For those of us that own or have owned a boat that we were in love with, this story will make sense. It’s the sentimental attachment that makes the real difference. This article tells just how much conviction one man has in his passion to build his perfect boat. When you’ve been behind the wheel of literally probably more than 100 different boats you definitely know when one is special. For Rick Bowling that feeling came a long time ago. Rick campaigned his 37′ talon professionally on the racing circuit for a number of years before he decided it was time to turn this boat into a pleasure poker run boat. Being a racer is in your blood and the desire to always push faster never goes away.
Nearly a dozen years ago his Talon, known nationally and from nearly every magazine in the industry as “Jelly Belly Gone Again”, crashed in the 2000 World Championships in St. Petersburg, Florida, leaving the boat severely damaged. This was the start of one of those decision processes where you go left or right and you never look back. You take a path and you follow it. For Rick, after retiring from boat racing, he decided to convert the 37’ Talon to a 4-seat, fully enclosed pleasure boat. This was a huge undertaking and required his dedicated commitment to have the boat repaired, rebuilt and modified. After two years, the boat was done and he was back to boating in his newly refurbished boat.
With the boat finished and back on the water Rick got to enjoy the boat for a couple of years before the noise from the blower motors became an issue on Lake Tahoe, CA. Rick turned to a mild mannered engine builder in southern California, Carson Brummett of Brummett Engines to help solve this problem. Carson has a long history of building turbo charged marine engines as well as a whole load of the original famed Gentry components. Rick commissioned Carson to build him some multi-fuel and selectable boost 1500HP Turbo engines for the Talon.
When they removed the existing engines to begin the rebuild, some additional damage revealed itself from the original crash. Only one way down this road and with about 2/3 of the boat previously reconstructed, it was no choice but to permanently repair the remaining 1/3. This involved replacing the back half of the bottom of the boat.
The Talon was finished again and with the new Brummett power Rick was again rewarded with a rocket of a boat that could easily eclipse 170 mph. The boat was amazing, the ride was great again and it was fast. BUT, as great as they were, these monster custom motors suffered some of the gremlins that took the pleasure from boating requiring more maintenance and parts replacement.
The sentimental attachment remained and while some would have sold the boat, Rick looked for another solution as the thought of selling the boat was not an option for him. With this level of commitment Rick was inspired by Mercury Racing’s new QV4 1350HP turbocharged engines. It became clear to Rick that taking a more modest approach and stepping into some factory warranted power would relieve him of a great deal of maintenance and provide more time for boating.
The initial thought is it should be an easy re-engine. But it’s a boat, and it’s a performance boat, so the reality was much more than what may have been initially thought. If you haven’t measured the Mercury Turbo Motor, its big. Not only is it big in power but it is big in height and width. It’s taller and the exhaust system routes downward before it ever comes back up. Even for new OEM builds the boat builders had to do some significant re-measuring and retooling to get these motors to fit, so not even the biggest shoe horn could just slide these motors into the Talon.
To make this work Rick set out AGAIN to literally redesign and reconstruct the entire rear transom and top deck of the Talon to fit the new power. This was a big job with just over two thousand man hours in the construction and details to this build. Every air inlet, water pick-up, cooling, oil line, and underwater exhaust, etc was pre-engineered and thought out. The devil is always in the details and no detail was to be missed or surprised upon for this endeavor. We wanted to bring you along through this incredible journey and commitment. The boat is nearing completion and we will have all the details for you to see. We are in awe at the amount of work and passion this man has put into what, in our eyes can only be considered as one of the world’s most extreme restorations.
Special thanks go out to Terry Laughlin for organizing the re-rig of the boat including directing a lot of the fiberglass work. Bullett Fiberglass for all their hard work and design and Pat Phillips for getting involved helping Terry rap up all the rigging.
Job well done to all!
Shown Below are some pictures of the damage from the 2000 crash and restoration process as well as the 2011 rebuild.
2000 Crash and Rebuild: