When Lorne Leibel and John Tomlinson claimed a Supercat-class world title at the American Power Boat Association/Union International Motonautique Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., last month, they put the exclamation point on a relationship that began when they first shared a raceboat cockpit in 1986. Though Tomlinson will continue in the sport, the Key West event was Leibel’s swan song—and in keeping with his storied offshore racing career he exited on a high note.
Inspired by his legendary offshore-racing uncle, Cole Leibel will tackle his rookie Super Stock-class season in 2022. Rendering by Ryan Beckley copyright Kinetic Animation.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t see a Leibel the racecourse next season. Cole Leibel, the 33-year-old nephew of the legendary Canadian racer, is fielding a Super Stock-class team for the 2022 season. His Wright Performance 32-foot catamaran, which is slated for completion in February, will be rigged with its Mercury Racing 300R outboard engines at the Tomlinson’s TNT Custom Marine shop in Miami.
Leibel has owned an array of Skater Powerboats pleasure catamarans during the years. His most recent is a 46-footer he purchased from well-known Skater man Ron Szolack at the end of the summer.
A few months later at the Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla., Leibel drove a 32-foot Victory catamaran in his first Super Stock race with veteran throttleman Gary Ballough of the FJ Propeller team. They will share the cockpit of the new raceboat next season.
“The biggest reason I wanted to race was because of my uncle Lorne, and he told me this year was his last year,” said Leibel. “My uncle raced with Gary Ballough two seasons ago and said he was awesome. I also talked to Johnny Tomlinson and he said Gary is the best option.”
Far more important to Leibel was getting the green light from his wife, Kristy. They have a seven-year-old son, Brody, and an almost-five-year-old daughter, Finley, at their home just north of Toronto.
“Convincing my wife I should go racing was a big factor,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I will have Gary with me.
“I have wanted to race for a long time,” he continued. “But I waited till I could afford to do it properly with a new boat, new engines, new propellers and everything else. My company, Big East Construction, is to be going to be our title sponsor and we already have a bunch of sponsorships from our materials suppliers and the trades.”
The 32-footer will be a billboard of sorts for Leibel’s company, which specializes in custom waterfront home construction. To that end, he plans to showcase the cat at various boating events in Canada when he and Ballough aren’t on the racecourse.
But before any of that can happen, the cat needs to be finished. Then Leibel and Ballough will begin practicing for the season, which will begin May 2022 in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
“We’ll be doing a lot of testing,” said Ballough. “Cole is all in—he’s not someone who’s just going to throw a boat in the water for his first race. It’s going to be a learning curve for both of us because I’m not familiar with the new Doug Wright bottom. It has a little more compression, a little less deadrise and a flatter running surface, we it will take some learning, especially in the bump.
“The reason I am involved to begin with is that I ran with his uncle for a season and we had a great time,” he continued. “I’ve learned in offshore racing that you need to be able to gel with the people on your team if you want to have fun and win. Cole is an easygoing, great guy and I’m looking forward to racing with him. He comes from a great racing heritage.”
Added Leibel, “We are going to do a ton of practice when the boat is ready. We are going to give ourselves every chance we can to put out best foot forward.”