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Volvo, Yamaha among award winners

New products from 10 companies receive innovation awards at the IBEX show

Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System, a multifunctional tiller handle, a battery switch, and a digital throttle system were among the new products recognized this year at the IBEX Innovation Awards. The Oct. 21 ceremony was held in conjunction with the International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference in Miami; 10 companies received awards.

“There are some great products, and I’m glad to say judging was pretty straightforward this year,” says Roger Marshall, Boating Writers International president and Innovation Awards chairman. The IBEX Innovation Awards is organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and judged by a small group of BWI members.

Volvo Penta’s IPS received the award in the Inboard Engines category. Launched in early 2005, IPS uses twin inboards with drives installed through the hull bottom forward of the transom. The drives have forward-facing twin counter-rotating props that basically pull the boat, rather than push like typical sterndrives, for better performance. IPS is a complete package, from the steering wheel, controls and instrumentation to the engine, propulsion unit and propellers. The system is installed on new boats in the 35- to 50-foot range, and is currently offered by Carver, Chris-Craft, Cruisers Yachts, Four Winns, Luhrs, Mainship Trawlers, Monterey, Regal, Rinker, Silverton and Tiara, as well as the new Beneteau Flyer 12 express cruiser.

Yamaha Motor Corp. won the award in the Outboard Engines category for its redesigned Multifunction Tiller Handle. Judges felt that the companies entering products in this category selected “smaller versions of their existing, already innovative engines,” Marshall says. So the judges decided to award an engine component instead.

The new tiller handle has a composite-coated contoured shift lever for easy shifting, a power trim and tilt switch at the front of the throttle grip, and a variable trolling speed system switch that allows the operator to increase or decrease engine speed in 50 rpm increments.

“A number of judges tested it and found it’s very easy to handle a 50-hp engine with this tiller,” Marshall says. “One judge said that if you’ve never run a big tiller engine, this will change your mind about it.”

Blue Sea Systems’ Dual Circuit PLUS battery switch was honored in the Electrical Systems category. The switch, which the company says fits all Perko and Guest low-amperage battery-switch hole patterns, simplifies switching between two battery banks. “This is the product for individuals who always turn their battery switch to ‘both’ because they don’t know which is the house and which is the engine,” says BWI judge Jim Barron in a statement.

The Innovation Award in the OEM Electronics & Electronic Systems category went to Mercury Marine for its Shadow Technology for SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift. The digital system allows the control of three engines with two throttle controls instead of a six-lever setup. Each binnacle operates the respective outside engine while the middle engine is controlled by the SmartCraft network system.

Other awards went to the following: Bayview Edison Industries in the Boatbuilding Methods & Materials category for its reusable infusion port (; AvXcel Inc. in the Mechanical Systems category for its TropiKool 40 marine refrigerator (; Attwood Corp. in the Furnishings & Finishes category for its VisionAir seat (; and Forest City Tool Inc. in the Yard & Boat Construction Hardware & Software category for its Marine Line Quickchange hole boring system (

In addition to the Innovation Awards, the IBEX Environmental Award was presented to Royce Industries for its Smart Cap, a marine fuel tank monitoring system that virtually eliminates a tank from overflowing. “It is easy to use, and solves a lot of problems plaguing older systems,” Marshall says.