In what could be described as offshore powerboat racing’s ultimate form of social distancing, veteran throttleman Nigel Hook will attempt to establish a 112-mile, around-Catalina Island record in his 48-foot SilverHook V-bottom powered by Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines this Saturday. Hook will be joined in the cockpit of the boat by driver Jay Johnson, his teammate of the past several years, for the record attempt, which will begin in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson will tackle the Pacific Ocean this Saturday in an attempt to establish an Around-Catalina Island record. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The event is part of the Ocean Cup Series that Hook, a devoted longtime endurance and short-course offshore racer, started in 2013 to “revive historic races and record attempts, awakening interest in special achievements on Union International Motonautique-recognized courses,” according to an Ocean Cup press release. In 2017, the cockpit duo set a Key West to Cuba record in the SilverHook 48-footer. Though the team had planned to take on several Ocean Cup races this year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to cancel those plans.
For the Around-Catalina event, Hook and Johnson will be joined in the record attempt on the U.I.M.- and American Power Boat Association-approved course by fellow Southern Californians Walt and Lance Ware—a father-and-son duo—in a 48-foot diesel-powered, open-cockpit V-bottom designed by Larry Smith and Leigh Ann Bauman and Chris Reindl in a 24-foot Reindl “bat boat” dubbed Early Protection.
Each team will be chasing its own class record for the course.
Historically significant, this weekend’s Around-Catalina record run traces back its roots to 1911, when it was a 79-mile out-and-back affair. In 1968, offshore racer and eventual Powerboat magazine publisher Bob Nordskog resurrected the event as “The Rum Run” in reference to the days of Prohibition when powerboats transported liquor from Southern California’s Channel Islands to various ports on the coast.
A 24-foot Reindl (above) and a 48-foot Apisa (below) will join the 48-foot SilverHook in an attempt to set new endurance records. Photos by David Dilks (Reindl) and Sean Gunn (Apisa) copyright speedonthewater.com.
But completely circumnavigating Catalina adds a new twist, particularly as the island’s west end is totally exposed to the Pacific Ocean. The trio of boats is scheduled to depart Saturday at 8 a.m.
“I’ve raced to Catalina in the Rum Run short course many times between 1988 and 1998 but this will be the first time to go completely around the island,” said Hook. “This U.I.M. world-record course perfectly fits the Ocean Cup island racing theme
“The long-range forecasts are quite favorable for calm seas on the windward side of Catalina but you have to remember that this is the Pacific Ocean,” he added.