Two guys are walking through the jungle. All of a sudden a tiger appears at a distance, running toward them. One of the guys takes a pair of Nikes from his bag and starts to put them on. The other guy, with a surprised look, exclaims, “Do you think you will run faster than the tiger with those?”
His friend replies, “I don’t have to outrun the tiger, I just have to run faster than you.” Insert snare drum.
This joke—an attempt to demonstrate how innovation and quick thinking may lead to one man’s survival—works its way through my mind while spending a rainy Rhode Island morning talking about boats with boatbuilder, designer, and inventor Walter Schulz. His ability to look at boat design from an entirely different angle than others is a key element to his survival as a boatbuilder for nearly 40 years. Schulz may be best known for his sturdy line of Shannon sailboats (actor Morgan Freeman loves his 43), but the new Shannon Defiance 46 motorboat certainly demonstrates that he may have outrun the tiger with this Down East-inspired, long-distance cruiser.
Power & Motoryacht: What was your first entry into boatbuilding?
Walter Schulz: The first boat I built was a sailboat. That boat just completed a circumnavigation a couple of years ago. The boat left when it was 30 years old.
Power & Motoryacht: And what was the genesis of the new Defiance 46?
Walter Schulz: The concept came easy. The hard part was how do I make this simple? We have a single-engine boat with a 600-horspower Cummins so you have that power when you need it. But nobody is going at speed down the ICW and generally don’t run at full speed all the time. So I reached back in history to Hemingway’s Pilar that had two different-size engines. And I came up with the idea of adding the smaller single 200-horsepower engine that drives the two Saildrive units with folding props. It’s a very efficient boat with the primary engine shut down. [Note: our test with only the two Saildrives running from the smaller engine cruised easily at 8 knots giving a range of 1,000 miles at this speed.]
Power & Motoryacht: Why Saildrives?
Walter Schulz: It was the smallest in terms of sectional, the smallest unit I could get. I didn’t want the form drag when you were running the main engine.
Power & Motoryacht: Does the Defiance name indicate contrarian boat design?
Walter Schulz: It’s in defiance of the conventional wisdom among some that power boaters don’t go anywhere.
Power & Motoryacht: Can you explain your SRD hull design?
Walter Schulz: My God, a lot of boats have the same bottoms as the boats that I saw walking around the New York Boat Show as a kid. Are you kidding me?! My objective was for a hull design to be efficient throughout the speed curve. This is based on my SRD hull from 2003, which I got a patent on. That’s very unusual. The hull is a combination of four shapes, with a reverse deadrise in the aftermost 10 feet. Look back there. There is no wake. Wake is fuel burn. It’s just wasted energy.
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This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.