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Speed Racer/Performance Boat Center Makes Moves to Improve Handling for SBI Worlds

With two spinouts in as many days during last month’s Super Boat International National Championships in Clearwater, Fla., Superboat Unlimited-class Speed Racer/Performance Boat Center team owner/driver Randy Kent knew he had to make changes for the upcoming SBI Worlds (Nov. 8-15) in Key West, Fla. According to Kent, the solution for the 44-foot MTI catamaran’s handling setup was to move ballast further aft and add weight to improve the cat’s handling while maintaining its center of gravity.

“The weight boxes were in the nose of the boat,” said Kent, who as he did in Clearwater will share the cockpit with New Zealander/throttleman Chris Hanley in Key West. “We moved them back in the sponsons about to the point of where our feet are, but to keep the CG correct we needed to add weight.

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Said Randy Kent: “We didn’t have any trouble with speed in Clearwater. The boat will be a little faster in Key West.” Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image (click image to enlarge).

“When you have all the weight in the nose there’s a cantilever effect when you slow down and go into a corner,” he continued. “The nose of the boat gets pushed down and the back of the boat lifts up. That’s what was causing us to spin. The boat isn’t going to ‘know the difference’ because it’s still neutrally balanced—instead of having less weight forward we have more in the middle—and the CG stayed the same.”

Saturday’s spin during practice in Clearwater was violent enough to tear the skegs off the boat’s drives. The team replaced those drives with loaners from fellow offshore racer Randy Sweers, the owner of the Sailor Jerry’s Superboat-class team and Fastboats Marine Group, for Sunday’s race. The skegs on the replacement drives survived the race-day spin, but Kent and Hanley weren’t sure of that so they slowed down and “took it easy” for the rest of the race.

The damaged drives have since been replaced with blueprinted units from Wilson Custom Marine in Stuart, Fla. (The loaners were returned to Sweers.) The team also replaced the catamaran’s tunnel tab, which was damaged during the spins, with a version that is 20 pounds lighter, according to Kent.

Kent said he was pleased that the team experienced no mechanical issues, particularly with its twin 1,600-hp engines, during the event in Clearwater. The next time he and Hanley will run the boat again will be on Tuesday before the first race in Key West.

“We got another set of propellers in because we were on the rev-limiters halfway down the straights in Clearwater,” Kent said. “They showed up about a week ago. They are not spec props you can buy off the shelf—they’re custom made by Mercury and they take awhile so we ordered them when we left Clearwater.

“We didn’t have any trouble with speed in Clearwater,” he added. “The boat will be a little faster in Key West.”

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