Chris Fertig broke the New York to Bermuda Challenge record this weekend in his 37-foot Statement Marine center console with twin 350-hp Mercury TDI (turbocharged direct injection) diesels, making the 780-mile sojourn from the Statue of Liberty to St. George, Bermuda, in 21 hours and 39 minutes.
Severe weather stopped Fertig last September in his first attempt.
“We think we’ve done our homework and learned a lot since making our unsuccessful run,” Fertig told Soundings Trade Only on Friday afternoon, about 18 hours before casting off. “We’ve been waiting since May for a good weather forecast, and we have it with a low chance of thunderstorms and 2- to 3-foot seas most of the way.”
Click play to view an interview with Fertig.
He bested the previous mark set in 2002 — 22 hours, 23 minutes — by 44 minutes. Also on board was Tyson Garvin, a high-performance engine builder and president of Apex Manufacturing who was the chief mechanic.
Fertig said Friday afternoon that the previous record holder clocked an average speed of 34 mph. “Our goal is to make time when it’s calm and create a time cushion and be able to slow down when it is rough and still be ahead of that 34 mph average speed,” he said. “So we’ll have to go four, five, six mph faster when it’s calm, but never get below 34 mph."
Fertig’s monohull can maintain high speed in rough conditions — more than 30 knots — because of its innovative air-cushioned deck, which uses air bags under the deck to compensate for slamming loads, Fertig said. Statement Marine, in St. Petersburg, Fla., is developing the air-bag technology.
The TDI engine, a Volkswagen engine, was linked to Bravo III XR drives. Fertig owns the center console and was able to gather a boatload of sponsors to aid the effort, he said.
Created by Boating magazine in 1994, the challenge consists of a 780-mile run from New York to Bermuda. Only three boats have completed the trip — all outboard-powered catamarans. The previous record was held by Neil Burnie and Bill Ratlieff aboard a 31-foot Renaissance Marine Prowler catamaran. Prior to Burnie and Ratlieff the mark was held by Larry Graf, who ran his 26-foot Glacier Bay.
“We were faced with a lot of different [challenges] during the voyage — rough seas and different things we had to take care of on the boat — but with each one ... we found a solution to it,” Fertig said after the trip in the video interview.
— Chris Landry