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Commentary: Miss Geico Is Good News

During the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout late last month, I had a great conversation with a respected offshore racer. We chatted about a bunch of different subjects—he’s a smart and engaging guy—and generally found we agreed on things related to the go-fast powerboat world in general and offshore racing in particular.

But when our talk turned to the Miss Geico turbine-powered 50-foot Mystic catamaran, we couldn’t have been on more opposite sides of the fence. He believes, as some other offshore racers do—he’s far from alone—that Miss Geico is “bad for the sport.” When I asked him why, he explained that Miss Geico running circles around rest of the fleet and essentially racing no one is “confusing for the spectators” and “detracts from the real racing.”

On his first point, I had no argument. I’ve heard countless questions from spectators on why “the green boat” is so much faster than everything else. It is confusing.

But then, I’ve heard countless questions about the countless classes in offshore racing. So it would be a major stretch—and I mean major—to say that Miss Geico is the primary source of spectator confusion, or that the confusion would subside if the boat weren’t running.

On his second point, I had nothing but argument because I don’t understand how creating general spectator interest detracts from “the real racing” Can anyone suggest with a straight face that if Miss Geico disappeared its fans would flock to see the other classes?

David Scott’s multiple Anheuser-Busch-backed boats, which often ran with little or no competition, are long gone from racecourse. So, too, is the Tommy Bahama campaign of Mark and Paul Nemschoff. (Although it should be noted that Tommy Bahama had tons of competition in the Super Cat class.) Both were fan favorites.

Did those fans, once Scott and the Nemschoffs retired from offshore racing, switch allegiances to other classes and other boats? There are no hard numbers one way or another, but I would argue that when those boats stopped competing, their fans stopped watching. And the overall fan base decreased.

Just as it would if the Miss Geico team hung it up now.

Reasonable people can agree to disagree, and that’s what my offshore racing friend and I did during our talk at the Shootout. But this is Friday, and if you follow this column you know much I like to report good news on Fridays. So here it is.

Miss Geico is still with us.