I am excited about the growing popularity of Mercury’s 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard. The engine, which is built at Mercury’s outboard manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China, was originally designed for the Mercury FormulaFour outboard tunnel boat racing series: That Scandinavian series, featuring one-design 14-foot tunnel race boats powered by a production Mercury 60 h.p. four stroke, was originated by Brunswick Marine Sweden and their dealer, Mikael Frode’.
The 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard features a production 60 h.p. four stroke powerhead mounted on a 15″ (381 mm) mid section with solid engine mounts. Power is transferred to the water via a 1.83:1 gearcase and Mercury Racing Lab Finished T.E. Cleaver prop.
The engine first earned its stripes (and hot graphics ) racing at the legendary 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race where it competes in Class 1. Historically, Yamaha wins Class 1 racing because their 2-stroke engines are closest in spec with the class maximum 850 CC displacement rule. However, the four stroke Mercury has been moving up in position since it’s 2004 Rouen debut, with a podium finish this year (see the blog Half-Rouen!).
Global demand for the 60 EFI FormulaRace continues to grow as event promoters realize the need for creating affordable classes featuring clean, environmentally responsible engines. The F1H2O U.I.M. World Championship series now requires each F1 race team to also field a Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard powered tunnel race boat for F4 competition.
In his reply to my e-mail regarding the Mercury four stroke, F1H20 series promoter Nicolo di San Germano said, “We have been extremely happy all of last year to have the 60 EFI Mercury powering our F4 series. We’ve found the engine to be extremely reliable.”
The Chinese government is launching their own FormulaFour racing series this month. In fact, China is so serious about racing that Kanghua Boats Co., Ltd. of Hangzhou, China purchased the molds and rights to Christian Molgaard’s F4 tunnel race boats. The Molgaard hull has had great success.
Unfortunately, North American tunnel boat racing is stagnant – with few, new entries into the sport. Entry level classes currently feature antiquated 2-stroke Johnson and Evinrude 45 and 60 class race engines which have been out of production for years. Modern, turn-key, entry-level equipment is nonexistent.
ChampBoat Series promoter Mike Schriefer and I have had several discussions over the years regarding the need for a viable entry level outboard tunnel boat racing class in the U.S. We both feel the 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard and the one-design FormulaFour class concept is what North American outboard tunnel boat racing desperately needs.
The American Power Boat Association (APBA) is answering the call and taking action. The sanctioning body over powerboat racing throughout North America also realizes the sport is in dire need of an affordable vehicle to draw new interest. Like China – they are serious in accomplishing their mission: APBA has purchased eight 60 EFI FormulaRace engines. They’ve completed development and testing of the Gary Pugh designed plug for a one-design tunnel boat. They are currently in search of a boat manufacturer.
My hope is the U.S. can learn from our International friends and mirror what they are doing to promote affordable, competitive boat racing. In my opinion, our youth need outlets where they can get out and enjoy some friendly competition on the water – in the real world (not on the couch playing video games).