Mercury Pro Max 300s Smash OMC Outboard Speed
700-Mile Endurance Challenge Between Ketchikan, Alaska and
Previous Record Held by Michael Reagan, Son of President Ronald
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, August 19, 1999, -- Mercury Marine engineer
Kurt Willows of West Bend, Wisconsin and two-time American Power Boat
Association (APBA) World Champion Paul Whittier of Whitefish, Montana
smashed OMC's 'Assault on the Inside Passage' endurance speed record
by more than two hours - making the 700-mile run from Ketchikan, Alaska
to Seattle, Washington in 11 hours, 42 minutes and 50 seconds. The record
was set Wednesday, August 18, with Willows at the wheel and Whittier on
the throttles. The twin Pro Max 300s powering Willows' 28-foot Skater
Catamaran ran flawlessly throughout the event. The Mercury Racing lab-finished
14-1/2 X 32 three-blade cleaver propellers made the trip unscathed. The
record was sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association.
The former Inside Passage record was held by Michael Reagan, son of
President Ronald Reagan. Reagan set the record 06/08/84, completing
the 700-mile run in 13:55:21. He set the record driving a 38' Wellcraft
Scarab V-bottom boat powered by triple OMC Evinrude V-8 outboards.
Larry Adam's at Lighthouse Marine in Ketchikan stored the boat upon
its arrival via ferryboat from Seattle last week. Adam's and his crew were
instrumental in preparing the boat for the record setting run.
Willow's and Whittier left Ketchikan at 9:11:43 a.m. Pacific Standard
Time Wednesday, August 18 to begin their 700-mile journey toward Seattle.
They would encounter five different weather zones including dense fog,
heavy rains and high winds as they wound through the unforgiving Inside
Dense fog dampened the run from the start, enhancing the team's
navigational challenges. It took 2.5 hours, averaging 38 mph, for them
to make the 90-mile run from Ketchikan, Alaska to Prince Rupert, British
Columbia. Travis McNeice of the Prince Rupert Yacht Club assisted the
team in fueling the boat in Prince Rupert and clearing customs into Canada.
The stop took a total of 25 minutes.
Mother Nature unleashed heavy rains as the team, averaging 73 mph,
moved on toward Queen Charlotte Sound, BC. Other deterrents along the way
included fish gill nets, seaplanes and well wishers on the numerous cruise
ships that run along the Passage. With 06:40 into the run, the team
approached their second and final fuel stop at North Island Marine Center in Port
Hardy, BC. Owner Greg Skaarvik and his crew performed a NASCAR-like
pit stop as they hoisted the boat out of the water to perform an overall
inspection of the hull and engines. In a mere 45 minutes, Skaarvik and
company had the boat inspected, topped off with fuel and back on the
water to complete the remaining 340-mile run to Seattle.
With the rains depleted, Willows and Whittier pressed on over two-foot
seas through Port Nanaimo, BC. The team's luck started to turn as their
Flux Gate Compass failed 40-miles North of Port Nanaimo. With the security
of GPS, they pressed on only to have that fail 20-miles later! Limited to
a magnetic compass and landmarks for navigation and no aerial or ground
support whatsoever, Willows and Whittier relied more than ever on
their Mercury Pro Max 300 outboards to get them into safe harbor.
With limited navigational tools and Mother Nature introducing
Gail-force winds, the Pro Max 300 outboard powered Skater Catamaran would make
the final 200- mile run to Seattle under the most extreme conditions
The San Juan Islands, Willows' and Whittier's native land, brought the
roughest water conditions of the run. The boat averaged 35 mph for 60
miles as it slammed into the 6-8 foot seas near the islands.
Time was another element the team had to contend with. The sun was
rapidly approaching the horizon as they conquered the San Juans and moved back
into open water with 55 miles to go. As dusk approached, they literally had
to stop, after driving 25 miles in rough 4-foot seas, to get their
With daylight rapidly becoming a precious memory and no contact with
civilization, Willows and Whittier again relied on the performance and
durability of their Mercury Pro Max 300s to get them across
treacherous seas and into safe harbor by nightfall. The reliable 300s didn't
The team approached Shilshole Marina in Seattle 15 minutes after
sunset at 08:31:07 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Race Director Erick Bentzen
punched the APBA certified stopwatch at 11:42:50 when he first heard the roar
of the powerful Mercury Pro Max 300s as the record setting boat
approached the marina.
by:Rick Mackie, Mercury Marine
Web by: Walt Reynolds