The catastrophic loss of Miss GEICO, the 50-foot turbine-powered Mystic Powerboats catamaran that burned to the waterline (read the story) during a practice session in late June, has had effects that go beyond the Miss GEICO Racing team. With the team opting for piston power in its replacement boat for the remainder of the 2012 offshore racing season and their future turbine plans on hold, the Qatar-based team with a 50-foot catamaran under construction at Mystic in Deland, Fla., reportedly is weighing its future power options.
“That’s the big debate right now,” said John Cosker, the owner and founder of Mystic. “Sheik Hassan (bin Jabor Al-Thani) wants to race—he doesn’t just want to build a boat to run at the front of the class. I was just talking with (planned Qatar throttleman) Steve Curtis about that today.”
“The piston class seems to be shaping up,” Cosker continued. “The Gasse team is putting a lot into it, Cintron is still out there and (noted offshore racer) Bob Bull is building a new boat.”
Without question, the Qatar cat will be built with twin 3,000-hp T-55 turbine engines, according to Cosker. But for domestic offshore racing in 2013, piston power could well win out over the 1,800-hp T-53 engines the Qatar team originally planned to swap in for the more powerful turbines, which the team was going to use for special events only.
“They were only going with the T-53s to be on par with GEICO in the turbine class on the racecourse,” said Cosker. “They will definitely go with T-55s—the entire drive train of the boat was designed around T-55s. But they are only going to use those for the 2013 (Lake of the Ozarks) Shootout and an attempt to break the propeller-driven water-speed record in Qatar sometime next year.”
While the final decision has not been made, there are several likely power candidates for the Qatar 50-footer, most notably twin Mercury Racing 1350s.