Commentary: Top Go-Fast Powerboat Stories of 2011

A fond farewell: The last pair of new 1075Ci engines found a great home in this 44-foot-long, 139-mph Outerlimits.A fond farewell: The last pair of new Mercury Racing 1075Ci engines found a great home in this 44-foot-long, 139-mph Outerlimits.

In 2011, more than 600 articles appeared on speedonthewater.com. Some offered good news and others offered not-so-good news, but one thing is certain about 2011: It was anything but a dull year in the go-fast powerboat world.

What follows are my picks—each with its own link to the original piece—under six headings for this year’s top stories. Of course this list, like all such selections, is inherently subjective, for what rates as significant for me may be insignificant to you. And with more than 600 stories to choose from this year, I know I missed more than a few.

But with that said, I offer the following:

1. Versus

With the as yet unfiled Gratton Family to File Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Super Boat International and First Capital Sues American Marine Holdings and Liberty Acquisitions for $61 Million you could make a strong case for 2011 as “the year of the big lawsuit.” Regardless of the outcome, each is likely to have a profound impact on its respective world.

2. Center Console Mania

I’ll save those folks who like nothing better than to belabor the obvious the trouble: Center consoles aren’t new. But custom high-performance builders including Cigarette Racing Team, which was ahead of the curve when it introduced the 39’ Top Fish several years ago, Marine Technology, Inc., Nor-Tech, Statement Marine, Outerlimits, Sunsation and others getting into the center console game is new. And with purpose-built catamaran and V-bottom go-fast boat sales hardly booming, the expansion of these companies into another product segment is more than a good thing. It's survival.

3. Buried Alive, Dug Up and Buried Alive Again

If it did not affect real people—meaning loyal readers and dedicated staff—the saga of Powerboat magazine in the hands of Bonnier Corporation would be almost comical. The "We're off!" ... "No wait, we’re on!" ... "On third thought, we’re off now!” drama is a sad and rather undignified ending for a magazine that, love it or hate it (and there always was plenty of both for Powerboat) was iconic.

4. A Reign of Power Ends

Mercury Racing changed the game and left other engine builders playing catch-up when it introduced the supercharged 1075SCi engine in 2004. The company changed the game again when it released the quad overhead cam turbocharged 1350 in 2010 and created an 1,100-hp version of the same engine platform a year later. That effectively was the end of the line for the 1075 that once set the standard for reliable and manageable high-performance boat engines, which in their final installation demonstrated what made them so very impressive in the first place.

5. Just Finish the Damn Thing Already

Type Sterling 1700 into the “Search” function on this site and you will get 17 story results. (I don't have the time or energy to list them all here—that's why this site has a "Search" function.) That’s what happens when you follow the story of an engine, from development to installation and testing (well, sort of) for more than a year. The turbocharged Sterling 1700 has been at once an exhilarating and exasperating story—thanks to a series of epic delays and a glacial in-boat testing pace—for more than 13 months, but there is light at the end of tunnel. Sterling principal Mike D’Anniballe has offered to have me on hand for the final dial-in of the first pair of 1700s in a Skater 388, and while I’m not ready to make flight reservations just yet I’ll be there when it happens.

6. OK, So Maybe the No. 1 Was Overkill

After an Ilmor 725-powered Outerlimts SV43 set a new Around Long Island Record last summer, Mike Fiore and the crew at Outerlimits decided to offer a Don Aronow Limited Edition graphics package for the sit-down 43-footer. And the furor that ensued on the offshoreonly.com message board was as over-the-top and entertaining as any in recent memory. For sure, Fiore and company underestimated/miscalcuated the sacred connection between Aronow and Cigarette Racing Team, the most famous of the boat companies he founded, and the devoted following it created. Then again, they didn’t suggest raising taxes, banning religion or proposing a national boat care system. Without question, the story was this year’s “tempest in a teapot.”

May the new year deliver everything you hope it will—and more. One thing is certain: When it comes to the go-fast powerboat world, speeonthewater.com will continue to bring you the news in 2012.

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