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Bermuda Challenge 2020: A New Bermuda Challenger Arises!

Can “Fish Mavericks” in an Evinrude-powered Renaissance Prowler beat the record?

February 27, 2020

It’s a tall order. The Bermuda Challenge is a 780-mile, open ocean run between New York and Bermuda founded by retired Boating Features Editor, David Seidman, in 1995.

Fish Mavericks crew shot
The Fish Mavericks Crew. Left to Right: Jon Harris, Robb Pami, Chris Pami, Capt. David Schunke, Capt. Jerry Harris. Jerry Harris, Robb Pami and Dave Schunke will run the boat, while Jon Harris and Chris Pami, along with Josh Harris, provide shore support. These are brothers and brothers-in-law. Courtesy Fish Mavericks

The current overall record stands at 15 hours and 48 minutes, set by Chris Fertig and Tyson Garvin in 2013, who ran a Skater 399 V-bottom powered by Cummins diesels and Arneson Surface Drives. The math works out to an average speed of 48-mph and Bermuda Challenge boats may not be longer than 40-feet LOA, which limits seakeeping and the amount of fuel than can be carried.

Bermuda Challenge map
The Bermuda Challenge route consists of 780 miles of open ocean, including crossing the Gulf Stream, between New York Harbor and Gates Fort, Bermuda. Boating Magazine

The current outboard class record of 22 hours 23 minutes, was set in 2002 by Neil Burnie and Bill Ratlief aboard a Renaissance Prowler 302 catamaran powered by twin 225-hp Honda outboards. Hold this thought.

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Learn More: Bermuda Challenge Records and Rules

The latest Bermuda Challenge team is led by Capt. Jerry Harris, star of reality fishing show Fish Mavericks, who is partnering with Renaissance Prowler Offshore Fishing Catamarans. Harris, and crew of Capt. Dave Schunke and Robb Rami, will run a Prowler 36 powered by four 300 hp Evinrude outboards in their record attempt. According to Prowler owner, Bill Ratlief—the very same Bermuda Challenger mentioned above—the boat will be a, “straight up, Prowler.” I specifically asked whether high tech materials or special processes would be used to build the Bermuda Challenge boat, and Ratlief insists he is building a stock boat, though the boatbuilder did say he’d take some measures to reduce weight.

Prowler 36 in the water
A stock Prowler 36, showing the asymetrical form of its twin hulls. Key Specs – LOA: 35″11 | Beam: 11’7″ | Displacement: 6,400 lb (dry) | Fuel Cap: 382 gal. | Power: Twin 350 – Quad 300 outboards Courtesy Prowler

“We won’t be installing the rod holders, the stereo and other non-essential gear aboard the boat until after the Bermuda Challenge,“ Ratlief said.

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They will be adding to the Prowler 36’s 382 gallon fuel capacity, according to Harris: “The boat is stock-stock, but we’ll be adding a 450 gallon fuel bladder.”

Evinrude G2 lineup
Four Evinrude G2 300-hp outboard engines will power the Fish Mavericks crew towards their Bermuda Challenge record attempt. Key Specs – Configuration: V-6 | Displacement: 3.4 L | Weight: 547-580-lb. | Gear Ratio: 1.85:1 | Max RPM Range: 5400-6000 rpm Courtesy Evinrude

In late July, the fabled Bermuda High usually settles over the western Atlantic, creating favorable conditions for such a run. That is the target window, according to Harris and Ratlief. Watch for on Boating’s social media channels, and here at boatingmag.com.

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