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Record Attempt to Cross the Straits of Florida

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07.08.2017

Record Attempt to Cross the Straits of Florida

‘#77 Lucas Oil SilverHook’ Racing Monohull

On 17 August 2017 Nigel Hook, Captain of the SilverHook Race Team, will aim to make history in an effort to set a new world record from Key West USA to Cuba - and back.

The high speed 48 foot (14.5m) racing monohull ‘#77 Lucas Oil SilverHook’ will be going through waves as much as flying over the top, making visibility very limited and from a safety standpoint rendering state-of-the-art telemetry essential.

The first objective is a one-way speed record from a point just off the Florida Keys in the southern United States to Havana, Cuba. If that record is established, then part two will be an equally-fast or faster return trip and a two-way record.

The Lucas Oil Speed Record attempt will begin on the morning of 17 August at 06.30 in Mallory Square, Key West. The timer starting the record attempt will be triggered just south of Sunset Key and will stop when SilverHook reaches the channel marker in front of El Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba. Following a brief celebration hosted by the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, the return leg will start with a quick fly-by of the US Embassy along the Malecón coast before crossing the starting line. Then straight back to Key West, hopefully producing the reverse, round-trip world record.

168 mph Race Boat takes on USA to Cuba Route

This USA to Cuba record attempt is a tremendous challenge for the SilverHook, which given the expected wave conditions should exceed 125 mph. The 48 foot (14.5m) boat weighs over 13,000 pounds (5,900 kg) and is powered by two Mercury Racing engines producing a combined 3,100 horsepower with top speed of 168 mph in calm conditions.

SilverHook has been a global endeavor ever since Michael Silfverberg and Nigel Hook made the decision to build an all-out, 100% raceboat. The duo chose the Mannerfelt Design Team to design their race-only boat under the SilverHook brand. They chose Mystic Powerboats, a builder well renowned for building world-class race boats. BPM surface drives are coupled with high-performance engine built by Express Engines.

SilverHook's course will take it 102 miles across the Florida current that flows between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. As the current is at its strongest in July and August, that resistance will force SilverHook to travel about 110 miles on this trip. The Florida current is a treacherous body of water that has been the graveyard of many ships through the ages. Depending on wave height, visibility can be poor at speed, with the monohull diving down and through waves rather than skipping over the surface. Waves can run from 3 to 30 feet high, requiring constant vigilance by the helicopter spotters to avoid other ships or floating debris such as tree trunks and oil barrels.

Onboard Telemetry and The Internet of Things

It is not only sheer speed that will make this crossing exceptional but, also the level of pioneering data-driven artificial intelligence on board the race boat - making it one of the most technologically advanced offshore monohulls in existence. Nigel Hook states, ‘We are merging artificial intelligence and augmented reality into ocean racing. With this technology we will transform our sport, and this time in international waters!'

The powerboat telemetry has been radically updated from its normal Superboat unlimited configuration. By incorporating BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) Nigel Hook and the SilverHook race team will stay connected with the Agusta 109C safety helicopter and the support boats as they cross the Straits of Florida. Enthusiasts around the globe will also be able to experience the race in real-time by watching the engine gauges, IoT (Internet of Things) data and listening to audio transmitted from the cockpit via the t3 Live dashboard. This is made possible using Globecomm, Inmarsat and Satcom Direct’s leading edge satellite technology.

Telemetry on 77 Lucas Oil Superhook race boat >

Cuba World Record Attempt for Captain Hook

SilverHook is owned and captained by transplanted Englishman Nigel Hook, who will be controlling the throttles and telemetry on the record attempt. Hook is a 30 year veteran of international powerboat racing who has won three World Championships, set three World Speed Records, including the 500 mile 2013 record ‘Golden Gate to Queen Mary’, and earned membership in the APBA Hall of Champions. He currently races the 77 Lucas Oil SilverHook 48GP in the Superboat International unlimited class. His co-pilot and driver is fellow APBA inductee and powerboat veteran Jay Johnson.

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When asked why Cuba, Hook said, ‘A Cuba record always been in my mind since my first race in Key West and, for many reasons, the time is right now. There is a strong history of offshore racing between Cuba and the US dating back to 1922. During our recent meeting with the Commodore of the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Havana it became obvious that Commodore Escrich and I share a similar passion for ocean sports. With his support, we plan for this to become an annual event.’

Key West to Cuba Challenge History

Nigel Hook and the SilverHook race team aim to join the long list of adventurers whose passion has taken them from the Keys to Cuba and back again. Countless others have challenged the Straits of Florida over the past 500 years, from Spanish, English and Portuguese explorers to pirates, smugglers and even endurance swimmers - but no boats have set speed records close to the 100 mph mark.

The sanctioned record of 6 hours was set in 1922 by a boat piloted by motor racing Hall of Fame member Gar Wood. He established the first one-way speed record to Cuba nearly a century ago with his 50 foot, twin 425hp ‘Gar Jr II’, at a then blistering speed of 27.6 mph. Wood was an American inventor, entrepreneur, motor boat builder and racer who held the world water speed record on several occasions. He was the first man to travel over 100 miles per hour on water. Rocky Aoki’s official Key West to Cuba and back record attempt nearly 40 years ago ended in disaster when his boat ‘Benihana’ nearly sank getting to Cuba and had to return to Key West on the deck of a shrimp boat. Aoki averaged a record setting one-way run of 55.15 mph which still stands today. In 2015 the ocean racer Apache set an unsanctioned time of 1 hour and 51 minutes.

This Lucas Oil Ocean Cup – Key West to Cuba record, will be an internationally approved record sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA), governed by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) with race management by Powerboat P1.

Lucas Oil Ocean Cup >

Silverhook Powerboats >

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