Offshore powerboat racing fans who’ve longed for more action throughout a given event weekend are about to get their wish this month in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The first race of the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series and the second race of the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, Thunder on Cocoa Beach, set for May 18-21, will include two full days of action.
The first round of the Class 1 World Championship Series in Cocoa Beach, Fla., this month will begin with qualifying—as it will for the Super Cat-class teams. Photos from Thunder on Cocoa Beach 2022 and 2021 by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
In a decidedly untraditional move, the 10- to 13-team Super Stock class will compete on Saturday rather than Sunday, as will several of the Bracket classes. Also on Saturday, the Class 1 and Super Cat teams will compete in separate qualifying rounds to establish starting lane orders.
Combine all that with Saturday’s testing and practice sessions, and what has traditionally been a more “quiet” day during a race weekend becomes action-packed.
“Qualifying has always been a part of UIM racing and it was interesting to see the Super Cat team owners interested to do the same as Class 1 for this race,” said Azam Rangoonwala, chief executive officer of Powerboat P1, which is producing and marketing four of the five Class 1 races this season. “It would be great to qualify all the classes, but we obviously need to think about how much time we have in the day and on the water, costs and allocation of safety assets.
“But for the fans, it gives an extra session of excitement and a sneak peek to the weekend ahead on the difference performance of each team,” he added.
WHM Motorsports will be among the Super Cat teams qualifying on Saturday before Sunday’s main event.
Among the Super Cat team racers excited to bring qualifying to the category is Grant Bruggemann, the throttleman and team manager for Pro Floors Racing/Valder Yachts team.
“For one, it gives the teams a bigger incentive to perform and get it right in testing, while also adding more professionalism to our sport,” Bruggemann explained. “It sorts out which teams are really prepared and then rewards them with the starting position they earn. It’s also a benefit that the racecourse is set up so we get to run it the day before and get things sorted so we’ve got it figured out when the green flag drops on race day.”
Super Cat-class engine builder Mike D’Anniballe of Sterling Performance Engines in Milford, Mich., is also a qualifying fan. “I think it’s entertaining for the fans and good for the sport,” he said, then chuckled. “Plus, the top three Super Cat teams in qualifying Marathon (Fla.) all had Sterling power.”
While Jay Muller, the throttleman for the WHM Motorsports team, sees the entertainment value in a qualifying round, he’s not quite as enthusiastic about it.
“I could take it or leave it,” he said. “It’s good for the fans, but it takes way too much time. In the Marathon (Fla.) race, we were done testing by 11 a.m. and could have had the boat out of the water and ready for the next race day. But we had to wait until 3:30 p.m. to qualify and then clean up and prep for Sunday.”
With the Super Stock season-opening race in Marathon, Fla., scrubbed, Cocoa Beach will be the first test for the defending national champion Jackhammer team.
On the Super Stock side of Saturday, the competitors are unanimously thrilled with their new Cocoa Beach race day. When the idea was first floated, class representative Ryan Beckley, the throttleman for the CELSIUS/Ignite team, sent all team owners a text asking them to vote on the change.
“It was the quickest response ever from the class and there was 100-percent agreement,” he said. “Everyone is excited for it.”
Not the least of the Super Stock team owners amped to compete is Reese Langheim of the defending 2022 APBA National Champion Jackhammer team. As previously reported on speedonthewater.com, Langheim will run with Julian Maldonado, the son of former Jackhammer throttleman Ricky Maldonado, this season.
“We can get in some practice, race and still make it home by Monday to pour concrete,” Langheim, a concrete contractor in based Southern Illinois, said then laughed. “Life is good.”
With the Super Stock-class race for Saturday, Sunday will be easier for Super Cat M CON team driver Myrick Coil, who pulls double duty with the Super Stock Performance Boat Center team. Photo from the Race World Offshore 7 Mile Offshore Grand Prix.
Also particularly delighted with Super Stock racing on Saturday is driver Myrick Coil of the Super Stock Performance Boat Center team, the Super Cat M CON team and the future Class 1 Monster Energy/M CON team. On a typical race weekend, Coil hops between his Super Stock and Super Cat rides on Sunday, which makes for a hectic day.
“It’s going to be way easier,” he said, then laughed.
Added Rangoonwala, “We’ve had bracket-class racing on Saturday before and the fans really enjoy it. Adding Super Stock gives fan another big reason to tune in and catch the action, either by livestream on the P1 Offshore Facebook page or in person.
“For Class 1 in particular, the start of this season is really important,” he continued. “We’ve been working on this since 2019 with many people and have not given up on our long-term goals and strategies. We have the best of the best in terms of race teams, throttlemen and drivers. I personally cannot wait to see who wins the 2023 Class 1 World Championship title.”
Said Azam Rangoonwala, “Qualifying has always been a part of UIM racing and it was interesting to see the Super Cat team owners interested to do the same as Class 1 for this race.”
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