FORT LAUDERDALE — At the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, I finally got a chance to test the Seven Marine 557s — the heavily hyped, highest-horsepower outboards on the market. A pair of these 1,000-pound V8s were mounted on one of the coolest-looking cats I’ve seen, the new Insetta 45 from American Marine Design in St. Mary’s, Ga.
Never heard of the company? Neither had I. Trade Only Editor-in-chief Bill Sisson met the company’s owner, Victor Insetta, on an elevator ride at his hotel Saturday morning. I was testing the boat at 1:30 p.m. It was docked behind a house that the company has rented during the show, which concludes today.
Insetta is a retired entrepreneur who founded and ran a profitable electronics parts company. He is also an avid boater and diver and has a passion for offshore powerboat racing.
Company vice president Robert Presby, 43, met me at the boat and took me on a brief walkthrough. Presby used to work for Boston Whaler in its design, R&D and construction departments, which explains the high building and quality standards that are applied to the Insetta 45. The company, which employs only seven, builds the boat using vacuum infusion and vinylester resin and PVC-coring material, Presby said.
The first Insetta 45 was powered with quad 300-hp Mercury Verados. The 557s made sense to Presby as a power option. “I am a believer in technology and the boat can take up to 1,400 hp,” he said. The third boat will have diesel inboards, so “we have an open mind when it comes to propulsion,” Presby said.
I was able to test the boat in a short stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway that allowed high-speed operation. I had just enough space to get the Insetta up to about 55 mph.
The 557 outboard uses a marinized General Motors LSA small-block V-8 and packs a slew of technology and features, including joystick steering, which was not installed on the Insetta, and closed-loop cooling.
The engine, with a displacement of 6.2 liters, is much bigger than its competitors — and it sounds bigger, too, with a deep and throaty resonance.
Mid-range acceleration was impressive, and the power steering system worked flawlessly.
She hits 60 mph at the top end right now, but Presby said the engines need different propellers that will allow the boat to reach upwards of 65 mph. American Marine Design, founded in 2007, has designed the boat for offshore fishing and day cruising, with lots of deck space and storage (the beam is 11 feet, 8 inches).
Performance with the four Verados is similar to the Seven Marine-powered boat. Both boats get about 0.85 miles to the gallon at about 30 to 45 mph. With the propeller adjustments, Presby said he thinks the boat can get 1 mile to the gallon.
A fully outfitted Insetta 45 with the Seven Marine 557s is $557,000 — easy enough to remember. That’s about $50,000 more than the boat with quad 300s.
— Chris Landry