As anticipated, it was the Superboat class that provided the closest race during the first day of competition at the 34th annual Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships.
Stihl and Broadco went deck-to-deck for much of the Superboat-class race on Wednesday. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot2ThrillPix
With rough spots throughout the shortened course and a steady wind, the Stihl team made up some ground on Broadco early on in Wednesday’s final race and proceeded to run its 38-foot Skater Powerboats cat deck-to-deck with the 40-foot MTI cat before passing Broadco on the second-to-last lap. Proving to have the best setup, Stihl owner/driver J.R. Noble and throttleman Mark Kowalski pulled away from second-place finishers Chuck Broaddus and Grant Bruggemann in Broadco and the third-place team of Billy Mauff and Jay Muller, who debuted the new WHM Motorsports Skater in Key West.
“We made the wrong propeller choice—we stuck with what we put on the boat in the morning and we just ran out of propeller in certain spots on the course,” Bruggemann said. “We got out to an early lead, but Stihl kept making it up going into the harbor. We actually hit a couple of times in the harbor—it was a dogfight the whole way.”
The racing was excellent amongst the top three boats in the outboard-powered Superboat Stock class—Talbot Racing, SOS Venezuela and The Hulk, which finished in that order in the second race of the day. A pair of Fountain Powerboats V-bottoms hit the course at the same time in the Superboat Extreme class with Hooters/Instigator edging out Twisted Metal Motorsports.
The slideshow above features more images from the first day of racing at the 2014 Key West Offshore World Championships.
There also were a couple of crashes, one of which took place in the first race of the day when the J.D. Byrider team of Mike Figuero and Frank Sarro took a violent ride in the team’s Superboat Vee raceboat in the final turn of the last lap. The 30-foot Fountain was in third behind the first-place Snowy Mountain Brewery Outerlimits and runner-up Boatfloater.com Phantom. Also competing in the first race, the Black Pearl Fountain topped the Second Amendment Spectre to win the Production 3 class.
“We went in a little hot on that last lap trying to make up some time,” said Sarro, who throttles J.D. Byrider. “The good news is that we’re OK. Mike was unconscious; he ingested some water. It was violent—everything got thrown around in the boat, including us. We rolled twice. I’m beat up but I’m in Key West still. Mike was flown to Miami and is OK. He should be back down here on Friday.
“The boat is in bad shape so we won’t be racing anymore,” he continued. “We have to thank the rescue crew, The divers are the reason Mike is still alive. I couldn’t get him out—I tried a couple of times.”
The Lucas Oil SilverHook team of Nigel Hook and Shelley Jory-Leigh also rolled in the day’s third race—the nine-boat Superboat Unlimited class. The team’s 44-foot SilverHook V-bottom did a complete roll while trying to avoid the three-boat collision between Alex And Ani, CMS and Duval House, which caused damage to all three boats.
The second CMS entry owned by Bob Bull ended up winning the race with John Tomlinson on the sticks and Jeff Harris at the wheel. The duo led early on and never let up, besting Marc Granet and Scott Begovich in Miss GEICO.
“You can let everyone know that Nigel and Shelley are OK, they just got caught up in some boat traffic,” said Lucas Oil team manager Janet Wilson. “They’re upset about it, but structurally everything is OK. Obviously there’s a lot of water in the boat so we’re worried about the electronics. We should be back racing on Friday.”
Complete 2014 Key West Coverage