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Living Up To Their Name In Cocoa Beach

When the green flag flew for the final race of the day at Thunder on Cocoa Beach in Cocoa Beach, Fla., at a little before 4 p.m., the 11 outboard-powered catamarans in the Super Stock class looked to be attached at the deck.

The 11 boats in the Super Stock class lived up to its name, waging battles all over the course to cap off day one of Thunder on Cocoa Beach. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Not surprisingly, the 32-foot Victory, Jackhammer, the 2022 national champion, moved to the lead with owner Reese Langheim at the wheel and new teammate Julian Maldonado on the throttles. Owner/driver Cole Leibel and throttleman Gary Ballough were in contention early in their bright green 32-foot Victory, Big East Construction, with owner/driver Darren Kittredge and throttleman Grant Bruggemann holding third in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Northwing Offshore.

Early on, the 32-foot Doug Wright, Team Bermuda/GL Construction, with driver David Selley and throttleman Steven Bridges were contending, but they pulled off with mechanical issues soon after.

Thanks to today’s victory, the Jackhammer team has a good start at defending its 2022 APBA Super Stock national championship.

In the early going of the seven-lap race on the 6.9-mile course, many boats were in the mix including throttleman Shaun Torrente and owner/driver Sean Conner in the lone 32-foot MTI cat, CMR Construction, and driver Myrick Coil and throttleman Rusty Williams in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Performance Boat Center/FASS Diesel Fuel Systems.

It was a fitting end to the first day of what promises to be a good weekend of racing in the surfing capital of the Sunshine State. Approximately 65 boats came to Cocoa Beach for the 13th anniversary of Thunder on Cocoa Beach, which this year is presented by Keltec. Originally, the first day of action was going to consist of two races, one featuring boats in the Bracket 500, 600 and 700 classes and a second for the Super Stock fleet plus qualifying for the Class 1 and Super Cat teams. The owners of the boats in the latter class voted not to qualify to save their equipment.

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Enjoy more action from today’s Super Stock race.

This left the six boats in Class 1 to go out to qualify between the first and second races. Each boat ran two laps on the course mostly by itself and the fastest of the two laps would give the team its lane position for tomorrow’s Class 1 race. A team could opt for a third bonus lap to try to improve its time.

The boats would enter the course at the northern end and run south around the bottom end before crossing the start/finish line to start a lap. The 50-foot Mystic, dfYoung, with owner/throttleman Rich Wyatt and driver Hugh Fuller took to the course first. It had been re-rigged by Herb Stotler with Mercury Racing 1100-hp Class 1 engines and Wyatt and Fuller haven’t had much time in the cat. They laid down two solid laps, but Wyatt had to deal with something all the competitors battled today.

“The biggest thing is going to be the seaweed,” Wyatt said. “We had guardian mode kick in twice.” He added that he had miscalculated slightly on props and weight and promised, “We’ll be faster tomorrow.”

The 222 Offshore Australia Class 1 cockpit duo of Darren Nicholson and throttleman Giovanni Carpitella picked perfect lines around the course and earned the pole position.

After the six teams ran, driver Darren Nicholson and throttleman Giovanni Carpitella in the 47-foot Victory, 222 Offshore Australia, had laid down the fastest lap at 3:34:66. Just a little more than a second behind were driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Steve Curtis in their 47-foot Victory, Huski Ice Spritz. Wyatt and Fuller were five seconds behind and will start tomorrow in the third lane while John Tomlinson and Carlos de Quesada in their 50-foot catamaran, Pothole Heroes, will be in lane four.

Making their Class 1 debut were owner throttleman Tyler Miller and driver Myrick Coil in the 43-foot Skater Powerboats cat, Monster Energy/M CON. It doesn’t matter what their time was. This was a historic moment for the first Class 1 boat built by Michigan’s Douglas Marine. It will start tomorrow in lane five and Mike Falco and New Zealand’s Chris Hanley will be in lane six in their Outerlimits catamaran Team DeFalco.

The Monster Energy/M CON team debuted its new Class 1 438 raceboat in today’s qualifying round.

Good Behavior
Speaking of lanes, Thunder on Cocoa Beach was the first time in recent memory that we didn’t hear any complaints of lane infractions at the start of a Super Stock class race. All 11 boats appeared to hold their lanes through the first turn per American Power Boat Association rules and Langheim and Maldonado jumped out to an early lead they would never relinquish.

Kittredge and Bruggemann started on the inside lane and were battling with Big East Construction and Jackhammer early on. “It was everything we could do to pass in the front and protect the rear,” Bruggemann said.

Speaking of the battle that was waged among Northwing, Big East Construction, Team Bermuda GL Construction and CMR Construction, Torrente said, “It was done with complete respect. There was no one cutting each other off. It was a blast. Even if we didn’t come out on top, we would have been happy.”

Added Northwing’s Kittredge, “We had the pole and I feel like I let one get away a bit, but it was awesome racing and everyone was very respectful.”

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The Class 1 qualifying round preceded the final race of the day.

As the Jackhammer team stretched out its lead, initially Big East was battling Northwing and Team Bermuda for second, but the latter pulled out of the race with issues and Ballough and Leibel slowed before eventually dropping out with their own problems. This left the door open for CMR to work its way up through the field. As Northwing and CMR battled, Performance Boat Center/FASS continued to make progress with a boat that was running flawlessly in the calm-for-Cocoa Beach conditions.

Eventually, Coil and Williams got past Northwing and set their sights on CMR, but they ran out of time. Jackhammer took the checkered flag on cruise control while CMR maintained second and Performance Boat Center grabbed the final podium spot.

Setting the Stage
The racing started a little after 1 p.m. on Saturday with 17 boats in the Bracket 500, 600 and 700 classes taking to the course. The livestream was cutting in and out, making it hard for folks to keep up with the action.

In Bracket 500, the 2022 national champions and hometown team, TFR/XINSURANCE, with owner/driver J.J. Turk and throttleman Micheal Stancombe continued its winning ways in the 30-foot Phantom, but a navigation miscalculation late in the race almost cost Turk and Stancombe. Those watching the livestream closely could see Turk steer too far inboard and then have to correct to get back on course.

Brian Guy and Ricky Maldonado took home the checkered flag in the Bracket 700 class.

“I was going to the wrong buoy,” Turk said. “I almost gave it away. I started thinking instead of driving.”

In the second-place boat, the 29-foot Warlock, Bulletproof, throttleman Elijah Kingery said his eyes got “bigger than you could ever imagine” when Turk made his navigational faux pas. “I was screaming at Eric (Ullom), who was driving, ‘Just go to the pin, he’ll have to go around you.’ They just barely got to the buoy first.”

TFR/XINSURANCE maintained first place en route to the checkered flag with Bulletproof coming home second. The other 29-foot Warlock, Hammerheads/Fly SRQ, with driver Dennis Austin and throttleman Don Jackson rounded out the top three. One boat, the 26-foot Scarab, Rum Runners, moved up to Bracket 500 and was contending, but had to pull out when the engine lost water pressure due to a sea strainer full of seaweed.

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Enjoy more of today’s Bracket-class racing in the slideshow above.

In the Bracket 600 race, the up-and-coming duo of driver Ryan Stahlman and throttleman Reef Dellanos in the 26-foot Joker, Freebird, continued their impressive offshore racing debut, pulling out to an early lead. The familiar “bat boat,” Ultimate Boat Racing, with driver Andrew Frank and throttleman Chris Reindl ran second while driver Jimmy Jensen and throttleman Chase Gerard held third in their 26-foot Corsa, Gerard Marine. On screen, it appeared that Ultimate Boat Racing got around Freebird for the lead, but speedonthewater.com could not confirm this. The results are going to be included in the Sunday race recap.

Six boats made up the Bracket 700 fleet, which included hulls from Velocity, Superboat, Activator and Nitra from Sweden. When the spray settled, Brian Guy and Julian Maldonado looked to have the win in their 21-foot Superboat, Jackhammer, followed by Nick Buis and Rick Hartmeyer in the 22-foot Activator, Statement Marine, and the 22-foot Velocity, Deez Nuts/Meara Image Boutique Cars, crewed by Rey and Ricardo Maldonado.

With wins in the Super Stock and Bracket 700 classes, the Jackhammer team had a lot to smile about today.

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