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How To Make Your Boat Faster
Wilson Custom Marine could take a 55 mph runabout and have it running close to 60 mph after blueprinting the bottom.
You got your boat and, from the moment you pulled away from the dealership, it’s attained a certain speed. But if you’ve got a craving for more, you’re going to try to make it go faster, perform better and run more efficiently. OK, you just want to go faster. But after searching the Internet for possible modifications, you wound up as confused as Justin Bieber’s image consultant. That’s where we come in.
Here are five ways to boost speed and performance. Blueprinting focuses on the hull and, in high-performance applications, the drives. The easiest upgrade might be changing the prop or having it fine-tuned. For the engine, you can have the electronic control module (ECM) reflashed or you can add a supercharger. Finally, outboard enthusiasts might consider installing a jack plate. Read on and learn about the pros and cons of going after higher speeds.
Speed Gain: 2-4 mph
Cost Per MPH Gained: $375
Bottom Line: A modest increase without touching the engines
If you are wary of making modifications to your engine, consider having your boat’s bottom “blueprinted.” Many enthusiasts believe blueprinting involves literally creating a blueprint. Actually, it’s a process of restoring the bottom to its original specifications.
“Any boat can benefit from it, but the faster you go, the more you accentuate it,” said Craig Wilson, president of Wilson Custom Marine in Stuart, Florida, the blueprinting leader of the go-fast world. Wilson Custom Marine fine-tunes bottoms of performance boats and also blueprints sterndrives with acclaimed results.
Mass-produced boats such as runabouts and cruisers in the 25- to 30-foot range can have myriad imperfections, including too much hook or rocker in the bottom or flaws in the strakes or chines. These could be the results of imperfections in the mold from which the boat was constructed or the result of a boat being stored in the off-season on too short a trailer. When a boat has a hook in the running surface, that means the aft section of the bottom angles down. It acts like a giant trim tab, forcing down the bow, hampering lift and scrubbing speed. The only way to combat hook is with excessive drive trim, and then you’re losing performance because the propeller thrust is angled more up than horizontal. The best way to check your boat’s bottom for a hook is with a straight edge at the transom. When a fiberglass repair shop removes the hook, it will free up the boat and let it ride on its intended lines, increasing top speed and improving all-around performance.
Rocker is the opposite of hook. When a bottom has too much rocker, its aft sections round up and, in the extreme, would look like half a football when viewed from the side. The boat rides bow-high and you can’t use the positive trim you’d normally apply to lift the hull and reduce wetted bottom surface. Blueprinting would remove the rocker and help the boat ride on its lines.
Wilson said that his company could take a 55 mph runabout and have it running close to 60 mph after blueprinting the bottom. Wilson Custom Marine also blueprints drives, including the Mercury Racing Sport Master lower unit for Bravo One drives and NXT, SSM and M8 drives. The service ($3,000 for a pair of Bravo One Sport Masters) custom-matches the drives to each other and to the boat, eliminating flaws that affect how water runs off the drives. On high-performance boats, the process has delivered up to 10 mph increases in top speed. Once the drives are refined, Wilson Custom Marine offers a ceramic coating that will keep the drive finish clean for two years for $250 per drive.