After five years of blazing a trail for close, exciting and affordable one-design offshore powerboat racing, the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series has become the most spectacular and popular class in the history of the sport
After five years of blazing a trail for close, exciting and affordable one-design offshore powerboat racing, the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series has become the most spectacular and popular class in the history of the sport. However, not satisfied to rest on its laurels, the company now reveals plans to take their involvement one step further.
This year, in order to expand the series, the organisers have revealed plans for its third and most hardcore racer yet. Detailed technical specifications of the boat are still under wraps but the big brother of the fleet looks set to kick salt water in the face of pretty much anything else at sea.
Designated the ‘Cougar R10 Sport Enduro’, the boat will be a 10m Rigid Inflatable (RIB) powered by a pair of Honda BF225 outboards. Expected to debut during the 2005 racing season, the monster RIB will give a top speed of about 70mph and Honda the chance to take its offshore racing fleet further, faster and longer than ever before.
“Nobody could have predicted the success that we have had with the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series,” says Martin Sanders, General Manager Power Equipment Honda (UK). “To build on future years of competition we have looked back to the pioneering racers of yesteryear. We want to push the envelope of man and machine against the elements and the evolution of a third endurance class is the logical step for us.”
“Keeping the package dual-purpose is essential,” explains Steve Curtis, current and six-time Class 1 offshore World Champion. “The new design has allowed us to develop a hybrid racing boat that can also be used as a sports RIB when not racing. This helps keep costs manageable while giving more and more people different opportunities to get into offshore powerboat racing, not to mention a new challenge for the existing competitors in the Honda fleet.”
Starting in 1999 as a means of promoting Honda’s big horsepower 4-stroke outboard engines, the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series has become the biggest racing fleet in the world. Now 35-strong and with two classes – (150hp/55mph boats and the sleeker faster 225hp/70mph class) – the series has become the perfect platform for living the company’s ethos of ‘product development through racing endeavour’.
This mantra is something that can be witnessed throughout Honda’s range of products. Cars, motorcycles, outboard engines, ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) even lawnmowers are all raced to improve the breed. For example VTEC, Honda’s proprietary variable valve engine technology, was developed for Formula 1 and now appears in Honda’s cars, motorcycles and even outboard engines.
For a sport with a perceived (but inaccurate) association with multi-millionaire playboys, Honda has done much to bring offshore powerboat racing to regular boating enthusiasts. For the price of a standard sports boat and a modest entry fee anyone who wants a piece of the action can join the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series. But this is no highly-strung racing machine, these race boats can be regularly be used by the family when not being raced and are even covered by a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
SPECIFICATION OF THE NEW COUGAR R10 SPORT ENDURO
Overall Length 10.40m
Overall Beam 2.95m
Engines Twin Honda BF225 4-stroke outboards
Design Cougar deep ‘V’ with twin steps
Construction Kevlar composite
Fuel 500 litres
Speed 70 mph
Weight 2,500 kg
Crew 4 to 5