The emerald-green waters of Florida’s Government Cut are calm when the engines of a long, slender boat start to rumble. The sound builds until, suddenly, the stiletto-shaped boat slices through the water, ripping long V-wakes that flatten out slightly as the speed increases fantastically. The boat zips through the Cut, looping north into two-foot swells, running along South Beach and finding its groove.
It’s a “go-fast,” a Sunsation 36 XRT, and it is perfectly in its element. So is Wayne Schaldenbrand, who built it. Nope, his boat is built in Michigan, but it’s here today, cutting through open water against the backdrop of Miami glitz.
This may be where modern offshore powerboats were born, but Schaldenbrand caught his bug for it from his grandfather, who hand-built Chris-Crafts and other mahogany treasures, then powered them with one or two of the biggest engines he could.
“My first speedboat ride was in one of those,” Schaldenbrand says. “It probably went 35 miles per hour.” That’s all he needed to launch him and his brother on a career of building and driving fast boats. He was where the heart of this sport still beats steadily with adrenalin and high-octane fuel.
The performance scene slipped beneath the mainstream boating radar the past few years, as the recession and outrageous fuel prices sent people away. But boats like the Sunsation, Formula’s FasTech 353 and the 50 Cigarette Marauder, which turned heads at the recent Miami International Boat Show, prove that performance boats are back. So too does the announcement from Mercury Racing of a new 1,100 hp engine, on the heels of last year’s 1,350 hp V-8. And that’s a good thing. The performance world has always pushed the envelope for all aspects of powerboating.