With new Mercury Racing power under the engine hatch of his 36-foot Skater catamaran, Chris LaMorte ran today (above) and yesterday on Sarasota Bay and is ready for tomorrow’s Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Run. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
One year ago today, Chris and Quinn LaMorte got married near their home in New Jersey. The next morning, the couple flew to Sarasota, Fla., to run their 36-foot Skater catamaran in the fifth annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run organized by their longtime friend Ryan Beckley. Now the LaMortes are back in Sarasota with a one-year New Year’s Eve wedding anniversary to celebrate tonight, followed by tomorrow’s casual fun run in honor of Gratton.
And their timing couldn’t be better as Grant Bruggemann and company at Grant’s Signature Racing of Bradenton, Fla., just repowered the LaMorte’s 36-footer with new Mercury Racing 700 SCi engines ahead of its existing No. 6 drives. With Bruggemann and speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden on board, they ran cat with its fresh horses yesterday for the first time on Sarasota Bay. Of course, they ran it again today.
A closer look at LaMorte’s repowered Skater.
“Everything went smoothly,” said Bruggemann. “We ran the boat to 120 mph and made a gear ratio change, had to adjust the water pickups to get the water pressure correct and had to sync the throttles, but it was uneventful.”
“Grant did an amazing job,” said Chris LaMorte. “It wasn’t just dropping in the motors, as I was coming from engines with analog gauges. And he finished ahead of schedule.”
Upgrading to the latest Mercury Marine SmartCraft technology, which is standard with the 700-hp engines, required Bruggemann to remove all the existing wiring harnesses and replace them with 14-pin versions. Thanks NMEA 2000 technology, all engine data is displayed on the boat’s 7616 GPS unit as well as its VesselView 702 model, which is compatible with the Mercury SmartCraft app.
“We had to upgrade the fuel system and the power steering,” said Bruggemann. “We also had to switch engine mounts and fill in a lot of old holes, and we painted the bilge to clean it up. We were able to reuse the headers and tailpipes.”
The engines arrived at Grant’s Signature Racing in October. Once the project got started, it took approximately four weeks to complete. LaMorte said he plans to play a bit with propellers but is plenty happy with boat’s current performance with 37-inch pitch Herring five-blade props.
“The best way I can describe it is ‘super smooth,’” he said. “From shifting at the docks to acceleration, it’s super smooth.”
Chris LaMorte—a happy man with fresh horses (click image to enlarge).