Since exiting stage right as the president of Mercury Racing in Fond du Lac, Wis., and moving to Colorado a year ago, Fred Kiekhaefer has been plenty busy. In addition to serving as a consultant for his former employer, he started a design-and-engineering consulting outfit of his own called K-Lab Design Works and he has been working on his own "secret little" project. Kiekhaefer wouldn't say anything more than about his concept, but he was happy to give us his highs and lows—in reverse order—for 2013.
Lows: Any loss of life is a tragedy when it occurs in our tight-knit boating community. I feel particularly sad about the terrible loss of Brad Smith and Jeffrey Asbell this year. On a much lighter note, the low for me was that I was not able to attend the Mercury Racing 1650 crate engine roll-out at the SEMA show (read the story), especially since I've never been to SEMA. I was at the (SBI) Offshore World Championships, but I could have found a way to do both—not all of both, but part of both. I would have liked to be there.
Highs: Remember, I don't work there anymore, so this is from my heart: Merc's 1650 crate engine winning SEMA's Global Media Award was quite an accomplishment for Mercury Racing. Another high was the success of that platform in Unlimited class at the Worlds—boats with 1650 or 1350s finished first, second and third in class. On a personal level, my high has been the launch of K-Lab. I walk 35 steps to my CAD station. I have three clients, and (at last) I take calls 18/6, not 24/7. I have almost no meetings and I live two hours from Vail. Plus, for the first time in 22 years, I live in the same house as my lovely wife—all week! It's all pretty neat.