The Ocean Cup Gateway Marathon endurance race from Palm Beach, Fla., to West End, Grand Bahama, now has three offshore racing greats—two out of the sport and one still active—in the cockpit of a 47-foot Apache V-bottom for the June 1-4 event. Retired competitors Lorne Leibel, a Canadian who earned a Super Cat-class world title in Key West, Fla., two seasons ago, and Bob Latham, the owner and founder of Latham Marine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be joined for the 128-mile race by current Super Stock-class racer Ryan Beckley.
Longtime Super Stock-class competitor Ryan Beckley will join retired offshore racing notables Bob Latham and Lorne Leibel for the 2023 Gateway Marathon endurance event in early June. Photo by Cole Leibel copyright P1 Offshore
The original navigator for the team had to withdraw, so Leibel, who owns the 47-footer powered by completely rebuilt Sterling Performance engines, asked Beckley to join them last week.
“I’m excited to ride along with two legendary racers,” said Beckley, who throttles the 32-foot CELSIUS raceboat with owner/driver Chris Hopgood.
Though Beckley currently competes in circuit-style racing with courses from four to eight miles long, he’s no stranger to endurance racing. He tackled the Bimini Challenge in 2010 in his 30-footer Skater catamaran. The late Kyler Talbot joined him in the cockpit. Four years later, he competed in the Around Long Island endurance event with his friend, Chris LaMorte, in LaMorte’s 36-foot Skater.
Originally owned by Ben Kramer, a former offshore racer and current lifetime guest of the federal prison system, Leibel’s V-bottom was Apache hull No. 1.
Leibel’s 47-footer is a piece of history—but one built to handle the rigors of offshore endurance racing. Photo courtesy/copyright Ocean Cup
“From the gauges to the fuel injection to the old drives—even down to the original livery and upholstery—there’s nothing modern on that boat,” Leibel said in an Ocean Cup press release. “As a historian and museum curator, Ryan will really appreciate competing in a vintage boat that is exactly how it was in 1987.
“The only thing ‘modern’ will be the handheld Garmin which Ryan will use so that we don’t get lost,” he continued. “I’m hoping he gets over the excitement of getting in this old battleship again to be able to plot our course and get us there and back.”
Added Beckley, who is celebrating his 30th season in the sport this year and in addition to competing in the Super Stock ranks will throttle an early 1980s-built 28-foot Manta V-bottom in the Bracket 500 class with owner/driver Greg DiRenzo this season, “Hopefully I can keep them on course to the Bahamas and back.”
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