Said John Tomlinson of the Superboat-Class 2016 National Champion Performance Boat Center team, “All the boats in this class are so close.” Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
While neither the Superboat-class Performance Boat Center team nor the Superboat Unlimited-class Wake Effects team won yesterday in Clearwater, Fla., their third-place finishes were enough for each Lake of the Ozarks-based outfits to return to Central Missouri with a Super Boat International National Championship to its credit. That was the primary goal for both teams heading into eighth annual SBI Clearwater National Championships this weekend.
“We got pushed to the outside of the first turn and were playing catch up for the rest of the race,” said throttleman John Tomlinson, who shares the cockpit of Performance Boat Center, a Skater 388 catamaran with Sterling Performance power, with driver Myrick Coil. “We never recovered. But at the same time, we didn’t push it that hard. All we had to do was finish behind WHM Motorsports and we were fine to get the National Championship.
“All the boats in this class are so close and the starts are so important,” he added. “We got the National Championship, that was our goal. Now we get to start over again with Key West next month. It isn’t going to be easy down there, that’s for sure. You’ve basically got to get through three races untouched.”
Finishing first in the Superboat class were throttleman Keith Holmes and driver Ed Smith in Cleveland Construction, another Skater 388 cat with Sterling power. (WHM Motorsports finished second.) “We had a great race and an awesome setup,” said Holmes.
Holmes and Smith didn’t fare quite as well in the Unlimited-class contest—a broken propeller shaft knocked the Cat Can Do/American Ethanol Skater out of the lead, and out of the race on lap No. 9. Throttleman Randy Scism and driver Bob Bull claimed the lead in CMS, their 52-foot MTI catamaran with twin Mercury Racing 1650 engines, and never let it go. But the Unlimited-class national title went to throttleman Jeff Harris and rookie driver Rusty Rahm in Wake Effects, a 48-foot MTI with Mercury Racing 1650s. For the MTI campaign, it was as successful as race days come.
“Man, Rusty sure isn’t a rookie anymore,” said Harris. “He is doing fantastic. He does really great at picking lines around the racecourse, and he’s learned how to deal with traffic. I’m excited about going to Key West for the Worlds.”
The day ended early—as in one lap—for the Miss GEICO team, which has not completed an SBI race this season. This time around, the issue was one of computer programming/engine mapping, according to the team’s driver, Marc Granet, for one of the boat’s in-house-built engines.
“We had only on or off, full speed or nothing,” he said. “When we pulled back for the corner, the boat would shut off. We finally blew the engine to pieces.
“Given amount of work the team put in, it was very disappointing,” he continued. “But hopefully we’ll identify the problem, the motors will be torn down and put back together and we’ll be ready for Key West.
Facing competition for the first time this season in the Superboat Extreme V-bottom class, throttleman Peter Meyer and driver Johnny Stanch in AHM Construction/Instigator, a 40-foot Fountain, went down to throttleman Billy Glueck and driver Brett Furshman in Cooper-Standard/Twisted Metal, a 37-foot Fountain. Still, having not missed a race this season Meyer and Stanch came into Clearwater with enough points to have the title locked down before the green flag flew.
For more action from yesterday’s SBI National Championships, check out the slideshow above.
Noteworthy as the Clearwater race win was for 2nd Amendment and the National Championship was for second-place finisher The Developer, the Manufacturer Production 3 class contest was overshadowed by a horrific solo-boat accident when VooDoo Offshore Racing rolled. Throttleman Tony Canale and driver Gary Jones reportedly sustained serious, though not life-threatening injuries (including a concussion for Jones and a fractured vertebrae for Canale), and were extricated by the on-course safety teams and transported to a local hospital for treatment.
In other classes of note, LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness claimed its first SBI National Championship in the Superboat Vee class with a second-place finish in Clearwater. After toying with DoublEdge Motorsports, the Ryan Beckley-owned team that flies various sponsor colors throughout the season, Gary Ballough’s FJ Propeller team took first and brought home a Stock-Class National Championship. Second-place Clearwater finisher Team Raven grabbed the Manufacturer Production 4 National title.
Editor’s note: For complete results from the Super Boat International National Championships, visit the SBI website.
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