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Cocoa Beach Preview: Repeat Hopes And Fresh Pairings

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With a combination of 23 catamarans and V-bottoms currently registered, Super Boat International‘s 2015 offshore racing season kicks off this weekend in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Though the fleet is presently several entries shy of last year’s 29-boat field, five of the seven 2014 winners are back to defend their titles in what is likely to be the roughest event SBI’s regular season. Here’s a quick look at some of what’s on tap for Sunday’s action, which you can watch via livestream on speedonthewater.com:

Superboat Unlimited: Last year, Miss GEICO’s Marc Granet and Scott Begovich had to beat two teams, the Spirit of Qatar and Lucas Oil/Silverhook, to take top honors in Cocoa Beach. This year, they’ll have to take down four including two fiercely competitive CMS teams and an unproven—but decidedly threatening—Envy team of Chris Cox and Herb Stotler in Cox’ stunning 50-foot Mystic cat. “We’ll have our work cut out for us,” said Granet. “It’s blowing pretty good so it looks like it will be a rough race—ideal conditions for the Miss GEICO Victory cat.”

Superboat: Their new Skater 388 catamaran is far from ready (read the story), but that isn’t stopping J.R. Noble and Mark Kowalski from trying to repeat as Cocoa Beach winners in Stihl this year. But they’ll need take out the new WHM Motorsports, Cleveland Construction and 2014 Superboat-class World Champion Broadco teams to get it done said. Said Noble, “Cocoa is always an exciting event inclusive of the rough conditions. The guys throttling will earn their money on Sunday.”

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For a look at the 2014 first-place finishers returning to Cocoa Beach for Sunday’s race, check out the slideshow above. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pixhoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Superboat Extreme: Last year, the Instigator-Hooters team cruised, though that’s far from the perfect word for anything that happens in offshore racing when it comes to Cocoa Beach, solo to victory. This year, Instigator’s John Stanch and Ben Robertson will have to take down the ever-fast Billy Glueck and Brett Lee Furshman in Twisted Metal—another Fountain V-bottom—if they want to snag top honors in their class. Assuming the equipment stays together, this two-boat battle could be one of the event’s best contests.

Superboat Vee: Just one boat shy of last year’s five-boat fleet, the Superboat Vee class turnout for Cocoa Beach is solid with Steve Miklos and his new cockpit Jason “Huck” McConnell, ready to defend Sun Print’s first-place finish in 2014. Though Miklos’s new-for-late-2014, 29-foot Extreme V-bottom has just four races on it—one in Clearwater, Fla., and three in Key West—he and McConnell have managed to log some running time together in the canopied V-bottom. Miklos is keeping his expectations modest for Sunday’s event. “Having not raced together, we don’t think we’ll be really competitive in Cocoa Beach,” he said. “It would be nice to see a top-three finish, but the Kildahls and the Absolutely Not team will be really fast and tough to beat.”

Superboat Stock: Last year, Chris Schoenbohm and Ryan Beckley prevailed at Cocoa Beach in a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran then called SOS Venezuela. Since then, both the team and the boat have split apart (read the story) so to speak. Schoenbohm has brought rising tunnel-boat star Shaun Torrente into the cockpit of Smart Marine Services, and Beckley is teaming up with Jake Noble, the son of Stihl’s J.R. Noble the 30-foot Reliable Services Skater cat for the Cocoa Beach race. That means two Stock-class competitors have a chance of “repeating” first place finishes on Sunday. But in addition to one another, they’ll have to battle Scott Porta and Mike Fosse in Papa’s Pillar Rum to get it done. With just three entries, the Superboat Stock-class fleet is half the size it was in 2014, but to be fair only four of the Stock-class cats entered last year started the race.

Manufacturer P3 and P4: With neither Black Pearl (P3) nor Dare Devil (P4) currently registered to defend their respective titles in Cocoa Beach, both classes are wide open for a new winner. At present, the P3 field includes two entries, Second Amendment and The Developer. In the P4 class, Two Cruel, No Vacancy and Fast Forward will duke it out for top honors.

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