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VIDEO: Taking on the Bermuda Challenge … again

Chris Fertig and Tyson Garvin for the second time in 12 months will attempt to break the Bermuda Challenge record, a non-stop powerboat sprint of nearly 780 miles from New York to Bermuda.

The pair captured the record Aug. 5, 2012, only to lose it seven weeks later to Italian designer Fabio Buzzi and his high-tech military boat. Fertig and Garvin will be running a 2012 39-foot, stepped-vee Skater powered with twin 480-hp Cummins diesels linked to Arneson surface drives.

A powerboat handling expert, Fertig served in the Coast Guard on a special unit that chased drug runners. Garvin is an engineer by trade and is building his own marine rotary diesel engine.

At an average speed of 40 knots, Buzzi and a crew of five beat Fertig’s record by 4 hours and 33 minutes. They made the record run Sept. 28 with a time of 17 hours and 6 minutes aboard Col Moschin, FB Design’s 40-foot monohull military boat with a full pilothouse and powered with twin 650-hp diesels.

Click play for a look at the record-seeking pair.

Fertig and Garvin set their Bermuda Challenge record of 21 hours and 39 minutes in a smaller, simpler boat — an open 37-foot Statement Marine center console powered with twin 350-hp Mercury TDI (turbocharged direct injection) diesels. The Statement boat was built with an innovative air-cushioned deck that uses air bags to compensate for slamming loads.

The Skater should prove much faster than the Statement and match or surpass its durability and efficiency, Fertig says.

“We plan to set a record that will be harder to break this time around,” Fertig says. “Let’s face it. [Buzzi] is the most successful endurance boatbuilder and racer that there ever was. His record is extremely impressive, and we knew we had to come to the table with something significantly more capable than what we had last time. If we have no mechanical breakdowns and the weather cooperates, we have a chance to break it.”

In seas of 2 feet or less, the Skater could run at an average speed as high as 70 knots, Fertig says. The boat will carry about 600 gallons of fuel, Garvin adds. From 40 to 80 mph the boat gets 2 nmpg.

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“As you get to the top of the horsepower band, the diesels will be less efficient and burn more fuel, but counteracting that is the efficiency of the stepped hull at higher speeds,” Garvin says.

The pair is waiting for a favorable weather window to make their attempt.

Fertig and Garvin broke the record set by Neil Burnie and Bill Ratlieff in 2002 aboard a 31-foot Renaissance Prowler catamaran (22 hours, 23 minutes).

Click here for the other record holders.


MANUFACTURER: Skater Powerboats
MODEL: 399 V-hull
MATERIAL: carbon fiber/Kevlar
POWER: twin 5.9-liter 480-hp Cummins
DRIVES: Arneson No. 8
PROPS: Precision Propeller Works, 19 by 44 inches
ELECTRONICS: Simrad NSS Integrated Navigation system with satellite weather


Winslow Ultra-Light five-person offshore life raft
4 Iridium satellite phones
2 DeLorme two-way text messenger/trackers
2 406 MHz EPIRBs


watermaker, flares, handheld GPS, VHF radio, satellite phone, dye packs, chem lights, duct tape and zip ties, flashlight, knife, Rescue Tape, 50 feet of 550 parachute cord, strobe light, 406 MHz EPIRB, full medical kit, full damage control kit, including hull plugs