While Tony Marcantonio, the owner and driver of the J.D. Byrider Superboat-class catamaran, said his first Super Boat International race of the season in the 38-foot Skater cat will either be in Cocoa Beach or Sarasota, Fla., he’s still not sure who will join him in the cockpit as throttleman. According to Marcantonio, who was one of the architects of the reborn-and-still-growing Superboat class, he’s looking at several options.
“There’s a long list,” he said. “Some old names, some new names.”
While the throttleman for J.D. Byrider has yet to be determined, the team plans to start its season at either the SBI Cocoa Beach or Sarasota event. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.
Marcantonio’s search for a new throttleman began earlier this week, he said, when he learned that Mark Kowalski, his longtime teammate in the cockpit, was leaving to throttle for the Stihl Superboat-class team. (Read the story.)
“I have always told people that when they want to get the latest and most accurate news about offshore racing they should go to speeodnthewater.com,” Marcantonio said, then laughed. “Much to my surprise, I learned Mark was leaving the team when I read it online on speedonthewater.
“Mark and I had been talking,” he continued. “I was under the impression that he had some issues to deal with and that he probably wouldn’t be racing this season. I told him, ‘Hey, that stuff is far more important, go take care of it.’ This put us in a precipitous position, but you know, I’m pretty resilient. I don’t get rattled too much. We’ll figure it out. We weren’t going to race at (the SBI season-opener) in Port Charlotte (Fla.) anyway—that’s the busiest time of year in my business. We hope to be there in time for Cocoa Beach, but we’ll definitely be ready in time for Sarasota.”
While the J.D. Byrider team will need to find a new throttleman before its first race of the season, the team is sticking with noted engine builder Chuck Cice, whose impressive resume includes providing power for the Agitator, How Sweet It Is and Victory offshore racing teams, drivetrain wizard Patrick Weismann of Traction Products and Skater catamaran-building legend Peter Hledin.
“J.R. (Noble, the owner and driver of Stihl) is a businessman like me, so I totally understand his decision to try go gain an advantage by hiring Mark and I have no animosity toward either of them,” said Marcantonio. “I wish the best for both of them.
“But I think our advantage—and we had our issues but were leading Stihl in three rough-water races last year before we did—comes from having Chuck, Pat and Pete in our corner,” he continued. “We have a great rough-water set-up. We still need to find the right flat-water setup, which is why I took the boat to Reggie Fountain, Jr., last year, but we’ll get it worked out.”