For the first time in 16 years, veteran Super Stock-class offshore racer Ryan Beckley of Sarasota, Fla., won’t be throttling his 30-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran with a driver de jour when the first green flag of the new offshore racing season flies. Beckley, who has been competing since 1993, is teaming up with fellow Sunshine State resident Chris Hopgood in a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran—the former Mancine Cosmetics and Talbot Excavating raceboat—Hopgood purchased from Australia-based owner Brent Price.
The team has not yet decided on name for the 32-footer, much less its graphics package.
With Beckley handling the throttles, Hopgood drove his first two Super Stock races in St. Clair, Mich., and Clearwater, Fla., last year in the 30-footer.
“I caught the bug,” said Hopgood, a lifelong performance-boat enthusiast who owns a 28-foot Skater cat. “I love boating, and I can’t wait to learn how to run a boat in racing situation. We are going to run the whole circuit. Our goal is to field a competitive team and have fun.
“I can’t wait to start testing,” he added.
Though they have not settled on a team name, much less a graphics package for the cat, Hopgood and Beckley plan to start testing sometime next month. Before that happens, the catamaran will go to Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., where it was first rigged by company namesake Grant Bruggemann.
Hopgood and Beckley will run their existing 300XS outboards this season.
“We want Grant to go through it since he originally rigged it,” said Beckley. “It’s had a few different owners since then.”
The team plans to run Mercury Racing 300XS outboard engines this season as it already has several of them in Beckley’s Kinetics Animation shop.
At least for the 2022 season, Beckley is out of the driver’s-seat-for-hire business that has helped keep him racing since the mid-2000s. His 30-foot Skater is still for sale.
“My plan is to sell the Skater and build a new boat later on,” he said. “But we’re going to run the Doug Wright all season for sure this year. Our goals are to be competitive, have fun and stay safe.”
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