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Commentary: Mercury Racing’s Verado Home Run

Did you know that Mystic Powerboats has hung 27 Verado 400R outboard engines from Mercury Racing on the transoms of its center consoles this year? I read that on the company’s Facebook page yesterday—and it got my attention. It also got me thinking, so I called Terry Sobo, the director of sales and marketing for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats and asked him how many Verado 400R engines his company had installed on its center consoles so far this year.

“I think it’s about 50 or 60,” he said.

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The popularity of Mercury Racing’s Verado 400R outboard engine is undeniable. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Mystic and Nor-Tech are far from the only custom high-performance powerboat builders taking advantage of Mercury Racing’s most successful engine release since the quad overhead cam, turbocharged 1350 engine and the three additional offerings that platform spawned. Cigarette Racing Team, MTI, Statement Marine and other high-end custom builders are reporting that less than one year since it was introduced at the 2015 Miami International Boat Show the Verado 400R has become the outboard engine of choice for buyers of its performance-oriented center consoles.

The 400R also is making its way, albeit more slowly, into the sport catamaran market. As reported on this site, the engines have been used successfully on sport cats from DCB Performance Boats, Doug Wright Designs and Skater Powerboats. True, those installations are fewer and farther between, which makes sense given that the sport cat segment of the go-boat market is much smaller than the performance center console segment (and a big center console can accommodate four 400Rs as opposed to a pair of them on sport cat). Still, that a relatively heavy four-stroke engine has found its way onto the transom of some of the finest sport catamarans available is significant.

The most common—and predictable—gripe about the 400R is about its price. At $31,000 to $36,000 retail depending on shaft length, it is not an inexpensive item. But it comes standard with a two-year warranty, according to the Mercury Racing website, with extended warranty options available and that’s a very attractive thing, especially for go-fast owners weary of blowing through stern-drive power engines at the powerhead and/or outdrive level.

By most accounts, 2015 was the best year the high-performance industry has seen in some time. And from boat company owner Skip Braver at Cigarette Racing Team to boat dealer Peter Roberts at Double R Performance, industry folks are reporting that the Verado 400R from Mercury Racing has played a large role in that success. It never was a “secret” that the supercharged Verado platform was capable of producing 400 hp—in 2004 then-Verado-project-leader Claus Bruestle told that to the marine press when the first model was introduced. But the timing of the 400R release this year during the Miami show was as brilliant as it gets, and from my perspective based on industry and consumer feedback it’s the best thing to happen in the high-performance marine industry this year.

In short, the Verado 400R has been a home run.

To enjoy a review of this year’s most powerful outboard engines, download the March/April issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine now at no charge by clicking here. To read a feature on the state of the high-performance marine industry in 2015, download the September/October issue of the magazine now by clicking here.

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