Battle-worn champion gets 10-year overhaul
Friday, November 11, 2016 3:03 PM
The current Miss Madison hull has seen its fair share action over the past 10 years, both good and bad. Since debuting in 2007, the Miss M has won 20 races, seven National High Points Championships and two APBA Gold Cups.
(Staff photo by David Campbell)
The Miss Madison Racing Team is busy this winter giving the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank a much-needed overhaul. The crew has taken the decks off in order to access the frame underneath and replace areas that have corroded and cracked over 10 years of heavy use. The crew has also cleaned out storage areas in the shop, unearthing an unusual find, an old piston cylinder from when the team ran Allison engines 25 years ago. The repairs to the boat should be finished by February, plenty of time before the season opens in June.
But it has also been involved in two serious crashes — the worst of which was a frightening high-speed collision at Madison in 2011 — as well as countless other minor accidents that have left the boat battered and bruised.
It is because of those myriad of incidents that crew chief Dan Hoover has decided to give the defending champion U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank a complete overhaul this season. Although the hull went through a serious rebuild after the 2011 accident, this marks the biggest modifications the boat has seen since its debut.
“The boat is obviously still clearly fast and is one of the best out there, but there are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with,” Hoover said on Thursday. “The boat is tired. It’s been through a lot.”
The overhaul began three weeks ago when Hoover and his crew took off most of the decking to get a good look inside the hull. It was at that point they knew massive work was needed when the decking came off without much resistence.
“There were areas where it wasn’t even connected to the frame. All we needed was a hammer and a two by four to get it off,” Hoover said.
After 10 years of wear and tear, the inside aluminum frames had begun to corrode and the carbon fiber decking simply wasn’t adhering as it should. Hoover said that he has glued and screwed the decking into place several times over the past two years but it always seemed to pop back up.
Fixing the frame is the top priority but with the deck off, Hoover is taking the opportunity to climb all through the boat to make more extensive changes. He is hoping to replace the aluminum boxes that hold the skid fin in place with new carbon fiber boxes that will shave nearly 40 pounds of weight off the port side. In fact, he’s hoping to replace most of the aluminum with carbon fiber in effort to make the boat lighter and faster.
“Several years ago it wasn’t cost effective to use carbon fiber and that’s why nobody did it. But today, the cost has come down and it’s a viable option,” Hoover said. “When you think about it, the 1972 Pay ’n Pak was the first boat with an aluminum center section and we’ve been building boats the same way since. It’s time to shake it up a bit.”
Hoover said that by replacing the aluminum with carbon fiber, maintenance costs will be cut considerably with less corrosion and wear and tear. And as an added bonus the team will get a lighter — and presumably faster — boat.
While the center section is getting the majority of the work, Hoover said that both sponsons remain in terrific shape.
“We could saw these sponsons off and put them on another boat and they would be like brand new,” Hoover said. “There are some things we have to do but nothing major.”
Hoover plans on having the entire process completed and the boat put back together by early February, plenty of time before the scheduled beginning of racing next June.