About Matt Trulio

Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.

Extreme Boating Series Coming to Boats.com

Anything “extreme” makes for good copy and even better video. And across the boating spectrum, there’s plenty of stuff that qualifies as extreme—even in sailing. (What do you expect? I’m a high-performance powerboat guy and I’m expected to take shots at sailors.)

So when my editor at Boats.com, John Burnham, a stinking sailor, asked me to compile and manage a four-part online series on “extreme boating” I was up for the job. That assignment was especially compelling because he asked me to use Lenny Rudow to handle fishing, Jeff Hemmel to cover the personal watercraft side and Kimball Livingston, another stinking sailor but a damn good writer, to handle the sailing end. I covered the high-performance side.

Short story: I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Not surprisingly, they’re all colleagues of mine at Boatermouth.com, which is conglomerate of daily blogs from 12  top writers in the marine industry.

The series, which will appear on Boats.com next week, combines text and video to showcase the extremes of boating. And much as the high-flying aerial antics in Hemmel’s PWC segment blows my mind, much as the completely automated “Frankenboat” fish slayer in Rudow’s segment cracks me, the stuff that completely knocks me out is in Livingston’s sailing portion. There’s something about nature at its worst—and voluntarily heading out in it—that qualifies as truly extreme.

As for the high-performance boating segment, it taps into offshore racing, poker runs and even manufacturing with Sunsation. For the hardcore performance-boat enthusiast, none of it will come as a revelation (though there’s some very cool video from the Florida Powerboat Club and the Miss Geico turbine-powered racing catamaran). But the average visitor who comes to Boats.com, and there are 3 million of them each month, should find it plenty entertaining.

I’ll let you know when the first segment appears.

Mercury Racing 1350 Engines in Production

Had a nice chat with Fred Kiekhaefer, the president of Mercury Racing, over the weekend. Kiekhaefer told me that construction of the first “production” pair of the company’s twin-turbocharged 1,350-hp engines was underway.

When I told him I would have been disappointed with anything less because had Mercury Racing representatives had repeatedly promised that production of the quad-overhead cam powerplants would begin in July, Kiekhaefer chuckled.

“Well, it was darn near the end of July,” he said. “But July, nevertheless.”

Production of the engine reportedly is sold out through March 2011.

Nor-Tech Going for Big Number at Shootout

Caught up with Terry Sobo, the director of sales and marketing for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats in Cape Coral, Fla. Sobo told me he’d just finished the lottery drawing for a slot to order a new Nor-Tech model—such is the unprecedented demand for custom performance-boats these days.

OK, Sobo was joking and indulging in a little “gallows humor.” Late summer never is a booming time for the performance-boat business, and the current economy has done nothing to help change that. We enjoyed a good laugh, especially when Sobo told me the tents were already being pitched on the Nor-Tech plant lawn for tomorrow’s lottery drawing.

Funny guy, that Terry Sobo, a real prankster. So when I asked him what white-hot, stupid-fast Nor-Tech was headed for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout August 28-29, and he said “our new 39-foot center console,” I thought he was joking.

Turns out he wasn’t.

“We’re definitely taking the 39,” said Sobo. “It’s time those people on that dark-water lake see what the ‘ultimate deck boat’ looks like.”

Sobo said he plans on entering the 39-footer, which is powered by triple 300-hp Verado outboard engines and reportedly runs in the low 70-mph  range, in the Shootout.

“I don’t even know if they have a class for center consoles,” he said. “But they have one for pontoon boats, so why not?”

Cosker on Mystic Delamination: I Don’t Expect to See Any Other Issues.

With the recent delamination problems experienced by JBS, a 50-foot-long Mystic turbine-powered catamaran owned by Jeff Stevenson, speculation on Mystic delamination issues has run rampant. Just about everyone in the go-fast world, particularly online, seems to have an opinion on the matter, which is only natural given the big splash Mystic has made in the past few years.

“The Internet can be your greatest friend or your worst enemy these days, with sometimes unqualified people making judgments on situations they have no firsthand knowledge of,” said John Cosker, the founder and owner of Mystic Powerboats in Deland, Fla. “But hey, it’s America and they are certainly entitled to their opinions.”

To get Cosker’s take on the situation, I asked him four questions.

How many Mystic 50-foot catamarans have been built to date?

We have built 11 of the Mystic 50s to date.

How many of them have had problems with delamination? Which boats were they?

Hull No. 4 was Jeff’s (Stevenson) first boat and it had a delamination problem.  This initiated because of a lamination error on our part where the vacuum bag did not go down on the core bond laminate fast enough and the epoxy resin began to gel before full vacuum was pulled.  Because of this, we didn’t get a good core bond.  In the Miami race the boat began to have an issue on lap three and the team kept running it until lap 11 when the bottom laminates were stripped off the core.  If the boat had been pulled out of the race in lap three, damage would have been much more limited.  Be that as it is, I took that hull in on trade and put Jeff in a new hull that was being built on spec so he could get back out on the course quickly.  We then fully repaired his old boat by building an entirely new sponson in the mold and grafting it back onto the boat.  That hull is now for sale.

Have you found any sort of common denominator in the problem?

His (Stevenson’s) current boat, hull No. 6., had a problem with the rear starboard lifting strake on the run to Bimini and back. The boat was delayed in getting back to our shop due to some other issues, and we only had a few days to repair the strake.  Unfortunately in our haste to fix it we missed some of the damage and it cracked back out at Lake St. Clair.  It wasn’t a large amount of damage—we may have been able to be fixed the night before the race—but both Jeff and I judged it wasn’t prudent to take the chance.

What’s the long-term solution?

Since these two boats were built we have changed our lamination practices by not vacuum bagging both running surfaces individually but putting the two running surfaces under separate bags to ensure the there is not too much “out time” before full vacuum is pulled.  Due to this change, I don’t expect to see any other issues like this appear.

None of our other boats have seen this issue.  We had some minor cracking on the lifting strakes on the forward sponsons of a couple of the boats but we changed the structural arrangement locally in that area which has eliminated that issue.

One thing to point out here is that our boats consistently go out and run in a range from 180 to over 200 mph every time they are on the water.  The bottom pressures in a speed change from 150 mph to over 200 mph nearly double.  Because of the size of the boat it is able to run over 180 mph in the open ocean illustrated by Jeff Stevenson running over 180 mph back across the Gulf Stream in the Miami-Bimini,-Miami run.  In these situations the bottom loadings go up exponentially.

Our boats have been involved in accidents where there have been no injuries, and the boats held up exactly as expected with minimal damage.

We will continue to strive to push the envelope of offshore performance while always keeping safety in mind.  We have learned from any mistakes we have made and have stood behind our product to the best of our ability to keep our customers loyal to our brand.

Sterling 1,700-hp Engine Coming

Dynamometer testing on Sterling’s new twin-turbocharged 1,700-hp engine should start this week, according to Mike D’Anniballe, the principal of the Milford, Mich., engine company. The new engine is based off Sterling’s supercharged, 557-cubic inch dry-sump 1,500-hp offering.

The first pair of Sterling 1700s are headed for Bob Bull’s 48-foot Marine Technology, Inc., racing catamaran.

“We’re scrambling to get it finished—we haven’t run the first one yet,” D’Anniballe told me this morning. “I am staring at the engine right now now. There are four guys standing around it connecting things just six feet away from me.

“Because it’s built on the same platform as our 1500, the 1500 can be retrofitted with a kit to make it into a 1700,” he continued. “So people who want to upgrade won’t have to buy a completely new engine. We think our customers will appreciate that.”

D’Anniballe said he expects the Sterling 1700 to produce 1,400 hp on pump fuel and 1,700-hp on race fuel. He also said he expects excellent fuel efficiency from the new engine.

“Our feeling is it will make 1,400 hp with the same fuel consumption as our 1,150 and 1,700 hp with same fuel consumption as our 1,500. We don’t think we are being unreasonable with our expectations.”

Price has yet to be established.

“I can tell you this, it’s going to be way cheaper than Mercury’s turbo motor,” said D’Anniballe.

Phenomenon Out for Shootout

Fans of Copeland’s Phenomenon, the 56-foot-long catamaran powered by four 3,000-hp turbine engines will have to wait a little longer to catch the boat in action again. Unconfirmed reports had the cat, which was designed to break the propeller-driven water-speed record of 220-plus mph, had the boat headed to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout August 28-29. According to Alex Rosenzweig of MWW Group, the public relations company that handles Copeland’s Phenomenon, the catamaran won’t compete in the Missouri lake event.

“I don’t think that’s in our plan right now,” said Rosenzweig. “We’re just working on fixing it (Phenomenon) and getting it ready again.”

The 56-footer, which reportedly topped 150 mph in test runs, made its on-display debut at the 2009 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West in November. Most recently, mechanical issues forced the cat to withdraw from the Super Boat International Kilo Runs in Sarasota, Fla., last month.

Ozarks Shootout: Beyond the Boats

Without question, the catamarans and V-bottoms running at “ludicrous speeds”—OK, I confess, I saw and actually liked “Spaceballs”—are the highlight of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, set this year for August 23-29. Next up in terms of sights to see is the fleet lining the course. For more than a mile, you could walk from spectator boat to spectator boat without dipping a toe in the water, and maybe even get a cold one or two along the way.

But according to Ron Duggan, the principal organize of the event, there are a whole bunch of new things to keep you busy before speed the runs on Saturday and Sunday. They include:

Monday: Personal watercraft run to the dam.

Tuesday: The Great Shootout Treasure Hunt, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Captain Ron’s.

Wednesday: The Mini-Shootout at Captain Ron’s from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. with radio-controlled boats. Designated boat drivers probably aren’t required.

•Wednesday: Shootout on the Strip Street Party on Bagnell Dam Strip, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday: Make A Wish Foundation Powerboat Rides 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., departing from and returning to Captain Ron’s

Thursday: Low-Profile Celebrity Volleyball Tournament, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Captain Ron’s

Friday: Fireworks Display, 9:30 p.m., at Captain Ron’s.

SkaterFest Coverage Coming

If memory serves—and I have to admit it does less and less these days—the first “SkaterFest” happened and was spearheaded by Rich Luhrs, a true Skater catamaran aficionado. No stranger to the high-performance boat business—Luhrs built the successful Shadow Cat line for several years—Luhrs owns a 24-foot-long Skater, the classic model that for all intents and purposes put Skater founder Peter Hledin’s vaunted line on the map.

What started small has become something big. When SkaterFest kicks off Friday, August 29, as a compelling sideline to the The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, more than 30 Skater catamarans—and their owners—will be on display from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Camden on the Lake Resort. What’s more, there will be guest “seminars” from Hledin, Mike D’Annaballe of Sterling Performance, Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine, Team Geico rigger Gary Stray and many others.

Hundreds of spectators are expected.

Coverage of the event will appear in Powerboat magazine, as well as on Boatermouth.com/speedonthewater.com. (You’ll find the links to those sites exclusively on offshoreonly.com when the stories appear.) I know because I am covering the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout for Powerboat and both web sites, and SkaterFest is one of the events I’m really looking forward to.

MTI Turnout Looking Light for LOTO Shootout

Blazing-fast catamarans from Marine Technology, Inc., are something of a tradition at the speed runs for Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, which will happen this year August 29-30. Plus, as MTI is based in Wentzville, Mo., a couple of hours from the lake, they—like company principal Randy Scism—tend to be hometown favorites.

The bad—or at least not-so-good—new this year? Neither of Bob Bull’s new and much-anticipated 48-foot-long MTIs are likely to make it. Both are waiting on engines—1,700-hp Sterlings for Bull’s racing catamaran and Mercury Racing 1,350-hp mills for his pleasure cat.

“To be honest, it doesn’t look like we’ll have the power for either boat in time,” said Scism. “We knew the 1350s would be a push, but we thought we might have the 1700s. We may be sitting on the beach.”

The good news? Gino Gargiulo is bringing Mercedes, his 44-foot-long MTI powered by twin 1,550-hp Sterling engines and throttled by Larry Goldman. Of course, he’ll be going head to head, at least in spirit, with arch rival Bill Pyburn in his 388 Skater, Pure Platinum.

“We’re headed up there for sure, but we have no clue about how we’ll run,” said Gargiulo during a telephone interview this afternoon. “We had a problem last year—one motor kept shutting off, so we’re pretty much in the same boat as far as knowing what to expect. But it should be a great weekend.”

Pyburn Targeting for 175-Plus mph at Shootout

Caught up with Bill Pyburn via email a few days ago. Well-known to poker-run enthusiasts around the country for his ongoing top-speed battle with Gino Gargiulo, who owns and drives the 44-foot-long Marine Technology, Inc., Mercedes, catamaran, Pyburn said that he will defend his Class 4 title at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, August 28-29 in Missouri.

Pyburn’s 388 Skater catamaran, Pure Platinum, is powered by twin 1,350-hp Chief engines.

“It should run in the mid-175-mph range,” Pyburn said.

Yet another aquatic rocket to look forward at this year’s Shootout.