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BRP, Teleflex develop Evinrude joystick system

Bombardier Recreational Products is teaming up with Teleflex Marine to create a power steering and joystick helm control system for Evinrude V-6 twin outboard installations.

“We recognized the potential of this market a long time ago,” Evinrude senior product specialist Larry Koschak told Soundings on Tuesday.

“The joystick has been offered with inboard and pod drive systems for many years and started to solidify with outboards when Teleflex made its Optimus introduction,” Koschak added. “This is a growing trend and we want to make sure that we keep Evinrude outboards competitive and have this offering for our customers.”

Optimus 360 by SeaStar will be available for installation from authorized Evinrude E-TEC boatbuilders and dealerships in April. It can be used for repowering used boats, Koschak said.

Mercury and Yamaha emerged last fall as the first two production engine companies to offer joystick control for outboard-powered boats. Teleflex debuted its Optimus 360 with power steering and joystick for mechanically controlled outboards in February 2012 at the Miami International Boat Show.

Teleflex was the first to bring joystick control to the outboard steering market — and without the use of bow thrusters, according to Aldo Mastropieri, Teleflex Marine’s product manager of custom marine and steering. And now it will be available with Evinrude's electronically controlled system.

The Evinrude/Teleflex system will use Evinrude's Icon electronic shift and throttle, Koschak said. “The Optimus 360 takes over with the power steering pumps, the steering helm and the joystick,” he said. “So the major steering duties start with Teleflex.”

BRP expects many of the boat companies it works with to begin rigging their boats with the system, which will be available in the spring. Andros Boatworks will have a 32-foot center console equipped with the system at the Miami International Boat Show’s in-water slips at the Sea Isle Marina.

With adjustable steering friction control, Optimus’ power steering system allows the driver to set the lock-to-lock steering ratio for piloting in various conditions. Drivers can increase the number of turns from lock to lock while maneuvering the boat in close quarters and decrease the number of turns while cruising offshore in rough conditions for lengthy periods to reduce fatigue.

“The system will reduce stress for the driver and allow for better control of the boat," Koschak said.

It also will eliminate the need for add-on power steering components with hydraulic steering in many outboard-powered boats, he said.

— Chris Landry