Although the boat wasn’t ready for the first Super Boat International (SBI) race of the year in Cocoa Beach, Fla., last month, Gary Ballough’s new 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran will be racing this weekend in Sarasota, Fla., at the 28th annual Suncoast Grand Prix. Ballough, a veteran offshore throttleman who spends his winters racing overseas in the X-Cat Series, finished testing the new offshore cat last weekend and will be hauling it up to Sarasota tomorrow.
“I just picked the boat back up from TNT Custom Marine and switched it from my splash trailer to my racing trailer,” said Ballough, who has the luxury of owning a trailer specifically for launching the boat when testing near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., and one that never touches saltwater since it’s used for hauling the boat to races where the boat is craned into the water. “I’m looking forward to showing what this boat can do in Sarasota since it’s a real ocean race. We look forward to Sarasota every year like we look forward to Key West. It’s just that great of an event. From the parade to the crowd support on the beach during the races, it’s nice to know the community appreciates you being there.”
As for the new boat, which is powered by twin Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboards, Ballough said it ran better than expected. And his expectations are high since he and teammate Omar Danial of Switzerland are familiar with the boat and have months of testing knowledge at their disposal. In Danial’s Mouawad catamaran—the first 32-footer built with the new hull design—the duo had great success in the 2012 X-Cat Series, finishing second overall behind Victory Team’s Fazza. It was obvious Ballough, a 10-time world champion throttleman, was excited about this boat and the fact that Danial will be racing alongside him in the States this season.
Blacksand Genéve, a Switzerland-based watch company, to sponsor the boat this season. “I couldn’t be happier. The boat runs as well as Omar’s boat in the Middle East. We took it out and shook it down and caught a fuel pump issue right off the bat. We took care of that quickly and were able run the boat in some bumpy water. It handled that great—like a Doug Wright always does.“I’m confident this boat will be very competitive,” said Ballough, who obtained
“The next day we got some flat water and were able to open it up,” he continued. “These boats are capable of 120 mph right of the box. That’s just ridiculous compared to five or 10 years ago. Fortunately we have Omar’s boat dialed in, and since it’s almost identical to mine, we’re way ahead of the game.”
So what top speed did Ballough’s new ride reach? “I could send you a picture of the GPS that you’d be really impressed with,” Ballough said. “But I’d rather until after this weekend when we can get a set of bigger props and put up an even bigger number.”
But more important than top speed, Ballough said, is safety.
“Safety is everything—we’re trying to learn from our friends’ misfortunes in Key West,” he added. “We’ve implemented more safety features in this boat than the last one. You just can’t put a price on living. If it’s something that will help the next person survive, it has to be done.”
Click for captions and to enlarge photos