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Phenomenon Update: Waiting on Propellers

With the July 2 Super Boat International Kilo runs in Sarasota, Fla., just a couple of weeks away, time is getting tight for the Louisiana-based Phenomenon crew that will make an attempt at breaking the propeller-driven water-speed record of 220 mph. The 50-plus-foot catamaran, which is powered by four 3,000-hp turbine engines, is still waiting for four new custom-made propellers to accommodate the cat’s new 2-7/8-inch propeller shafts.

“We’re supposed to get one prop today,” said Scott Barnhart, the throttleman for the boat (Al Copeland, Jr., will drive), early this morning. “We’re supposed to get two tomorrow, and the fourth one as late as Tuesday.

“We’ll be sitting on the launch ramp waiting for the fourth propeller so we can test,” said Barnhart. “”If the boat goes over 200 mph, we’re going to Sarasota. If it doesn’t, we’re not. We’re just not going to push it. There’s too much at stake.”

Movement of the boat’s four drives, which Barnhart said cannot be stabilized with tie bars because of the positioning of the thrust tubes, have created mechanical issues. The most notable of these is that the propellers have actually struck one another when the boat is running. That problem, plus the new propeller shafts, forced the Phenomenon team to order new props.

“We also changed the propeller rotation,” said Barnhart. “We’re running them away from each other.”

Though Barnhart said he was concerned about the time crunch, he remains optimistic.

“I still feel really confident,” he said. “In the few runs we’ve made, the boat felt perfect.”