With a 41-foot Victory catamaran leased from Steve Curtis of Offshore Racing Services in Orlando, Fla., and throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Jay Muller in the cockpit for the upcoming Offshore Powerboat Association race Aug. 25-27 in Fall River, Mass., the Miss GEICO offshore racing team will finish out the 2017 season. As has been widely reported, the team’s 44-foot Victory catamaran was seriously damaged in a collision with the American Ethanol/Cat Can Do Skater Powerboats catamaran that claimed the life of veteran throttleman Keith Holmes on July 30 at the OPA St. Clair River Classic race in Michigan.
To finish the 2017 season, the Miss GEICO offshore racing team has leased a smaller catamaran to replace its heavily damaged 44-footer (shown here at the 2017 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“It was a terrible, terrible weekend,” said Gary Stray, the Miss GEICO team’s manager. “Keith was a good friend of everyone on the team. He was one of the first guys you’d want to see after a race, the first guy you’d want to go have a beer with. For that to happen was unthinkable, and obviously our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.
“The whole thing hit (driver) Marc Granet and (throttleman) Scotty Begovich pretty hard,” he continued. “It’s been quite a difficult thing for them to try to swallow. Keith was a good friend of theirs, especially Marc. They’re struggling to get over it. So they are going to take the rest of season off while we fulfill our commitments to our sponsor.”
After the OPA Fall River event, Curtis—who is competing in the Cowes Classic powerboat endurance race in the United Kingdom that weekend—will take over for Tomlinson as the Miss GEICO throttleman. Muller, too, will only be in the cockpit for the Fall River race.
“I have been talking to a number of drivers and I think I have it sorted out, but I can’t release a name until we have it officially confirmed,” Stray said.
With its 41-foot running surface and wider tunnel, the leased Miss GEICO cat, formerly owned by the Spirit of Qatar Union International Motonautique Class 1 team, is smaller than the 44-footer damaged in the crash. The larger boat will be thoroughly inspected—including X-Rays of the hull, said Stray—to determine whether it will be repaired or replaced.
“This gives us time to do a proper analysis of what’s going on with the internal structure of the boat,” he said. “We have the (former) Qatar catamaran leased from Steve for the rest of year with an option to buy. That gives us more time to decide what we’re doing to do and prepare for next season.
“We’re going to let Marc and Scotty get over the incident as best they can,” he continued. “They’ll be coming back out next season when the big boat or its replacement is ready to come back out next season.”