Relative to other high-performance marine engines built by Sterling Performance of Milford, Mich., the company’s new naturally aspirated, carbureted 750-hp big-block for Superboat-class racing on the Super Boat International offshore racing circuit is tame.
After all, Sterling built its formidable name on power platforms such as its 1,550-hp supercharged engine and—more recently—its turbocharged 1,700-hp monster motors. (It’s worth noting that only one set of Sterling 1700s has been built so far.) Before Mercury Racing introduced its 1,350- and 1,650-hp quad overhead cam offerings, Sterling 1500s were the engines to have in offshore racing’s Extreme/Unlimited classes.
What makes the relatively mild Sterling Superboat 750 so significant is the Superboat class itself. Completely retooled in an effort to reduce engine costs and increase participation, the catamaran class has seen remarkable growth in the past two seasons. The most recent SBI offshore race in Sarasota, Fla., saw a record field of seven cats in the event.
The Superboat 750 is a “spec” engine, in which there a restrictions on its build, such as a maximum displacement of 509 cubic inches, carburetion rather than electronic fuel injection, and a 9.5:1 maximum compression ratio. Oddly enough, there’s no “horsepower output limit” as long as each engine meets the technical specifications. But thanks to those specs, all of the Superboat engines so far, including those by Ilmor Marine/Scorpion, Potter Performance, and Sterling produce roughly 750 hp.
While the engines in last year’s Superboat-class Offshore World Champion WHM Motorsports were Sterling mills adapted to comply with the new technical specifications of two years ago, the current set nearly completed for the same boat are “from the ground up to the specs,” according to Sterling’s founder and owner, Mike D’Anniballe.
“The engines for WHM are going to be our first completely new pair that aren’t a refit of something else since the rules were changed,’ said Mike D’Anniballe, the owner and founder of Sterling Performance. “We plan on optimizing the engines to their full potential under the current rules for the class.”
D’Anniballe said he plans to have the engines done in time to be installed in the new WHM cat in time for SBI’s August 1-3 race in Michigan City, Ind.