The paths of high-powered, world-class sailing teams and custom high-performance, world-class custom go-fast boat builders rarely cross, but they did on Monday and Tuesday this week when Mike Fiore, the founder and owner of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats in Bristol, R.I., visited the San Francisco waterfront headquarters of the Oracle Team USA. San Francisco Bay is the site for the 2013 America’s Cup sailing races next summer and fall, and Fiore was brought there as consultant to the team—on the powerboat side.
“They had a 42-foot RIB (rigid inflatable boat) support vessel that they couldn’t get to do anything—it couldn’t even get on plane—with a pair of 480-hp Cummins diesel engines,” said Fiore. “It was built in Newport, not far from our area, by Naiad Inflatables. A couple of weeks ago, someone from the Oracle team showed up in our shop and asked me if I would come out and help dial in the boat as a consultant. I’m swamped, but I just wanted to be a part of it. It’s exciting.”
Fiore, who flew from the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri to California on Monday the day after the Shootout ended, said that larger-diameter-and-pitch six-blade propellers and a less-aggressive gear ratio in each Mercury Racing No. 6 drive solved the problem. “They were using a 1.24:1 gear, and we changed it out for a 1.42:1 gear,” said “They’re eventually going to change it to a 1.58:1 to gear. It was a pretty simple fix, really. Now the boat runs fine.”
Fiore said was he thoroughly impressed, even “blown away” by the Team Oracle USA operations.
“It was insane, just insane,” said Fiore, who caught the red-eye back to Providence, R.I., Tuesday night. “They were building boats right in front of me with 90 guys working. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was incredible—what a great experience.”