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Countdown to Sarasota: Can Miss GEICO Finish?

Heading into the Super Boat International Suncoast Sarasota Offshore Grand Prix, the Miss GEICO team is less concerned about notching a win in the Superboat Unlimited class—though that’s always a goal for the fiercely competitive GEICO outfit—than it is with having the 44-foot catamaran finish without a mechancial failure. In four races so far this season, the team has had breakdowns in three, from a drive shaft failure to, most recently at the Lake Race (read the story), to a hose clamp failure.

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A minor part failure knocked Miss GEICO, an SBI Unlimited class raceboat, out of the running at the recent Lake Race. The team has been plagued by mechanical gremlins in three out of our four races this season. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

CMS and us were having a tremendous run on Saturday at the Lake Race,” said Marc Granet, the driver of Miss GEICO. “We have been plagued with water flow issues all season—I looked down and saw my bilge warning lights were on. Who knows what happened? But we broke a hose clamp, the bilge began filling up with water and we got slower and slower. The lack of water from flow to the system allowed the exhaust to get hot and we cracked an exhaust manifold, and we did not have our spare.”

“Hopefully, all those issues are behind us,” he added.

The Unlimited class battle will come down to four catamarans—Miss GEICO, Gasse, CMS and Spirit of Qatar 618—all powered by twin Mercury Racing 1650 engines. Granet said he’s looking forward to what he believes will be the closest head-to-head battle among the teams the Unlimited class has ever seen.

“There are some differences in the boats in size and weight, but the bottom line is we have four 1650 boats racing together that are relatively equal,” he said. “This is what everybody has been asking for. These are the fastest boats in offshore racing, and everybody is capable of winning. And everybody is ultra-competitive.”

Granet said the Sarasota course is very similar to the course in Key West, Fla., where SBI holds its annual world championships. “The outside is lumpy and has a big hole at the end of it,” he said. “Man, you catch that hole and it gets your attention, quickly. You have smooth-water areas along the beach and heading back out, but then it changes very quickly into lumpy again. It’s a lot like Key West.

“We can hold our own on any given racecourse, flat or rough, as long as we don’t break down,” he added. “But with this much competition and boats this fast, you just wake up on the morning of the race and do your best. You try to finish the race and do the best you can. Everybody is capable of having ‘their day’ and winning.”

Editor’s note: Look for more updates in speedonthewater.com’s “Countdown to Sarasota” series heading into the July 3-6 event. To download the May/June issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine at no charge click here.

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