With just one boat finishing today’s 271-mile Around Long Island Race in New York, it’s safe to say that offshore endurance races aren’t exactly easy. Joe Sgro and Joe Cibellis finished what quickly became a solo effort in Sgro’s 43-foot canopied Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines in approximately five hours—an official time had not been released when this story went live—but didn’t come close to breaking their prior race time of 3 hours and 6 minutes set in 2011. The team set that record in an open-cockpit Outerlimits 43-footer powered by twin 725-hp engines from Ilmor Marine.
“I am beat up—it was horrible, really horrible,” said Sgro via mobile phone as he and Cibellis idled into the finish. “The forecast said one-footers in Long Island Sound, and there were a few eight-footers out there. Everybody else turned around. And after we finally got into water where we could run, we lost steering. Every time we’d land after launching, we’d hook. I think I broke the boat in half.”
Srgo paused, then laughed as he surveyed the cockpit interior. “It looks like there was a murder in here,” he said. “There is blood all over the place in here and most of it is mine. I’m down about a pint. I need a cheeseburger.”
Ryan Beckley, who throttled a 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran with owner/driver Chris LaMorte, echoed Sgro’s words as he began the long haul back to Sarasota, Fla, with the boat in tow. Beckley and LaMorte had pushed hard to get the 36-footer with new 700-plus-hp engines ready in time for the event.
“The weatherman was wrong,” he said. “When we started we were running 90 mph, but conditions quickly deteriorated and pretty soon we were running 40 to 50 and were just 50 miles in, only halfway to Montauk. It was going to be brutal and we were going to break stuff if we kept running. The weather forecast said light winds and one- to 2-foot seas. It was 15- to 20-mph winds and four- to six-foot seas.
“I have no regrets at all, just that we weren’t able to complete it,” the veteran offshore racer added. “Maybe the other 26 teams who didn’t show up weren’t so dumb. It was no joke out there.”
While organizer Charlie McCarthy of the Historic Offshore Race Boat Association said he was disappointed with the turnout and the outcome of this year’s event, he isn’t ready to abandon the idea of promoting endurance races. He met briefly today with offshore racing legend Bobby Saccenti, who was inducted into the National Power Boat Association Hall of Fame during a dinner last night, and NPBA head Billy Frenz to discuss future strategy (the NPBA sanctioned and timed today’s event). A series of shorter-course endurance races in the Great Lakes region, the Northeast and Florida is on the drawing board.
“Obviously, we scared the hell out of people with this distance and financial burden,” McCarthy said. “We need to make this as simple and inexpensive as possible. Then maybe in a few years we can bring back some of the longer races.”