Champion offshore powerboat racer Brian Forehand spent less than a minute in the cockpit of an Outerlimits SV43 on April 28 and 29, but it was long enough to make history. On Monday, he made two passes exceeding 172 mph on the Pamlico River in North Carolina to break the V-bottom kilometer speed record and the following day he did it again, topping 180 mph and establishing a new V-bottom speed record of 180.470 mph.
Although the total time at high speed was quite short, the records were the result of months of work by Forehand, the Outerlimits crew and Mercury Racing, which tuned the two 1,650 hp engines that powered the boat. As reported by Speedonthewater.com co-publisher Matt Trulio, who was on hand for the attempts, Outerlimits customer Dave Scotto provided the engines for the record attempt.
After the Super Boat International offshore racing world championships last November, Mike Fiore, president of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats in Bristol, Rhode Island, Forehand, owner of Marker 17 Marine in North Carolina, and Outerlimits customers Joe Sgro and Michael “Doc” Janssen started talking about breaking a couple of the existing V-bottom speed records for offshore raceboats.
Forehand is the crew chief and throttleman for Sgro’s Outerlimits SV43 raceboat and for Janssen’s 29-foot Outerlimits SV29, Snowy Mountain Brewery, and he maintains both boats at his shop in Wilmington, North Carolina.
After the idea was launched, Forehand flew to the Outerlimits headquarters last December and started working with Fiore’s crew to fine-tune the SV43’s bottom, and with Mercury Racing on the setup. “We spent hours trying to make it better,” Forehand said, but he would only give minimal details when it came to specific changes that were made. He did say that he made some changes to the steps and that the factory added a pad to the five-step bottom of the 43-footer. The SV29 is designed with four steps and a pad. “The pad definitely made it better,” said Forehand.
The previous record holder, the 39-foot Fountain (the raceboat was a version of a 42-foot Fountain without the swim platform), Rio Roses, had a twin-stepped bottom and was powered by a pair of Sterling Performance engines that were officially rated at 1,550 hp, but rumors that these engines were actually making more power persist.
Ben Robertson, who drove the two-seat Fountain 10 years ago, said the boat was on the edge of losing control, with most of the hull out of the water and the craft literally riding on the propellers and skegs. Watch the video of that run and you’ll see that most of the boat is in fact riding above the water’s surface. What was as impressive as the number put up by the five-seat Outerlimits, which weighed about 1,700 pounds more, was how in control the boat looked when it was running 180 mph.
“I never felt out of control,” said Forehand. “I think with more power we could go even faster.”
While most records have been set by two-person driver-throttleman teams, Forehand was more comfortable driving and throttling the boat himself. “Every time I test it I run by myself,” he said. “Going that fast, you can’t know how the other guy’s thinking.”
On April 28, Forehand headed out alone on the Pamlico River in Sgro’s SV43. American Power Boat Association officials sanctioned the attempt as a “special event.” He broke the previous record of 171.88 mph, averaging 172.876 mph, but Fiore, Forehand and Sgro knew the boat could run faster. One of the Hering propellers broke after the boat hit a submerged object, so they used a second set of Herings and repaired a skeg on one of the drives, and planned to run again the next day.
On Tuesday morning at first light, Forehand returned to the water, this time with Sgro riding shotgun. He put down passes of 179.500 and 181.422 mph respectively, to raise the record to 180.470 mph. It didn’t take long, but it meant a whole lot.