With the Miss Mary Mac turbine-powered 48-foot Marine Technology, Inc., officially out for Super Boat International National Championships this coming weekend in Clearwater, Fla., the battle of the fastest boats in the SBI field likely will be between the piston-powered Miss GEICO catamaran and Al Adaa’am 96, the new turbine-powered 50-foot Mystic cat. The 50-footer made its debut at the recent SBI event in New York City.
With its twin 1,800-hp T-53 turbine engines, the Qatar-backed Mystic driven by Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and throttled by Steve Curtis comes into Clearwater with a 300-hp edge over the 44-foot GEICO cat with twin 1,650-hp turbocharged Mercury Racing engines. But the GEICO team’s throttleman Scott Begovich and driver Marc Granet believe they can neutralize that advantage in the turns.
“The Qatar guys (Sheikh Hassan and Curtis) fought it out well in (Union International Motonautique) Class 1, but that was in their smaller boat, which was like a Ferrari,” said Granet shortly after a test session in Miss GEICO this morning. “I think they will find that Mystic handles tremendously well, but it’s a big boat. We’ll be turning hard, and they’ll have to get used to turning that big boat.”
Begovich agreed. “I think we can out-turn them,” he said. “I think we can get through the turns quicker. It’s going to be a tough race, but we’re not hiding from them, that’s for sure. I’m feeling pretty confident about our chances.”
Begovich said that Miss GEICO performed better than ever in today’s test session. In two- to three-foot seas off Riviera Beach, Fla., he and Granet ran the boat to 146 mph.
“The boat ran flat and straight as an arrow,” he said. “It really loves rough water. And I think this is the best-turning boat I’ve ever run in my life. We were turning extremely fast and extremely tight this morning.”
“We always look for predictability when we’re testing, and that’s what we saw today,” added Granet. “When a boat is predictable, it allows us to push and push and push. Plus we now have quite a few races on the 1650s, and they have never run better.”