Working seven days a week for the last three weeks, the crew at Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., has finished rigging the Broadco Cat 5 Offshore Racing team catamaran in time for the upcoming Super Boat International Offshore World Championships (Nov. 8-15) in Key West, Fla. After barrel-rolling violently at the SBI season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in May, the 40-foot MTI cat that won the 2014 Superboat-class world title spent approximately four-and-a-half months at MTI headquarters in Wentzville, Mo., getting completely rebuilt and structurally enhanced (read the story). The boat arrived at throttleman/team manager Grant Bruggemann’s shop on October 2.
Said owner Chuck Broaddus of the completely rebuilt 40-footer’s new graphics: “They’re a little edgy.” Photo courtesy/copyright Grant’s Signature Racing/Speedonthewater.com (click image to enlarge).
Some 400 to 450 man-hours went into rerigging the cat with its 750-hp Ilmor Marine Racing engines.
“We will be firing up the engines this afternoon,” Bruggemann said. “Everything is done except for a few details.”
The damage sustained by the cat in the crash was extensive. But that damage also gave MTI an opportunity to improve the boat and bring it to the company’s own state-of-the-art, 2016 structural standards. From the cockpit aft, all of the catamaran’s structure essentially had to be rebuilt—the entire deck of the boat was replaced.
“The first roll ripped off the hatches,” Bruggemann said. “The second blew out the bulkheads, the stringers and the hull sides. The canopy was like a sponge when you walked on it, but the only ‘damage’ we had in the cockpit was a minor crack in the windshield.
“When they made the new deck, they incorporated MTI’s new-generation cockpit liner with two layers of carbon fiber and four inches of Styrofoam between them,” he continued. “It’s similar to a ‘crush zone.’ If another boat comes through the side of us, it has to penetrate the outer shell, then the Styrofoam and then the layer of carbon fiber next to us to intrude into the cockpit. The cockpit liner around us is six inches thick. Also, the other cockpit was a four-seat version with plenty of room behind. This one is strictly a two-seat version. MTI did a great job. Everything is outstanding.”
Chuck Broaddus, the team’s owner and driver, is equally delighted with the finished product. The silence from the Broadco team since the crash was intentional, he explained, as no one involved was 100-percent certain the boat would be ready in time for Key West next month and they didn’t want to raise any false hopes.
“We had multiple options out of the gate (after the crash),” Broaddus said. “We could have built a new boat, but that really wasn’t possible financially. We could have repaired what was damaged and that would have been OK—we had confidence in the original cockpit cell in the boat. But we decided that the better option was completely rebuilding. In addition to all the structural improvements, the new cockpit shell is egg-shaped. Its convex surface adds strength and resistance to protect the occupants.
In essence, MTI replaced everything but the catamaran’s hull on the Broadco cat.
“We went with two-inch-thick ballistic glass for the windshields,” he continued. “That means eight layers of polycarbonate ballistic glass, and the windshield clarity is amazing. The hatches in the canopy and in the hull are two inches thick and have double flanges, and they’re designed to resist water intrusion in the event of a rollover. Grant installed ‘roll pumps’ in the roof of the canopy. They are basically bilge pumps that can pump out water as fast as it’s coming in if we roll.”
If all goes to plan, Broaddus will join Bruggemann for a test session in Broadco late next week. In the meantime, Bruggemann is looking forward to a little downtime. “We might just take the weekend off and get back to it Monday morning,” he said, then chuckled.
“We are so thankful to MTI, our sponsors and our friends and families,” Broaddus said. “We basically introduced a 2016 boat. It’s a flat-deck hot rod and we can’t wait to see how it’s going to perform for us. It all came together in the eleventh hour and Grant and the crew did an amazing job pulling it off. They actually finished a week earlier than we expected. We’re so grateful for that, because it means we can test the week before we go to Key West to defend our world championship.”
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