Vessels:ICE is Nice (and fast, too!)

Friday, January 10, 2003
While it is not a vessel you will see anytime soon on U.S. port patrol, the BladeRunner speed boat from IceMarine could offer some technological cues to designers seeking to deliver an ultra fast boat with outstanding handling characteristics, a trait evident even in rough seas.

MarineNews had the good fortune to test drive the BladeRunner speed boat off England's Isle of Wight late last year, putting the powerful 34-ft. boat through its paces with Jeremy Watts, Managing Director and Owner of Ice Marine, alongside. Taking the helm of the sleek vessel is much like climbing behind the wheel of a Ferrari, with its race pedigree and accents evident from Watts' experience as a World Offshore Powerboat Champion. The BladeRunner 34 is an "Air Entrapment Monohull" (AEM) which is touted by Watts as radically different to any conventional monohull, in that it has dramatic twin tunnels which flare out from either side of the slender twin stepped hull. AEM provides the boat with phenomenal aerodynamic lift (confirmed and endorsed heartily by this reporter's test ride), improving speed and efficiency and significantly softening the ride by compressing the air inside the tunnels to add a cushioning effect.

The boat's performance is nothing short of incredible considering the powerful characteristics it possesses. As tested, the 35 x 9.5 x 1.75 ft. boat was powered by a pair of twin Mercury Optimax 225 hp V6 outboards, delivering a top speed of 74 mph. Other propulsion option include twin Honda BF225 VTEC V6 4-stroke outboards, or twin Mercury Promax X 300 hp V6 outboards. Depending on final propulsion choice and accessories, the highest spec BladeRunner is said to top out in excess of 100 mph. Fuel capacity is a 100 gallons.

When idle, the BladeRunner sits low in the water, but when powered up, the vessel is anything but inconspicuous. Given its look and speed, one would imagine the boat a nightmare to fellow boaters, but quite the opposite is true. The ride is surprisingly quiet, given the tremendous power packs sitting less than 12 feet away, and almost inexplicably, the vessel leave little to know wake, a testament to 7 years of investment in the optimized AEM design. The boat was jointly designed by Watts and Lorne Cambell, a Naval Architect and Designer with many boating championship credits to his name.

The boat is kept stable and level in a straight line and when turning - another fact confirmed by the test run - by a combination of sharp keels and pressurized air in the tunnels. The same sharp keels also provide superior directional stability to prevent any unforeseen sudden changes in direction (hooking). — Greg Trauthwein

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