Joining forces in the canopied 30-foot Phantom V-bottom formerly owned by noted offshore racer Steve Kildahl and renamed No Vacancy, Travis Lofland and J.J. Turk are teaming up for the 2015 offshore racing season. Lofland, who competed with the Time Bandit and Instigator teams, and Turk, who ran with the Perdition Offshore Racing team, will race together for the first time in the P-4 class at the Super Boat International season-opener May 15-17 in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
Said Lofland (at right with No Vacancy driver J.J. Turk): “We have a good, safe and solid platform we can get out and run.” (Click image to enlarge.)
Lofland will throttle the boat, which is powered by a modified (and recently rebuilt) Mercury Racing HP 500 engine and a Bravo XR drive. Turk will drive.
“We have a good, safe and solid platform we can get out and run,” said Lofland, now back in Sarasota, Fla., after closing out the crab fishing season in the Gulf of Alaska on the Cornelia Marie—of “Deadliest Catch” reality television show fame—in mid-March. “Right now, we’re looking at getting seat time together. That’s what this season is all about. More than anything else, we’re looking at this boat as a platform to either move up in class or move into a different class. We’re just working on running the boat as a team.”
As “the first Cocoa Beach-based offshore racing team,” according to Lofland, No Vacancy already has more than a dozen local sponsors including the Cocoa Beach La Quinta Inn, which is owned by the Turk family and is the team’s primary backer.
Between now and the SBI season-opener May 15-17, Lofland and Turk will focus on working together in the cockpit.
“Businesses in Cocoa Beach have been stepping up huge,” said Lofland. “Java and Juice, The Tiny Turtle, Ocean Potion, Pineapple Point—we have everything from sunscreen to bars and restaurants going on the boat.
“We may even have to leave the No Vacancy name off the boat to have enough space,” he added, then laughed.
While Lofland and Turk will compete primarily on the SBI circuit this season, they also hope to compete the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Class 400, as well as in the Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix Sarasota event during the July 4 weekend.
“We could compete in Sarasota and the SBI race in Marathon on the same weekend,” said Lofland. “Nothing wrong with doing two races on one weekend.”
Lofland said he’s hoping that his offshore racing season goes more smoothly than his crabbing season, which “Deadliest Catch” fans are currently enjoying in its early stages on the Discovery Channel.
“It was a long one,” he said. “We got it done—we caught our crab—but it wasn’t the ‘miracle season’ we had hoped for. But that will present itself over the next 14 weeks.”