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Cat Versus V-Bottom ‘Battle’ Shaping Up for Around Long Island Race

Cliché that it is, two powerboats really are all it takes to run a powerboat race. So while the upcoming Around Long Island Race fleet has dwindled from more than 30 entries to less than 10 in recent weeks, there is an intriguing contest—at least in theory—shaping up for the Saturday, Aug. 22, event in New York.

Current race record holders Joe Sgro and Joe Cibellis will attempt to defend and perhaps improve their race-record time of 3 hours and 6 minutes for the 270-mile run. Sgro and Cibellis set their original mark in 2011 in an open-cockpit Outerlimits SV 43 V-bottom powered by two naturally aspirated 725-hp V-10 engines from Ilmor Marine. This time around, they’ll be bringing heavier artillery to Long Island in the form of Sgro’s canopied SV 43—the current V-bottom kilo record holder—with twin quad overhead cam, turbocharged 1,350-hp engines from Mercury Racing.

“We have to give the boat a once-over because we took it to Buffalo for the poker run (read the story) and beat the heck out of it—I think I should take a long look at the drives and everything else,” Sgro said. “I probably could beat my record by 30 minutes, but that’s all I could beat it by because I can’t carry enough fuel to run the boat as fast as it could go. I can run at 115 mph and get .9 miles per gallon, but if I run 120 mph it drops to .6 miles per gallon. Right now, I have 400 gallons of fuel capacity with space for another 88 gallons. But if I get just .6 miles per gallon or less, I need more than 488 gallons.”

Assuming its new pair of 700-hp engines from Innovation Marine are ready to be run in Chris LaMorte’s 36-foot catamaran this week, LaMorte and teammate Ryan Beckley are likely to provide the toughest competition for the 43-foot Outerlimits. True, the V-bottom and catamaran are in different classes for the race and the V-bottom has almost twice the power of the cat—it’s far from an “apples to apples” to comparison—but at least the “competition” between the two fastest boats in the race will make it fun.


Said Srgo: “We have to give the boat a once over because we took it to Buffalo for the poker run and beat the heck out of it.” Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

While Beckley, who will throttle the 36-foot cat, has years of offshore racing experience under his belt, the Long Island event will be LaMorte’s first race. But he’s a longtime boat owner with plenty of seat time and Beckley isn’t concerned about his driver, who is heading to Sarasota, Fla., from his New Jersey home today to test his repowered 36-footer.

“Chris is a huge connoisseur of offshore racing and has one of the largest collections of memorabilia around,” Beckley said. “This run will be the first actual ‘race’ he’s driven, but he’s been in several different boats and runs his boat all summer long on the Jersey Shore.”

Attrition has hit the Around Long Island Race, which is being sanctioned by the National Power Boat Association and organized by the Historic Offshore Race Boats Association, particularly hard. Endurance run record holders Tyson Garvin and Chris Fertig may make it to the event if Garvin’s 50-foot Skater catamaran is finished in time, and if the water is rough—and the cat isn’t finished—they might tackle it in Garvin’s 39-foot V-bottom powered by twin 480-hp Cummins diesel engines. At present, Garvin and Fertig qualify as a definite maybe for the event.

“People are dropping out like flies,” said Charlie McCarthy of HORBA, with a hearty laugh. “The reality of what it takes to do a run like this is sinking in. It looks like we are going to have about six boats, and I thought we were going to have three times that amount. But I think we’re in a different era.

“The NPBA is going to induct Bobby Saccenti into its Hall of Fame at the party on Friday night,” he added. “So we have invited a lot of the old racers to come. We may need a few oxygen tanks.”

Set by Stuart Hayim and Johnny Tomlinson in a 42-foot MTI catamaran with twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines on Aug. 8, 2012, the current solo, non-racing Around Long Island record stands at 2 hours and 11 minutes. Hayim reportedly has been preparing his new boat, a 52-foot MTI cat with a pair of Mercury Racing 1650 engines, for another solo attempt this month with either Tomlinson or Joey Imprescia throttling. To date, no information has been released from the Hayim camp on the possible record attempt.


Chris LaMorte and Ryan Beckley could be a threat to take the overall title in LaMorte’s 36-foot Skater catamran (above) during the upcomng Race Around Long Island. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix