Bermuda Challenge, can a monohull win?


Rats. I got excited that an accomplished-sounding guy named Chris Fertig had departed New York Harbor yesterday morning in an attempt at the Bermuda Challenge. He hoped to beat the current speed champ “while using less fuel and producing less engine emissions.” But the Spot tracking page for TDI Clean Diesel indicates that he hung a hard right for home at around eight last night. The boat is still moving right along, so there’s no sign of gear failure, but my calculations show an average speed of only 28 knots for the first 290 miles, and he’d been hoping for 35. Plus his track had started zig-zagging a bit suggesting a contentious sea state despite the Statement Marine’s “shock mitigating suspension system.” Giving up on a sure-to-lose attempt might have been my decision too! But let’s discuss the Challenge and some of Fertig’s gear anyway…

The Bermuda Challenge was purportedly dreamt up in a bar by the good and eclectic writer David Seidman, then editor of Boating. The idea was to see if a powerboat under 40 feet using rapidly improving hull and propulsion technology could handle 673 nautical miles of open ocean at speed, and so far only power catamarans have held the record, which currently stands at 22 hours and 23 minutes. There does seem to be another monohull, a Contender 37 called Team Big Dog, that is either planning to attempt the challenge or already did but forget to note the results on their web site.
   A lot of TDI Clean Diesel’s technology is at least somewhat familiar, like the Cummins Mercruiser Diesel Axius sterndrives, the FLIR thermal camera, and the Simrad electronics. But David Clark marine intercoms are little known beyond military and “go fast” boats. And they sound darn serious: A nearly infinite number of headsets with full duplex intercom, a 300 foot wireless range, and interfaces for HF, VHF, and UHF radios.


TDI Clean Diesel just tied up in Rehoboth Beach, Deleware, which means that Chris Fertig and crew ran about 550 miles of ocean in a bit over 24 hours. The Bermuda Challenge record remains unbroken, but that’s a heck of a gear test.

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

7 Responses

  1. Sandy Daugherty says:

    I hope it wasn’t a personal injury that caused the return trip. Thirty knots on the open ocean in a small boat is pretty rough.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Excellent: Chris Fertig reports the trip on Boating’s Facebook page and the problem was just weather. They’re going to be at the Ft. Lauderdale show and they’re going to try it again:

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your concern for our crew. We were 2 hours ahead of the world record pace at the 300 mile mark but unpredicted 12 – 14 foot seas starting at the 325 mile mark forced us to choose caution over pride and live to make another attempt next spring.
    I would like to extend an invitation for you to come for a ride on TDI CLEAN DIESEL at the Fort Lauderdale boat show so we can show you some of the unique electronics we have onboard including a new satelite streaming video system and Faria Watchdog remote engine monitoring system. We will be at the CMD docks but i’m not sure exactly what slip yet.
    Feel free to contact me at if you would like to set up an after-hours demo ride or would like additinal details about our first Bermuda Challenge World record attempt.
    I’m a big Panbo fan and look forward to meeting you if you can make it.
    Best Regards,
    Chris Fertig

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, and good to hear from you, Chris. I will be in Lauderdale and will certainly try to follow up on your welcome invitation. I’ll be in touch!

  5. Anonymous says:

    A monohull can win! The new record is 21 hours 39 minutes.
    Best Regards,
    Chris Fertig

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Congratulations, Chris! Wow! I can barely imagine the focus you and Tyson must have maintained all those hours. Blisters on Tyson’s throttle hand!?!
    Can we hope for a detailed report in Boating on the problems you two dealt with even while averaging 35 mph over 780 miles of open ocean?
    Meanwhile, readers, there’s some good coverage of Chris’s record finish at Bernews:
    And Boating has been covering the Bermuda Challenge since 1996 and Chris since he threw his hat in the ring:
    Incidentally, I got a memorable ride with Chris in fairly rough conditions off Miami last February. I came away totally impressed with the boat, the engines, the systems, and most of all Chris’s obvious feel for it all. Nonetheless, I got pretty darn nervous skipping over waves at 50mph.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Amazing! Chris Fertig and Tyson Garvin set a new Bermuda Challenge record of 15 hours 48 minutes despite having to stop twice to somehow change propellers at sea. They even streamed video of the whole trip.

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