A healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit is the driving force behind all marine manufacturing, and as the economy gradually recovers, boating innovations continue to emerge and evolve in 2011. As you might expect, many of today’s advancements are tied to the rapid growth of electronics technology. Others, such as this Yamaha outboard, pull some of their science from outside industries, while still others emerge from boating companies that simply take a different approach to an existing product or service, making it new again. Regardless, all share a specific goal: to offer boaters greater enjoyment of the sport (and, if you’re one of the “early adopters,” to get you into the showroom!). Here are some notable trends and products to watch in 2011, along with a few of the people behind them.
Innovation: Plasma-fused cylinders
How It Came to Be: Yamaha’s 250 V Max SHO was introduced specifically to target the hard-charging bass- and bay-boat markets. Yet, the 4.2-liter four-stroke pulls some of its coolest features from industries well outside the marine world. Take, for instance, its plasma-fused sleeveless cylinders. These have been used for years in piston aircraft engines and over-the-road diesels, engines that are designed — much like outboards — to satisfy longhour operation with an emphasis on durability. Yamaha engineers saw the similarities and acted. The SHO’s new cylinders replace steel sleeves and provide a durable surface for the piston rings, while reducing powerhead weight and optimizing displacement. But the plasma technology was only part of the equation, as Yamaha engineers took additional steps to trim precious weight. The alternator, for instance, is 5½ pounds lighter than its predecessor, yet it packs the same punch. The engine also uses a mufflerless exhaust system, eliminating further pounds. “It just wasn’t really necessary,” says David Meeler, product marketing information manager.
Why It’s Unique: By thinking outside the box and applying science from other arenas, Yamaha engineers were able to create a better engine that produced more efficient heat transfer between the cylinder walls and cooling system.