2006 - TALE OF THE TURBINE

Marc Granet climbed out of the AMF/Platinum Princess feeling like he had just taken a ride in the stratosphere.

"This is the next generation," he said after running his first race in the Offshore Super Series Turbine Extreme Class. "The boat was absolutely tremendous. It did everything right. Have you taken a peek inside? It looks like a space shuttle."

Granet and teammate Scott Begovich shared the course with three piston-powered "extreme" boats in Pickwick, Tenn.

"They beat us up a little," Begovich said. "But that won't be for long."

Granet agreed. "With every turn on every lap, we learned something new," he said.

Both OSS and Super Boat International have adopted the new turbine "extreme" class in 2006. The rules allow for Lycoming T-53 or T-55, Pratt & Whitney PT or GE T-58 engines, running on Jet-A, kerosene and/or diesel (no gasoline).

But so far only one turbine-powered cat, the Platinum owned by John Haggin's team AMF, has actually started a race. The boat, which was rigged by John Arruda of the Pompano Beach, Fla., based Turbine Marine, has twin Lycoming T53-703 engines. Each one of these former Gulf war-era Cobra attack helicopter engines is capable of putting out more than 1,750 horsepower.

Turbine-driven cats are said to be capable of speeds in excess of 200 mph, but in Pickwick, the AMF/Platinum Princess limited its top speed to 170 mph.

"What we are trying to accomplish here by creating this class is to show people that you can get reliable power, reliable big power, out of a turbine," Arruda said.

Arruda has already rigged 10 similarly powered boats for poker runs.

"We have two more in progress and a couple more hanging on the shelf," he said. "A lot of people are excited about it. You can run all season with the same setup. At the end of the year, we just take it apart to clean it out." Granet said as time goes on, he expects speed to increase.

"Right now the motors are tuned down," he said. "We have another 400 horsepower per engine available to us anytime. We're getting used to 1,300 (horsepower) a side and as soon as he gives us the OK, we are going up." - TT

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