Duo regains Bermuda Challenge record

Posted on Written by Michael LaBella

For the second time in just over 12 months, Chris Fertig and Tyson Garvin set the Bermuda Challenge record, a powerboat race of nearly 780 miles non-stop from New York to Bermuda.

“All the preparation and testing we did and effort over the past year paid off,” Fertig told Soundings Trade Only on Friday. “We thought things through, so we’re excited we were able to beat the record and beat it by almost an hour and a half. We made the run with 480 gallons of fuel, so we were really efficient.”

Leaving New York Harbor on Aug. 21 at 7:40 a.m., the duo (Fertig on the wheel and Garvin the throttles) made it to Bermuda in 15 hours and 48 minutes, besting Fabio Buzzi’s mark of 17 hours, 6 minutes set last September.

Fertig and Garvin averaged 50-plus mph in their 39-foot Skater and had to replace a propeller twice along the way, Fertig, 35, said. “When we left New York we were running 70 mph with 5,000 pounds of fuel on board. We were hauling. Sixty miles off of New York we threw one of the blades, so we had to stop. That took us 24 minutes to replace it. We had one more spare and 720 miles to go, so we reduced our speed from 70 to 55 mph.”

The two-man team ran a 2012 Skater with a stepped vee hull and built with carbon fiber and Kevlar. Twin 480-hp Cummins diesels linked to surface drives propelled the boat.

Fertig and Garvin set the record for the first time Aug. 5, 2012, running a 37-foot Statement Marine center console powered with twin 350-hp Mercury TDI (turbocharged direct injection) diesels and a shock-absorbing deck.

“The first time, we had a significant boat equipment failure 10 miles into it, and we had 770 miles to go,” Garvin said. “The same thing happened again, but again we fixed it and went for it. We were pretty serious about getting [the record].”

At an average speed of 40 knots, Fabio Buzzi and a crew of five smashed Fertig’s initial record aboard Col Moschin, FB Design’s 40-foot monohull military boat with a full pilothouse and powered with twin 650-hp diesels.

The weather cooperated for Fertig and Garvin. The roughest waters they encountered were choppy 3- to 5-foot seas in the Gulf Stream, but they ran into more trouble a short distance from Bermuda.

“About 150 miles from Bermuda at night we threw another blade, on the other prop,” Fertig said. “The spare was the wrong rotation. I switched the prop out and Tyson took the transmission apart and changed the rotation of the transmission. And now we had no spares and still 150 miles to go, so we slowed down as much as possible so we would still have an hour cushion.”

Fertig had to jump into the water to change the props on both occasions.

There were no other issues. “The boat doesn’t have a single scratch on it, and the engines were only at half-power for most of the way,” he said.

With no prop problems and some luck, Fertig said, they might have completed the run in 13 hours.

— Chris Landry

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