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International Push Gaining Momentum In Offshore Racing’s Most Powerful Class

First reported by Powerboat Racing World, the Dubai-based Victory Team’s plans to compete at the 2018 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., foreshadow a more-international future for the currently named (under SBI) Unlimited class, according to Miss GEICO team manager Gary Stray and other sources within the Unlimited-class ranks. Fueled by the disintegration of the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 offshore racing circuit—Class 1 did not have season in 2017—the move by the Victory Team could entice other Class 1 competitors to come stateside.

zaboracing

With Norway-based Zabo Racing committed to running stateside this season and next and Dubai’s Victory team coming to Key West this year, an international movement is happening in domestic offshore racing’s most powerful class. Photo courtesy Zabo Racing.

“With Victory coming I expect the Abu Dhabi team to follow suit and be coming in right behind,” said Stray, who worked with the Victory Team for several seaons in 1990s. “Jan Zaborowski, the owner of the Norwegian Class 1 Zabo Racing team already has one boat here—they competed in Key West last year—and another has just arrived. We have already talked to the Australian Maritimo team and they’re coming, and the Swedish team may be coming.”

Zaborowski, who campaigned his catamaran last year in Key West, said he’s not just committed to competing in Key West—his second boat, which just cleared customs in Jacksonville, Fla., could be ready in time for that event—but plans to run all five races, starting with the SBI season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., that the Unlimited-class owners group have on its schedule this year. In 2019, he said he plans to repower both of his Mercury Racing 850 engine-powered boats with Mercury Racing 1100s and run the entire domestic season.

The longtime U.I.M. Class 1 owners’ representative, Zaborowski said he’s been working on moving his team efforts since the Class 1 circuit began its collapse. He also met with Unlimited-class team owners in Key West last year when the move to lower/spec power was first discussed.

“I said to U.I.M., ‘I need your support’ because in the past if you did something on your own you could be punished later on,” he said. “I have always been in contact with them and I worked closely with them. I got their support and raced in Key West last year. We liked it so much that we want to continue in the U.S. I am going to race all five races this year.”

Exorbitant costs, not the least of which were international shipping and even inter-country transportation of raceboats in Europe, led to the demise of the Class 1 circuit, Zaborowski said. Even with the costs of repowering both of his team’s catamarans, the costs to race in the U.S. will be significantly lower.

Zaborowski added that he’s still working closely with U.I.M. Class 1 officials. His goals include getting the U.I.M. Class 1 name—or some derivation or form of it such as Class 1 Extreme—for the category in the States.

“To me, this is very good that Victory is coming to Key West,” he said. “We will probably see  Abu Dhabi and a couple of other teams coming and the class will grow. We could see around 12 boats in Key West.”

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