Forget about the pink sand, turquoise water and tax-free banking; what first attracted me to Bermuda was that it’s in the middle of nowhere — literally.
It’s a tiny speck of an archipelago — four miles wide by 16 miles long — sitting alone in the Atlantic Ocean almost a third of the way to Europe, 780 miles from New York on the other side of the rough and unpredictable Gulf Stream. Bermuda’s islands are so low that you could miss them on a hazy day, and a ring of nasty coral reefs protects them. To paraphrase Mark Twain’s description of Bermuda, you cannot arrive at paradise but by way of purgatory. It was perfect.
Back in 1994 I was looking for a remote destination, a far-off goal to make a point. I wanted to show that modern powerboats were so well made, so inherently seaworthy, that with proper seamanship almost anyone is capable of doing what once seemed impossible — to reach that far-off island. The result was the Bermuda Challenge.
To make it fair I set up two classes, one for sterndrives and one for outboards. I figured I’d give the little kickers a chance since I assumed that the sterndrive go-fast crowd would be all over this. But none of them, some with legendary names, had the cajones to even try.
To my surprise it was the outboards that got there first, and kept coming. Then, after 18 years, an average-guy boater did what the “kings of offshore” were afraid to do. This past summer a diesel-powered Statement Marine 37 SUV became the first sterndrive to reach Bermuda, beating the outboards in both speed and efficiency. Then, to pound the message in even further, eight weeks later another diesel boat trashed the record again — this one with surface drives.
Are the days of offshore outboard dominance over? Are we entering the age of the high-speed diesel? Based on these world-beating boats, it sure looks that way.