Although the new STIHL team Skater 388 catamaran is still several weeks from having its rigging completed at Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., the new offshore raceboat project reached a pleasant milestone today for team owner/driver J.R. Noble. For the first time, Noble was able to “get behind the wheel” of his new 38-footer as today’s tasks included precisely fitting his seat, steering wheel and footrest position in the cockpit.
Said Noble (left): “I’ll be bugging Grant every week with phone calls until we do.” Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“I am a happy boy,” said Noble, as he stood on the deck of the catamaran in the shop, which is owned and operated by his throttleman and team manager Grant Bruggemann. “I had been up to the Skater factory to see the boat, but every time I was up there it was mostly covered in protective material—it didn’t have a windshield and was mostly a plain hull with no rigging. So I consider today as seeing it for the first time, and I am absolutely thrilled.”
Bruggemann said that while Noble, whose in-dash instruments will be limited to a digital speedometer and a rearview video screen, was there for the fitting, several other rigging task are simultaneously underway. “You can’t just stick in systems one at a time,” he said. “Everything from the oil tank installation to the fuel system to the steering has to happen at the same time. If there’s anything you can leave for last it’s the final wiring and the tailpipes.
“We’re right in the middle of everything now,” he added. “We’ve done this many times, but we’re still being very careful in the planning so the boat’s center of gravity and safety are the best they can be. There are a lot of neat things going on in this boat.”
For the first time, Noble and Bruggemann shared the cockpit of the STIHL team’s new Skater 388 raceboat today.
Noble agreed. “In addition to the look, there are a number differences in this boat,” he said. “I can’t wait to get it on the water. I’ll be bugging Grant every week with phone calls until we do.”
Asked to elaborate on the STIHL Skater 388’s “differences” beyond graphics, Noble and Bruggemann declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will continue to follow this project as it develops.