Suzuki 4-stroke outboard motors are known for strong performance, fuel efficiency and most of all, rugged reliability. This last trait probably tops the list for the hardy crews racing in the upcoming 2022 Florida Skiff Challenge — a grueling non-stop race around the entire 1,300-mile coastline of Florida that kicks off on April 7 and ends when the last boat reaches the finish line.
Suzuki’s reputation for toughness is likely a key reason why four of the six total skiffs entered in the race this year (the 6th running of the event) will be powered by Suzuki DF70 outboards. That, and the fact that Team Hell’s Bay won last year’s event in a 16’4” Hell’s Bay Biscayne skiff powered by Suzuki 70 horsepower outboard, finishing the punishing race in just over 44 hours.
This year’s race will see Team Hell’s Bay —defending champion and winner of three of five events so far — once again entering a skiff powered by Suzuki. Based on this their track record and experience, it would be safe to assume that Team Hell’s Bay is once again the favorite to win. This year, however, teams from Yellowfin Boats, Blacktip Boatworks and Sea Pro Boats will also be trusting Suzuki 70hp outboards to power them through what is one of the toughest tests of man and machine on the planet.
Race rules state that each team has to run a skiff no longer than 18 feet and powered by an outboard motor of 70 horsepower or less. These “flats skiffs” are boats commonly used to spend pleasant days fishing in sheltered waters, but this race requires them to race continuously over a nearly 48-hour period, crossing open water in all types of weather and wave conditions. Skiff Challenge crews push themselves and their equipment to the limits as they race from Pensacola on the Florida panhandle, around the tip of the peninsula and eventually finish up in Fernandina Beach near the Florida/Georgia border. Crews run without sleep, only shutting down to replenish fuel and to take part in one brief, mandatory media stop in Key Largo.
The Florida Skiff Challenge is held annually to help raise awareness and funds for Captains for Clean Water, a grass-roots, non-profit organization of sport fishing captains and others dedicated to protecting Florida’s coastal waters and marine ecosystems. Not only does the race capture media coverage from around the world, it focuses people on pollution, agricultural runoff and a host of other challenges facing Florida waters.
Participating teams encourage people to “sponsor” their effort by donating and supporting Captains for Clean Water and its goal of protecting the state’s most precious resource. The Captains for Clean Water website makes it easy for people to donate and support the cause on behalf of their favorite team.
“Suzuki is proud to be powering four of the six boats in this race, and equally proud to be associated with such an important cause,” said Gus Blakely, Executive Vice President, Sales & Service for Suzuki Marine USA. “We care about protecting waters and coastal ecosystems that are so important to boating and fishing across the country. As a Florida-based company, Suzuki Marine is working with organizations like Captains For Clean Water, who focus their energy on the many challenges our state’s aquatic resources face every day. We’re honored that Team Hell’s Bay, Team Yellowfin and Team Sea Pro have chosen Suzuki to power their efforts in this epic race. We look forward to cheering all the competitors on starting April 7,” added Blakely.
To learn more about Captains for Clean Water and the Florida Skiff Challenge, visit www.captainsforcleanwater.com.
To learn more about Suzuki Marine’s full line of Ultimate Outboard Motors from 2.5 up to 350 horsepower, contact Suzuki Marine USA headquarters at (813) 687-7200 or visit www.suzukimarine.com.