Suzuki DF70 4-Stroke Behind Winning Team and Skiff From Hell’s Bay Boatworks
Racing a small, open skiff around the entire Florida coast — without sleep and in all kinds of weather — requires endurance, stamina, planning and a dedicated crew of people. It also requires one tough, dependable and powerful outboard motor, like Suzuki Marine’s DF70 4-stroke.
The team from Hell’s Bay Boatworks recently won the 2021 Florida Skiff Challenge, covering the grueling 1,300 miles in 44 hours and 4 minutes aboard their 16’ 4” Hells Bay Biscayne skiff powered by a Suzuki DF70. In this year’s event (the 5th overall), Hell’s Bay beat out teams/boats from other popular boat brands including Yellowfin, SeaPro, Key West and Angler Pro. On the way, they battled cold, wind, waves and weather of all types, along with the exhaustion that comes with running flat out for almost two straight days. Through it all, they never lost confidence in their rugged little skiff or the motor bolted to its transom.
Each team has to run a skiff no longer than 18 feet and powered by an outboard motor up to 70hp. Boats can only carry 22 gallons of fuel and must plot their own fuel and food stops along the way. In addition to two boat drivers, each team has support crew that follows along over land and meets them at each stop.
This years’ victorious Hell’s Bay Boatworks team included company owner Chris Peterson and his son J.C. Peterson, who handled the driving and navigation duties. Al Keller and Dan Hunt of Hell’s Bay served as land-based support crew, meeting them at each of the stops to make sure they were properly supplied, fueled up and ready for action. Hell’s Bay has entered all five Florida Skiff Challenge races, and has now won the event three times.
Hell’s Bay recognized the Suzuki DF70’s in-line 4-cylinder powerhead with 1,503cc displacement as an important advantage pitted against other manufacturers’ outboards of 70hp or less. “The motor ran strong in all kinds of conditions, without missing a beat,” said Chris Peterson, owner of Hell’s Bay Boatworks. In addition to its ample displacement and power for these challenging conditions, Hell’s Bay chose the DF70 for its strong 27-amp alternator. “The Suzuki DF70 provided more charging power than other options, “ said support crew chief Al Keller. “We were running all night, with lights and a full array of marine electronics for safety. With the Suzuki, we never had to change out batteries during pit stops, which definitely saved us time,” added Keller.
Completing this race — much less winning it — is a grueling undertaking. Fortunately for all the competitors, this race is held each year to support a very good cause. What began as a battle for bragging rights among skiff builders about who had the hardiest boats and crews has evolved into an annual event that highlights Florida’s water many issues, spearheaded by manufacturers and the non-profit organization Captains For Clean Water.
This popular and well-watched event draws attention to water issues and promotes ways that everyday people can help protect and restore Florida’s water quality for future generations. These goals are in perfect harmony with Suzuki Marine’s range of activities on behalf of the marine environment. Suzuki recently debuted the world’s first microplastics filtering device designed for use on outboard motors, as part of the company’s global Clean Oceans Project. With this device, everyday boaters can become part of the solution to the worldwide problem of microplastic pollution, just by driving their boats.
“Suzuki understands the importance of protecting our waters and coastal environments for future generations,” said George “Gus” Blakely, Vice President of Suzuki Marine USA, LLC. “This why we clean up beaches and innovate things like the new microplastics filter for our engines. With Florida as our new home, we’re especially appreciative of all the efforts of Captains for Clean Water, not just for this annual event, but all year long,” added Blakely.
To learn more about Suzuki Marine’s full line of Ultimate Outboard Motors from 2.5 to 350 horsepower, visit www.suzukimarine.com. To find out more about the goals and activities of Captains for Clean Water, visit www.captainsforcleanwater.com.