“There’s no good time to blow an engine,” said Robert Noble, owner-driver of the points-leading 38’ Skater Superboat Stihl, “but if we had to blow one, this is probably the best time it could have happened.”
Instead of having his 525s rebuilt after burning one down in Super Boat International (SBI) action at Miami in mid-July, Noble ordered a fresh set of 510-inchers from Scorpion Marine, built specifically to compete in SBI’s new Superboat class, which goes hard at the season-ending Key West Championships and into the 2013 season.
SBI posted the Technical Guidelines to the new class just last week.
Superboat will pull boats from Superboat Cat, Superboat 750, and Superboat 850, consolidating the multi-class format and creating a more competitive pack that’s easier for spectators to follow.
Power guidelines call for natural aspiration, 495 to 510 cubic inches and single carburetion with maximum 9.5:1 compression.
“We all love competition,” Noble told OSO. “That’s why we’re out there. It’s not as much fun for us when we’re competing against one or two boats in our class. This is really going to change things, especially looking at the racers who have jumped in.”
Among the early charter teams reportedly on board: Billy Mauff’s 40’ Skater WHM Motorsports, and Tony Marcantonio’s 38’ Skater JD Byrider, both 850 heavy hitters.
WHM and Byrider will scale down their power for the new class, a reconfiguration that may prevent some teams from participating.
The expense of reconfiguring is offset by reduced demand on the engines and drives and a smaller annual racing budget. The class is expected to breed a gaggle of competitive, reliable race boats with 150 mile an hour straightaway capability.
“It should create more interest,” Noble said. “Instead of running three races and having to rebuild the 750s and 850s, you can just about run a whole season on a set of these motors.”
Required hull range is 38 to 44 feet, with maximum 12-foot beam and minimum 9,500 pounds.
Stihl leads in the points chase in this season’s Superboat class, in which variously-sized engines compete under ‘Grandfather’ status until the restrictions kick in at Key West.
That may change September 7-9 in New York, as the team sits idle awaiting its new power.
Noble, 54, intends to hit the water in Key West as one of the front-running teams in the new class, and will make a strong bid for his third straight National and World Championship.
He found offshore racing six years ago after admiring a photo of a race boat in a dealership while buying a car. After a “test drive,” Noble boarded as a sponsoring team member for four seasons before buying his own 32’ Doug Wright.
He promptly won the National and World Outboard Offshore Championships.
He bought the twin-525 canopied Douglas Skater next, and repeated both titles, teaming with throttleman Grant Bruggemann.
Noble’s family operates a Stihl Distribution Center for the Southeastern United States.
Kevin Spaise has written and tested boats for major boating publications through the years, and is the former Editor of Petersen’s Performance Boats, Hot Boat, and Performance Boats. He is a life-long performance boater, and his current ride is a vintage 21’ Schiada he runs offshore in his home waters of Maui, Hawaii.