Well-covered as it has been on speedonthewater.com and its bi-monthly digital magazine, Todd Fountain’s new 28-foot flat-deck Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 300R V-8 outboard engines had yet to be fully dialed in. That changed two days ago when Grant Bruggemann of Grant’s Signature Racing, the Bradenton, Fla.-based worked with Mercury Racing applications engineer Roy Mitchell at Mercury Marine’s famed Lake X facility across the Sunshine State in St. Cloud.
Though Todd and Danielle Fountain took delivery of their 28-foot Skater powered by naturally aspirated 300-hp Mercury Racing engines last summer, final dial-in at Lake X happened earlier this week (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
And the results were impressive. Working on and off the water for an entire day with 1.75:1 and 1.60:1 gear ratio drives and various propellers, Bruggemann and Mitchell were able to up the boat’s prior top speed of 105 mph to 114 mph. Using test protocols from Speedonthewater.com’s Mercury Racing 400R Sport Catamaran roundup in 2018, Bruggemann also gathered overall performance data on the 28-footer with various setups, all of which is presented in the tables below.
|One person, light on fuel||1.75 gear ratio, 37″-pitch CNC prop||1.60 gear ratio, 34″-pitch CNC prop|
|TOP SPEED||111 MPH||114 MPH|
|SPEED AT RPM|
|RPM||1.75 gear ratio, 35″-pitch CNC prop||1.60 gear ratio, 33.5″-pitch CNC prop|
|2000||19 MPH||24 MPH|
|3000||37 MPH||43 MPH|
|4000||58 MPH||66 MPH|
|5000||78 MPH||87 MPH|
|6000||97 MPH||104 MPH|
|MAX RPM||104 MPH||108 MPH|
|ACCELERATION COMPARISON BY GEAR RATIO|
|ACCELERATION DRILL||1.75 gear ratio||1.60 gear ratio|
|TIME TO PLANE||5.2 seconds||5.7 seconds|
|40 TO 60 MPH||6.3 seconds||8.3 seconds|
|40 TO 80 MPH||14.5 seconds||16.6 seconds|
|40 TO 100 MPH||30.2 seconds||33.0 seconds|
With half a tank of fuel and three passengers for all tests except the single-occupant top speed, the cat weighed in at 5,000 pounds. Air temperature was 80 degrees with humidity at 78 percent. Wind was negligible.
On the gear ratio side, the 1.60:1 reduction proved to be the best all-around setup for the boat. And not just for top speed. Though acceleration performance dipped predictably in the 1.60:1 setup, it proved more efficient at cruising speed than it was with the 1.75:1 ratio.
“Due to the prop shaft speed, overall handling and performance characteristics were better with the 1.60:1 gear ratio,” Bruggemann said. “You could feel an improvement in the boat’s entire running attitude with the 1.60 gear.
“Swapping out lower units and changing props all day was a lot of work,” he added. “But oh boy, was it worth it.”
“It was fun working with Grant on that Skater,” Mitchell said. “And it quickly highlighted that this boat definitely benefits with the 1.6 ratio we offer.”
Based in Michigan, Fountain said he was pleasantly surprised with the improvements in the cat’s overall performance. In addition to going with the 1.60:1 gear ratio, he’s ordered 15-1/4” x 33” propellers with 15-degree rake angles from Mercury Racing.
Hard work paid off for the team at Lake X with the 28-footer.
“I wanted the boat to be happy, safe and fast, and I got all three,” he said. “I knew Grant could figure it out.”