Amongst the many people I’m looking forward to seeing at next week’s Miami International Boat Show is one of the nicest and smartest guys I’ve met in this industry, Mike Clesceri of Marine Design Corp., who will be hanging out with the crew from Hardin Marine and CP Performance, which is going to have its trailer on display for the first time at next week’s show.
Michigan’s Bruce Chapman loves running his 45-foot Sonic hard and does so with peace of mind thanks to the DriveGuardians installed by All American Drive Service. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Not only has Clesceri been making huge waves within the performance boat community with his innovative TrimSync system for both sterndrive and outboard applications, he’s continuing to design and develop new products to complement the shift control, output shafts, damper plates and the device that started it all several years ago—DriveGuardian. While TrimSync has garnered plenty of attention and required a good amount of his time getting his customers’ boats—whether they have twin, triple, quad or more engines—working seamlessly, he’s continued to move forward with the DriveGuardian, the patented torque-limiting clutch designed to eliminate the torque spikes that occur when a boat hits a wave, catches air and the propellers re-enter the water, with help from several installation shops around the country.
Last summer he told me about how he’d been working closely with the teams at Innovation Marine Corp., in Sarasota, Fla., IBC Offshore Inc., in Pembroke, Mass., and All American Drive Service in Bronson, Mich. In fact, he even teamed up on a warranty program with All American Drive Service.
“We are offering a two-year warranty on a drive and DriveGuardian for 700-hp and below if you have AADS upgrade your drive to their Ultra Series and install a DriveGuardian,” Clesceri said. “We also offer a one-year warranty for up to 850 hp.”
Tom Derhammer’s 37-foot Active Thunder is a regular at Fort Myers Offshore events. Photo by Pete Boden
Obviously he’s proved the product works in the most stressful environment possible—offshore racing—as dozens of teams utilize the product and many of them have told me about it, but I mentioned to him that I haven’t talked to many pleasure boaters who are advocates for DriveGuardian. Clesceri immediately sent me contact for four customers from different states that boat in and around the Atlantic Ocean and various Great Lakes.
Over time I reached out to all four and decided it would be informative to share their stories with the speedonthewater.com audience.
The first person I spoke with I didn’t get the chance to meet during the West Michigan Offshore Rock The Coast Fun Run I attended last July, but I did get a cool video of his boat launching off a wake from the 51-foot SeaRay I was cruising in. Photographer Pete Boden grabbed more pics of Bruce Chapman’s 45-foot Sonic Powerboats V-bottom during the next day’s fun run from Grand Haven to Holland and back on a rough Lake Michigan.
The owner of the 45-footer with triple 700-plus-hp engines built by Performance Engineering Racing Engine in Jenison, Mich., Chapman said he loves running his boat hard and feels more confident doing so with DriveGuardians that All American Drive Services added to his beefed-up Bravo drives.
“I’ve had DriveGuardians for three seasons now and the only issues I’ve had with my drives—a vertical shaft problem and a strange break on an upper gear—were unrelated to the DriveGuardians,” Chapman said. “My Sonic is heavy—it’s 12,500 pounds dry, 15,000-plus with people and fuel—so we’re pushing a lot of weight through the drives. For the package and the horsepower going into it, I’ve been pleased with how much boating we’ve done the past few years.
“I called Mike originally to find out about the DriveGuardian and what he explained to me made sense,” he continued. “It’s well engineered and an overall good product—I’m glad I got them when I did. I have TrimSync on my boat as well and that’s a neat product. I did it for pure convenience and what I learned was how far off my old cable-driven indicators were. It took some time for me to start trusting it, but it’s definitely nice to have.”
Another advocate of DriveGuardian is Indiana performance boater Tom Derhammer, who owns a 37 Excess from Active Thunder with twin Mercury Racing 600SCi engines, which make 900 hp thanks to Stage 4 Whipple Superchargers kits, connected with IMCO Marine SCX drives that are fortified with DriveGuardians.
Derhammer, who recently purchased a 42-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom with Mercury Racing 700SCi engines and No. 6 drives, said he installed the DriveGuardians on his beautiful 37-foot Active Thunder at the end of 2016 and has been running strong ever since.
Derhammer shared a couple of pictures of the DriveGuardians installed in his Active Thunder.
“I can’t remember how I found about DriveGuardian, but I think one of my boating friends told me so I decided it was worth trying,” said Derhammer, who splits time between boating in and around his second home in Cape Coral, Fla., with groups like Fort Myers Offshore and back home, which includes Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Cumberland and elsewhere. “I installed mine myself—if you have the mechanical know how and the right tools, it’s a pretty straightforward process. I’d definitely recommend DriveGuardians—and I always do to anyone who wants to know about them.”
That is a common sentiment among other DriveGuardian customers I spoke with, which you’ll read about in part two of my “Why DriveGuardian” story series.