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Formula Extreme!

By: Scott Smith, Marketing Manager

Cool suggestions on water to personalize or improve your Formula!

I’m going to say it right up front: when it comes to boats, a Formula is about as close to perfection as you can get. That’s why many of you wound up owning one, right? Still, every person is unique and that makes it very tough to design a boat that no one thinks they can improve on. If we added everything that everyone feels should be standard equipment to any given model, even a 260 Sun Sport might make commissioning the Titanic look like a bargain. In the end, most boats end up with some sort of modification or another suit to suit their captain’s needs, and usually that’s just fine. Most of the time modifications are minimal and don’t really alter the appearance of the boat or the impression it makes.

While I don’t believe that Formula would go so as to take an official stance that says you ought to start messing with your boat’s original equipment or specifications, I think that we certainly recognize the fact that changes are sometimes made by owners, and we should encourage them to at least think things through first. There! With the “use your common sense” advice out of the way, let me pass along a few things you might want to consider. I’ll try to break them down into broad categories for you:

Speed and Performance

“Speed and Performance.” That’s that siren song of the gearhead, but I do not want to mislead you. I will suggest things that may increase your speed or improve boat handling somewhat over “stock,” but not to the point of danger. If you just wanna increase your speed, bolt a flat bottom to your boat and strap that most horsepower that will still allow your boat to float-but I didn’t tell you that!

Work on the Props  Like the old tire slogan says, this is “where the rubber meets the road.” Your propellers apply the power generated by the motor to the water to create thrust. Propellers that more efficiently transfer that power into thrust will generally give you greater speed, less vibrations and better overall performance (hole shot, midrange power, etc.). Why don’t you just get the best propeller possible for your Formula when you buy it? Well, the “best” propeller doesn’t really exist when all factors are taken into account.

Blueprinting. For example, “blueprinting” will usually wring the best performance out of a prop (or set of pops). When you blueprint, you basically send your props to a shop and tell them, “I want you to go over every parameter of these props. Look at the pitch over the whole blade. Then check the rake. And the cup, and the diameter. Make sure every blade on the prop is identical and in correct spec. Oh, yeah. And since this is one of set, take its mate and make sure that it’s identical to the first!” And you know what? It usually works. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, and the props we use are in general very good and most customers are quite satisfied with their overall performance. In the interest of keeping costs in line for our average (none of you are “average” – you know what I mean!) Formula customer, we do not automatically slap on that extra cost for another mile per or two and perhaps less vibration and marginally improved fuel economy. But it’s one idea.

Match Your Prop to your Application  When we prop a boat, we prop it for best all-around performance. In other words, we figure the majority of our customers are going to use their boat in the vicinity of sea level and in “normal” humidity and temperature ranges. We run a specific boat/ engine combination on a freshwater lake within a few miles of our Decatur, Indiana, plant and then we usually take it down to Florida and run it on salt water. We choose the correct type of prop for the application and decide which pitch (a measurement of how far, theoretically, one revolution of the propeller should move it forward) will keep the engine within the wide-open-throttle rpm range designated by the manufacturer. Admittedly, this is often not ideal for every situation. The boat may end up at high altitude and, starved of oxygen, will not be able to turn the prop that came with it. Or maybe you are a skiing enthusiast and long for a hole shot that’ll darn near rip your arms from their sockets–you don’t care about top end, you want a smaller prop that will apply more torque at low end!

Reduce drag.

No kidding. Less friction results in better overall performance, right?

Expose Your Bottom. If you don’t have a fouling problem–your boat lives in clean freshwater or a rack or dry stack–get the bottom paint off! It didn’t come that way from the factory, but the dealer or a previous owner may have applied it. It’s adding surface area and weight, and if you don’t have a barnacle problem, it’s just slowing you down! On the other hand, if you keep it in the type of water that encourages critters to make your hull their home, antifouling paint will actually give you more speed ‘cause you won’t be dragging around marine life.

Nose Cones. First of all, read this sentence completely and understand it fully: They might work for you. What they are are basically pointy instruments that are welded or epoxied to the front of your outdrive’s torpedo. The idea is that they make the drive more hydrodynamic, thus allowing the horsepower to be used for additional speed instead of overcoming drag. I’ve talked to a lot of customers in my day, and some say it worked for them, some say it didn’t. I think each situation is unique and your best bet is to talk to the guys who will be doing the job for you.

Exhaust Yourself. You may find that updating your exhaust will increase speed. What does this have to do with drag? Well, actually, I look at exhaust as drag on the powertrain. If you free up the exhaust, you get more power to apply to propulsion as opposed to pushing the gasses out of the engine. You may consider new manifolds, thru-hull exhaust or a part-time system (such as the Corsa® Captain’s Call we offer in many applications}, or maybe even something as simple as replacing your outdrive’s exhaust bellows with exhaust tubes if feasible (talk to your service man about this). Please keep in mind your local noise ordinances.

Lose Weight. You could tear out the cabin of the boat, but really, the best thing you can do is to get in the boat and look for anything not bolted down that you haven’t used in three months of boating. If it isn’t a necessary tool, spare part or piece of safety gear, store it in your boathouse. What are the odds anyone is going to use that pair of wooden skis anyway?

Toys for Big Boys and Girls.

These are those things that are fun add-ons that aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do enhance your boating experience. And some are actually useful!

Brighten it up. In most instances, Formula holds the general philosophy that less is more.  One does not notice a great deal of extraneous hardware bolted to the deck of your average Formula, nor would one call the average Formula a “gaudy” boat. Admittedly, we have begun to see bolder graphics in recent years, and that is great, but there’s still room for your touch. Paint or order some colored bezels. Chrome some hardware. Make it your own! But do it tastefully. You don’t want your Formula looking like the car Huggy Bear drove in “Starsky and Hutch.”

More Power. Some boaters end up wanting AC voltage on the boat, and if that’s your desire, it can be done. Shorepower hook-ups are nice, especially when coupled with a battery charger, and inverters, which convert DC battery power to AC, would seem to be a good choice given the proper boat and right circumstances. Its main disadvantage is the ·weight penalty of the batteries you’ll need tor DC power storage. In either I instance, if you’re not a qualified electrical systems technician, get one to do the work for you.

Look Forward.  If you want some great ideas, take a look at some of the standard features on a bigger Formula than you already have. Some of the things that we cannot consider from a sales and production standpoint may work out pretty well if you get them custom installed. Maybe you really want an icemaker, but it isn’t offered on your model. If you want to sacrifice some room that we weren’t willing to, go for it. Maybe you want to install an additional battery and switch, or a set of trim tabs. If it isn’t asking too much of the boat, lots of things are possible!

Before you embark on any project or add any component to your boat, just take a few things into consideration. For example, consider weight distribution: Will installing the extra batteries for the inverter give you a permanent list to port? What about power requirements? Will your alternator be able to provide sufficient voltage, or does your shorepower system’s battery charger have a high enough amperage rating? Always consider safety issues, too. Creating a beast that’s beyond your control is no fun. Resale value is important, too. Who says that everyone will appreciate a four-foot radar dome on your 260?

Have a great season!