Even with the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships a full month behind him and the holiday madness spooling up like one of Miss GEICO’s turbocharged engines, Marc Granet is still pumped about his return to the sport after a year-and-a-half layoff. Though the 51-year-old offshore racing veteran and multi-time world champion didn’t make his comeback in the driver’s seat of Miss GEICO catamaran—the entire team opted out of Key West this year—that made him a household name among fans of the sport, he did get to compete in the Superboat Stock class with Shadow Pirate owner/throttleman Nick Scafidi. And for one race, he competed in the the Superboat class with MGI Digital/Konica Minolta team owner/throttleman Randy Sweers.
The Shadow Pirate team of Granet and Scafidi won two out of three SBI Stock-class races in Key West last month. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
After taking first place in the Key West races on Wednesday and Friday, Granet and Scafidi ended up finishing second overall in the SBI Stock world rankings. Never in contention for a Superboat-class title as they only competed on Sunday, Granet and Sweers ran a solid race that day and finished third in the five-boat field.
That week in Key West was more than enough to leave Granet wanting more, and he’s counting on it next year. In a brief telephone interview yesterday, here’s what he had to say.
Getting back in a raceboat after a year-and-a-half out of the cockpit must have produced mixed emotions. Describe the experience.
It was nothing short of amazing, to be honest. I don’t care who you are—when you sit out for a while, you have questions in the back of your mind when you return. What’s it going to be like? Am I going to be on my game? But as soon as the canopy lid closed in Shadow Pirate, I felt I was exactly where I belonged. And Nick? Nick is animal. He takes no prisoners on the racecourse. This will sound strange, but after taking a season-and-a-half off, I almost felt better. I felt like a much stronger racer.
Shadow Pirate is 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran with two 300-hp engines and Miss GEICO is a 41-foot Victory catamaran with two 1,700-plus-hp engines. Even with your Stock-class background, the difference must have felt dramatic.
Oh yeah. Running the smaller boats—first off, they’re very nimble. And they’re quick. But the straightaways feel so much longer and you make a lot more adjustments. In the big boat on a straightaway, you go from 70 mph to 170 mph in what feels like seconds. And then right away you’re slowing down and getting ready for the next turn. But you have more time to think about the turn ahead while you’re scrubbing off speed. In the smaller boat, you’re working to build speed right up to the last second.
You also ran in the Superboat class. That was a first for you.
It was, and it was incredible. Randy and I immediately synced up in the MTI catamaran. I have spent so much time in MTI cats—our MTI was one of our favorite Miss GEICO boats—so everything from the driver’s seat to the way the boat turned felt perfect. I felt like I could do anything with that boat. Randy is such a cool character and he’s an incredible throttleman. The way he is when you meet him, with that cool and calm demeanor? That’s exactly the way he races. He’s extremely confident and calm. While we didn’t have a lot of time in the cockpit together, we’re really excited about the prospects of what we could do in the future.
Granet felt right at home driving the Superboat-class MGI Digital/Konica Minolta MTI catamaran. Photo from the 2018 SBI Space Coast/Cocoa Beach Grand Prix by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
I loved running in that class, though we really didn’t have any time to test or practice—and had 700 extra pounds of weight in the boat. We finished the race 20 seconds out of first place, but us and Performance Boat Center still managed to have the two fastest laps on Sunday.
So what team will you be racing with next year?
I don’t know what my racing will look like next year, I just know that I’m planning on competing and looking forward to it, whether it is in an outboard-powered catamaran or in the new 1100 class, the class Miss GEICO will be competing in.
The 1100 class is intriguing. Do you think it’s solid enough to pan out next season?
Oh yes. You know, when I first started paying attention to offshore racing when I was young it was all about the U.I.M. Class 1 series in Europe. That was where I always wanted to compete. The professionalism and level of competition Class 1 exuded attracted me and that was exactly where I someday wanted to be. With the crumbling of Class 1, with 850-hp engines, and the power reduction for what was the Unlimited class and will be the 1100 class, there’s a happy medium. It’s the perfect segue, really.
Even though he doesn’t know what team he’ll be racing with next year, Granet is thrilled to be back in the sport. Photo from the 2015 SBI Key West Offshore World Championships by Andy Newman
What do think about next season’s six-race series partnership between the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1?
I’m hugely optimistic. More than anything else, it feels like words are becoming actions. The racers and their leadership are following through on their own commitments and taking charge of their future. In the past, offshore racing has always faced the challenge of competitors—including the Miss GEICO team—having their own agendas. I think we’re going to see a lot less of that. The future is not a parade of boats going around in a circle. The future is competitive offshore racing on courses fans can see, followed by television with professional promoting and an even greater emphasis on safety.
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