A veteran Super Stock-class offshore throttleman in Sarasota, Fla., Ryan Beckley can’t remember how many people he’s brought into the sport through his “rent the driver’s seat” program. His best guess is more than a dozen between rookies and racers returning to the fold after a lay-off. Even though Beckley is celebrating his 30th year as an offshore racer, that stands as an outstanding effort toward building the sport.
Ryan Beckley and Erik Breckenfelder will team up in the former Super Stock-class Atlas raceboat for the Race World Offshore Key West World Championship next month. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Now he’s at it again as rookie racer Erik Breckenfelder, a performance-boat enthusiast who relocated from Chicago to Cape Coral, Fla., several years ago, will join him the cockpit of a Super Stock-class 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran for the Race World Offshore World Championship, November 6-13, in Key West, Fla. Dubbed Atlas, the boat is owned by Tanner Lewis, yet another racer Beckley enticed into the offshore racing world in his since-sold 30-foot Skater cat.
“I had originally wanted to put Tanner and Erik together in the boat this season,” Beckley said. “But they could never make it work.”
But when Beckley was released from CELSIUS team cockpit duty, he found himself available to handle the 32-footer’s throttle himself. He didn’t just need a driver to join him in the boat. Beckley, who originally hails from Key West, needed the cat itself to support his many longtime sponsors who back him for the annual Key West Worlds. The boat officially will still run as Atlas—and Lewis will come to Key West to support the team—but with Beckley’s backers added to the graphics.
The boat’s new graphics will support Beckley’s various loyal Key West event sponsors.
“When I was told my services would not be needed for CELSIUS in Key West, my mind went racing,” he explained. “So I called Tanner and asked him if he would be willing to come race in Key West, but he couldn’t. But he did agree to let me run his boat, so I called Erik to see if he’d be interested.
“Erik was supposed to run Thursday in the (Florida Powerboat Club) Key West Poker Run with Chris LaMorte, but he worked it out,” he added.
A soft-spoken guy with a sharp, analytical mind and fighter-pilot good looks, Breckenfelder talked it over with his wife, Julie, and agreed.
“I’m excited for it,” Breckenfelder said. “It should be a fun experience—unique, that’s for sure. I had imagined partnering with Ryan for a while. And here we sit.
“I want to get out there and feel what’s it like to be in the race traffic, know what to do and when to do it, learn the protocols,” he continued. “You can watch all the racing you want, but it doesn’t matter until you are out there actually doing it.”
Beckley is in the process of applying the graphics at his Kinetic Animation shop.
Breckenfelder described his wife as “100-percent supportive and watching from a concerned perspective,” and she agreed with that assessment.
“I am excited for Erik, and nervous for him at the same time,” she said.
Beckley’s primary goals are making it through all three Key West races safely and finishing in the upper half of the Super Stock fleet.
“I think that’s realistic,” he said. “There should be 12 or maybe even 13 teams down there.”