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Speeding Into The Danger Zone

Mostly lost in the understandable excitement and buzz about Fountain Powerboats’ upcoming assault on the V-bottom kilometer speed record is one simple fact: It is an incredibly dangerous pursuit with zero margin for error. And no one knows this better than Ben Robertson, Jr., who will pilot the Washington, N.C., company’s purpose-built canopied 40-footer powered by twin 1,900-hp turbocharged engines from Sterling Performance.

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When it comes to kilo runs, the risk is high and the reward is unknown, just ask Ben Robertson, Jr.

“My biggest concern is a mechanical breakdown,” said Robertson, who with Reggie Fountain, Jr., piloted a 42-foot Fountain to a kilo run record of 171.888 mph in 2004. “From steering to propellers to gearcases to drive shafts, we are in the unknown zone. A lot of things can happen.”

Robertson is targeting 200 mph as a kilo record goal, though everyone involved will be delighted if the Fountain boat surpasses the 180.464-mph kilo mark set by a 43-foot canopied Outerlimits V-bottom piloted by Brian Forehand in 2014.

It’s a lofty goal to be sure. At 200 mph, a boat covers 293.33 feet per second—less than seven feet shy of a football field—or 89.41 meters per second. At that speed, the same boat will cover a kilometer in 11 seconds. But a kilo record is the average of two speeds over the course of a kilometer in two timed runs, one in each direction. So everything has to work perfectly for 22 seconds.

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