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HomeRacingKey West Worlds Preview, Part II: Battles For V-Hull Supremacy, Unlimited Action And More

Key West Worlds Preview, Part II: Battles For V-Hull Supremacy, Unlimited Action And More

In a perfect offshore powerboat racing world, the canopied single-engine Stock V and Mod V classes would meld into one big mono-hull category, much like the Super Stock class for canopied twin-outboard-engine for catamarans. But spec power for each non-bracketed class, 525-hp Mercury Racing engines for Stock V and 650- to 700-hp engines from various builders in Mod V, are different and the teams in each category like what they have. So that likely won’t happen anytime soon, if ever.

Relentless, the 2021 American Power Boat Association Stock V-Class National Champion, heads into Key West next week as the Stock-class team to beat. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

No matter, competition in both classes usually is excellent—and each category will have five to six teams in the Race World Offshore-produced American Power Boat Association/Union Motonautique Offshore World Championships, November 7-14 in Key West, Fla.

On the Stock V side of the equation, the Relentless team of driver Travis Petko and throttleman Steve Papp claimed the title this year in the APBA Offshore National Championship Series with strong performances throughout the season. Papp has a schedule conflict, so Anthony Silveria of the Punisher team (Silveria’s Punisher teammate Charlie McCarthy suffered a heart attack in the boat during Roar Offshore Fort Myers Beach, the final race of the series, and is out of the cockpit) will replace Papp in the cockpit.

At least two Stock V-class teams coming into Key West have something they’d like to prove. For driver Brit Lilly in Kevin Smith in the 29-foot LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness Extreme V-bottom of Lilly’s own creation, simply finishing a race or two the podium is a worthy goal. Minor mechanical issues plagued the LSB team during the regular season.

Veteran offshore racers Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith are hoping to reverse their 2021 racing fortunes in Key West.

“If our luck doesn’t change you’re invited to the bonfire boat-burning party after Sunday’s race,” Lilly said, then laughed.

Smith said he believes it’s any team’s world championship to claim thanks to talented new blood, as well as the veterans, in the Stock V ranks.

“You’ve got all these new teams like Shocker and The Firm Racing that are putting in a ton of time and getting their boats figured out, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Howard Richardson and Johnny Stanch up there with the Bad Boys Key West debut,” said Smith “I heard Speed Marine has been helping those guys out and that thing is supposed to be fast. So we’re looking at everybody in this class as top competition.”

As Smith noted, The Firm Racing team’s owner/driver Pete Riveiro and throttleman Richard Garcia have been steadily improving in their rookie season. The team took third place at the inaugural St. Petersburg Grand Prix in early September and second place later that month in the Hooters Clearwater Nationals, the first Race World Offshore-produced contest of the season.

Rookies this season, Key Largo-based Pete Riveiro and Richard Garcia of The Firm Racing considers themselves the Key West home team.

That the team is based in Key Largo, Fla., provides added incentive for Riveiro and Garcia.

“We are the home team,” said Riveiro. “We used the first three races to learn the boat and now we probably have 15 hours of seat-time in the boat. This class is all about communication between the driver and copilot and Richard and I are at a different level now than we were in the first three races. We are primed for Key West—and don’t be surprised if you see three podium finishes from us.

“But the competition will be strong,” he added. “You have Relentless and Shocker, the first- and second-place finishers in the APBA series, coming to Key West. And Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith (of LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness) are always in the game.”

When it comes racing in Key West, the father-and-son Boatfloater.com cockpit duo of Steve and Stephen Kildahl are among the most experienced competitors in the mix.

Steve and Stephen Kildahl earned the Mod V title in the APBA series in Boatfloater.com, which make them the odds-on favorites to exit Key West with a world championship. But the veteran father-and-son duo are taking nothing for granted.

“Honestly, everybody in this class is competitive,” said Stephen Kildahl, whose father has raced in Key West since the mid-1980s. “Sheriff Lobo is always strong. Since Nick Imprescia and Ian Morgan have gotten into Visit St. Pete, that boat has come alive—they definitely have a lot of momentum and it will be interesting to see how they do in Key West. Brian Forehand (in Marker 17 Marine) is always competitive.

The rookie Stock V-class Visit St.Pete/Clearwater team of Nick Imprescia and Ian Morgan has two regular-season victories its credit.

“It all comes down to setup in Key West,” he continued. “If you miss the setup, it adds up and pretty soon you’re half a lap behind. We tried a new setup in Fort Myers Beach with a propeller we’d been ‘afraid’ to try and we actually liked it. We just got back from testing today.”

The Bracket classes, meaning those limited to a top speed, will vie for APBA world titles during the Offshore Powerboat Association-produced World Championships, November 18-21 in Englewood Beach, Fla. But Bracket-class teams also can compete for Race World Offshore “world championships” in Key West and the venue already has almost 20 teams registered and spread across classes from Bracket 200 to 700. While no class has less than two entries at present, only Bracket 400 and 600 currently have three teams on the roster.

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Teams in six Bracket classes including Jackhammer (Bracket 700), Papamigos (Bracket 500) and Team Woody (Bracket 500), are registered for Key West.

At the other end of the spectrum, three Unlimited-class teams—Huski Chocolate, Lucas Oil E3 and Team CRC—are registered for the event. As previously reported on speedonthewater.com, the Huski team, which purchased the 47-foot former Miss GEICO catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 110 Comp engines, will compete in Class 1 next year. But for Key West, it will run in the Unlimited ranks with driver Carlos De Quesada and former Miss GEICO throttleman Steve Curtis in the cockpit.

And that raises the interesting question for the Huski team of what power-level to run in Key West.

“That depends on who shows up,” Curtis said, then laughed. “We don’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight. From 1,100 hop to 1,650 hp, we can vary power output via the ECU. We have four different maps.”

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