Ritchie Howell recently completed a 61’ sportfisher and the result was a beautiful vessel that is currently fishing out of Los Sueños. There is, however, an interesting story to how the vessel came about. “I was building the boat for a customer from Venezuela. He was willing to take a chance with me. We wanted to design something exciting, something ultra-modern,” says builder Ritchie Howell.
“I noticed some guys up north were achieving some great performance numbers and had always wanted to try it. This buyer gave me the opportunity. We set out to engineer a stepped bottom. We had the opportunity to perform some CFD analysis – a computerized tank test,” Howell describes. CFD is computational fluid dynamics analysis. CFD is a pretty complicated deal, but simply stated – it is the use of applied mathematics, physics and computational software to view how a gas or liquid flows.
Howell’s interest in CFD analysis lay in determining the optimal position of the step to minimize friction between the boat’s hull and the surface of the water. “We ran four computerized tank tests. These are pretty expensive. We’d run it and tweak the bottom. The goal was to reduce friction – we go to the point that we achieved 50-knots,” Howell describes.
“The step introduces a break in the suction of the water to the hull. It’s not as much about introducing air as it is to bend the suction of the water,” Ritchie relates, scientifically. “The faster you run, the more water wants to suck the hull down to the water. The steps in the bottom allows you to break the attraction, freeing up the hull.” With reduced suction and decreased friction comes greater speed.
“It is really awesome. We put a pair of C18As on the boat with four-blade wheels,” Howell says. The boat’s top end is 39.3 knots. “I am building a new 61 with the same hull technology. The next one will be powered with 1800 Manns – we anticipate even more speed. We’ve just started the hull and figure it to be a 20-month build.”
The new step-hulled 61’ now fishes in Los Sueños. Its original buyer sold the boat upon completion, as the situation in Venezuela made it impossible for him to bring the boat there as he originally planned. It is the Sea Fix.
Draft: 4′ 6″
Weight: 64,000 lbs
Water: 250 gallons
Engines: Caterpillar C-18As, 1150 HP each
Gears: ZF 1.75:1
Generators: (2) Caterpillar 21 KWs with sound enclosures
Speed: WOT 38.5 knots – faster with 4 blade wheels