Last year, I wrote 298 articles—blogs in online speak—for speedonthewater.com, the high-performance arm of boatermouth.com. That’s in addition to the 40 pieces I wrote for Powerboat magazine and its website. So it’s safe to say I devoted a fair amount of time and energy to covering the high-performance powerboat world.
What follows are my picks for the top stories, not necessarily in order in of importance (I’ll leave that for you folks to argue about) I followed in 2011. I’m sure I missed a few—I did cover a lot of ground last year—and, of course, this list is subjective. What catches in one reporter’s filter as newsworthy falls right through another’s
Regardless, 2010 was an intriguing and challenging, exhilarating and exasperating year for the go-fast boat world.
Whether you view him as distant cousin of the Wright brothers or a modern-day P.T. Barnum, the departure of Reggie Fountain from Fountain Powerboats—the well-known company he founded and built—qualifies as big news in powerboat world. Love him or hate him, Fountain was to his generation what Don Aronow of Cigarette fame was to his.
With the notable exception of Formula, the entire future of production-built high-performance powerboats now rests under one roof— the Fountain roof in Washington, N.C.—and in the hands of Liberty Associates. Never before has the industry seen such consolidation.
OK, I didn’t actually cover this story—longtime industry observer Rich Luhrs, who happens to be one hell of a writer, beat me to the punch. Regardless, in a 30-foot Sonic, Joe DeFusco, Charlie McCarthy and Jonathon Tobin reminded us all that the most compelling aspect of offshore racing remains man and machine versus the sea.
No one in his right mind ever thought John Haggin of AMF Racing would hang around offshore racing forever. Still, it was sad to see that the sport had managed to kill—or at least bore or frustrate to death thanks to its failure to “move forward”—yet another golden goose.
If the performance-boat industry was rough on the East Coast in 2010, it was even rougher on its West Coast counterpart, which saw several well-established builders close or restructure. Among the latter was Eliminator Boats, once the biggest fish in the West Coast custom pond.
At times oddly secretive—we still don’t who the “former Boeing engineers and U.S. Naval architects” reportedly involved in the design of quad-turbine catamaran were—the Phenomenon crew came out of the gates with big hype and a tiny timetable for its attempt to break the propeller-driven water-speed record. Despite numerous setbacks, the crew reportedly is still planning to attempt to break the record in the summer of 2011,
With a solid 10-boat field, its own “national series” supported by the racers in the class and contingency prize money from Powerboat P1 USA, Super V Light looked like the offshore racing class heading into the 2010. But when a new boat entered the class, raised hopes turned to raised voices—and at least one middle finger—and the class fell apart.
This is how tough times were at Sunsation in early 2010: To create the tooling for the company’s new 36-footer, the laid-off employees actually donated their own time. The happy ending? The new V-bottom reportedly set sales records right out of the gate.
During a year when most performance-boat builders were cutting back—or at the very least were standing pat on growth—Frisini Motorsports expanded its position in the go-fast world by acquiring Sonic boats. That was Frisini’s second acquisition, as the company had picked up Spectre earlier in the year.
Mercury Racing 1350 Changes the Game
Just as Mercury Racing did when it released the 1075SCi, the company raised the bar on the entire go-fast boat engine industry when it unveiled the quad-overhead-cam, twin turbo-charged 1350 at the 2010 Miami International Boat Show.
Nor-Tech Creates a Crossover Center Console
Thanks to the efforts and dedication of Terry Sobo, Nor-Tech’s director of sales and marketing, Nor-Tech pulled off a neat trick with its new 39-footer. It created a center-console model that appeals to performance-minded buyers and serious offshore anglers.