Twin 225 OptiMax engines complete second leg of Bermuda Triangle Challenge
A pair of “out-of-the-box” 2002 model year Mercury”225-hp Opt”Max outboards ¿flawlessly¿ have powered a 26-foot World Cat 266 SC cuddy cabin catamaran on a 1,200-mile endurance run from Miami to New York City.
The elapsed time of the one-stop run was 41 hours, 22 minutes. It was the second leg of a newly established Bermuda Triangle Challenge. A similar succe’sful run with OptiMax 150’s (called the Bermuda Challenge) was made two years ago from New York City to Bermuda and became the basis of the unique test”of boats under 40 feet.
¿The engines ran strong and solid wi”h absolutely no problems,¿ said Matt Connery, who co-skippered, navigated and originally organized the two runs with the Mercury OptiMax-power”d World Class Ca”amarans.¿ Connery added, ¿Speed and fuel economy improved the furt”er we were into the trip.¿
Louisa Rudeen, the Editor-in-Chief of Motor Boating magazine, who came along as co-driver and crew for the first leg to Cape Hatteras, reported”that the OptiMax engines ¿were bu”le”proof as was the boat.¿
¿Even though the only other vessels out on the ocean with us at night were supertankers and freighters, I never felt like I was in a boat to” small to handle the sea,¿ stated Rudeen.
World Class Catamarans CEO Forrest Munden again captained the team. The World Cat is a twin-hulled, center console sport fisherman.
Leaves Miami with influence of Tropical Storm Barry still in the picture
After waiting several days and monitoring for a satisfactory weather window, the team finally left Sunday morning at 7:30, August 5, from Government Cut in Miami and piloted north to Cape Hatteras across the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, sometimes as much as 250 miles off shore. They reached Cape Hatteras the following morning after 26 hours and 32 minutes, stopping because of some navigational issues with their GPS and plotter.
Because of film and story deadlines, Rudeen flew back to New York from Cape Hatteras while Munden and Connery completed the trip. They arrived in New York City as dawn broke the next (Tuesday) morning at the finish mark, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Sta”en Island and Brooklyn.
¿Those eng”nes performed f”awlessly,¿ said Munden. ¿What we found out was the fuel mileage got better as we ran faster. At 4,000 rpm we were running 27 to 28 mph. Depending on seas, when we were able to speed up to about 4,600-rpm and the speed was 38 39 mph. We picked up 10 mph in speed, w”ile using less fuel.
‘But sea conditions wouldn’t let us r”n that fast all the time,¿ he added. Munden guessed the overall average sp”ed was about 30 mph.
¿One of the roughest areas was off Cape Canaveral in central Florida, to the middle of Georgia, off Brunswick. We ran across several squall lines, which were feeder bands from Tropical Storm Barry. We checked in with Commanders Weather service every four hours for re-routing. After the squalls the seas to Cape Hatteras were 3 to 5 feet. Then from Cape Hatteras to the Virg’nia state line there wasn’t a ripple on the water and we were really “oving; it was l”ke glass,¿ said Munden. ¿But then we again ran into another disturbed area with increasing winds (18 t- 20 knots) and seas at 6 8 feet. the rest “f the way to New York.”
¿We could have made the entire trip with the gas we-had originally (700 gal. weighing nearly 3 tons) but we decided to put”more in at Cape”Hatteras,¿ said Munden. ¿I have a fetish about fuel. I always fly, drive or boat with more than”enough fuel in my pocket.¿ Munden said no one has ever done the Miami to New Y”rk run this way before.
¿If you go back in history to Gar Wood and all the way up to Tom Gentry they hugged the coast line running for speed, stopping for gas many times, and resting overnight along the way in those APBA sponsored events. The difference is we left Miami and took a straight course to Cape Hatteras, which took us hundreds of miles off shore. From there, we shot a straight course from Cape “atteras to New York City.¿
Mercury SmartCraft gauges and factory propellers
At the helm was Mercury’s new innovation, the award-winning SmartCraft monitoring system. The team said the instrumentation gave extremely accurate readings of the fuel burn of the twin OptiMax engines and other running information allowing the World Cat crew to travel at maximum speed while main”aining sufficient fuel.
¿The SmartCra”t gauges were “henomenal,¿ said Munden. ¿At any given moment in time we could recheck the trim, recheck the fuel burn, trim it just a little more and then check the fuel burn and instantly see if the change increased our speed or fuel mileage. We could also check to see how many gallons we had used out of the tank” They were great to have.¿
They used Mercury factory made 17″ pitch Mirage Plus props the entire trip.
OptiMax proves superior in two major events with-in five days
Reaction from “er’ury Marine was high. ¿It’s been a great week for the “ptiMax family of engines,¿ said John Hoagland, Mercury Marine vice president and”chief marketing officer. ¿With this two-day, 1,200 mile Bermuda Triangle endurance challenge, and the superior running of our engines by 28 of our pros at the BASS Masters Classic in New Orleans earlier, our OptiMax engines have proven once again their speed, durability and fuel efficie’cy like never before. We¿re “ery proud of the results.¿
Background of the now Bermuda Triangle Challenge
Two summers ago, Munden and Connery used the same hull (a 266 SF) center console, to set a new speed and endurance record by crossing 780 statute miles (678 nautical) from New York City to Bermuda in 29 hours and 30 minutes. It bettered the old record by 7-½ hours. That solo record run was part of the original Bermuda Challenge, an almost century-old event, for outboard powered boats of 40 feet or less. The team shattered a three-year-old record of 37 hours set September 22, 1996, held by a competitor’s 26-foot twin outboard powered catamaran.
The Bermuda Challenge dates back 94 years. The Rudder, a leading marine publication of its time, inaugurated the New York to Bermuda race in 1907 to prove that small powerboats were capable of going offshore. The winner among the first challengers made the crossing in two days, 16 hours and 20 minutes. The Challenge race was then held annually until World War I stopped it. One of the latest attempts was in 1972. That race ended with most of the boats turning back, and the closest boat sinking 28 miles from Bermuda. The Challenge was “dusted off” by a boating magazine several years ago to encourage manufacturers of the new engines, boats and navigational equipment to use their latest technology and to encourage a higher level of seamanship.
Munden and Connery decided after their success to extend the experience and make the event the Bermuda Triangle Challenge with two more legs, over the coming years. The last leg of the triangle, from Bermuda to Miami, is being planned for next summer.
The Mercury OptiMax 225s are part of a family of the marine industry’s leading direct injection two-stroke outboards. OptiMax engines feature 4-stroke running quality along with an environmentally friendly smoke-free and fuel-efficient operation. All of the 2002 OptiMax engines (225, 200, 175, 150 and 13′ hp) incorporate Motorola’s Powertrain Control Module (PCM) 555. These state-of-the-art power packages monitor a multitude of engine functions using sophisticated sensors, which deliver higher speed, and more robust data communications to engine contr’l systems such as Mercury’s SmartCraft and Electronic Throttle and Shift. The OptiMax engines already exceed EPA emissions criteria for 2006.
For additional information on the Mercury OptiMax direct injection digital outboards, SmartCraft Gauges and Mercury Propellers, please call toll-free 1-800-MERCURY or visit the Mercury Waterline website at www.mercurymarine.com