Mercury Racing V10 400R and Ventera Propeller Punch Up Bass Cat Performance
Testing never stops for Mercury Racing, even after new products like the Mercury Racing V10 400R outboard and Ventera propeller are released to the public. Mercury Racing is actively involved in assisting its boat-builder partners in dialing in new engine and propeller products, and there’s no better place to get dialed in than at the private Mercury Lake X test center in central Florida. Which is why high-performance bass boat builder Bass Cat brought its flagship Jaguar STS model to Lake X in March before it displayed the boat at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic® presented by Toyota, March 24-26 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Since the Jaguar model debuted in 2020, Bass Cat has rigged most examples with the 2.6-liter supercharged Mercury Racing 400R outboard. With the debut of the all-new V10 400R model, however, Bass Cat needed to reconsider propeller options and other variables associated with changing to this all-new outboard, which has a very different torque curve and also weighs about 27 pounds more than the 2.6-liter 400R.
“Working with Mercury Racing at Lake X offers us many advantages,” said Rick Pierce, president of Bass Cat and Yar-Craft Boats. “This time of year it’s often too cold to test near our home in Arkansas. At Lake X we get great support from Mercury Racing on engine set-up and rigging, and they have every prop option you can imagine hanging on the wall.”
“This was my first chance to run the new V10 400R,” said Pierce. “I can say that the new V10 engine is amazing on torque and hole shot, plus midrange acceleration is extremely impressive. I easily saw improved fuel mileage, plus it burns 87 octane pump gas. This new 400R will push the Jaguar over 90 mph loaded with gear and fuel in a short run on Lake X. For a comparison, it took a lot of effort to get this boat to 85 or 87 mph with the L6 400R engine. We have seen 93.7 to 94.2 mph with the old 2.6, that was with no load and virtually no fuel and it took a four- or five-mile run to do that. It is honestly an amazing ride with the Jaguar STS and V10 400R.”
Leading the test session at Lake X was Mercury new product integration (NPI) engineer Lance Singleton. In this role Singleton, who has worked in a number of roles for Mercury Marine for 21 years, works with the Mercury engineering staff to ensure that new propulsion products meet both the performance and manufacturing requirements of boat builder partners, an especially important role when a new engine like the V10 400R is in the works. Working at Lake X, Singleton helped test prototypes of the V10 outboard on 34 different boats of all types, from single-engine to quads.
“We have an open-door policy for boat builders to test at Lake X,” said Singleton. “The builder has to get their boat and staff there, but most see it as a good investment because of the available support Mercury can offer.”
The Lake X test session with Bass Cat began by supporting the boat on slings with scales to get both an accurate weight and to calculate the boat’s center of gravity (CG). This is a Bass Cat demo boat, which arrived at Lake X loaded with more than 30 rods, full tackle, four 12v batteries and safety gear. Recently installed on the bow deck were an APEX 13 graph, a Garmin sv103 with Live Scope, a Humminbird Mega Live with Target Lock, a Humminbird 360 and a new transducer shield and saver mount bracket plus the MinnKota Ultrex 112 trolling motor – the bracket and accessories add 25 pounds to the bow. On this type of boat, Singleton explains, adding multiple MFDs or a heavier trolling motor on the bow can change the CG enough to affect performance. Singleton determined that the Bass Cat test boat weighed 4,046 pounds with its 60-gallon fuel tank filled and a single person aboard, which is how this boat would be tested.
Bass Cat has been rigging the Jaguar with a 26-pitch Mercury Racing Bravo I FS prop when powered by a Mercury Racing 400R. That prop would be a starting point for testing with the new V10 400R motor with a Sport Master gearcase. Other candidates were the Mercury Racing Max 5 ST and the new Mercury Racing Ventera prop.
With a data logger installed on the boat, Singleton ran a standard test sequence, gathering boat speed and fuel use in 500-rpm increments from idle speed to wide-open throttle. Two runs were made in each direction on the lake to account for wind speed. Timed runs from 0-to-20 and 0-to-30 mph were also logged. Singleton had tested a prototype V10 400R motor on a Bass Cat Jaguar in June 2022 with the propshaft set 2 inches above the boat bottom, but with the added gear this boat gained about 200 pounds, and it was determined that to improve bow lift the motor should be lowered 2 inches, an easy task thanks to the hydraulic jack plate.
While the results were close, each prop excelled in one aspect of performance – the Ventera was clearly the fastest, the Bravo I FS delivered the best hole shot, and the Max 5 ST the best fuel economy. During testing, Singleton also notes subjective impressions of how the boat feels with each prop – bow rise and vibration on acceleration, how the prop holds in turns and how much steering torque it transmits to the wheel, its trim authority and how it reacts to mid-range acceleration. The Ventera was outstanding in each of these subjective categories.
“For pleasure boating it’s best to seek balanced performance,” explained Singleton, “the best combination of speed, acceleration and handling. In this regard, I think everyone was pretty excited about the Ventera.”
Pierce was impressed and will be making the 27-pitch Mercury Racing Ventera the standard recommended prop when a Jaguar STS is rigged with the new V10 400R outboard.
Bass Cat Jaguar STS/Mercury Racing V10 400R
BRAVO I FS
MAX 5 ST
Top Speed (MPH)
90.4 @ 6600 rpm
90.0 @ 6350 rpm
91.9 mph @ 6482 rpm
0-20 MPH (seconds)
0-30 MOH (seconds)
3.2 mpg @ 5000 rpm
4.0 mpg @ 4500 rpm
3.0 mpg @ 5000 rpm
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