Based in Milford, Mich., Sterling Performance made its name in the high-performance marine world by delivering supercharged offshore racing engines in the 1,200- to 1,500-hp range.
Sterling’s founder and owner, Mike D’Anniballe, actually built engines for the Dubai-based-and-backed Victory team that continues to dominate Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 offshore racing today. When the Victory outfit switched from Sterling to Lamborghini power in the mid to late1990s, D’Anniballe and company focused their efforts on the U.S. offshore racing market, and their power was found in legendary domestic Open-class raceboats including Alcone Motorsports, Drambuie on Ice, and Zero Defect.
While the popularity of Sterling power at the highest levels has diminished among U.S. race teams with the advent of Mercury Racing’s 1,350- and 1,650-hp quad overhead cam turbocharged engines, the company hasn’t completely disappeared from domestic offshore racing. In fact, Sterling debuted its latest marine offering in the new WHM Motorsports, a 40-foot Douglas Marine/Skater catamaran that is owned by veteran offshore racer Billy Mauff and competes in Super Boat International’s highly competitive Superboat class.
But compared to the engines Sterling used to build for teams in the now-defunct Open-class, its naturally aspirated and carbureted Superboat-class engines make a downright tame 800 hp.
In addition to building the engines for other Superboat teams in 2015, D’Anniballe said he is planning to introduce “more manageable” versions of them to the high-performance pleasure-boat market. Displacement will increase from its current 510 cubic inches to 540 cubic inches, and Sterling will replace the current camshaft with a less aggressive, milder version. Tuning, however, will continue to be focused on making lower-end power and torque for better acceleration.
"It will make a great pleasure-boat engine—it's actually similar to our 750," said D'Anniballe. "We will focus more on manageability and idle quality on the pleasure version."
D'Anniballe said the cost of the engine, without a drive or an exhaust system, will be approximately $55,000, the same as the racing version. It will be offered with a 90-day warranty.