A combination of an engine-testing session and a team-building exercise, yesterday’s outing yielded positive results for the STIHL offshore racing team. With the entire outfit—including Robert Noble, Sr. of STIHL Southeast—on site, throttleman/team manager Grant Bruggeman and driver Jake Noble ran the team’s Skater 388 catamaran with new Sterling Performance Superboat-class engines for more than three hours on East Lake Toho (short for Tohopekaliga) in St. Cloud, Fla.
Yesterday’s test session left the STIHL team on solid footing for the upcoming SBI Key West Worlds. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The test session started at roughly 9 a.m. and wrapped up after noon with lunch for the entire team. According to Bruggemann, he and Noble returned to the dock just once so the crew could pull the boat out of the water and “make a few adjustments” before they headed back out. Conditions included one- to two-foot chop and 15-mph winds.
“The whole engine package ran great—the boys at Sterling always do a great job,” he said. “I went through the telemetry and everything looked normal, everything looked fine. We’ve made some improvements, setup wise. We also saw a speed gain in the boat—the CMI headers and tailpipes were purring. We definitely made gains all around.
“It was uneventful but productive,” he added. “And testing in freshwater is always nice because you don’t have nearly as much work to do when you’re finished.”
For more images from yesterday’s STIHL test session, check out the slideshow above.
The next time STIHL catamaran hits the water will be Tuesday, Nov. 8, the day before the first race of the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla. Yesterday’s test session sends the entire team, which finished fourth in the 2016 Superboat-class national standings, to the three-race SBI Key West World on a strong and positive note, according to Bruggemann.
“From Brian Jackson at Offshore Outdrives to Bob Noble, Sr., to crew chief Dave Hutchinson and Craig Paulson, who drives the rig, this team is a complete group effort,” he said. “There are a lot of people who bring it all together, whether it’s Pete Boden coming to shoot or Kellie Lee handling our social media and the press, people picking up engines or just coming to the launch ramp to help. And all the people from STIHL Southeast and STIHL, Inc., are just incredibly helpful.”