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Another Sterling Performance

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Like the majority of the Superboat-class fleet, 2016 National Champion Performance Boat Center is powered by Sterling Engines. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sterling Performance Engines dominated the American Power Boat Association Open and Super Boat International Extreme offshore racing classes. Teams such as Zero Defect, Alcone Motorsports, Drambuie on Ice and any number of Aneheuser-Busch/David Scott-backed teams were the dominant players of the day in the sport’s most powerful classes. Sterling’s naturally aspirated Open-class engine topped out in the 900-hp range, whereas its Extreme-class mill pumped out 1,550-plus hp.

Open class is gone, as is—for the most part—APBA’s involvement in offshore racing. Extreme class has morphed into Unlimited class, where the only team still running anything other Mercury Racing 1650 (and in one case 1550) power is American Ethanol/Cat Can Do, a still-slippery-fast, 17-year-old Skater catamaran is equipped with a pair of Sterling 1550s.

Mike D’Anniballe, the owner founder of the high-performance marine engine and automotive products durability testing company in Milford, Mich., has long said that his company “has always been known for and focused upper-end power” when it comes to marine engines. Yet now 750-hp Sterling engines power all but three teams—HP Mafia, Sailor Jerry and Gone Again—in the Superboat class, SBI’s most competitive and popular category. By any measure, that’s mild stuff for D’Anniballe and his crew.

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