Today’s offshore racing at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., blended everything from close competition to dominance and mechanical attrition. It was, in short, everything fans love and hate about the sport.
On the dominance side, there was the performance by owner/driver Bob Bull and throttleman Randy Scism in the CMS 52-foot MTI catamaran, the defending Superboat Unlimited class world champions. In relatively tame conditions, Bull and Scism jumped out to a huge lead—more than a minute ahead of second-place finisher and 48-foot MTI stable mate Wake Effects driven by Rusty Rahm and throttled by Jeff Harris.
“We are ecstatic about today’s results,” Scism said. “Everything came together in a big way. We knew we had to pick up the pace a little today so we went out a little harder and it worked out. We ended up going 1-2 as a team, which is awesome. To me, this is for our entire team—all the guys and gals who make this happen for us. There’s a ton of them who put so much of their blood, sweat and tears into this—so for us to take the top two spots with our Wake Effects teammates is an incredible feeling.”
But the bigger story of the Unlimited class was something of a back-story from Wednesday. After taking the checkered flag that day, Miss GEICO was hit with a one-minute penalty for an unspecified infraction, which dropped them to second place ahead of CMS. Bull and Scism had finished second on Wednesday, but also received a one-minute penalty for striking a turn buoy. That vaulted the CRC/Sunlight Supply team of owner/throttleman Mike DeFrees and driver Gary Ballough to first place, with Miss GEICO in second and CMS in third.
As it always does, mechanical attrition reared its ugly head in today’s Unlimited contest as Miss GEICO, Maritimo, Lucas Oil/SilverHook and CRC/Sunlight Supply either went down or dramatically slowed with engine issues.
WHM Motorsports Billy Mauff and Jay Muller finished first in the Superboat class on Friday and second on Wednesday.
As for close racing, the best action of the day happened in the Superboat class, where WHM Motorsports owner/driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Jay Muller showed why they took the world title in their then-new 40-foot Skater last year. A savvy last lap passing move by driver Myrick Coil and John throttleman in the 38-foot Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Skater catamaran cost WHM first place in the race they led from the start on Wednesday, but Mauff and Muller were having none of that today.
“After what happened to us Wednesday there was no way Jay and I were going to lead the whole race only to get passed at the end because we kited the boat,” Mauff said. “We hit a roller on the backside that sent the boat kiting again, and we decided at that point to square the boat up and keep it in the water for the rest of the race. Fortunately the conditions were good today and we were able to take the win.
“The best part about the victory is that we shouldn’t have to work as hard on Sunday,” he continued. “We can be smart about our race, and as long as we can finish in third, we can go home with the world championship. You have to race smart to win in Key West and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”
Throughout the 9-3/4-lap race on the 4.2-mile course, WHM was dogged by owner/throttleman Bob Teague and driver Paul Whittier in Teague Custom Marine, another Skater catamaran that is—at 36 feet—the smallest boat in the class. That the only race Teague and Whittier have run this year was just two days ago made their performance particularly impressive.
“We got a great start,” Teague said. “We were probably faster than Billy, but I couldn’t get a line around them. It was a fun race. Billy and I had a great conversation after it was over and he said, ‘Every time I looked back you were right there.’ ”
Fellow defending world champs Peter Meyer and Johnny Stanch also weren’t taking any prisoners in the Superboat Extreme-class contest today as they led wire-to-wire in AMH Construction/Instigator, a 40-foot Fountain Powerboats catamaran. Manned by owner/throttleman Billy Glueck and driver Brett Lee Furshman, Cooper Standard/Twisted Metal, a 42-foot Fountain, finished first on Wednesday and second today, setting up a real showdown for Sunday.
Peter Meyer and Johnny Stanch won the Superboat Extreme class in Meyer’s 40-foot Fountain.
“The boat was on fire today,” Meyer said. “We had a cam go bad in Wednesday’s race so we were up last night till 11:30 p.m. putting in a new one.
“Billy and Brett are such tough competitors,” he added. “Now it all comes down to Sunday.”
In the competitive Superboat Vee class, the team of owner/throttleman Brian Forehand and driver Michael Janssen pulled out a hard-fought victory in the Marker 17 Marine Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom. The win came after the team was disqualified for a mechanical infraction following its victory in Wednesday’s race.
The Superboat Vee class is a fun one watch as you can see from this image of the LSB/RevOil.com and Marker 17 Marine boats.
“Everything went good today,” said Forehand, who downplayed the disqualification even though he understood it could take the team out of championship contention. “We had a little mistake on the second turn of the first lap—we spun out but got back on it immediately and ended up taking over first place less than a lap later. Outside of that, the boat ran great and we expect to have another good race on Sunday.”
The Marker 17 Marine team finished ahead of the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness and Boatfloater.com teams in the race.
In terms of first-place finishes in the Superboat Stock, Production 3 and Production 4 classes, today was a carbon copy of Wednesday. The Stock-class duo of owner/throttleman Gary Ballough and driver Daren Kittredge in FJ Propeller, led from start to finish. So, too, did the Production 3-class 2nd Amendment team of throttleman Neil Wobbe and driver Karl Steger and the Crazy Chicken Production 4-class team of driver Dee Early and throttleman Anthony Silveria. Both teams are right on track to back up their respective 2015 world championships.
Side Notes: Tough Break Trifecta
• Engine issues kept owner/driver Joe Sgro and throttleman Steve Curtis from starting their new Outerlimits SV 43 V-bottom today in the Superboat Extreme class. The team also struggled with engine issues in Wednesday’s race. Whether Sgro and Curtis will compete on Sunday remains undetermined.
• The chronic back problems that have plagued Gone Again’s Kenny Mungle flared up yesterday and kept him and his driver Michael Lee Lockwood off the racecourse today. (Mungle and Lockwood are competing in their first Key West Worlds this week). Said Lockwood, “Kenny called me today after the race and said, ‘My back hurts but my heart hurts worse.’ He’s seeing a chiropractor later.”
• With two right-hand propellers inadvertently installed on its drives, things started badly for the Sailor Jerry/Autonation Superboat-class team today. They caught the error in time for the start, and were immediately hosed down when the green flag flew. That led to ignition problems and (eventually) burned-out ignition coils for the 40-foot MTI catamaran’s Ilmor engines. Said even-keeled team owner/throttleman Randy Sweers, “We’ll be back to kick the can on Sunday.”
Complete 2016 Key West Coverage