When the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1 kicks off May 17-19, the 1100-Class field will boast a distinctly international flavor. Among the most far-flung teams set to compete in the series is Australia-based 222 Offshore, which will run its 41-foot Victory Team-built catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines.
While the final sponsor graphics/livery for 222 Offshore have not been applied to the team’s 41-foot catamaran, the boat—like its cockpit crew—is sure to be colorful (click image to enlarge).
The 222 Offshore team boasts a formidable cockpit crew. Driver Darren Nicholson is a multi-time Australian Superboat Championship champion. The Australian’s resume includes years of experience on the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 circuit, as well as XCAT Series and endurance-racing success. A true waterman, Nicholson also is a world-class sailor.
Depending on the race sites and schedules of the team members, Nicholson will be paired with either Italian Giovanni Carpitella or Peter McGrath of New Zealand on the throttles. Since he began racing in 1993, Carpitella has built an impressive resume that includes clinching the Italian Offshore Championship in the 6000 Class in 1995-1996 and European World Championship in 1997. Capitella also has extensive XCAT experience and earned world titles in the series in 2003, 2006 and 2009.
In addition to his throttling duties, four-time AUS 1 champion McGrath—know simply as “Muddy” in powerboat-racing circles Down Under—is the 222 Offshore team’s crew chief. His accomplishments include claiming New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Championship titles in 1989, 1992 and 1994-1996. Most recently, he earned the Supercat Extreme Championship title in 2018 and took second place in the Australian Offshore Superboat Championships in 2017.
With the first race of APBA Offshore Championship Series just two months away, we caught up with Nicholson and asked him several questions. Here’s what he had to say.
Darren Nicholson and Peter McGrath (in cockpit) will team up with Giovanni Carpitella to run the six-race APBA Offshore Championship Series.
Why are you competing in the APBA championship? Will you run all six races?
The commitment by some of the best teams in the world to compete in the APBA Championship was certainly an appealing draw card. We are planning a full campaign in the APBA Championship.
Will you return to Australia between races or will your team stay here? If so, where will you be based?
We are bringing together some team members from Europe and Australia to campaign in the U.S. Series. The boat and transporter will be based in the U.S., but the team members will fly home between races.
Will you compete in Key West, Fla., if P1/OPA or another race promoter is awarded the contract for it?
Yes, we will compete at Key West irrespective of who secures the rights to the race.
How does your team expect to perform against the likes of Miss GEICO and Victory?
It will be interesting and certainly a challenge racing against the other competitors. We have raced against Victory in previous years, so we certainly know how tough they are. Our team will work hard to have the boat up to speed and ready to go for the first round, so we hope to be competitive.
Have you ever raced in the U.S.?
Pete—or “Muddy”—has previously raced and won the World Championships in Key West back in 2012. Giovanni and I haven’t previously raced powerboats in the U.S., but we’ve certainly followed the racing over there for quite some time, so we’re looking forward to being involved this year.
How is the current state of offshore racing in the U.S. perceived in Australia?
Though the global landscape of racing has certainly changed over the years and while some countries have seen a downturn in racing, the U.S. seems to be going from strength to strength. The OPA Racing format is one that certainly got our attention, especially with the inclusion of some of the biggest names in powerboat racing—it’s always great to be racing against the best in the world.
Is there any venue in particular you’re looking forward to?
We’re looking forward to all the venues—they all offer unique and exciting racing conditions.
What race-day water conditions best suit the skills of your team?
Medium to rough water suits us best—we think—but ask us again after the first race.
Said Nicholson: “Our team will work hard to have the boat up to speed and ready to go for the first round, so we hope to be competitive.”