As a former Union Internationale Motonautique Class One offshore racing competitor, Steve Curtis—the throttleman for the Miss GEICO team—has been the point man for the development of Class ONE ranks in domestic offshore racing. That class debuted in the inaugural six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series in 2019. Though participation was not what Curtis and his fellow Class ONE competitors had hoped, the category did attract the 222 Offshore team from Australia and the Dubai-based Victory team.
The Class ONE ranks had three consistent teams during the 2019 season. Photo from the APBA Series finale in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
Counting the South Florida-based Miss GEICO outfit, that made for no less than three teams at every APBA Series event. Curtis and company finished the 2019 optimistic about their chances for building the class this year. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To be honest, I think it’s going to be difficult for any international teams to get sorted out in their own countries and get over to the U.S. to campaign a proper season,” he said. “That’s especially true at this stage since we don’t really have a secure schedule.”
The 222 Offshore and Victory teams left their catamarans stateside after the 2019 season, but neither has been able to return to the U.S. to prepare or practice for the 2020 races. Compounding the complications for the Victory group was an ownership change that left that team’s commitment to racing this season undetermined.
While the Miss GEICO catamaran will run in the Class ONE ranks this year, it likely will be the only consistent cat in the fleet. (The U.S.-based SilverHook/Lucas Oil V-bottom also should be a consistent Class ONE competitor.) Knowing that, Curtis, who is currently at home in the United Kingdom, is already planning for a 2021-and-beyond Class ONE resurgence.
“I’m working on some ideas for 2021 to make Class ONE very attractive to the teams,” he said. “It’s in the early stages, but I’m just going to try to get back to basics and build a good platform for teams to come and race. We will try and put together a three-year plan with specific goals including packages, venues, television, media and lowering costs.”