Those who have been watching the America’s Cup races in San Francisco Bay may have noticed the high-speed umpire boat racing alongside the sailboats. The 43-ft. interceptor craft was provided by Willard Marine, a 56-year-old boat builder based in southern California. The boat is based on an offshore racing design and was originally built by Willard Marine for military special warfare missions, such as interdicting and boarding vessels in the open ocean. Powered by twin 600hp inboard turbocharged diesel engines with a high-speed surface drive, the interceptor can sustain speeds up to 60 knots.
“The AC72 wing-sail catamarans competing in this year’s America’s Cup Challenge are designed to achieve speeds of 40 knots or more,” said Ulrich Gottschling, president of Willard Marine. “America’s Cup race management needed an umpire boat that could not only match but exceed the speed of the racing boats. Our 43-ft. interceptor proved to be an ideal platform for this demanding environment.”
“There are a lot of firsts in this America’s Cup and the umpiring is at the leading edge of technology much like the boats are,” said Mike Martin, Director of Umpiring for the America’s Cup. “We have a boat that does 60 knots – it’s a 43-ft., twin-turbo diesel, 1,200hp – racing machine.”