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HomePeoplePeopleFirst Person: Rookie Moves at the Key West Worlds, Part I

First Person: Rookie Moves at the Key West Worlds, Part I

The annual Super Boat International Key West World Championships are the Daytona 500 of offshore powerboat racing. Heading into their 35th running next week, they are truly an international event bringing teams from all over the world to race in the beautiful waters of Key West Harbor.

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely a motorsports fan, which means chances are good that you’ve seen the Daytona 500 on television or in person. So imagine being a driver in your first NASCAR race at the Daytona 500. Walking onto pit lane seeing all the fans in the stands, the cars ready to race, and just the overall excitement around the event taking place that day. The drivers are always calm, cool and professional but they have to be nervous right? Especially the rookies, who definitely are not racing a car for the first time but are racing in their first Daytona 500. Same goes for the rookies who, while they often are experienced boat racers, compete in Key West, Fla., for the first time.

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In five days, Mike Yowaiski and Jim Jackson will race at the SBI Key West Worlds for the first time. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

That’s where I come in.

Earlier today, my teammates and I left Maryland to embark on our first-ever Key West boat race. While this is not our first boat race or first time in Key West—far from it— this will be our first time racing there. Tje Maxed Out Motorsports team is owned by Jim Jackson, who throttles while I drive. The boat is 26-foot Joker V-bottom with a 600-hp engine that we’ll be running in the Manufacturer 4 class. Jim and I have been racing together for two years and took second place at the OPA Worlds in Solomons Island, Md., last year. When we sat down to plan our 2016 event schedule, Jim said he wanted to race Key West. And so the adventure began.

Since that day, there has been lots of planning, engine problems and the inevitable ups and downs of boat racing. However, through all of that all I could think about was getting to race in Key West for the first time. For 10 years, I have been making the annual trip to Florida to catch the Key West Worlds. It all started when some good friends and I did the Florida Power Boat Club poker run from Miami to Key West. Since then I have been back in many capacities from being a spectator to working with some of the best teams in the world even drove a pace boat few times. But I’ve never raced there.

That’s about to change.

To say that I am excited is an understatement but with all that excitement comes a lot of stress and nervousness. The amount of things going through my head is crazy, but when I think about racing there a big smile comes across my face. I have no doubt that, no matter the outcome, this will be experience of a lifetime and I want to share that with everyone.

So I am going to be sending an update everyday to speedonthewater.com sharing how that day went be it good or bad. We are even going to be sending updates on the ever-so-exciting drive from Maryland to Florida. In the end I hope everyone reading these updates will enjoy the experience of racing in Key West for the first time.

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Editor’s note: Veteran offshore racer—and SBI Key West Worlds rookie—Mike Yowaiski has written nine articles on offshore racing for speedonthewater.com. In addition to racing, Yowaiski has worked as a promoter/organizer and broadcaster for the sport.

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