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Dialed In—And Getting There: Huski Chocolate And Team Defalco Updates

Less than 12 hours after landing in Orlando, Fla., from his home in England, throttleman Steve Curtis was on the water in the Class 1 Huski Chocolate raceboat he shares with driver Travis Pastrana. But for Curtis, who makes the trek between the U.S. and U.K. as much as a dozen times a year, jet-lag is an inescapable part of the job. And there was testing to be done before the teams for Key West, Fla., for the American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique Offshore World Championship Series, November 6-13.

The Huski Chocolate team will test one more time in advance of the Race World Offshore-produced APBA/UIM Offshore World Championships early next month in Key West, Fla. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

In the first five of eight Class 1 races so far this season, the team has claimed three checkered flags and finished second twice ahead of its nearest competitor, 222 Offshore Australia, which competed in four of those races and finished first twice, second once and third once. As reported earlier this week, health issues affecting 222 Offshore’s owner/driver Darren Nicholson have forced the team to withdraw from the final three Race World Offshore-produced races in Key West and the JBS Racing team is a distant third. But the Huski Chocolate team still needs to show up and compete.

So Curtis and members of the team, including crew chief Gary Stray, tested yesterday.

“It’s really nice now to test because the boat is so well set up,” Curtis said. “We can go out and do things like just test propellers because we’re not chasing down mechanical issues such as water pressure and so on. The boat is dialed in now. The (Mercury Racing) 1100 Comp engines are really good. We put three years on them before we had any problem, and that was just a part in a valve that knocked us down one cylinder. I certainly have a lot of confidence in them.

“We’re just waiting for propellers, and then we’ll test again on Tuesday down in Key West,” he continued. “Honestly, because you can’t test on the course—it’s not set up on Tuesday—you actually don’t learn that much. It’s almost not worth it.”

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Kinetic Animation’s Ryan Beckley wrapped the Team Defalco Outerlimits raceboat last week.

While the Huski Chocolate catamaran is—final prop tests notwithstanding—ready for action, the Class 1 Team Defalco is almost ready, said Curtis, who has been managing installation and rigging of the 48-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats catamaran’s 1,100-hp engines at his shop in Orlando. Curtis and owner/driver Mike Falco of New York put the cat through its first test session a couple of weeks ago. Chris Hanley, the team’s veteran New Zealand-based throttleman, arrives stateside this weekend and they’ll test again next week before heading to Key West.

“The first time we tested was just after Hurricane Ian,” Curtis said. “All the local lakes in our area were closed, so we had to test on the Intracoastal Waterway in Daytona Beach (Fla.). Mike and I got in about three good runs. Mike did fine—he has plenty of high-performance boating experience—despite us having a little air in the steering system. We’re going to give it another run Monday or Tuesday next week.

“For Mike and Chris, this will be a fun trip to Key West to get their feet wet in Class 1—that’s how they’re looking at it,” he added. “Next season, they’ll make a full run and attempt to earn the Class 1 world championship.”

The original design from Kinetic Animation incorporates the New York City skyline.

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