Between a photo shoot and testing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., the teams at DCB Performance Boats and Mercury Racing appear to be remarkably pleased with their first round of “dialing in” DCB’s first boat powered by a pair of Mercury Racing’s new 860 engines.
This DCB M31 Widebody catamaran headed to a Canadian customer in British Columbia is the first DCB with the new Mercury Racing 860 engines. Photo by Tom Leigh/Tommy Gun ImagesBuilt for Canadian performance boater Terry Everson, who owned a DCB M29 with twin Mercury 565 engines, the striking M31 Widebody featuring a pearl-enhanced orange and charcoal gray gelcoat sparkled under the lens of photographer Tom Leigh and shined bright during performance tests for DCB’s Tony Chiaramonte and Mercury Racing’s Mike Griffiths.
“We’ve been playing with propellers and drive setup for the last couple of days and we’ve made some great strides,” Chiaramonte said, adding how nice is it for DCB to be on the ground floor with Mercury Racing in terms of testing new product. “Mercury has gone above and beyond the call of duty—they always do. Mike (Griffiths, Mercury Racing’s product manager), Johnny (Bauer, lead tech calibrator/engineer) and Nick (Nida, product integration electrical engineer) were here checking everything out and using their computers to go over every little detail.
“On Tuesday, the first day on the water with some simple dialing in, we got the boat up to 142 mph at 6,800 rpm when it was light on fuel,” he continued. “Earlier today we tested a new setup in way worse conditions and we ran 137 mph consistently at 6,500 rpm. There’s more in it for sure. We’re going to try a few other things with some different gear setups and propellers after the New Year and see if we can reach the boat’s ideal setup. I believe it is capable of running 145 mph or more without sacrificing holeshot and midrange acceleration.”
Check out the slideshow above for more running images of the M31 courtesy of Tom Leigh.
Chiaramonte said a dialed-in M31 with twin Mercury Racing 700SCi engines—a popular package for the El Cajon, Calif., builder—would run upward of 130 mph. Performance wise, he compared the 860 engines to a 700-hp package with a Stage 2 or Stage 3 Whipple Superchargers kit, although only the 860s and the accompanying dry-sump M6 surface-piercing drives feature Mercury’s enhanced digital technology, two-year warranty and “amazing, bad-ass sound.” And now that Mercury has discontinued the 700SCi, Chiaramonte sees the naturally aspirated 860-hp engines as an excellent choice for the 31-foot cat.
“These engines are so rad—the power band is great and the midrange is pretty cool,” Chiaramonte said. “The whole thing is such a sweet setup. The way this boat handles is incredible. The engines are as docile or more than the 1100s and 1350s. They’re basically a scaled-down 1350 so for us the installation and rigging wasn’t a whole lot different.”
Check out the slideshow above for images of the interior and the Mercury Racing 860 engines courtesy of DCB.
According to Chiaramonte, DCB has three more boats on order with 860 engines—two M31s and an M35 Widebody, all of which are expected to hit the water in 2018. He doesn’t know if the approximately $90,000 cost difference between the 700s and 860s in an M31 will scare away many customers, but he does know that the value is there in terms of performance, reliability, resale and overall fun factor.
“This is the first 860-powered boat I’ve supported and it went a little better than I expected,” Griffiths said on his drive from Lake Havasu City to Las Vegas this afternoon. “Don’t get me wrong, we put a lot of work into the setup and still don’t have it just right but the progress is there and the boat shows a lot of promise. It handles amazing and the engines respond nicely when you give them some throttle. It feels like a definite step up from the 700SCi platform.”
Griffith admits the naturally aspirated 9.0-liter 860 engines feel different than the turbocharged versions of Mercury’s quad overhead cam/four-valve (QC4v) engines. But he’s been in a lot of boats with 1100s, 1350s and 1550s so he’s come to expect that level of power, which seems like an unfair comparison.
“You have to manage the engine a little differently since it is not turbocharged,” Griffiths said. “For a naturally aspirated motor with this rpm range—the rev-limiter is set at 7,000 rpm—the punchiness is excellent. We made some good headway and expect to make even more the next time out.”
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