10 Questions With Nitra Boats Founder, Marcus Friberg
At Wave to Wave, we are interested in high performance boats of all kinds and our objective is to share ideas, learn about boats and tell the stories of the people involved. We especially love boats under 30 feet and get really excited about new designs and new technology. Recently, I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask Marcus Friberg a bunch of questions. Marcus is the CEO and founder of Nitra Boats in Sweden, a builder of high performance race and pleasure boats.
I discovered Nitra Boats while learning more about boat racing in Europe. The striking design and age of the company peaked my interest. In Europe there are several really amazing builders pushing the boundaries in the 20’ to 30’ outboard range. Nitra makes a beautiful 22’ outboard that comes in race and pleasure versions. They also recently introduced a stunning 29’ that can run multiple engine configurations. Both models are exceptionally efficient and run a unique hull design that Marcus talks about. In the interview Marcus sheds some light on how Nitra started, the design of the 22 and 29 models as well some insight into their build process. Marcus was really generous with his time and we really appreciate it. Here is the interview.
Narrow and deep, the stunning Nitra 22 is designed for the rough stuff.
Who are you and how did you get involved with performance boats?
Marcus Friberg, born 1979 in Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve had motorsports and heavy rock music as my favorite two interests since I can remember. My dad use to take the whole family to a lot of motorsport events when I was young. I got a motocross bike when I was 10 years old, raced it with my older cousin Robert in the woods at our country house then traded it for a small speedboat with a 25hp Johnson outboard, I got it to run 51mph which was faster than the family boat at the time.
When I outgrew the speedboat I learned to play the guitar and started a band, after a couple of years we got a record deal and went on tour and released a couple of albums, at the same time I drove a Chevrolet El Camino which led my interest back to motorsports. I got a garage and rebuilt my dad’s old 66’ Mustang and bought an old drag racing car and started racing it. I worked at the sales department of two of the biggest classic car magazines in Sweden and the work was my hobby and the other way around. At one of the races we broke the engine completely, later that night in the bar I had a long conversation with a racing buddy who had done the same. He asked me what except driving a Top Fuel car would be the most interesting and I told him “A really fast offshore racing boat” and something lit up his eyes. I showed him a couple of pictures and he went “If you buy a boat like that, I’ll put in the money as long as I get to be the copilot”. I bought the boat and the guy paid as promised, he came to run the boat a couple of times but cars was his biggest interest so I continued racing both offshore and drag racing with two separate teams, the girlfriend was thrilled.
After a great season in offshore and a really expensive one in drag racing I made the decision to go for offshore racing only, I met Leo Crambert – a super nice tech freak who had worked in the marine industry since he was young, his incredible work with the army-navy deigned Rupert RIB boats had made the brand and we hit it off immediately. Leo helped me rebuild the race boat I owned at the time. It got a new sleek deck with less weight, new interior and a crazy topspeed. We won a lot of races the following season but the old hull was starting to break and Leo suggested we should build something new with a design that we’ve made ourselves. Mikael Hellman, also a former Rupert talent came in and started to draw the lines that we wanted to go with in a CAD program. We decided to CNC-Machine the moulds after our design and the result was fantastic, the new design got the name Nitra 22R (R for racing) and the following season we raced the Nitra hull in all kinds of offshore races with a lot of victories. The hull was super fast, easy to drive and really good looking design-wise.
It just took a couple of weeks after the first boat was completed until we got serious interest for making a pleasure version with more seats, later that year we manufactured a 4-seater deck with a hotrod-like wing in the back and we had a few orders instantly. The first Nitra 22P (P for pleasure) made 57 mph with 4 guys onboard and a 115HP Evinrude H.O. The word took on and we got more and more attention, especially through our racing achievements. After selling smaller series of Nitra boats during 2015 through my own company, I brought in Leo, Mikael and one of our racing pilots Stefan Exerman as co-owners in Nitra Boats Incorporated and we invested in the new plugs, moulds, templates and equipment for the Nitra 29. (continued below photo)
What were your favorite boats and designs before you started Nitra?
Outerlimits and Magnum Marine are my favorite V-hull designs, when it comes to cats, MTI and Mannerfeld design XCATs are my brands of choice.
What type of boat racing is most popular in Europe?
It’s mainly two divisions, circle racing; without any big navigation like Classes F1, F2, F4 and Offshore; with lots of navigation like marathon, endurance, 3A, 3B and 3C with the X-Cat Class somewhere in between the two divisions with big wave venues but with smaller circle tracks.
What type of materials and layup is used to construct the Nitra boats and why? (Is it different for the pleasure / race version?)
We make the boats in fiberglass and ISO-polyester with Divinycell reinforcements mainly because the materials have come a long way when it comes to strength and durability but most of all pricing. We can make all our boats in carbon as well but the boats are really light for our kind of waters and the extra amount of money for carbon doesn’t fill the purpose of running them in either race or pleasure editions. If the client wants full carbon, we’ll make it.
Describe the hull design of the 22 and 29, and your theory on building a performance hull?
We run a stepped hull but not in the traditional sense. We use a step at the CG in the lower V with air lubrication coming through holes inside the step going through the hull. When going march speed or faster this stepped surface between the V and the step begin to create a vacuum which sucks air through the hull creating minimum friction with the water without losing steering control of the boat.
This technology is not invented by Nitra but the running surface where the air and water meets underneath the hull is and that makes the difference between us and the other manufacturers using the same technology. The Nitra 29 has a wider running pad which enables twin outboards or a big V8 with surface running drives. The hull has a percentile increase of lift than the N22 and a wider body enabling more storage space and more passengers without losing topspeed. Both models have a ballast tank with fill/release functions instead of a traditional set of trim flaps. Ballast tank capacity goes from 150-600 litre on our models depending on motorization.
The hull is very deep at 26 degrees and narrow, how does it handle as a pleasure boat?
Extremely well, especially when it’s heavily loaded going really fast. Most people gets surprised of the maneuverability and the carzy performance of the Nitra hull whether they go alone or with maximum amount of passengers. Its design makes it superfast without big power and most owners go 70-75mph with a single 150-200HP outboard.
The 22 Race version has a centered cockpit for 2 and uses a ballast.
You use Evinrude on your race boats and consumer boats, what do you like about the new Evinrudes? What modifications are necessary?
When it comes to running a single outboard, you don’t need any changes unless you want to run the gearboxes totally out of the water. For that we have designed a custom CNC-machined nosecone for the G2 lowers that you apply using epoxy putty for regular use. Other than that you have the engines coming with an electronic rigging kit and in the parts catalogue you’ll find a factory made electronic foot throttle (wall or floor mount) who’s standard in all our Nitra Boats. With this you can easily change between hand or foot throttle depending on your driver mode with just a simple click on the gauge, that’s a solution no one of the other manufacturers have come close to yet.
When it comes to twin outboards we have been working on modifications regarding steering, rigs, gearboxes and skegs to make the engines run really fast and withhold the torque they put out in the conditions we run them in. On the Nitra 29 we’ve had the whole 2017 racing season as a testing period getting everything optimized to the best possible setup for our clients with only Evinrude original parts. The work we’ve put in is tremendous and the amount of questions we get from Evinrude owners around the world is overwhelming.
How fast is the 22 and the 29 with the most popular setup?
Nitra 22P with a 200HP H.O Evinrude G2 runs 75mph easily. March speed around 60-63 mph.
Nitra 29P with twin 300HP Evinrude G2’s runs +100mph with a march speed around 86 mph.
The reason we’re running (only) +100mph is that we haven’t concluded all our tests yet, we’re still running props and setups as we speak and will continue until we break the 100 knots/115 mph goal we’ve set up for ourselves at the start of the N29-project.
If I asked you at 15 years old if you would be building race boats, what would you say?
Could Nitra Boats ever make their way to the United States?
Yes, that’s a possible future with the right partners and connections.
Nitra designed nosecone, low water pickup for the G2.