Though it’s more than a month away, the Super Boat Suncoast Grand Prix Festival—the fourth race in the 2013 Super Boat International season—in Sarasota, Fla. July 5-7, could see a substantial head-to-head battle among Mercury Racing 1650 Race engine-powered catamarans in the Superboat Unlimited class. Three teams with 1650 engine-powered cats—CMS, Gasse and Miss GEICO confirmed today that they plan to race in the 29th Annual Sarasota event.
The first two races of the SBI season—Biloxi (Miss.) and Cocoa Beach (Fla.) each drew just one entry in the Superboat Unlimited class. (The third race of the SBI season in Orange Beach, Ala., is slated for May 31-June 2.) The news of a possible three-boat field in Sarasota is encouraging for participants in the class.
“If it all works out and everyone shows up as planned, it could be a real showdown,” said Marc Granet, who with Scott Begovich ran the Miss GEICO cat as the solo Superboat Unlimited team in the Cocoa Beach race, which featured rough conditions last weekend. (Miss GEICO is the first raceboat to have “production” 1650 Race engines from Mercury Racing. CMS and Gasse have prototypes.)
Notably absent from the Superboat Unlimited field so far this season has been Tor Staubo, the Norwegian owner and driver of the Gasse catamaran. Until recently, not even John Tomlinson, Staubo’s throttleman and crew chief from TNT Custom Marine in Miami, knew if Staubo planned to race in 2013.
“Tor called and told me to get the boat ready to race in Sarasota,” said Tomlinson in a telephone interview this morning. “So we’re in the process of putting the engines back in it and getting it ready for testing.”
Asked why Staubo who, after a full season of SBI competition last year, appeared to back away from the sport so abruptly this season, Tomlinson laughed.
“I never ask owners why they’re not going to race,” he said. “I also never ask them why they are going to race.”
While Superboat Unlimited class team Cintron runs twin 1,500-hp Stotler Racing engines, the field could expand to four entries if the team makes it to the Sarasota event.
“We are looking at our schedule and we are going to do our best to make it,” said Rich Wyatt, the throttleman for Cintron. “Having the potential for a big turnout in the class certainly makes it more attractive.”