In an effort to showcase the outboards he believes could be the next power plants for the Stock class, Gary Ballough is planning to race this weekend’s Super Boat International season opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in his new 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing OptiMax 200XS engines.
Could twin Mercury Racing OptiMax 200XS engines be the future power plants of the Stock class? Gary Ballough believes they should.
In what he says is the best interest for the future of the class, rather than install the Stock-class-approved 280-hp 2.5 EFI outboards from Mercury, Ballough had TNT Custom Marine rig the 32-footer with the 200-hp engines to demonstrate their merit. He pointed out that the class came from the 200-hp Mercury so not only is it a great way to stay true to its history, it’s also an opportunity to bring more people into the sport since the 200XS engines are readily available and as durable as racing engines come.
Ballough, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., said he and his daughter, Paige, tested the boat last week and reached 102 mph on the first pass. Afterward Ballough discovered the throttle butterflies weren’t opening all the way so he’s positive 105 mph is attainable—not that he’ll be running anywhere near that speed 95 percent of the time on the racecourse this season, especially a traditionally rough one like Cocoa Beach.
Take a closer look at the new FJ Propeller Doug Wright Stock-class catamaran in the slideshow above.
“I love the way the boat felt right out of the box—of course it doesn’t accelerate like it does with the 280s but those engines are no longer produced so we need to know where to turn when those parts are gone,” said the world champion throttleman who also races overseas in the XCAT World Series. “I’m not opposed to 300XS engines—I have them on my Skater Powerboats pleasure cat—but we don’t really need to go any faster. Plus the 300XS gearcases suck up a lot of water, which isn’t conducive for racing. I don’t believe the four strokes are an option either because they’re still too heavy for our boats.
“The cool thing for current teams is that the 200s weigh the same as the 280s and use the same gearcase, steering and other components,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if we’re racing at 80, 100 or 200 mph—a race is a race. If you want a speedboat, go get a rocket ship and have at it. That’s not what racing is about.”
Ballough is planning to compete in all of the SBI races with Jimmie Harrison, president of Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by his side. While the team is likely to run its 280 engines on courses where it’ll need the additional mph in order to compete, Ballough is ecstatic to show off the 200s on the new Doug Wright, which includes some modifications he recommended based on XCAT testing such as changing the deadrise a few degrees and rounding out some edges.
“Can we win in Cocoa? Maybe since we rarely run over 80 mph there anyway—but that’s not what this is all about,” said Ballough, who has reportedly been granted permission to compete with the lower-horsepower engines by SBI. “I think we’re still a couple of years away from any equipment changes, too, but I’ve been talking about this for a while so it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.
The boat is currently at Kinetic Animation in Bradenton, Fla., being wrapped with its FJ Propeller graphics and will leave for Cocoa Beach later this week for more testing before the season opener on Sunday.