A little more than a week ago, veteran offshore racer Steve Curtis returned from his domestic home-base in Orlando, Fla., to England to be with his longtime partner, Abbie, their son, Max, who is 10 years old, and Harper, their three-year-old daughter. Curtis’ Offshore Marine Services businesses was shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was the Miss GEICO offshore racing shop in Riviera Beach, Fla.—Curtis is the team’s throttleman and he frequently visits the shop to work with team manager Gary Stray, another product of the United Kingdom.
Now at home in England, Steve Curtis (right) struck a pose with high-performance marine industry legend Alan Brown during the 2019 American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla. (click image to enlarge). Photo by Matt Trulio/copyright speedonthewater.com.
Yesterday, I caught up with Curtis by phone and—as I expected having known him for more than 20 years—he was adjusting to not working at a frenetic pace. The multi-time offshore world champion, who still has another week in quarantine, does not sit still well. On the other hand, slowing down has helped him gained invaluable perspective.
Here’s what he had to say.
When did you head back to the U.K.?
Last Monday. I still have another week of quarantine, but as you know everything non-essential is closed here, anyway. So Abbie and the kids and I have been catching up on family time.
Are you working on anything?
Yes, I have a design project for the Hong Kong police that I’ve been working on for a while. I am not a great lover of military projects, but you have to motivate yourself. What else are you going to do? So I’m reading through this 122-page Hong Kong project proposal.
Have you stayed in contact with other people in the offshore community since you’ve been back home?
Quite a bit, actually. I spoke to (Powerboat P1 chief executive officer) Azam Rangoonwala today. They haven’t pulled the plug on anything yet. I talked to Gary Stray the other day and their shutdown has delayed them getting the new deck on the boat. At one point we started laughing. We came up with all these great ideas about things we could do with the raceboat—but we’re not allowed to do any of it right now.
When the 2020 offshore racing season begins, Curtis will throttle the Miss GEICO catamaran with Travis Pastrana or Brit Lilly, depending on Pastrana’s availability (click image to enlarge). Photo from the 2019 Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
I’ve talked to a lot of the Class ONE teams and no one—obviously—can come over here to work on their boats. So they’re all on hold. It’s frustrating for everyone. But I guess that’s part of what can happen when you make an international class. I think the current crisis will affect the bigger-boat classes more than the smaller-boat classes.
Even if the first race of season in Cocoa Beach (Fla.) happens—and right now no one knows—it won’t be like last year’s race with so many teams and fans. That’s just not going to happen, which is a real shame because everyone has worked really hard on this series. The only saving grace is that everyone understands why.
So for now you’re playing the role of English country gentleman.
(Laughs) I actually pulled out my mountain bike the other day. We don’t have mountains, but I went for a ride in the countryside.
I do believe there is some good perspective that can come out of this. It’s given me some time to think a bit about what’s really important, what you should be doing and what you miss out on when you’re working so hard and focused on your business.
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