650s?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m serious.’ I almost fell off my chair. I even forgot to ask him what they would cost.”
And that’s why in late July of 2013 Scotto found himself in the cockpit of his new 1650-powered 52-footer—officially dubbed the SL 52 R—with Fiore at the helm for its first sea trial.
Scotto was blown away.
“I have been in a 40-foot cat with 1350s, and there is no comparison,” said Scotto. “When Mike hammered it, it actually forced me into the back seat. There are no words to explain it, but the torque, for me, is the biggest thing ever. The acceleration is phenomenal—and it’s a big boat. That’s why I say Mike builds the best V-bottom in the world. I’ll have this boat until Mike makes a bigger, faster one.”
That won’t happen anytime soon, as Outerlimits has been working on the smaller side of its product line, with its most current releases being 36- and 29-foot V-bottoms. (The company is also in the process of designing a new catamaran that will be smaller than its current 48-foot cat offering.) Still, if a faster V-bottom than Dave Scotto’s SL 52 R is coming in the near or distant future, it most likely will come from Outerlimits.
“We’re never really satisfied—we’re always looking at what we could can do next,” said Fiore after the Shootout. “But right now, with the two fastest V-bottoms in the history of the Shootout, we’re feeling pretty good.”
For more about high performance powerboats, visit SpeedontheWater.com.
- 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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