QMSF and American partners announce plans to build turbine-engined boat in 2013þPosted: Updated:
By Neil Perkins
MIAMI (USA): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani today (Thursday) announced at the Miami International Boat Show that the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) has agreed to a partnership with Mystic Powerboats and Whispering Turbines to build the ultimate turbine-powered racing boat for the 2013 racing season.
The exciting new ‘Spirit of Qatar' boat will be entered in the 2013 Extreme/Turbine – Unlimited class in the United States of America.
Sheikh Hassan has been in lengthy discussions with his new partners for some time and can now confirm that the Doha-based team will run a Mystic powerboat fitted with Whispering Turbine power plants and a Five-Axis Industries transmission. Five Axis Industries is owned by the Ellstrom family, which runs the Spirit of Qatar hydroplane on the H1 Unlimited tour.
"Our idea is to expand the racing map that we participate in, as well as expanding into new race categories to become the leader in powerboat racing," enthused Sheikh Hassan. "We have raced alongside the Miss Geico (Extreme/Turbine class) team in the past, but we were in two different classes and not far behind, even with the restricted engines we used in 2010."
The president of the QMSF confirmed that the team will enter a single boat in 2013 and is yet to choose the cockpit line-up. "We are building this team from scratch for this class only. We may use some of our existing crew only if we can find extra time for them to work on this project. I am confident that when our team registers for the new season, we will be able to race alongside a large number of boats attracted by the entry of a new international team."
Sheikh Hassan admits that previous experience of the OPA Offshore series was vital in his decision-making for 2013. "Racing in the USA opened our eyes to so many things, one of which is being part of an event where the social scene and interacting with other teams and people is a priority. It was also interesting that we caught everyone's attention when we spoke about Qatar."
The QMSF had been searching for partners to come on board for the programme and Sheikh Hassan is confident that the team will have the best package on the water for the start of the new season. "We followed the performances of Mystic Racing and the likes of Miss Geico, JBS Racing, Aqua Mania and My Way and realised that the fastest boats on the circuit were Mystics, so it was natural that we went with an existing proven package."
"I first met Sheikh Hassan when he came to the US with his boats to race at Key West," enthused John Cosker, president of Mystic Powerboats, which are based at DeLand in Florida. "His team was based in the Geico camp in Palm Beach, so he spent a bit of time around the Turbine Extreme Mystic that they are running.
"Mystic Powerboats will be building the carbon fibre race boat for the team and working closely with Whispering Turbines on the drive train layout and installation. I think the Spirit of Qatar Team entering this class will raise the level of competition and excitement tremendously. Mystic has dominated this class over the past five years and I feel that Qatar building a boat for the class adds great validity and shows that the most extreme competitors appreciate the challenge of this form of racing."
The new Spirit of Qatar boat will be powered by a pair of T55-L7C turbine engines, delivering around 2,900hp each, and capable of propelling the boat to a top speed in excess of 220 mph (354 km/h). Sheikh Hassan also announced that the new ‘Spirit of Qatar' boat will be used to attempt to break propeller speed records in excess of 220 mph.
"Safety will be paramount in the construction of the new boat," added the QMSF president. "We will redesign the cockpit, especially when targeting propeller speeds of over 220 mph."
"Sheikh Hassan contacted me several years ago with questions about turbine power for another project and we have been in regular contact ever since," said Tracy Bratvold, co-founder of Whispering Turbines, based at Whispering Pines in the State of Montana.
"He then became involved in the sport through the H1 Unlimited series and came to one of our hydroplane races and devised a plan to bring the sport to Qatar, where we have raced for three years. Our company will be building and maintained the gas turbine engines for the QMSF's new boat venture.
"We will be there to support in any way we can and will continue to supply the same power plants for U-96 Spirit of Qatar in the H1 Unlimited series. The engines were originally designed for the Chinook helicopter and make an excellent power plant for the marine industry, because they only weigh 700lbs (318kgs) each and produce nearly 3,000hp, depending on the fuel flow (circa 4.3 gallons per minute).
"With a little tweaking, we can get around 3,000hp per engine instead of the stock 2,850hp. We have waited for the perfect time to be closely associated in a project like this and hope to have a long and exciting future with the QMSF."
Erick Ellstrom of Five Axis Industries is also delighted to be part of the new project. "We were honoured to be asked to be part of this new venture," said Ellstrom, whose family owns the Spirit of Qatar hydroplane team that competes on the H1 Unlimited tour. "The team will have complete access to all our technology to produce and design whatever is necessary. The relationship between the QMSF and Five Axis is very strong. Dave Villwock has no relation to this project, but drives one of my boats which is supported by the QMSF and runs as U-96 Spirit of Qatar."
Sheikh Hassan will be switching his own attentions to an exciting programme of Class 1 racing this season, but is relishing the start of the new project in the USA. "We are proud of our Spirit of Qatar team as being a multi-cultural and multinational operation, with crew from Qatar, Italy, the UK and Norway, and we want to continue to show that we are a truly international team and the very best on the water."