With their first offshore racing experience behind them thanks to last weekend’s Super Boat International season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Kenny Mungle and Lee Lockwood of the Superboat-class Gone Again/STIHL team already are looking forward to the competing in the upcoming Offshore Powerboat Association-sanctioned Lake Race June 2-4 on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. Known for top-speed shootout performances in the team’s 32-foot Gone Again Skater catamaran, Mungle and Lockwood arrived in Cocoa Beach with the Skater 388 cat they purchased from the STIHL team. Their intention was to honor the late Robert “J.R.” Noble.
Eager to get back on the racecourse, Mungle and Lockwood ran their rookie offshore race in Cocoa Beach last weekend. Photo courtesy/copyright Jim Winters/Speedonthewater.com.
“We didn’t even have propellers,” said Mungle, who drove the 38-footer with Lockwood handling the throttles. “We had to buy them from the Performance Boat Center team.”
That happened shortly after Mungle visited the Performance Boat Center pits, where he found John Tomlinson, the co-owner of TNT Custom Marine and the new throttleman for the Superboat-class Performance Center Team and Mike D’Anniballe of Sterling Performance Engines.
“They were sitting in their lawn chairs, just talking,” said Mungle. “I asked Johnny what it would take for me to hire him and get some instruction in the (Skater 388) raceboat. He said, ‘Kenny, you ran a 32-foot Skater 188 mph—you know how to drive a boat. You don’t need me. Go register for the race and get some seat time.’ And it was so awesome—awesome boat, awesome people. We went there with the intent of honoring J.R. Noble. I can’t even tell you how much we learned. We were both on the same page and we didn’t want to do anything stupid. So we just took it slow and, did five or six easy laps and picked up the pace a little as we went along.”
Mungle and Lockwood were so taken with their experience that they hope to run at least two more SBI races and another OPA event in addition to the Lake Race. (The Skater 388 should have its new graphics wrap complete in time for the early June event.) But they still plan on tackling the shootout during the Texas Outlaw Challenge (June 22-26), the GLOC Performance Boat Challenge Shootout (July 7-10) in Oklahoma and the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout (Aug. 27-28) in their 32-footer.
“We have boats to do both offshore races and shootouts, so that is what we’re going to do,” said Mungle. “I can’t say which I like best. Both have their own unique challenges.”
Mungle said that even if he and Lockwood, who are seeking corporate sponsorship for both their offshore racing and shootout campaigns, do get a handful of offshore races under their belts they probably still won’t compete at the SBI World Championships in Key West, Fla., in November.
“We’ll probably go to Key West, but I don’t think we’ll be ready to race there,” he said. “That’s the real deal.”
Lockwood wasn’t so sure. “Kenny says we probably won’t do Key West, but you never know,” he said.
In the meantime, the Gone Again/STIHL teammates are looking forward to the Lake Race and eager to climb back into the cockpit. Equally if not more compelling for them is the camaraderie they said they experienced among the racers in Cocoa Beach—and are ready to enjoy again.
“Everyone welcomed us in Cocoa Beach with open arms,” said Mungle. “There were so many good people who were helpful and full of advice. I had no idea how tight the offshore racing community is.”