After four years of competing nationally and internationally in a multitude of conditions, dialing in its one-of-a-kind 48-foot raceboat with various sets of engines, and collecting hours upon hours of telemetry data and video footage, the Lucas Oil-sponsored SilverHook Powerboats offshore racing team arrived in Cocoa Beach, Fla., this weekend for the sixth annual Thunder on Cocoa Beach Super Boat Grand Prix with a new twist on its already unique V-bottom.
The Lucas Oil team added “safety pods” to its 48-foot SilverHook for the 2015 season. Photo by Cole McGowan/SilverHook Powerboats
Not only did the team send the boat to Team Archer Marine in Costa Mesa, Calif., after the Key West World Championships in November for some offseason TLC from the extremely talented Dan MacNamara (read the story), it also planned a comprehensive re-rig complete with center of gravity adjustments and setup changes, including placement of the Mercury Racing 1075SCi engines and BPM shaft drives. But it’s the boat’s cosmetic changes that are the most notable.
Handled by the highly regarded Westerly Marine in Santa Ana, Calif., the twin-step 48-footer now features carbon-fiber composite “safety pods” that extend off the hullsides roughly 12 inches and sit about 6 inches above the chine right at the waterline. Veteran throttleman Nigel Hook, who is being joined by driver Jay Johnson for the first race in the seemingly new ride, is excited to put the boat’s enhancements to the test.
“We’ve spent the last four years trying different things with the boat,” said Hook, who is the CEO and founder of DataSkill Inc., and was recently featured in an IBM Bluemix video on the connection between high-speed boat racing and the high-speed app development platform IBM Bluemix. “In addition to its hull and deck design being so different, we also have fixed shaft drives and a rudder, which is uncommon for a monohull.
“We think we’ve figured out how to make a monohull more stable without creating drag,” he continued. “Imagine throwing a dart with no flutes—they don’t add lift, just neutral straight flight, right? We’ve tested the boat in rough water and the pods provide additional stability. We’ll see how it does when we have more time to fine-tune its performance in flat water.”
Check out the slideshow above for a couple more images of the SilverHook raceboat, including one without the new “safety pods.”
Hook said Super Boat International reviewed the CAD drawings and provided the team with written approval to race the boat this season with the new safety-focused design. From a practical aspect alone, Hook added, the pods will make doing any work to the boat—on or off the water—much easier.
The team tested the boat on Friday on Florida’s Lake Monroe and is hauling it to Cocoa Beach where race fans and teams will see the new look on Saturday. Hook and Johnson are racing it in the competitive Superboat Unlimited class on Sunday.
“We’re trying to create a V-hull with the advantages of a catamaran but without the safety disadvantages of a cat,” Hook said. “Our main goal is stability—high-speed stability. One thing we would like to do is go after the V-bottom speed record. I don’t think 200 mph is out of the question in a monohull. We’ve been using a lot of new technology such as virtual reality to better understand our boat and the complicated dynamics of racing in the ocean, a medium that includes traveling through water and air.
“I’ve been a computer scientist all my life so I’m always looking at new technologies,” he continued. “I’ve never been the one out there racing what everyone else had. And I don’t just do that to gain an advantage, I do it to try to move this sport, and this industry, further along.”
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