Timing, as they say, is everything. In early 2018, Superboat-class offshore racer Jake Noble decided to exit the sport. And he had a one-year-old canopied Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran to sell.
After a methodical regular season, the AMH Motorsports team is ready to push a little harder at the upcoming SBI and OPA Worlds. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Aaron Hope, who had recently earned a Super Boat International Extreme-Class World Title in Peter Meyer’s famed Instigator Fountain V-bottom, was looking for a Superboat-class to buy and campaign this season in Offshore Powerboat Association and SBI competition.
While Hope had plenty of V-bottom racing experience, he had next to none in a canopied catamaran, much less in SBI’s premiere class, which is led by well-funded teams with some of the top driving and throttling talent in the sport.
So he and throttleman Anthony Smith and their all-volunteer crew of Kenny Adams, John Mengler and Wayne Courson approached the 2018 season as the rookie team they were. Winning wasn’t a priority. Learning was. At least in OPA competition, that meant running solo this year in the Super Cat class. But Hope, who owns AMH Construction in Orlando, Fla., and Smith, the son of OPA head Ed “Smitty” Smith and an accomplished racer in his own right, didn’t care. Their season was about figuring how to work together in the cockpit. They were in no hurry.
“It’s been a big learning season,” said Hope. “We ran a lot of races this year, but not really to ‘compete.’ We were out there to gain some experience, test some things out and get comfortable with each other. I think our last race at the SBI Nationals in Clearwater (Fla.) was a testimony to all the work our team has put in. Anthony and I have really started meshing in the boat.”
Though a mechanical problem took them out of the Clearwater contest on lap No. 11, the AMH Motorsports team finished third overall behind WHM Motorsports and Performance Boat Center. Yes, two boats crashed and another two didn’t start, but that didn’t diminish the team’s most solid performance to date.
AMH Motorsports delivered a solid performance at the recent SBI Nationals.
“We are going against the best of the best in offshore racing—Billy Mauff and John Tomlinson have like 60 years of experience between them, so if you win a race against those guys you’ve really done something,” said Hope. “But that was our best race so far. We were doing really well in the turns. Unfortunately, we lost a piston and started falling back.
“One of the things you learn quickly is that these boats are underpowered,” he continued. “If you don’t keep the wheel perfectly straight on the straightaways you scrub so much speed. To get that extra two to four mph it takes to win is really, really difficult.”
The team’s goals for the upcoming SBI and OPA events are safety, first and foremost, and at least one podium finish.
Hope and Smith have “started to mesh” in the cockpit of their Skater catamaran.
“We would absolutely love a podium finish,” Hope said. “Our team is so dedicated and has put in thousands of hours of hard work this season—for free. We pay their airfare and travel expenses for each race, but none of the crew members gets paid. They do it for the love of the sport. We have a really good team and we couldn’t do it without them.”