The only thing faster than the America’s Cup racing yachts on Hakata Bay at the moment is THIS boat: the Oracle Team USA Yanmar 1 chase boat. It can skim across the sea at up to 48 knots (55 mph/107kmh)!
This morning, Fukuoka Now was treated to a demonstration ride and a short burst at 42 knots (48 mph/77kmh)! Fortunately for our bums, the sea was calm and the special high-tech gas-shock-equipped seats kept things cushy. Even so, we felt ourselves pushed into the back of our seats by the boat’s rapid acceleration across the water.
Why the need for speed? If the Oracle Teams USA yacht runs into trouble during the races, or one of the athletes falls overboard, every second counts!
As well as servicing the race yacht on the day, the chase boat is also used to collect data for the team and other support services – a critically important role in Oracle Team USA’s quest to defend its America’s Cup title.
Today, Oracle Team USA members, Andrew and Ryan, piloted the boat for us out of the team’s base facility in Odo Harbor. They took us all the way to the race venue at Jigyohama, where preparations for this weekend’s races are nearing completion.
Yanmar has been one of Oracle Team USA’s technical partners since 2013 and provides the engines that allow the chase boats to rocket along so nicely.
Oracle Team USA Chase Boat (escort boat) YANMAR 1 specs:
• Body: Scorpion Ribs (UK)
• Engine: Yanmar 8LV370 (×2)
• Length: 10.2ｍ
• Width: 3.25ｍ
• Displacement: 4.46 L
• Maximum output: 272KW at 3,800rpm
• Top Speed: 48 knots
• Drive: Yanmar ZT Sterndrive
For more information on America’s Cup events in Fukuoka check out our guide in English, Japanese, Chinese or Korean.
Check out our gallery of more photos from today’s test drive: