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Commentary: Breakthroughs In Key West

It’s easy to bash offshore powerboat racing. It’s not what it used to be. It’s not what it could be. It’s just—not.

Of course, having covered this motorsport awhile I’ve felt this way from time to time. I’m human, sort of, and I get frustrated. That’s not so much because I’ve become a diehard offshore racing fan often disappointed with a segment that never seems to deliver, but because I believe in and enjoy the people involved.

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For the AHM Motorsports and M-Con teams (center), yesterday’s results in Key West were exhilarating. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Then something happens that makes me love the sport. Take AMH Motorsports team owner/driver Aaron Hope’s second-place Superboat-class finish yesterday at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla.

Sharing the cockpit of his Skater 388 catamaran with throttleman Anthony Smith, Hope is a rookie in Superboat, SBI’s premiere class. Hope and Smith finished second, and to call Hope, racing in a catamaran for the first time in Key West (he previously competed there in the AMH/Instigator Fountain V-bottom) exhilarated after yesterday’s breakthrough performance would be fair.

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“We wanted to finish in the top three, and second place does that,” he said, then laughed. “This was our first legitimate podium finish. Pro Floors and Performance Boat Center had some trouble, but to finish ahead of Billy Mauff in WHM Motorsports is a pretty big task. It’s exciting seeing new kids on the block win against some of the veterans.

“We got loose a couple of times trying to catch M-Con and almost lost it,” he added, then laughed again. “And we were like, ‘OK, second place sounds pretty good.’”

That AMH Motorsports was trying to catch the M-Con cockpit duo of Tyler Miller and Tyson Garvin in their 40-foot Skater cat was cause for yet another offshore racing lovefest. (OK, for me at least—lovefest inspiration has been known to vary.) Last night in front of Rick’s on Duval Street, I bumped into Garvin and his wife, Tristan, and they were beaming about the first victory in the team’s two-year history. (I’m pretty sure I even saw Tyson smile.)

As for Miller, his reaction was one of pure joy. “I guess there’s nothing like waiting until the Worlds to get our first checkered flag,” he said then chuckled. “Everything went as good as possible today.”

Today, the AMH Motorsports and M-Con teams will shake off their rightful delirium and get back to work prepping for tomorrow’s race. But for now, at least, they are the top two Superboat-class teams at the 2018 SBI Offshore Worlds. And their joy is contagious.

Yes, offshore racing could be better, and I say that as an often-frustrated, though still-devoted fan. But at least for two teams that delivered breakthrough performances yesterday—and this reporter—it’s still pretty damn good.

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