San Francisco to Los Angeles record broken

Rique Ford, Dan MacNamara, (driver/throttles), Johnny Lindstrom, (navigator), and Captain Nigel Hook have set a new world record of six hours 43 minutes for the 425 mile course between San Francisco and Los Angeles

Rique Ford, Dan MacNamara, (driver/throttles), Johnny Lindstrom, (navigator), and Captain Nigel Hook have set a new world record of six hours 43 minutes for the 425 mile course between San Francisco and Los Angeles aboard the Cummins powered 48ft (14.6m) Team Scarab.

In doing so, they shattered the existing diesel record by 58 minutes, 38 seconds held by Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris, well known actor and karate star, held many endurance records and the San Francisco Los Angeles time, also set in a Scarab, had stood since 1988.

Owner of the record breaking boat and founder of Scarab Marine, Larry Smith, has created a legacy of endurance records which have included the Round Britain (Drambuie), Chicago to Detroit, Venice to Monte Carlo, Tampa to Miami and New Orleans to St. Louis. “We are seeing the emergence of new high performance production diesels, radically changing the offshore performance market and endurance runs like this are ideal proving grounds”, said Smith. “This is a new era in marine propulsion providing economy, reliability and performance, that is environmentally friendly”, he added. He went on, “Our record boat is a prototype for a new line of 50 foot (15.5m) plus high performance diesel express cruisers.”

“We used just 261 gallons, which included our 7.00am start from Sausalito before passing under the Golden Gate Bridge to our final stopping point at the California Yacht Club inside the Marina del Rey harbor.” said driver, Dan MacNamara. MacNamara rigged the boat from start to finish and was at the helm for more than 60 hours of testing prior to the run. Apart from two short respites, he steered the boat throughout.

The team had clearly done their homework on the weather, and experienced good visibility for the whole trip. In fact, the predicted fog out of the San Francisco bay and breakers soon cleared. The smoke from the Southern California forest fires didnÕt hamper their path either. “We thought we had it in the bag. Everything was running like clockwork. The diesels were humming never having missed a beat until we came upon Point Dume said MacNamara.

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“We had been lulled into complacency when one engine stopped. We jumped into the engine compartment to investigate. Rique called up Thad Finley, transportation chief and diesel mechanic, on the mobile. Hook took the wheel and kept us heading on the right course. It seemed like forever and our chances seemed to be seeping away. Based on Thad’s expert instructions we diagnosed the problem with the fuel system. A rap on the solenoid, the starboard engine roared back to life and we were ready to go again.”

Nigel described the conditions during the challenge. “They call the water under the Golden Gate Bridge the Potato Patch and it was certainly peculating on the day. Rounding the point we were pleasantly surprised at the calm seas and lack of wind, just a seven foot rolling ground swell. Things changed almost on the hour. Winds picked up, waves built and then dropped off again. On average I would estimate we were running across three footers, until we hit Point Conception and were met with stiff winds, white caps and fours and five foot waves”.

“We also encountered major pods of dolphins along the way that charged to intersect us and surf our wake”, Hook also added. “The whole experience was uplifting especially realizing we’ve just raised the bar which will get recorded in the history annals of the APBA – in their 100th anniversary year”.

The history of this endurance event dates back to 1929, and this year to commemorate one of the most colorful record breakers, inductee to the Detroit Motorsports Hall of Fame, and founder of Powerboat Magazine, a perpetual trophy was initiated as the “Robert A. Nordskog Powerboat Magazine Trophy”. On the board of the Deed of Gift are Jerry Nordskog, Publisher Powerboat Magazine, Lawrence C. Smith, Howard Arneson, legend in the sport and current holder of the New Orleans to St. Louis record, Gary Rumburgh, APBA (American Power Boat Association) Special Events and Charlie Strang, UIM representative, NASCAR National Commissioner and inventor of the sterndrive. Team Scarab has invited other builders to join in a match race for the event next year.

Ray Bulman


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