Thanks to a simple new air-conditioning system, the offshore racing season should be no sweat for Randy Sweers and Todd Beckman.
There are two things I vividly remember about driving the Reliable Carriers MTI catamaran with renowned throttleman Jerry Gilbreath—long retired and now living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—for a Powerboat magazine story assignment almost 10 years ago. First, any steering input put scrubbed speed. “Less is more,” Gilbreath told me again and again until I finally sort of got it.
Second, even on a relatively cool day, the inside of a canopied raceboat can get miserably hot and stuffy. Between my own nerves—I was behind the wheel next to Jerry Freakin’ Gilbreath for god’s sake—and the heat generated by two big guys wearing helmets and held fast in their bucket seats by five-point harnesses in a small, enclosed space, I was drenched in sweat by the time I climbed out of the boat. Giddy as hell, but drenched.
And that was on a cool late-fall day, just tooling around the glass-smooth waters of Sarasota Bay, Fla., for about 45 minutes—not exactly race conditions on the order of what you’ll find anywhere in Florida or the Northeast during the summer. On those days, raceboat cockpit conditions are simply miserable.
Just ask Randy Sweers, the owner of Sailor Jerry/Autonation, a 40-foot MTI raceboat he’ll throttle this season with new driver Todd Beckman on the Super Boat International circuit.