Tomlinson Heading to Class 1 Season-Opener With “Limited” Test Time

Talk about your ultimate road warrior. A little more than a week ago, Miami-based throttling ace John Tomlinson spent a full day in Abu Dhabi testing that country’s Union International Motonautique Class 1 catamaran in preparation for the 2011 season-opener. Tomlinson was in the country, where the first race will be held April 13-15, for all of 28 hours. Between getting there and getting home, he was in the air for 35 hours.

Still, for Tomlinson, who has been hired by the Abu Dhabi team to throttle the cat for the 2011 season, it was worth it.

“I didn’t want to get over there there having to do all my testing at the first race of the season,” said Tomlinson, the co-owner of TNT Custom Marine in Miami. “I was able to run the boat and get an idea of what it will be like with the new power. With the rule changes this season, we’ve gone from 930 hp to 850 hp, and from a maximum of 8,700 rpm to a maximum of 7,600 rpm.

“I expect we’ll be 5 to 7 mph slower around the course,” Tomlinson, added. “I definitely felt down on power. But everyone else also has to deal with the same rule changes.”

Tomlinson said that propeller testing and gear ratio selection remain his biggest challenges. Each team is allowed to register three sets of propellers during the season. Replacement propellers are only allowed in the event of breakage or significant damage. While other teams on the Class 1 circuit have been testing props for weeks and even months to help them make their choices, Tomlinson has had one day to test the two sets he’s ordered to date from Five Axis Industries. (Five Axis provides all the propellers for UIM Class 1.)

With just three propeller sets to choose from, Tomlinson said he will have to make a lot of his race-day decisions around gear ratios and conditions, which generally speaking are not particularly rough on the UIM Class 1 circuit.

“We run 4-mile laps and 4-1/2-mile ‘long’ laps—you have to run a certain number of long laps in each race—with six turns, and the conditions are usually pretty smooth,” he said. “So we’ll be playing with gear ratios quite a bit all season.

“We’re still a little behind the eight-ball for the first race,” he added. “But it definitely was worth going over there to test for the day, even though are time was pretty limited.”