At its essence, the entire Ocean Cup Series sanctioned by American Power Boat Association and the Union Internationale Motonautique rests on one simple question. It’s the same question that has driven powerboat endurance-record attempts and the open-ocean dreamers behind them for decades.
How fast can we get there?
Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson covered the 100 miles of open ocean between Palm Beach and Freeport in less than an hour. Photos courtesy/copyright of the Ocean Cup Series.
One week ago today, a pair of teams answered that question during the 100.2-mile Gateway Marathon, the first of the 2022 Ocean Cup Series, from Palm Beach, Fla., to Freeport, Grand Bahama, in fine fashion. Both teams set official UIM world records in their respective classes.
Running Lucas Oil/E3, a 52-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 1350 engines, longtime teammates Nigel Hook, who throttles the cat, and driver Jay Johnson made the trek in a smoking 58 minutes and 4 seconds. At one point in the run, the California-based team hit 147 mph on their way to an average top speed of 103.66 through the open Atlantic Ocean.
The two teams arrived at the island within one minute of another.
On the V-bottom side, the new team of driver/throttleman Pete Riveiro and Shawn Steinert—both Floridians—tackled the run in a 2022 model-year Cigarette 515 sportboat dubbed Cigarette Racing sponsored by LifeWallet and powered by Mercury Racing 1350/1100 engines and. Riviero and Steinert ran in the B Limited class and, as such, had their top speed capped at 100 mph. They “broke out”—meaning exceeded their top speed—several times on their way to a record of 1 hour, 7 minutes and 10 seconds and averaged an impressive 89.51 mph. (For those break-out infractions, a one-minute penalty was added to their time.)
To make things even more intriguing and just plain fun, Hook and Johnson gave Riveiro and Steinert an eight-minute head-start. And they didn’t catch their V-bottom counterparts until they passed the West End of Grand Bahama, just a mile or so from the finish line.
“To take a pleasure boat and run that fast for 100 miles in the open ocean, that was impressive,” said Hook. “They weren’t far off the 1 hour, 3 minute record we set in a V-bottom raceboat in 2019. We finally passed them about a mile from the finish line.
“I love open-ocean racing,” he continued. “For the first 20 miles, it was really rough. For the last 20 miles, it was pretty flat. You just never know what you’re going to get out there. One moment you’re flying along and the next you hit a big hole. Of all the Ocean Cup races I’ve done, I think this one was the most fun.”
Scenes from the 2022 Ocean Cup Gateway Marathon.
Though Riveiro and Steinert had discussed running two boats—another 515 beauty owned by Cigarette principal John H. Ruiz was available—they settled on one. For Riveiro, keeping the 51-footer, which he ran with its engines in 1,350-hp model, under 100 mph was the biggest challenge.
“The way the turbos spool up on those engines makes it tricky,” he said, then chuckled. “And I literally had all of three hours in that boat before we went.”
Though they weren’t as fast, of course, Riveiro and Steinert did have one advantage over Hook and Johnson: They didn’t have to bring their own high-octane fuel for the casual return leg to Florida a day later. They simply ran the engines in 1,100-hp mode on fuel they purchased on the island.
There are two more Ocean Cup Series endurance races on the 2022 schedule—both on the West Coast. The Around Catalina event, which is scheduled for September 30, and will be held in conjunction with the Pacific Air Show in Huntington Beach, Calif. The San Francisco to Marina Del Rey and then onto Long Beach run for two records, making it the longest event in the series at 435 miles, is set for October 22.
With the boats safely tied up for the night in Freeport, the teams enjoyed a celebratory evening.
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