Speedboat October 2014

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SMASHED! Spirit of Qatar’s Wild 244-MPH LOTO Run


by Performance Boats



C O N T E N T S COLUMNS 6 RAY LEE 8 ALEXI SAHAGIAN 10 JIM WILKES FEATURES 12 QAT CAN DO Le Sheikh c’est chic in his 50’ Mystic as his team obliterates the LOTO speed record.

26 SHIVER THEIR TIMBERS John Woodruff and his team raise cash for needy kids at the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run.

36 ONE PRECIOUS SECOND Todd Haig becomes the Catalina Ski Race’s winningest champion— by a nose.

40 EMERALD CITY Florida Powerboat Club get a charitable shot in the arm in Destin with a novel new class.

46 DAYS OF THUNDER This year’s Thunder in the City Poker Run featured four breathtaking offshore muscle machines.

54 ELIMINATOR FACTORY TOUR Bob Leach keeps the company afloat by offering a first-rate product, planning new ventures, and keeping the customers satisfied.



Big Cat Poker Run roars through the California Delta.

Speedboat pays tribute to the late, great Art Carlson—one of the most innovative boat designers in the history of the sport.


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Cover photo by Todd Taylor Editorial: Speedboat Magazine assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All manuscripts, materials, photographs and artwork submitted are at mailer’s risk and must include self-addressed envelope with proper postage if requested to be returned. All letters sent to Speedboat will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes, and are subject to Performance Boats’ right to edit and comment editorially. All rights reserved. Reprinting in whole or part is expressly forbidden, except by written permission of the publisher. Postmaster: Send address changes to Postmaster: Send address changes to Speedboat Magazine, 9216 Bally Court, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730.

Speedboat.com To find your nearest location to purchase a copy of Speedboat Magazine go to: www.WheresMyMagazine.com

Published by DCO Enterprises, LLC Publishers Ray Lee ray@speedboat.com (909) 815-3995

Chris Davidson chris@speedboat.com (702) 313-1400

Editor Brett Bayne brett@speedboat.com

Senior Tech Editors Jim Wilkes jim@speedboat.com

Alexi Sahagian alexi@speedboat.com

Tech Editors Greg Shoemaker Jim Wilkes Valerie Collins National Sales Blake Davidson Director Blake@Speedboat.com (702) 420-0468

Art Director Gail Hada-Insley

BRETT’S COVE 66 WILD CHILD The Augusta Spring Nationals delight spectators with a thrilling Problem Child victory—and one very scary crash.

Helicopter Services Fred Young fyoung@live.com

Photographers Todd Taylor, Paul Kemiel Randy Nuzzo, Kenny Dunlop, Stu Jones, Jeff Girardi Operations Manager Michele Plummer michele@speedboat.com

70 BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS A father-and-son project transforms a tired Cole into a true show piece.



Webmaster Blair Davidson Blairsaid@gmail.com

Web Design Market It Mobile

76 SUPER DAVE At the Long Beach Circle Boat races, Dave Rankin proves tough to beat in a variety of classes.

Editorial Offices 9216 Bally Court Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 (888) 577-2628 (BOAT)

SPEEDBOAT MAGAZINE (ISSN#1941-9473) is published 8 times a year by DCO Enterprises LLC. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Domestic $34.00 for 8 issues, Canada $56.00 for 8 issues, International $60.00 for 8 issues. All prices are for one year and in US funds. For subscription info: call (888) 577-2628. PRINTED IN USA These rates represent Speedboat’s standard subscription rate and should not be confused with any special rates or premiums otherwise advertised or offered.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014



Clashing in Catalina

Great rivalries have existed since the beginning of time. As a society, we have always enjoyed the spirit of good competition. From the days of the fierce gladiators to the modern day sports superstars, hard-fought battles stir up our primitive emotions that lie just beneath the everyday surface. Ali vs. Frazier. Hagler vs. Hearns. Davis vs. Avila? Yes, indeed—if you’ve been anywhere near the Ski Racing circuit in recent years. On the early overcast morning of Saturday, July 19, 2014, driver Randy Davis (pulling skier Todd Haig) and driver Mike Avila (with skier Wayne Mawer), faced off in Long Beach, CA, for the 66th Catalina Ski Race. Dubbed “the World’s Greatest Ski Race,” it is an event that challenges the skills of skiers across 62 miles of the Pacific Ocean, from Long Beach out to Avalon Harbor, near Catalina Island, and finishing right in front of the historic Queen Mary. Competitors travel from across the globe to participate in this long standing tradition. One without a cash reward, but rather bragging rights to boast being “the best.” For some, that title is vastly more valuable than the dollar. Teams work for months preparing for this one day in July. The buzz around the host hotel, Maya, was that there had been an rivalry for years between the Davis and Avila 6

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camps, and that it was going to be an all-out battle this year. No holding back. No punches pulled. This battle would play out on the course. As the start of the race drew near, the harbor started to get an uneasy feeling—one that must have been similar to that day at the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ, just before the famous shootout. Ski teams were eyeing each other down from across their bows and sterns. Ski boats circled menacingly, like sharks in a tank, near feeding time. The tension was palpable...and none more focused than the Davis and Avila teams. Then, the start of the race was upon us. Jeff Murray of Fastboats.com generously provided us with a ride in a stunning 37' Midnight Express Center Console boat with quad Mercury 300s. He manuevered us near the bottlenecked opening of Queen’s Gate to get the best possible vantage point. The smaller boats went off first. The fleet charged towards us, all jockeying for a clean line to provide a smoother ride for their skiers, just several yards behind. That was their intended plan, anyway. Inevitably, it devolved into a cluster of boats churning up whitewater, all trying not to bump rub rails...or skiers. Precisely seven minutes later, they unleashed the big boys—the big-horse-

power vessels with those who dared to hold on, in tow. These teams came in a lot faster and a lot harder than the ones before. Leading the pack, nearly nose-tonose, were the Davis/Haig and the Avila/ Mawer teams. Both had the same goal in mind: to be the first ones back and across the finish line. For the spectators floating in their own vessels, the show was exhilarating. Throngs flocked to the rails onboard the Queen Mary, all trying to catch a glimpse of the racers going by. Then, in an instant, all of the teams were out in the open ocean and the excitement was temporarily placed on hold. The ski teams were out of sight for quite some time. All we could do was wait. We idled around and visited other boats that had moored up on that day, and the inevitable chatter always had a similar theme. “So, who do you think will win this year?” Different folks asked the same question, and it was always one of two names... Davis/Haig. Avila/Mawer. Almost evenly split, had there been a poll taken. Then, off in the distance, faintly appeared some of the chase helicopters, indicating only one thing. The end was near! We tried to maneuver as quickly and cautiously toward the finish buoys to get a glimpse (and photos) of which team would be out in front. After all, that was why we were all there. Like a scene out of a big-budget Hollywood movie, the Davis/Haig and Avila/Mawer teams came charging toward the final turn buoy. Team Avila/ Mawer was clearly out in front...and by a considerable margin. The spectators’ cheers erupted from all across the (Continues on pg. 82) speedboat.com

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alexisahagian TPS Idle Issues Dear Alexi: I have an older twin engine Talon Cat with 575 MerCruiser engines. I have had it for some time now. I recently had the engines rebuilt and the engines just operate weirdly at idle. The timing was set with a scan tool and all of the original products were put back. I also sent the throttle bodies out for cleaning and put all the sensors back on the engine. It’s driving me nuts! I went to three shops here in Florida and none of them seem to be able to figure it out. Its idles and starts good, but when I shift, it stalls. When I come off of plane, it hangs at like 1,800 rpm for a long time then hardly comes back to idle. Any theories? Renny Daley Sarasota, FL

TPS sensor. I really like those Talon/Hustler boats. They are a fun center pod cat (assuming that’s the model you have) and usually run straight as an arrow. It seems as though when you had the engines rebuilt, it’s possible the technicians finishing up the job may have overlooked a few critical items. One red flag that immediately comes to mind is your mentioning of the throttle bodies. If someone messed with those during cleaning or whatever, the TPS sensor will need to be reset and synched to the ECU almost every time. In fact, even if you replace the sensor and do not do this procedure, it is very possible it will be out of range. Here’s what happens: you start the 8

S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


engine and the idle voltage is like .69 instead of, say, around .45 volts. The ECU thinks someone put the throttle lever forward and the idle air control motor moves into an open position. Then the mechanic adjusts the blade obviously more closed then needed because the idle air motor is hissing adding air to the idle. From that point, the engine is scaled incorrectly and the mapping will vary—it just does exactly what you are describing. The simple fix is plug a scan tool or volt meter into the engine or sensor and set the idle voltage output to .45/.47 on that engine, watch the idle air control motor close immediately, then reset the idle screw to get it close to your desired 850 rpm. Then readjust the TPS again for that .45/.47 volts, making sure to clear the codes out of the ECU. If set properly, when you shift the engine, it will be able to burst the idle motor air addition into the system preventing stalling and you will be set. It is a process that must be done. Adjusting the throttle blade alone is not the answer. Anyway, I am assuming your rebuild is with OEM camshafts and all is normal, so check it out. Scan tools can be purchased or a simple volt meter to the sensor is the tools necessary along with a Torx or Allen wrench, depending on the year. Thanks—I hope this helps!

Water in the Oil Dear Alexi: I have a supercharged big-block 540 in my daycruiser. It has always run well and my friend helped me build it years ago. We are having a problem with water in the oil. We have checked the block, heads, intake manifold, exhaust, etc., and have found no leaks. We then took it to a reputable shop and they came back with a new oil cooler. We paid $1,300 to have the oil cooler changed, but it is just as bad and they do not know what to do next. We live in a rural area here in New Mexico and there are not many shop options. Please, any suggestions? It is a 540 with a intercooler, BDS Supercharger, dual carbs and Brodix

heads. Like I said, it runs awesome but milks the oil up after a day of use and cranks rough after letting it sit for a bit. Greg Fuller Silver City, NM

Intercooler cores. It sounds like you and your buddy have spent a ton of time tearing into this engine to find out…that you can’t find anything out. You also then ventured to a second or third opinion on the matter. That’s a major bummer–you definitely do not want water in your oil, other than the normal condensation that can get under the valve covers, which at times is tough to avoid. You mentioned checking all of the normal items that fail. So, you were on the right track. The oil coolers fail the least. In our experience, usually it is the head gaskets. Another frequent culprit is the intercooler core dripping water into the engine. This is tough to diagnose at times: depending on the plumbing and how much water they hold after shut off and how big the leak may be in the core determines the severity of the symptoms. It is maddening—the smallest pin hole can drain a gallon into your intake then leaking through to your rings (Continues on page 64) speedboat.com

jimwilkes v-drivetech Flatbottom Cav Plates Dear Jim: Can you explain why the cavitation plates on some flatbottom boats are straight across and some are stepped in the middle? John Baldan Nutley, NJ Are you calling the runner bottom hull design a flatbottom? Most all flatbottom boats that I have built or worked on over the years have had a straight plate. Some have a split in the middle and are made a from one-piece 6061T6 aluminum plate. If you are referring to the runner bottom style hulls, they have a split plate and a raised section on both sides of the center section. Some hull designs have a relief in the center section and the plate is raised in the center to reduce the wetted area of the water for more speed. I guess one could do the same thing on a flatbottom style hull, but I have never seen one built this way. If you have any pictures of the boat style you’re talking about, email one to brett@speedboat.com and he’ll forward it to me.

Casale Question Dear Jim: A 10-degree box was among the parts that came with a hydro I bought. The box has frozen up. The upper bearing was rusted, but I got it pulled. No fluids came out from the bearing area or from the water inlets, no lube or water. The problem now is that I have the two bolts near the water fittings. What would be going on inside that would keep these two from coming out? After removing the nuts, the bolts themselves are so tight the heads have started to round, and are saturated in ATF, acetone and PB blaster. I didn’t want to press them out if there’s something going on other than corrosion. Any ideas? Gerrold Higgins Plymouth, OR The two center bolts you are refer10

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ring to are alignment bolts for the cases and mounting plate. They are the first bolts installed when rebuilding a Casale V-drive, and are often installed with no grease on the shaft portion of the two long bolts. You are correct to assume that corrosion has taken hold of the dissimilar metals (steel bolts, aluminum cases) and the thickest part of the cases. Sometimes we have to set the cases in the mill and drill the one side of the case so we can split the two halves. It takes a little time, but it can be done and everything will be perfect. Remember to use a high quality gear oil in your V-drive and to change it once a year. It only holds a little over a pint of oil.

Stevens Flatties Dear Jim: I recently purchased a late-’60s Stevens flatty with a 364-c.i. Buick Nailhead with a Offy manifold and dual Carter AFBs. The boat is right out of a time warp—last registered 1975 and in storage ever since. It’s got the original gelcoat with a rolled-type cap (has no aluminum trim around the cap), fixed cavitation plate and a top load-type V-drive. When did Stevens quit installing 364 nailhead Buicks in their boats? As I understand it, Buick only built the 364 from 1957 through 1961. Any help would be greatly appreciated! John Lane Lake Havasu City, AZ Sorry, but I have no idea when Buick Nailhead engines were stopped being used in Stevens boats. When I returned from Vietnam and started in the marine industry, Chevys and Olds were the engines of choice. I have two friends who have the Buick Nailhead engines in their boats and one is a Stevens. Both seem to run well and pull skiers with little fuel usage.

Drag Hydro Steering Dear Jim: What is the best steering for a drag hydro? I have Calgo now, but was wanting to

switch to the type that has the mechanical gearbox under the dash with the shaft going down the right side of the boat and out to the steering assembly. What do you think? Richard Taylor Phoenix, AZ In my opinion, Casale Engineering makes the best drag link steering system. I was always a fan of Hemi Engineering steering systems, but like so many good companies, they are gone. You may find another firm that offers the same or similar style system, but it won’t be as adjustable as Casale’s. They build top-of-the-line parts and equipment, and if I were going to install this type of steering system, that is what I would use.

Prop Position Dear Jim: Is there a magic number, or starting location, to position the prop on a hydro (i.e., the center of prop from the transom by X inches)? Or do you use the leading/ trailing edge? I have acquired a bare hydro hull—never touched or drilled— and have most of the components. The last thing I plan to make is the clamshell; then I can start assembly. Thanks for any direction you can provide. Jerry Thompson Raleigh, NC

It would help if I had more information on your new hydro, such as the year and model, assuming you know what they are. The new style hydros are set up different than older boats. Are you planning on using this boat as a race boat only or just a performance river racer? Give me a call at (714) 5408908 after 6 p.m. PST and I’d be happy to give you whatever insight I can. speedboat.com

QAT CAN DO Le Sheikh c’est chic in his 50' Mystic as his team obliterates the LOTO speed record.

Photos by Todd Taylor

Though marred by the tragic crash that led to the death of Outerlimits owner Mike Fiore, this year’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout drew record crowds on Saturday and featured a record-shattering 244-mph run by them Spirit of Qatar team’s Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, driving the 50’ Mystic Al Adaa’am 96. Temperatures hovering around 100 12

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degrees made for quite a sweaty experience for drivers, but Shootout organizer Capt. Ron Duggan credited his on-water team—including Kent Morris and his patrol crew—for moving boats through the system quickly and efficiently. All told, 90 runs were made on Saturday, an astonishing number considering that the course shut down for nearly an hour following the crash

of the 46-foot Outerlimits catamaran, driven by Canadian Joel Begin and throttled by Fiore. The boat, one of the first to run on Saturday, launched into the air as it approached 179 mph, flipped and crashed, prompting screams from the crowd. The horrific accident—caught on a video that immediately went viral—was unprecedented in the event’s speedboat.com

Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis accept their Top Gun trophy after smashing the existing record of 224 mph with their 50' Mystic, which made a stunning speed of 244 mph in its second run at the 26th Annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.

26-year history. (Begin survived and was later released from the hospital, while Fiore died a few days later from his injuries.) Ultimately, the decision was made to continue the Shootout, which yielded an amazing, record-smashing run of 244 by Sheikh Hassan the Spirit of Qatar catamaran, besting last year’s 224-mph record-setter by Bill Tomlinson in his My speedboat.com

Way Mystic. Hassan, who is president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, was participating in the LOTO Shootout for the first time. It was the second run of the day for the Qatar machine, which suffered an accidental parachute deployment during its first run on the mile-long course. After the malfunction was repaired, Hassan and throttleman Steve Curtis had trans-

formed Tomlinson’s 2013 achievement into a one-year record. On both Saturday and Sunday, spectators were treated to a special race between Bob Bull’s MTI catamaran CMS and a smoke-spewing stunt plane. “It was really cool and very entertaining for the crowd,” Duggan said. “I’ve gotten some very positive comments about that.” SPEEDBOAT |

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Paul Matker’s 42' Outerlimits is powered by an 850-hp Sterling. It was clocked at 101 mph.

Don Onken’s canopied 50' Mystic is his second from the Deland, FL, builder.

MTI’s 48' Batman cat debuted at the 2011 Miami Boat Show. It clocked a speed of 131 mph.


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...VS. WEST Cliff Anderson’s 93-mph Eliminator.

Tony Chiaramonte of DCB drives an M-35 cat. He made a 151-mph pass.

Buck Stracener pilots his Nordic 28 SS. The boat went 141 mph.



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Above: Jon Roth’s 388 Skater, with John Tomlinson of TNT Racing at the throttles, went 197 mph. Below: Tom Kennedy hit 121 mph in his outboard-powered 24' Skater.


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David Southern’s 36' Flat Deck Skater, powered by Merc 1075s, was clocked at 140 mph.

Louie Marchese’s 155-mph Skater.

Ron Gibbs of Bad Attitude Boats (Lake Havasu, AZ) throttles this 32 Skater with owner/driver Kelly Kraiss. They were clocked at 175 mph.



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MIKE FIORE, 1969–2014 Following the horrific crash of the 46' Outerlimits driven Joel Begin and throttled by by company President/CEO Mike Fiore, everybody expected the injured Fiore to survive. Early reports were that he was stable and improving. Then, three days later, company spokesman Frank Sciacca announced the shocking news that Fiore has passed away after developing complications from his surgery. “The entire Outerlimits family is devastated by the loss of our friend and leader of our company,” Sciacca wrote. “Mike’s love for high speed boating was only outmatched by the love for his wife, three young children and his family.” Fiore grew up at the boatyard, watching his visionary father, Paul, create and build Hustler Powerboats. Paul’s company gave him the opportunity to explore new ideas and innovations. His loss struck a massive blow to the entire performance industry. The words of his friends and customers say it better than we ever could. “I admired Mike for his love of family, adventurous spirit and tremendous business sense. His enthusiasm was contagious. I am glad he lived life to the fullest, and hope he is up there somewhere inspiring us still. My heart goes out to his family.” —Susan L. Davis

he was. It just made me a bigger fan of the company.”—Brian McLean

“Mike was man who loved and lived the sport and a true innovator. He was ahead of his time when it came to getting the most out of his boats without sacrificing quality. He was always smiling and loved his family. We not only lost a great innovator, but a boating family member who was loved by many.”—Frank Civitano “Mike’s name will live on as a legend in the performance boating world. I met him at the NYC Poker Run in 2001. I was just a spectator on another brand of boat. We were introduced by the owner of an Outerlimits. Mike was as downto-Earth a guy as I’ve ever met, and let me tag along with him for the awards ceremony. He knew I couldn’t afford one of his boats, but treated me like an Outerlimits boat owner anyway. I will never forget how friendly and outgoing

“We ran our ‘Holy Smoke’ SV43 closed canopy at LOTO two years ago. We took first in our class, due in large part because Mike was so helpful. He has always been a stellar guy, truly committed to the offshore high-performance world. His loss represents a tremendous loss for the industry, and it’s going to have a major effect on the advancement of performance boating. He developed boats that no one else could have. To this day, there is no better V-hull made than his 43'. Last year, Mike, Bob Teague and I were sitting inside an Outerlimits cabin in Key West. Mike looked at us and said, ‘I don’t care about anything else in life—all I want to do is built great boats.’ He was just an amazing individual and we’re going to miss him very much. There are a lot of great manufacturers out there—Cigarette, Hustler, Donzi—but nothing has even come close to what Mike has been able to do. And I’ve owned all those other brands. I drove my boat at Key West with Bob Teague as my throttleman, and he told me afterwards that he’d never driven a better vee-bottom than my boat. Coming from Bob, that’s a huge compliment. —Glenn Kennedy

Below: Mike Fiore’s last ride at LOTO in the 46' SC Outerlimits. Photo by Alice Wishni. Top: Mike with wife Shonda, son Jet and baby girl Moxie. (Another daughter, Sophia, is not pictured.)


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The Recovery Skater was clocked at 128 mph.

The 24’ Armada Early Detection Racing is campaigned in the OPA circuit. It’s powered by an Ilmor 570-hp engine with Bravo III drive.

Cat Can Do, a 40' Skater, was clocked at 164 mph.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014



Above: A huge party at Performance Boat Center/Redhead Yacht Club in Osage Beach, MO, brought LOTO participants to the newly opened facility. Right and below: First National Bank sponsored a series of Make a Wish powerboat rides for special-needs kids, offered by a variety of boats, including this center-console model owned by Poly Lift Boat Lifts (Osage Beach, MO).


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Jim Prchal’s 2005 38' Eliminator Eagle.

Brad Fuller’s 2006 34' Kachina Drone.

Mark Rutkowski’s 2002 PowerQuest 34' Viper.

The 46' SC Outerlimits in tow at Wednesday Night’s street party.



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Kent Waisner’s 39' Cigarette Top Gun Unlimited.

Gregg Mericel’s 2007 model 288 Sunsation.

A Formula 282 FasTech.

A beautiful Donzi 38' ZR.

On Saturday and Sunday, spectators were treated to a special race between Bob Bull’s 48' MTI catamaran CMS and a smoke-spewing stunt plane. The boat is powered by twin Mercury Racing turbocharged 1350 engines.


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Holiday Marina, the largest such facility on Lake Lanier, served as one of the card stops during the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


Photos by Jeff

Gerardi/ freezeframe.us

John Woodruff raises cash for needy kids at the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run. This marks the sixth year of the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run, which is produced by the nonprofit, charitable organization Lanier Partners of North Georgia. The president of this foundation is John Woodruff, owner of the famous 48’ MTI Windship (and great-grandson of CocaCola founder Ernest Woodruff). He boasts that the organization nearly doubled its fundraising pot this year, rocketing from $230,000 to $421,000, with proceeds going to kids diagnosed with cancer. More than 300 boats entered the

Jim Lee and his crew aboard the 46' Skater, Freedom. The former racer had this offshore competitor converted into a pleasure boat. speedboat.com


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The 40' Skater BOOSTane, piloted by Anthony Caputo.

poker run, an organized event with a staggered start. “We entertain them from the minute they get here on Thursday or Friday until they leave on Sunday,” Woodruff says. “Everybody loves it. It’s growing and I anticipate it to be bigger next year.” Among the traditions of this poker run is a meet-and-greet on Thursday night at a local pizzeria (out-of-towners are especially encouraged to attend and participate in this kickoff event). Then, on Friday morning, the fleet meets at the Buford Dam to learn the “secret” location of this year’s Cheesburger in Paradise lunch. “For the last three years, I’ve picked a new spot to do our Cheesburger in Paradise lunch out on the lake,” Woodruff explains. “It’s basically an island raft-up, and I reserve the right to change the location every year—that’s why I have everybody meet at the dam first so I can announce the location. It’s all based on the water level of the lake—for example, if the water level is down, that might make another place with a bigger beach more preferable.” This year, Lanier Partners fed 480 people cheeseburgers, hot dogs and chicken. “We serve no alcohol—just Coke and Diet Coke,” Woodruff said. Only Coke products from the heir to the Coca-Cola fortune? “Well, they were all out of Pepsi at the store I went to,” he deadpanned. 28

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The 38' Cigarette Geico Caveman, driven by Gary Goodell.

50 Passion, a 50' Statement driven by Nicholas Buis. speedboat.com

Windship, the 48' MTI owned by poker run organizer John Woodruff. This was the second boat ever to be rigged with Mercury Racing 1350 engines.

Scott Farley’s 44' MTI, SpineTingler.

Bad Investment, a 30' Spectre outboard driven by Bill Waters.

Poker runners beach their boats for the annual Cheeseburger in Paradise lunch, where 480 people were fed cheeseburgers, hot dogs and chicken. speedboat.com


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Big Cat Poker Run Roars Through the California Delta.

Presented by Teague Custom Marine, the Big Cat Poker Run drew the usual bigmuscle catamarans and vee-bottoms from all over California, as well as some entries from as far as Arizona. This event has become one of the largest poker runs on the West Coast, taking participants on a boating adventure through the unique waters of the California Delta. This isn’t an event strictly for catamarans. The “Big Cat” nomenclature refers not to boats, but to the Discovery Bay 30

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Lion’s Club—better known as the departure venue. (Volunteers from the Lion’s Club take care of poker run registration duties and orchestrating many details of the event.) The event, which started back in 2000, kicks off Friday with a fun run and evening registration party; the main event is on Saturday, featuring an informal start that takes participants to stops at the Pittsburg Yacht Club and University Plaza Waterfront Hotel in Stockton, CA.

This year’s fleet included Dustin Whipple’s Outerlimits SV-43, Larry Kramer’s 38-foot Skater, Ed Stewart’s 42-foot MTI, Milt Baehr’s 39-foot Cigarette and John Chilton’s 32-foot DCB (which made the trek from Arizona). The 2014 Big Cat Poker Run may have been the best to date, with a strong showing of muscle, perfect weather, fun boating, parties with live music and—best of all—no mishaps.



Photos by Scott Vincent

The crew at Teague Custom Marine at their Lions Club of Discovery Bay display. Left: a 36' Skater Cat throws a respectable rooster tail.



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Devin Wozencraft of Wozencraft Insurance in his 2014 29' E-Ticket deck boat, powered by twin Ilmor 710s.

Doug Thumser of Folsom, CA, in his 2000 37’ Talon, powered by twin 990-hp engines.

Dustin Whipple’s new Outerlimits SV-43 with Teague power and Mercury M-8 drives.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


Rob Clarke pilots the 40' Hustler TD2X, Pepe la Pew, powered by twin 600-hp Cummings turbo diesels and Arneson drives.

Bob Teague drives Stacked Deck, a DCB F-32 equipped with his own twin 1200-hp engines.

Lick This, a 46 Skater offshore-race competitor with twin 1500 engines.



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deltademons YOLO, a DCB F32 with TCM 1200s, is driven by owner John Chilton of Arizona.

Todd Welling of San Carlos, CA, drives Stray Cat, his 36' Skater.

Larry and Sharon Kramer pilot Capt. Sean, a 388 Skater. They hail from Redwood City, CA.


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Brian Turpen of Discovery Bay, CA, drives his 32' Spectre cat.

Gary Colledge’s 38' Skater, Colledgewood.



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One Precious


Photos by Ray


American skier Todd Haig had won the historic Catalina Ski Race so many times—11 in all—that it was hard to imagine there being any element of suspense by the time racers reached the finish line at the 66th annual event. By now, a Haig victory is commonplace. However, what happened this year 36

Todd Haig becomes the Catalina Ski Race’s winningest champion— by a nose.

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was such a mind-blower that it practically defied credulity. First of all, Haig was being challenged by Wayne Mawer, the three-time world ski racing champion from Australia (and current world champion in Open Class). And as if that weren’t enough pressure, Haig was aiming for his 12th win in the Catalina race,

which would finally break the record of 11-time winner Chuck Stearns. This show did not disappoint. After 62 miles of skiing, the race ended in a virtual dead heat that had judges ultimately ruling that Haig won by 7/10ths of a second. Pulled by Nordic Boats owner Randy speedboat.com

Haig and Mawer battle it out into the final moments of the home stretch.

Davis in a 47' Nordic Cyclone powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines, Haig’s competitor was towed by Mike Avila in his 47' Fountain, pushed by triple bigblock supercharged Chevy motors. Avila is no stranger to the Catalina course, having pulled Aussie skier Peter Procter to victory twice in recent years. Avila and Mawer maintained a slight lead speedboat.com

over Haig for much of the race, but as the competitors entered the final quarter-mile stretch, they were essentially neck and neck. As dozens of spectators watched from their own boats, as well as thousands enjoying the battle from the Queen Mary, Avila’s Fountain appeared to cross the finish line by about half a boat

length. However, what counts in this race is which skier crosses it first—and Haig narrowly achieved this feat, thanks to a shorter tow line! For a deeper look into the event, check out Speedboat publisher Ray Lee’s column on Page 6; for a list of winners, turn to Page 41. Congratulations to all of this year’s competitors! SPEEDBOAT |

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Above: Expert Men’s winner Darren Reilly (skier) and Jim Doulames (owner-driver) in his #71 Fountain, Natural High. Left: Captain America, Iron Man and other superheroes muscle into the action. Below left: a bevy of knockouts peruse the first issue of Speedboat Magazine. Below: Nordic owner Randy Davis with copilots Steve Davis and Dennis Hall, celebrate their overall win in their #191 Nordic 47' Cyclone.


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A Above: Pilot Craig Cleaver in the #24 Outerlimits (pulling Aussie skier Jake O TTegart) battles and bests #767 for the win iin Intermediate Men’s Class. Left: skier Marty Wells takes the F2 win towed by M #373, driven by Carl Goldsmith (below). #

2014 Catalina Ski Race Winners CLASS Men’s Open Interm. Men Veteran Men Junior Boys Junior Girls Outboard F2 Senior Men Expert Men Over & Back Formula 1 Junior Girls Women’s Open Sportsman Mixed Doubles

Aussie skier Dan Cotton is pulled by Billy Dunsmore in his Hallett for the win in Veteran Men class. speedboat.com

Daycruiser Interm. Women Senior Women Open Jet Double Up Masters Novice

Skier Todd Haig Jake Tegart Daniel Cotton Jack Harrison Ellen Jones Marty Wells Steve Robertson Darren Reilly Luke Harrsion/ Scott Brooks Brady Hoggins Alyssa Long Katharina Hebenstreit Nick Schorr Lori Dunsmore/ AJ Herrera Brian Samaniego Lucinda Bishop Cheryl Ruston Billy Mason Brent Griffin Ken Schmidt Ryan Nickell

Pilot Time (Hr. Min. Sec.) Randy Davis 0:46:36.76 Craig Cleaver 0:52:44.07 Billy Dunsmore 0:54:14.58 Glenn Hatch 0:54:39.45 Wayne Lee 1:00:59.23 Carl Goldsmith 1:01:20.03 Gary Teague 1:01:42.65 Jim Doulames 1:04:17.86 Ed Herbst 1:08:49.33 Howard Hoggins Pete Boyer Bill Steiner

1:09:38.37 1:09:40.25 1:09:46.11

Jeff Thralls Darrell Nottke

1:10:02.79 1:10:57.99

Todd Kelm Ryan Sharman Mick Jones Sean Mason Justin Legere Bob Vila Bryan Gordon

1:11:03.20 1:16:24.16 1:19:17.37 1:19:19.07 1:33:42.53 1:41:40.93 1:58:03.76


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The Florida Powerboat Club get a charitable shot in the arm in Destin with a novel new class. Photos by Stu

Jones The Florida Powerboat Club upped the ante this year with an Emerald Coast Poker Run designed to appeal to more than the usual 30+ foot offshore muscle machines. This year’s run—held during a weeklong Boat Week comprising parties, a bikini contest and casino night—featured a new entry-level class specifically for local boaters with smaller craft. Called the Ruby Class, this category added at least 60 boats owned by residents of Destin, FL, and surrounding areas, and gave a much-needed shot in the arm to the charities aided by FPC. Ruby Class participants were offered a lower entry fee to

City join the run, according to FPC President Stu Jones, and “virtually all of that registration money went straight into our charity,” he says. “So it was a great thing for our event and helped bring our charity levels up. I think everybody agrees that this was a good outcome.” One of the keys to successfully integrating the smaller, less performance-oriented boats—Sea Rays, Rinkers, Montereys and the like—was to keep them out of the way of the bigger, faster boats. “It was mandatory for everybody to be at the Captains’ Meeting to talk about the course so we could all be on top of our game,” Jones explains. “All captains,

The group’s swimsuit competition remains a mainstay of the Emerald Coast event.

Ryan Borel catches some air in his 30-foot Spectre cat.


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Destin’s famous Emerald Grande Resort always makes an excellent backdrop for Stu’s helicopter photo shoot.



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emeraldcity Chet and Cindy Huffman’s 43' Nor-Tech, Way Nutz.

Rick Johanneck’s 40’ Advantage, Fuelish Pleasure.

Brent Buford’s 47' Outerlimits, Ova Kill. 42

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from 20' runabouts to 50' cats, needed to attend the meeting, and we had four of them so nobody could claim that it was at a time they couldn’t attend.” Overall, all six days of activity went off without a hitch. “Everything went quite smoothly,” Jones says. “The weather cooperated much more than in recent years. That’s always a determining factor on whether a run has a good outcome, and we had perfect weather every day.” The run is at an ideal location, with an abundance of sandy beaches from which spectators can watch the poker runners go by. “It’s a great poker run event, but also a great spectator event for the locals,” Jones says. As usual, the big cats stole the show, with MTIs and Skaters the typical attention magnets, including the 52' MTI Black Thunder that’s based in Destin. But in addition, Jones observes, there was a very strong Cigarette representation. “Back when I started doing this event, there were Fountains everywhere and maybe one or two Cigarettes,” Jones says. “But over the passage of time, they have had a stronger representation—I think it was one of the strongest fleets of Cigarettes. They had more vee bottoms in this event than I’ve ever seen at this poker run, as many as 18 of them. That accounted for nearly 20 percent of the overall fleet.” speedboat.com

Richie Barr’s 38’ Fountain, Wired Up.


Participating in the street parade is Steve Peterson and his 26' Avenger cat, Shalimar. speedboat.com

Michael Pierce’s 45' Cigarette Maximus, Maxed Out.


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emeraldcity Bryan and Margie Davies’ 39’ Skater, V-Rod.

Nate and Robin Michel’s 47' Outerlimits, Remote Access.

Mike and Michelle Sommer’s 37' Active Thunder, Sommer Thunder.


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Photos by Randy



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Held in the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, the 2014 edition of the Thunder in the City Poker Run featured these four breathtaking offshore muscle machines. by Brett Bayne Now in its eight successful year, the Thunder in the City Poker Run is showing now signs of slowing down. Victor DiMarco of DiMarco Marine Performance (Newark, DE) limits the field to 60 boats, and manages to attract some of the prettiest rigs on the East Coast. This year, we decided to hand-pick four of the best, starting with a Doug Wright hull owned by New Jersey reisdent Gabriel Jasper. The hull was co-designed by Ralph Papke of Proroc Marine Performance Center (Brick, NJ), and the deck was a speedboat.com

collaborative design by Jasper and Chris Dilling of Grafik EFX (Vero Beach, FL). The hull was purchased and built by Spectre Powerboats in Florida. “I was always a vee bottom guy,” Jasper explains, “so I wanted the gunnels really high. I have two children, so I designed the cockpit to allow for three seats in front so the kids could sit on either side. Then we put four seats in the back, along with a wet bar and refrigerator.” Although it isn’t complete yet, Jasper’s plans call for a very custom cabin that

includes a head, king-size bed, couch and plenty of storage. “There won’t be much headroom,” he admits, “but you can still sleep down there.” He says the boat is capable of 150+ mph. “When we go out, nobody even wants to attempt to keep up with us out in the ocean,” he says. “Maybe there are some guys whose boats go 180 mph...they might fly by us on flat water, but in the ocean, they don’t even try. It really handles well in big water and we can drive it well. It’s a solid hull…no problems ever.” SPEEDBOAT |

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Gabe Jasper’s “Painkiller Cat” is so named because he’s a pain-management expert. The boat is powered by Mercury Racing 1350s; the cockpit boasts an array of gauges and controls, and features a wet bar and fridge behind the port passenger seat. There are three bolsters up front and four seats in the rear—a unique configuration that Jasper co-designed himself.


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Jim and Eileen Michelinie purchased their 1999 Fountain 35 Lightning from the original owner, who used it on the Saint Lawrence River. This is the couple’s fourth season with it. “The original owner spent a lot of money on it, Jim says. “He bought it brand new and immediately pulled the original motors out, replacing them with some custom-built 598 Merlins in there with extension boxes and Imco lower units.” It’s a naturally aspirated setup with Dominator carburetors. The old-school rigging, which features stainless braided lines, won the Michelinies an award at the Thunder in the City Poker Run. Victor DiMarco rebuilt the motors and provided the beautifully designed custom valve covers and flame arrestors. The Fountain has been clocked at 101mph on GPS.



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Sean Higgins has nothing but praise for Hustler Powerboats. The owner of a 2006 Hustler 388 Slingshot calls the Calverton, NY-based company “very underrated,” adding that their sales staff and service are “unbelievable.” The 388 is his second Hustler, after having owned a 1998 version of the same model. He had the newer 388 built custom; it’s powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 525s with 3.3-liter Whipple Superchargers coupled to Arneson ASD-7 drives. All told, the boat generates 800 horses and makes 10 pounds of boost. “Rick from Arneson is a great guy—a very legit person in the business, and very good with his service.” Higgins is delighted by the performance of the 388, which he describes as eminently reliable, accomodating and damned fast. Among the Hustler’s many amenities are Shorepower and a topnotch air-conditioning system. “I do a lot of poker runs,” he says. “The boat has probably participated in 80 to 90 of them across the country.” That includes numerous runs with the Florida Powerboat Club. “Stu Jones is a great guy—I’ve been boating with his group for 15 years.” Pennsylvania-based Higgins works in the commercial construction business.


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Fighting Irish is the name of Mike Cassidy’s 2002 42' Fountain Lightning. “I’m a huge Notre Dame fan, and 100 percent Irish,” he explains. The Delaware native has owned numerous go-fast rigs over the years, including 42-foot Chris Craft and quite a few Fountains (including a 42' Executioner). “I’m a major Fountain fan—I can’t say enough about the way they run,” he says. “The speed and handling are absolutely incredible.” According to Cassidy, the 42' Lightning handles especially well in rough water and likes 2-3 foot chop. “It loves getting air underneath it,” he says. In addition, the boat’s acceleration is also mighty impressive. The Fountain is pushed by 1350 Potter motors with #6 drives and BAM transmissions. “Ron Potter is fabulous guy—he’s fair and reasonable and his service is outstanding,” Cassidy gushes. “The boat’s got nothing but the best in it. It’s a pampered little girl!” The custom-painted valve covers with Potter’s logo was a surprise for Cassidy when he picked up the boat, which was repowered in 2013. “That’s the kind of guy he is—he really goes the extra mile. Such an unbelievable guy!” Cassidy says he achieved 136 mph at this year’s Sarasota Poker Run. “I don’t need to go any faster than that,” he grins.



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Photography by Ray Lee

ELIMINATOR BOATS Bob Leach keeps the company afloat by offering a first-rate product, planning new ventures, and keeping the customers satisfied. Few speedboat builders can claim to enjoy the brisk business and healthy sales that were the trademark throughout the profitable 1990s and early 2000s. Since the financial crisis of 2008, many firms took the ultimate hit, closing up shop. Eliminator was no exception to the sting of economic slowdown—this isn’t the first recession the company has faced—but six years later, Eliminator is not merely one of the survivors, but there are reports a gradual upswing in business as it continues to build some of the most gorgeous boats available on the West Coast. Credit Bob Leach for weathering this particularly virulent storm. A true pio-

neer of the high-performance marine industry, Leach remains at the helm of his empire, maintaining his strong relationship with his existing customers and his passion for sculpting stunning, world-class, record-holding muscle machines. Leach embarked on his odyssey as a part-time hobbyist in the 1960s. Between his duties as a route salesman, he began hand-building a few boats for friends, and soon

his “hobby” prompted orders from up and down the Colorado River. From those humble beginnings emerged Eliminator Boats of Anaheim, CA, destined to become King of the Customs. The first Eliminators were 18-foot flatbottoms, with vee-bottoms immediate-

Bob Leach at work in his Mira Loma, CA, office. Below: a 27' Speedster on display outside the shop.


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The Eliminator showroom offers the full spectrum of its lineup, including a 21' open bow Eagle (foreground), a 21' Daytona outboard and a 28' Fun Deck. The 21' Daytona is actually a customer’s 22-year-old boat. Below: Eliminator’s jam-packed rigging area.



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A Boat Fast Enough for an NHRA Drag-Car Racer One of the coolest boats we encountered at the Eliminator Shop was this 27' Speedster being rigged for Shane Gray, the NHRA racer who owns and drives his Pro Stock drag car. This is his second Speedster—the first, powered by a 700 Mercury, apparently wasn’t armed with enough muscle for a guy used to going 210 mph in a car. The new boat will be pushed by a 1,100-hp Mercury twin-turbo four-valve-per-cylinder engine. Among the really cool elements of this Speedster: all of the hardware has been treated with black chrome to the tune of $4,900—not including the hardware; just for the chrome! The entire boat will also feature a blend of carbon fiber and Kevlar. Leach said he expects the boat will reach speeds of 130 to 140 mph. Look for this boat on Lake Norman. Shane Gray’s 27' Speedster is rigged at the Eliminator shop.

The Mercury drive is readied for installation.

The dash begins to come together with Livorsi gauges.

The boat’s 1,100-hp Mercury twin-turbo engine.

A view of the transom shows the trick “black chrome” option.


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ly following. Leach has never lain dormant—he is always contemplating new, innovative ideas. While other industry CEOs were hampered with engine mounts, etc., only being made for certain motors, Bob Leach custom-made all of his own motor plates and other hardware pieces to allow customers to have whatever they wanted in the way of a motor. By 1969, an all-new family jet had arrived, and the jet phase lasted for years. With Bob’s passion for speed, the mid-’70s race courses saw Eliminator’s K-boat running competitively in blownalcohol circle racing. Eliminator’s colors and upholstery were always show quality—it was a thrill to view the latest of their creations at boat shows. In 1975, Leach commissioned bottom-design wizard Ron Ehde to develop new ideas, and together they formed a working relationship that would last many decades and result in numerous national and world records. The Daytona series tunnels had arrived. Today, Eliminator’s 27' Daytona Speedster remains its most popular model, and the Eliminator mystique continues to capture the imagination of performance boaters. The Daytonas are among the best-selling hull series in speedboating history, and Eliminator’s line of full-sized, open-water step-vees and tunnels are on the short list of the most formidable pleasure craft of all time. Eliminator is properly credited with developing any number of custom industry platforms and existing trends, and innovation continues to fuel this company’s stupendous success. At our most recent visit to the current Eliminator shop in Mira Loma, CA, we naturally encountered several 27' Speedsters, including one on display right outside the shop, on the lawn. The 27' is the newest model in their stable, one that delighted NHRA owner-driver Shane Gray, the famous pro stock dragcar racer. “He bought a 27' Speedster last year, powered by a 700-hp Mercury Racing engine,” Leach says. “He said that would be plenty of power, but I speedboat.com

Outerlimits collaborated with Eliminator on the creation of this 29' Outerlimits, which is was still a bare hull at the time of this writing. “We’ve just been so busy we haven’t made much of an effort to sell it or finish it yet,” Leach says.

was skeptical. ‘Shane, you’re a 210-mph guy…are you sure you’re going to be happy with that?’ Well, at the end of the season, he decided to sell the boat, so I was afraid he wasn’t happy with it. A few months later, he called and said, ‘Can I buy another boat?’ I said, ‘Sure you can!’ It was the same model, but with a 1,100-engine. That should keep him occupied for a while, at least.” Another boat at the shop was a 29' Outerlimits hull, a collaboration between Eliminator and the East Coast builder of offshore vees and cats. “It’s pretty much a bare hull at the moment,” Leach says. “We’ve just been so busy we haven’t made much of an effort to sell it. We’ve got a couple of people looking at it, but we need to get it done, rig it, and show it to the public.” Leach has a few more projects on the drawing board, some of which will obviously be dictated by the strength of future boat sales. In addition to expanding Eliminator’s Fun Deck line, he hopes to create some new models in the Eagle vee bottom lineup. Leach is also hammering out a deal to build a line of electric-powered wood-deck boats for an unnamed third-party company. “It’s a real departure from what we’ve done

in the past,” he says, “although our 20’ Sport had a wood grain finish integration. These new boats will be made out of that completely.” Among the other boats being rigged and being sold on consignment was his 40' Sport Cat fish boat, which boasts 6'4" of head room and two queen-sized berths. It was built three years ago but has not yet been completed, since the company’s workforce numbers 20 employees, down from 100 it once had. Still, if business continues to pick up, Leach says he’s continuing to contemplate building a go-fast center-console to capitalize with the others being sold outside of California. “We’ll probably get into it at some point,” he muses. “It will have to be an offshore center-console fishing boat with a pilot house— going offshore in the West Coast will be too chilly for an open cockpit.” Eliminator may also expand its weekend customer barbecue to every weekend (it’s currently being offered every other weekend). Visit Eliminator Boats at 10795 San Sevaine Way, Mira Loma, CA 91752; call (951) 332-4300 or visit eliminatorboat. com. SPEEDBOAT |

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Speedboat pays tribute to the late, great Art Carlson—one of the most innovative boat designers in the history of the sport. While performance boaters around the globe mourned the loss of Outerlimits founder Mike Fiore this summer, relatively few were even aware that the industry lost one of its elder statesmen: Art Carlson, a designer, boatbuilder and trendsetter from a bygone era who helped expand the speedboat market with his go-fast hulls and savvy use of aerodynamics. Art Carlson was a design genius. He was a primary architect of the performance boating movement that exploded in the 1960s and 1970s. While Carlson was racing, he met Bob Hammond, who parlayed crack produc-

Carlson’s CSS-24 featured a radical new hull: a patented reverse three-point design combining tunnel and deep-vee styling. 58

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tion methods and management skills into great success with his Texas-based Glastron line. Hammond had his finger permanently on the pulse of new innovations happening in the marine industry, making frequent trips to boating hot spots in California, on the prowl for new ideas. It was on one of these trips that he and Carlson became acquainted, and took more than a casual interest in Art’s boat company, Carlson High Performance Boats, located in Garden Grove, CA. In 1969, Hammond named Carlson as the head of a new Glastron line of performance models—as well as building Molinari race boats. The new

Carlson in his Glastron-Carlson raceboat, Twister’s Little Sister, powered by a 130-hp Chrysler outboard. speedboat.com

Art hard at work at the drawing board.

firm would be called Glastron-Carlson. The merger was a perfect fit, and created one of boating’s dominant companies: Glastron-Carlson, which became known for innovative design, superior performance, and superb value—and the public couldn’t get enough. Carlson’s history with Glastron started with his tunnel boat, the CT-15; he also built a number of other tunnel hulls before switching to vees for the more stylish, less performance-oriented market. He also designed the Scimitar, considered by some to be the most beautiful of his creations. Among his other successes: the C-100, the 16-foot Challenger and the CV-26. Carlson’s boats were so state-of-theart that one model, the CV23HT, was selected by producers at United Artists to be featured in Moonraker, the 1979 James Bond movie. In a suspenseful chase scene that played out on the Amazon River, Bond (Roger Moore) drove the boat—introduced only a year prior—away from the villainous Jaws (Richard Kiel). Sadly, when the recession of 1980 forced the boating market into slump and turmoil, Carlson became a victim of corporate bottom-line hardball, and was forced from the picture by non-boating management. He continued to design speedboat.com

Art (right) with his son Bob, who was an integral part of the Glastron-Carlson design team. It was Bob who came up with the idea and design for the T-Top Scimitar.

Above: Glastron-Carlson at the Los Angeles Boat Show. Below: Art with his first wife, Bonnie, taking a ride in a 1965 Carlson Challenger.


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Art Carlson’s models as they appeared on several catalogs from the 1960s and 1970s, including the Contender, Challenger, Scimitar and CVZ18. 60

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and consult, and had a hand in many of the most innovative performance designs ever tooled. At least one of them, the Hardin-Carlson project, seemed far ahead of its time. Another, an unusual 33-footer with a three-point stance, was a pet project that sold in limited numbers. Before lapsing into ill health a few years ago, Carlson was contacted by Matt Patterson, an Arizona boat enthusiast who had purchased a 1965 18-foot Cyclone V-drive that had been built by Art—in fact, as was later confirmed, it had originally been Art’s personal boat, and one of only two ever built. Carlson agreed to meet Patterson at Lake Elsinore in Southern California, with our editorial staff on hand to document the meeting. Art autographed the dash of the rig for posterity, and photos of the boat can be seen on Page 61. During our photo shoot, Art was gracious enough to sit down and grant us an interview—very likely the last that he would ever do. He was beginning to have problems with his memory, so we kept the conversation as casual as possible. Speedboat: Is Glastron still building boats today? Art Carlson: Yeah, but it’s not like it once was. Genmar owns it now. Of course, you know, the marine side is relatively minor compared to Irwin Jacobs’ other holdings—shipping lines and lots of monstrous things. speedboat.com

Art with son John (right) and grandchildren Andy and Danny. SB: What’s your opinion of today’s high-performance lines? What impresses you on the field today? AC: There isn’t much that’s really new, but the stuff that comes out of California is usually way ahead of the rest of the country, in terms of real imagination. SB: That brings to mind the X-Flight series by Advantage Boats (Lake Havasu, AZ), a deck boat that looks like a cat but is actually a vee hull. It’s an interesting concept and something relatively new. AC: That’s the kind of thing I mean. I’ve been friends with [Advantage designer]

Art with Speedboat editor Brett Bayne at Lake Elsinore, CA.

Gary Ferguson since way back—we met at Marine Stadium when his dad was the head mechanic for the Huntington Beach Police Department. He was a good mechanic. Anyway, Gary was actually only 14 and you were supposed to be 15 to run Stock A hydro. (Laughter) But that’s the only time I’ve ever known him to cheat. He’s a neat guy—we virtually grew up together and had a lot of mutual contacts who have come and gone. But Gary’s still around, and he still plays with cars and all kinds of stuff. He’s done a magnificent job for Advantage. They’ve got ideal testing facilities right

there, which is neat. He likes to test— he’s good at it. But there are a lot of new models coming out now that I just haven’t seen. SB: Lately you’ve been involved in the bass-boat market. Would you ever be interested in doing a performance boat again in the future? AC: Well, I’m working on a 55+ foot yacht. It’s completely different, both in looks and performance, because there’s a lot of air entrapment. We’ve been in talks with my patent attorney. It will be a while, but I don’t know when.

Art’s son John drives Matt Patterson’s 1965 Carlson Cyclone with Matt in the passenger seat.



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worksofart one that I liked to mimic. Also, I’m a newlywed. My wife of many years passed away from cancer about seven years ago. Two years ago, I got remarried to a little gal that I went to high school with. We’ve got this little place on a golf course that is far enough away so we don’t get hit by golf balls.

The Glastron-Carlson model CV23HT was featured in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker. SB: You’ve obviously observed the genesis of boat engines over the passage of time. What’s your opinion of Mercury’s achievements in the stern-drive market? AC: Well, they’re always the leaders. But as the power options get bigger, people can sure get hurt in some of these boats, and the dealers really need to help them understand what they have. SB: What are your interests outside


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of cars and boats? What do you do for pleasure? AC: I come from a family of musicians. Way back—my dad’s grandfather was an organ maker in Sweden. There’s musicians all the way through our family. I don’t really play anything anymore, but I studied violin for many years, when I started getting stronger, the vibrato went away. I also sang a bit. We actually made some recordings years ago—I had three good octaves. Mario Lanza was

SB: I wanted to ask you about Glastron founder Bob Hammond. When was the last time you saw him? AC: I talked to him probably a year and a half ago or something like that. He still has his beautiful home in Austin. SB: Do you stay in touch with Reggie Fountain? AC: (Pause) Sort of. I spent quite a bit of time in North Carolina with Reggie. For years, we were really close. When he was in California, he’d stop and see us. He bought one of our tunnels way back. He used to play with cars more. But he bought a tunnel and then when Bob Hammond made an agreement with Molinari, we built those for them. Actually, Reggie’s first time at Havasu, there were two sizes of the Molinari—it was actually their design and we built them in fiberglass. Anyway, he took second behind Bill Sirois, many years ago. And then McCulloch would pass out the checks, and of course they had the trophy girls and all that. They paid thirty places I think, to some degree. And then all the way down to third and second. “Reggie Fountain! First time here, we’ve crowned you Rookie of the Year! First time here, and you took second place behind world champion, Bill Sirois…you must be really proud!” And he said, “No! I came here to win!” in his squeaky little voice. Shortly after that, Mercury picked him up and he was on his way. He’s an unusual guy, but you gotta respect him. speedboat.com

Shortly after Art’s death, his son John offered these words about his father: He had a great mind—into his late 70s, he could still do longhand trigonometry, and would once in a while pull out the trig book in his Wooden Gerstner Machinist tool box, and figure the loft on some project he was designing. He was fascinated with airplanes as a kid. He built one big enough to take his cat in it, as he pulled it with his bicycle when he was about 12. When he was in junior high, he built one big enough to go up in himself, being pulled by a neighbor’s motorcycle. His dad found out about it and made him take it apart. He studied marine architecture in high school, and he began to combine hydrodynamics with aerodynamics. His early boat designs were the results, including the early tunnel hulls that he designed and built in the late ’50s. Dad was a strong man of faith. He believed that integrity meant living in the highest character possible, even when no one was looking. I remember when I was about 12, we were working on something at the shop. He was sealing some wood and he said, “Most people don’t seal this kind of thing, because nobody will see it. but we seal it because that’s the kind of people we are, and 20 years from now, the owner of this boat won’t have to worry about it falling apart.” He believed it! People all over the world have known my dad because of his work. I even got some extra attention in high school because my dad made some boats that were in James Bond movies. But he was so much more than that. He was driven by a pursuit of excellence, but the underlying motivation in his heart was to do all that he did, to the glory of his Lord, Jesus Christ.

alexisahagian (Cont. from pg 8) and all looks good until you churn up the oil by simply running the engine. I would make yourself a Home Depot special pressure test kit and run 40 pounds into the intercooler and see if it holds pressure. Note that even if it dies off 1 psi per hour, it is still leaking. While it’s running, the engine does not care so much; however, when you shut it off, it drips or pours into the intake. Sometimes we go to start an engine with this case and it is locked up. You pull spark plugs out and water gushes out! You may pull plugs after letting it sit a few hours and investigate. Swapping the cores out is fairly simple if you have good access. It is approximately $785 to $850 for the most common ones, plus some labor. We ALWAYS recommend pressure test new, used, rebuilt or ANY intercooler core. They just do weird things when they leak. You have already checked everything else. Good luck!

Surging Outboard Dear Alexi: I own a 21-foot boat. It’s a fun boat for us. I have a stock 225 Evinrude outboard engine on it, and I had a few things go on with it that seem to be stumping the local shops. The engine has always run well, but when I get to wide open throttle, it seems to lose about 500 rpm— then it jumps up 500 rpm like a surge. It seems to run fine in other conditions. The shop I took it to replaced all six coils, coil wires, fuel filter and fuel lines, but it still does the same thing. Then they adjusted the wide open throttle stop lower to minimize the issue, but I lost 10 mph! Nobody seems to want to help me out with this 1991 outboard engine. Do you have any ideas? John Folmer Paso Robles, CA Funny you mention a 225 Evinrude. I own one myself, and it is a great little package. It sure seems that 64

An oily Evinrude 225 carburetor. shops that work on older outboards are a dying breed—they’re becoming increasingly more difficult to find, as all of the new engine diagnose themselves for the most part, and this problem exists with all types of engines. For example, who is going to adjust points in a distributor today? They just sell you an electronic ignition, and in a lot of cases, that is best because some don’t know how! Anyway, so the coil swap is not a bad thing as you always want the same resistance loading the CDI box above them on those old V6 Evinrudes. Coil wires are a good maintenance choice and are common to change when doing coils. The big thing is that the shop you were working with had an idea that then engine may have a spark or fuel issue. Without actual Evinrude 225 experience, it could be a crap shoot, though, for a technician who doesn’t have daily Evinrude experience. Those Evinrude 225 engines have a pulse actuated fuel / oil system referred to as a VRO-style pump. When the fuel side starts to decay,

P E R F O R M A N C E B O A T S | September/October 2014

it over injects oil into the engine and “blubbers” as if the engine is running rich and it can be most prevalent at top-end rpm. Imagine a lean amount of fuel with an over-abundance of oil. That’s what happens commonly in those engines. If you don’t want to have the risk of the oil luber failing and want to mix your own two-cycle oil, companies make and sell a new fuel pump-only oil injection delete kit for several models. It is a good choice and they run more consistent. If not, buy the new BRP Evinrude ethanolresistant VRO pump and you should be good to go, assuming your reeds are intact. I also recommend swapping the vacuum pulse hose for good measure. That is the lifeline! So either change it or pay someone to check fuel psi out on the water for more money than the pump cost to change! Incidentally, this happened to me on my kid’s ski boat and about five other customers we have with the older looper V6 and other Evinrudes with VRO pumps. It is very common and at times tough to diagnose. speedboat.com


COLE TR-2 RESTO! ALSO: Dwayne Perry & Robbie Devine Boat Wrecks

Daryl Ehrlich makes a fiery run (and throws a mighty rooster tail) in Eddie Knox’s Problem Child machine, taking the win in Top Fuel Hydro class.

It’s been a harrowing summer for boat crashes, from smaller race boats (see Robbie Devine’s blowover on Page 79) on up to the big poker-run style boats (see Mike Fiore tribute, Page 18). In our previous issue, we shared photos of Dwayne Perry’s accident at the Augusta Southern Nationals Drag Boat Races, obtained just as that issue was going 66

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to press. On these pages, we present a more comprehensive view of the event, including some previously unprinted images of Perry’s catastrophic blowover. This was the 28th year of the Augusta race, a Lucas Oil-sponsored competition that drew more than 100 race teams from 25 surrounding states—all competing for $140,000 in purse and prizes.

The race is famous for being among the fastest and loudest dragboat race in the country, featuring speed demons who race down the liquid quarter mile at speeds approaching 250 mph. Daryl Ehrlich of Round Rock, TX, driving Eddie Knox’s famed Problem Child machine, took top honors in Top Fuel Hydro, with Jeff Gregory placing in speedboat.com

The Augusta Spring Nationals delight spectators with a thrilling Problem Child victory—and one very scary crash.

Photos by Dean Wingard Crash sequence by Joe Dutra

the class. Meanwhile, in Pro Mod action, Marty Logan drove his own Livin Tha Dream dragster to the top of the field, followed by Shawn Reed in Top Secret. Driving his Shazam boat, Tony Scarlata of Perris, CA, battled it out with Randy Ball of Shawnee, OK, with Ball emerging victorious in The Oklahoman to take the trophy in Top Alcohol Flat speedboat.com

class. In other exciting action, Rick Conklin (driving his own Pocket Change machine) took the checkered flag in Modified Eliminator, while Tony Veneri of Princeton, WV, took Red Flash to the winner’s circle in Top Eliminator. And then there was Popsicle. Jack Weller’s Tom Papp-built Cheyenne was making a run on Test & Tune Day for a

planned run in Quick Eliminator class when the boat hooked to the right and then rolled over, obliterating the boat and tossing driver Dwayne Perry into the drink. (He suffered only minor injuries.) Ed Anderson of Columbia, TN, went on to take the trophy in Quick Eliminator class, with Ronnie Smith of Central City, KY, coming in second place. SPEEDBOAT |

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Tony Scarlata pilots Tommy Thompson’s Shazam in Top Alcohol Flat.

In Pro Mod Class, Marty Logan in #881 Livin Tha Dream takes on Travis Tutle in his #066 Short Fuse competitor. 68

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Photographer Joe Dutra captured this spectacular crash sequence as Jack Weller’s Popsicle, a Tom Papp-built Cheyenne, was being piloted by driver Dwayne Perry. The boat hooked to the right and then rolled over, smashing it to pieces and tossing Perry into the drink. Fortunately, he suffered only minor injuries.



September/October 2014 69

In our May issue, our featured Cove boat was a Sanger picklefork ski hydro owned by Roger Welch Sr. and restored with his son, Roger Jr. The boat featured a wicked Billy B. paint job and toured the various Southwestern shows, racking up award after award. But it’s actually one of two boats the Rogers restored together, the other being this magnificent 1980 Cole TR-2, a 17'10" beauty that was frankly in need of some work. “I was looking for a Cole to buy, and one day he suggested that I buy his boat,” says Roger Jr. “He was tired of it—he thought he didn’t want flatbottoms anymore. We decided to clean it up, so we took it to Billy B’s Krazy Kolors (Upland, CA), who said that the paint job needed to be redone. Next thing you know, we redid the whole boat. It was an amazing father-son project. We had loads of fun. Halfway through the Cole’s restoration, my dad decided he had to have a flatbottom again! That’s when he bought the hydro. He said, ‘I can’t stand it any longer!’” Follow the Cole’s restoration in the pages that follow. 70

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A father-and-son project transforms a tired Cole into a true show piece. Photos by Brett


Bayne and Ray Lee


September/October 2014 71


The Cole as it appeared when Welch purchased it from his father in May 2005. It is sitting outside Roger’s company, We Are Cabinets.

The hull is taken to Mel’s Custom Boats of Santa Fe Springs, where Mel Ruiz starts his fiberglass and flooring work.

Late 2006: Mel has finished with the boat’s floors.

Next, the boat is taken to Billy B, who completely chips the paint off the hull. It’s now down to the original gel and primer.

At Billy’s shop, the boat is primed in the paint booth and a seal coat is applied.

The boat has now got white seal coat, and tape is laid down for the graphics.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


As graphics are prepared, an older photo of the boat lies on the deck, as the original design was more or less replicated.

Spraying on some certain panels begins, while other sections remain taped off.

Billy’s application of the yellow paint is completed.

The boat has now been completely painted, and the pinstriping process will begin.

The refreshed and repainted hull sits outside Billy’s shop, ready for Roger to pick up and rig it.

The boat’s trailer is completely renovated.



September/October 2014 73


The V-drive, rail kit, propshaft, etc. are installed at Roger’s house. Prime Marine polished the drive.

Foot pedal, steering shaft and other elements are now in place. Roger and his dad did all of the rigging themselves.

The refinished Hallcraft steering quadrant is installed.

The original engine has been totally cleaned up and re-installed.

Seats were reupholstered by Elegant Auto prior to being reinstalled in the Cole.

The newly upholstered seats are installed.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


Tom Thompson did the lettering on the boat, including Roger’s company logo.


Above and below: the boat attends our photo shoot at Irvine Lake, California, where our model Sarah admires its craftsmanship!


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At the Long Beach Circle Boat Races, Dave Rankin proves tough to beat in a variety of classes.

Photos by Mark


The ARP Long Beach Sprint Nationals, presented by Hotboat.com and held at the Long Beach Marine Stadium, was an event for Dave Rankin to remember as he collected plenty of accolades to add to his collection. Most notably, Ty Newton drove the 76

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Wild Child machine for Rankin and Gordon Jennings, taking the win in the Pro Stock and Super Stock classes in both overall points for the weekend and National Championships. Meanwhile, Tony Scarlata took the overall win for the weekend in the K-69 Freedom Child

capsuled machine for Rankin and Jennings. Then Dave Rankin and Darrin Sousamian nabbed the checkered flag— and the Rudy Ramos trophy—for winning the overall National Championship in the Grand National class driving the #GN 44 machine. speedboat.com

Above: Dave Rankin and Darrin Sousamian accept their checkered flag. Above right: Robby Devine and Dave Rankin collect their second- and first-place trophies in Super Stock class, respectively. Right: Rankin again, this time holding up the checkered flag in the #GN 44 boat.

Ty Newton drives Wild Child for Dave Rankin and Gordon Jennings, taking the win in the Pro Stock and Super Stock classes in both overall points for the weekend and National Championships.

In Comp Jet, Mark Yunker won—as every other boat in class either broke, blew up on the course, or did not finish race. Jason Williams was victorious in SST-45, while Charles Hill trophied in Stock Eliminator for the weekend. Meanwhile, Charles Hamill took his speedboat.com

Peep’s Pride flatty to the overall class win in Sportsman class. Spectators gasped in horror as Robby Devine, chasing Tony Scarlata down the back stretch as the competitors approached turn 2, took a wild blowover ride driving Tom and Janice Buckles’

Blown Bucks K-Racing runabout.The beautifully painted and immaculate machine rose and then flew through the air, bouncing and breaking in half. Though the boat was destroyed, Devine not only survived but came back to race the Super Stock class later on that day. SPEEDBOAT |

September/October 2014 77

superdave Tony Scarlata takes the win in the K Racing class with Problem Child.

Above left: Mark Yunker, driving his Comp Jet boat, won over the class—as every other boat in competition either broke, blew up on the course, or did not finish the race. Above right: Charles Hamill is victorious in his Sportsman Entry, taking his Peep’s Pride flatty to the overall class win. Below: SST 45 capsuled tunnel boats take off from the beach in the typical LeMans start.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014



A R As Robby bb D Devine i andd TTony S Scarlata l t raced d ddown th the bback k stretch t t h approaching hi turn 2, Devine ran into a problem as the boat began to climb. He took a wild ride in Tom and Janice Buckles’ Blown Bucks K Racing Runabout. The boat bounced and literally broke in half after flying through the air. He was OK, and actually came back to race the Super Stock class later on that day.



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Above: Speedboat columnist Jim Wilkes (left) and “Billy B” Berkenheger of Krazy Kolors enjoy the circle racing. Left: Without dedicated officials and scorers to keep the action moving smoothly, there would be no racing at all. Top left: in between races, the crowd is entertained by a water-powered jet-pack skier.

Prime Time’s Ben Had, a 1974 Litchfield runner bottom painted by Billy B, with a 496-c.i. engine built by Gregg Scott.

Rolf Sammons’ License 2 Thrill, a 1976 Litchfield runner bottom restored in 2003 and painted by Dan Hatch.

Giroux Boats (818-203-8695) displays a beautiful wood decker.

Another gorgeous woodie: Bob Garner’s Lil’ Ski-mer by John Miller.


S P E E D B O A T | September/October 2014


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raylee (Cont. from pg 6) course, as both teams were clearly not surrendering to one another. Coming into the turn was Mike Avila on the inside and Randy Davis on the out. Both teams cut the turn as tightly and as aggressively as humanly possible, never letting off of the throttles. Both drivers had seemingly forgotten about the skiers they were pulling, because by this time, it resembled an all-out drag boat race! Throttles were mashed up toward the top and rpm were pinned deep into the red lines, as both teams barreled down the final straightaway. As the crowd looked on, team Davis/Haig seemed to be progressively closing the gap and it became very apparent that this finish was going to be close! Foot by excruciating foot, the two boats evened up to almost parallel, as they neared the checkered finish buoy. But it’s a ski race, not a boat race. The focus quickly shifted to the skiers Todd Haig and Wayne Mawer to see who would cross the finish line first. The results? We didn’t know! We couldn’t tell...it was simply too close to call. Amazingly, after racing across 62 miles of a bumpy and unforgiving ocean, team Davis/Haig was announced the winner by only 7/10ths of a second, with an official overall time of 46 minutes and 36.76 seconds. Team Avila/Mawer came in with an official overall time of 46 minutes and 37.51 seconds. This would be the closest and fastest times ever recorded in the 66-year long history of the “World’s Greatest Ski Race,” the Catalina Ski Race. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s race. Because all good battles deserve a rematch, and I intend to see how this one plays out. I’m not sure if it can top the excitement that this year brought, but it’ll be fun to watch. Stay tuned!

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