Over but Not Done
On the following Aug. 4, after another winter of sea trials and more work on the boat, Fertig took off once again, looking small and vulnerable against the New York skyline. He headed upriver for a half-mile, turned back and slowly started getting the fuel-heavy (almost 5,000 extra pounds) boat on plane so as not to stress the engines. At 9:30 a.m. he passed the start line and within 20 minutes was gone.
The weather wasn’t ideal, but at least it wasn’t a game changer. Naturally, the Gulf Stream took its toll and slowed him down, but the run almost ended way before that.
Just off Sandy Hook an engine-hatch ram came loose and shorted out a starter cable, igniting an electrical fire that destroyed batteries, melted wires and trashed a selector switch. “I could still see New York, we’re dead in the water, and I’m sitting on 680 gallons of fuel,” a crushed Fertig said. “Luckily, Tyson [Garvin, Fertig’s lone crew mate] can fix anything. It took him 40 minutes of inhaling smoke and burning fingers, but he MacGyvered us back into the race.”
After 21 hours and 39 minutes, Fertig and Garvin crossed the line in Bermuda. They had the first sterndrive to reach the island and had beaten the outboard record by 44 minutes. “I’ve committed three years of my life to this,” said an exhausted and emotional Fertig. “But I did it! I finally did it!” No one ever deserved it more.
To do this, his diesels burned just 35 gallons more than the last outboard-record run. And that’s for an extra 250 horses, pushing a much larger boat at a higher speed.