While Mercury Racing's 565 engine with digital shift and throttle (which was introduced in February 2012 at the Miami International Boat Show) is taking time to catch on, the recent performance of an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats SV29 V-bottom powered by the 565-hp mill could provide the spark the powerplant needs to take off. During the recent Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, an event in which mostly amateur high-performance boat owners go for top speeds over a liquid mile, the 29-footer reached 99 mph.
Mike Fiore, the founder and owner of Outerlimits in Bristol, R.I., ran the stepped-hull, epoxy-and-carbon-fiber V-bottom at the Shootout for its owner, Mike Everson.
“I have literally spent hundreds of hours in this model,” said Fiore. “I have to admit, it still impresses me. I’m a big-boat guy—I’ve always been into big boats. Our first model was a 37-footer and we make boats up to 52 feet long. But the 29 never ceases to impress me. And the hull efficiency? That speaks for itself with 99 mph on single 565-hp engine.”
While there still are not many 565-engine powered models in the field (much to the surprise of Mercury Racing president Fred Kiekhaefer), by way of comparison the new 24-foot sport catamaran from Nordic boats reportedly runs 101 mph on 565 engine power. The SV29 lists for approximately $200,000 with the engine.
“The people who have put in the 565 engines absolutely love them, but we haven’t moved the number of those engines I would have hoped,” said Kiekhaefer. “There is still a lot of concern out there about the economy.
“Once the boat builders and consumers become aware of the 565, we expect it to pick up quickly,” he added. “People who experience the digital throttle and shift for the first time just love it. It’s one of those things, going from a mechanical transmission to DTS (digital throttle and shift) that you just don’t understand until you try it.”
Despite rumors and misreports on Internet message boards, the Mercury Racing 565 engine will not replace the 525EFI, the best-selling engine in the company’s history.
“There is still a base of customers who have 525 product in their boats, and when it comes time they want to replace them with 525s,” said Kiekhaefer. “They want to replace them with ‘like’ mechanical systems because they have a high comfort level with those systems.”
- Matt Trulio