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MTI At 25—A Kiwi Calls His Shot

For Super Cat-class Pro Floors Racing team owner/driver Wayne Valder of New Zealand, the 2020 and 2021 seasons were particularly rough for three reasons. First, the 2020 season was mostly canceled thanks to the pandemic. Second, New Zealand’s COVID-19 reentry protocols were so draconian—two weeks of self-funded isolation upon return—that coming stateside simply wasn’t feasible for the Kiwi racer who had a business to run and family back home.

Wayne Valder of the Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing Super Cat team threw down the gauntlet ahead of LOTO Powerfest last weekend and emerged victorious. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

Last but far from least, Valder, throttleman/team manager Grant Bruggemann and the entire Pro Floors Racing crew had an outstanding season in 2019. They took top honors in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, finished first in the APBA High-Points Championship Series and claimed second place overall in the Race World Offshore Key West World Championships behind WHM Motorsports.

The Pro Floors Racing team won races in 2022, but couldn’t string together enough of them for a national or world title. No one involved was satisfied.

Valder (atop the canopy) and Bruggemann made a victory pass following their Lake of the Ozarks win.

A mechanical issue forced them to scratch their 42-foot MTI catamaran, which formerly ran as a Qatar-backed raceboat in the Super Cat class and Reliable Carriers in Super Cat Light before that, from the 2023 season-opener in Marathon, Fla. But the Super Cat-class contest itself was scratched because of deteriorating weather conditions so Valder and Bruggemann got a reprieve from what would have been understandable disappointment.

A couple of weeks later, the Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing—the team’s new handle for 2023—finished second in Cocoa Beach, Fla., behind Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil of the M CON/Monster Energy team. During the awards ceremony, Valder, one of the sport’s most joyful and hilarious characters, promised M CON/Monster Energy team owner Miller he would beat him and driver Myrick Coil two weeks later at LOTO Powerfest at the Lake of the Ozarks, which Miller calls home-water, in Central Missouri.

Captured here during Thunder On Cocoa Beach last year, Valder (right) and Miller enjoy their good-natured rivalry. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

And the gregarious New Zealander and his cockpit-mate did just that.

“The win at the Lake of the Ozarks meant a lot not just to Wayne and me but to the whole team,” Grant Bruggemann said. “Although we had several wins last year, we weren’t consistent enough to pull off a national or world championship. Everyone on the team is doing their utmost to make that a reality this season.”

The ever-gracious Miller applauded his rival.

“Wayne and Grant picked all the perfect lines, were very competitive and very professional on the course,” he explained. “It just wasn’t our day but the race was an absolute blast. The last time we had that much gut-wrenching action from green to checker was battling with Johnny Tomlinson and Lorne Leibel in Key West in their Canada Homes boat.”

With a win at LOTO Powerfest, Valder and Bruggemann will head to the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, June 28-July 2, with momentum in the Super Cat class.

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