Some 3-1/2 years gone from the Miss GEICO catamaran cockpit, Marc Granet has replaced the whine of a full-throttle turbine engine with the whine of line peeling off a fishing reel when a billfish takes the hook. Adrenaline is, after all, adrenaline and the 53-year-old former Miss GEICO driver—who shared the cockpit of the team’s various catamarans with throttleman Scott Begovich for 10 years—has simply found another way to get a blast of the stuff. Though the Miss GEICO owners-group partner is out of the boat, he’s still plenty dialed in to the sport, as speedonthewater.com found out yesterday in a brief interview.
For Mark Granet, one of the highlights of his Miss GEICO racing career was claiming back-to-back Super Boat International Unlimited-class world championships in 2013 and 2014. Photos courtesy/copyright Andy Newman.
You’ve been big-game fishing—competitively in fact—for many years. Are there any parallels between chasing monster marlin and driving what was a 180-mph Unlimited-class raceboat?
Oh yeah, very much so. Going out and chasing these massive, 1,000-pound marlin is similar to a green flag at the start of a race because if you mess up you lose. The disappointment and let-down when you lose a fish if you screw up is the same as when you hear an engine going away during a race, especially when you’re in the lead, because you wait so long for that bite and so long between races. Fishing is my go-to now to get my blood going.
Do you miss racing?
I do. I am very competitive. I watch all the races I can now on Livestream and I get to critique people without having to worry about hurting their feelings (laughs). OK, maybe I never worried about that.
What do you miss about it?
What we are as a community. We are not governed by some executive sitting in an office somewhere. It’s a family out there. You still have all the intense competition, but it’s a family full of really good people.
I miss taking the green flag, looking over at Bob Bull’s orange-and-back CMS MTI catamarans and knowing all hell was going to break loose. Bob and I had our issues but we always pushed each other as hard as we could.
What don’t you miss about it?
The politics—the politics of sanctioning bodies that created their own rules at the moment. The B.S. we would experience at Super Boat International events would make you cringe.
You’re still a Miss GEICO ownership-group partner. How closely are you engaged with the team?
As I mentioned, I watch every event that’s streamed online. I stay in touch with the team, and I always make a pre-race phone call to (Miss GEICO crew chief) Gary Stray (laughs again) to remind to him to hold the program together, to hold the boat together. And I may pass along things I remember about this racecourse or that one to whoever is in the cockpit behind the wheel.
How do see the season shaping up with everything running under the American Power Boat Association umbrella?
Well, it’s something we have all wished and worked for—for many, many years. I am hopeful that it allows the sport to become what it could be. Our sport will never be NASCAR because of its uniqueness, but I do believe it could be enjoyed by a lot more people.
Said Granet, “I miss taking the green flag, looking over at Bob Bull’s orange-and-back CMS MTI catamarans and knowing all hell was going to break loose.” Photo from the 2015 SBI Key West Offshore World Championships by Loren Morissey/copyright speedonthewater.com.
What do think of the Class 1 move to the United States, which was spearheaded by your team?
Class 1, to me, was always the ultimate dream. If you have ever been to one of those races, the pageantry and professionalism was incredible. It was Formula One on the water. To bring that class here, where we have a Supercat class, is a challenging proposition. I say that because you’ve got these $500,000, $600,000 Supercat boats running between 125 and 140 mph and these Class 1 boats that cost $1 million and are just running slightly faster. With the Unlimited class, it was easier to have “two roosters in the henhouse,” so to speak, with Unlimited and Supercat. The concept of bringing Class 1 here, as does reviving the class itself, is great. I just see it as challenging.
If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have had a different answer. That was when Bob Bull and I had it out about making Mercury Racing 1350s the standard engine for the Unlimited class. I was all for it. I was thinking about the business and controlling costs. Bob told me I was wrong, that now we—after we replaced our turbine-engine boat with a piston-engine version—had to deal with the same thing he had been dealing with for years. He wanted to run the fastest class on the water. The appeal of the Unlimited always was what could be done. It serves a purpose for racers and fans who want to see what’s possible. Bob scolded me at the time and, in hindsight, he was right.
I believe the new 34- to 40-foot outboard catamaran class could be tremendous. You can’t avoid what’s coming environmentally and technologically. It could make offshore racing more enticing.
Any plans to return to the cockpit with another team?
Actually, yes. Right now, I am working with Randy Sweers and Brian Marquardt on a project. And that’s all I can say about that. I’m also looking at competing with Rich Wyatt this year in the df young catamaran.