In Wyoming, Minnesota, Premier Marine owner Bob Menne charged his in-house fiberglass expert, Fred Cotey, with developing an aluminum stern-drive housing in the late 1990s.
“About all he said was, ‘make it work,’” says Cotey, who in the previous decades had worked for HydroStream, designing pad-bottom speedboats.
To hold a V-8, Cotey had the crazy notion to widen the center tube to 36 inches. It would taper toward the bottom and settle into a 12-inch flat surface. Called the PTX, not only does the tube easily hold the motor, but in conjunction with the 23-inch outer tubes it allows the boat to turn quickly enough to run a buoy course — we’ve done it.
Manitou’s SHP uses similar physics — a 27-inch center tube, mounted five inches lower than the 23-inch outers to create a deeper centerline. The boat can make buttonhook turns when the wheel is cranked over hard at 40 mph — done that, too, and learned to hold on tight. “People are shocked to see what we can do,” says Dave Curtis, Manitou’s vice president of operations. “It isn’t just trying to look like a sport boat anymore. It is a sport boat.”
Jim Dorris can’t believe what we’re talking about. Fifteen years does not seem like 53.2 mph ago. There he was in 1995, clocking 46.8 mph and slapping the steering wheel as if he just told the funniest joke ever heard. A pontoon!
And now here he is, being told that the mad scientists at South Bay are reportedly closing in on the 100 mph mark. Dorris says it’s “obtainable.” There’s something in his voice that begs a question.
“How close are you?” Dorris is asked.
Dorris doesn’t even pause. “I’m not saying.”
He’ll only say that he’s been toying with a two-tube PlayCraft that runs faster than 70 mph with twin 383 Stroker Scorpions. Two tubes?
“This whole performance thing isn’t just horsepower,” he says. “For us it’s those Rac-R-Fins.”
When asked to expound on the fins, Dorris gives a two-beat laugh.
“The secret’s in the water. As far as I’m concerned, it stays there.”
And with that he laughs out loud. It’s as boisterous a laugh as you’ve ever heard.