Coming into this weekend’s Super Boat International Suncoast Sarasota Offshore Grand Prix, the Superboat-class Stihl team of owner/driver J.R. Noble and throttleman Mark Kowalski have to be considered the odds-on favorites to take the checkered flag. After all, Noble and Kowalski piloted their 38-foot Skater catamaran with 750-hp Ilmor Marine/Scorpion engines to victory in the first two events of the SBI season. That the season-opener in Charlotte Harbor (technically Englewood Beach), Fla., was a smooth-water race and the next event in Cocoa Beach, Fla., delivered nasty conditions speaks well to new-for-2014 cockpit duo’s versatility. But the Stihl team is far from overconfident about their chances in the third SBI race of the season.
Though Sthil comes into Sarasota this weekend as the Superboat-class favorite, competiton is guaranteed to be stiff. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot-2-Thrill Pix
“Nothing would make us happier than to win this weekend, but there are seven boats pre-registered for our class and we are taking nothing for granted,” said Noble. “Broadco has new Ilmor/Scorpion engines—the same engines we have. Randy Sweers in Racing For Cancer-Autonation has new (Potter Performance) engines. Even though they don’t have their new boat yet, WHM is always tough competition—they’ll do anything to win.
“I think it’s going to be one of the best (Superboat-class) races ever,” he added.
Despite tropical storm Arthur, which hit portions of Florida earlier this week and continues to create substantial weather problems in the Carolinas, conditions for Sunday’s race in Sarasota are predicted to be calm.
“I just looked at the long-range forecast and it’s supposed to be smooth,” said Noble. “Thank god—after Cocoa Beach, I’ve had enough rough water for a while.”
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