No one wanted to believe that Robert “J.R.” Noble—a man known for inhaling life—had died from apparent cardiac arrest, so when the news arrived in the early morning hours of March 8 it was met with widespread disbelief. Family, friends and fans of the 58-year-old owner of and driver for the STIHL offshore racing team hoped and prayed it was a mistake, or even some kind of cruel joke.
But it wasn’t an awful error or a terribly misguided attempt at humor. It was real and— long before sunrise on that Tuesday morning— Noble was gone. The man behind making the three-part NBC Sports television program on the 2015 Super Boat International Key West World Championships, the gravel-voiced guy who started his offshore racing career in 2007 in the Stock class and finished it in the Superboat ranks, would not be reuniting with Grant Bruggemann this season. Noble and Bruggemann would not be making a run at the 2016 Superboat-class world championship in Noble’s new 38-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, which Bruggemann was rigging at his shop in Bradenton, Fla.
While offshore racing will carry on this year and in the years to follow, Noble’s death leaves a void that cannot be filled.
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