Mark Gibbons, the owner/driver of Absolutely Not, a 30-foot Fountain that claimed the 2014 Super Boat International Superboat Vee-class National Championship last month in Clearwater, Fla., is not afraid to get bounced around a bit. In fact, Gibbons believes his 30-footer, which he’ll pilot with throttleman Tom Palasciano in the upcoming SBI Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., is stronger competition for the class in rough conditions than it is in calm water. So he’s hoping for bumpy seas in Key West early next month.
After a season that included a roll-over and a national championship, Mark Gibbons said he is ready for the SBI finale in Key West.
“Our boat is built for heavy water,” said Gibbons. “We have a problem keeping up in the flats, especially with boats like Steve Miklos’ new boat (read the story), which is just incredible, and Doc Janssen’s boat (Snowy Mountain Brewery). I think it will be a ‘cat-and-mouse’ game in Key West. Between turns No. 1 and No. 2, which is typically the roughest part of the course, is where we can do well, but coming back into Mallory Square I think the boats that run better in smooth water will have the advantage. It’s going to be competitive.”
Gibbons is still recovering from a shoulder injury, which included broken bones and soft tissue damage, he received when Absolutely Not rolled during the SBI event in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Like its owner, the boat sustained significant damage including a blown-out windshield, but its Mercury Racing 525EFI engine was still running when the 30-footer came to rest right side up. Gibbons sent the boat to Fountain Powerboats for repairs, and the Washington, N.C., boat company had the V-bottom fixed in time to make the next SBI race in Sarasota, Fla. As he had in Cocoa Beach, Jerry Haney throttled Absolutely Not in Sarasota.
“It was a yard sale,” said Gibbons, referring to the post-roll damage in Cocoa Beach. “I’ve rolled a couple of boats before, but this was a mess. The throttles broke off in Jerry’s hand and somehow ended up stabbing me in my arm and hitting a vein. There was blood squirting everywhere out of my arm.
“The way the boat looked after the roll, I was like ‘No way we’re making it to Sarasota,'” he continued. “We sent it Fountain and I called (company chief executive officer) Johnny Walker and asked him about it. He said, ‘Mark, I have five guys working on the boat right now. It will be ready for Sarasota.'”
Presently at Fountain and scheduled for testing led by Haney next week, Absolutely Not’s repair work included bottom modifications that Gibbons said made the boat “feel fantastic.” Between now and the first race in Key West, the Long Island, N.Y.-based team, which competed in all seven SBI races this season, will be testing propellers, including a new Hering model.
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