Book-ended between Offshore Powerboat Association events—one in the books and another three weeks from now—in Morehead City, N.C., the first day of the organization’s Offshore At The Ozarks-Cat Edition on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri proved two well-worn offshore racing maxims. First, slippery fast and uncommonly skilled are a tough combination to beat. Second, you can’t win if you don’t finish.
With today’s victories at Offshore At The Ozarks, the Super Stock team of Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle have won all three races they’ve entered. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
In the first race of the day, two of four Supercat-class teams—M-Con and Gone Again—took the green flag. SV Offshore briefly made it to the milling circle on the five-mile course but had to head back to the Camden on the Lake Resort docks with a steering issue. Also experiencing steering system problems, as well as a crash-box issue, Dependable Marine never left the docks.
That left M-Con, a Skater Powerboats 438 catamaran manned by owner/throttle-jockey Tyler Miller and driver Myrick Coil against replacement throttleman Billy Moore and driver Christian McCauley in Gone Again, and Skater 388 cat owned by Kenny Mungle. (As reported earlier today on speedonthewater.com, Mungle opted out of the cockpit with chronic back pain.)
Miller and Coil jumped to an early lead, which they quickly extended into a substantial lead over Moore and McCauley in the eight-lap contest. But with a few laps remaining, M-Con pulled to the center of course—a victim of a broken camshaft in its port engine. That left Gone Again as the only remaining Supercat, and the team went on to take the checkered flag.
The Gone Again cockpit duo of Billy Moore and Christian McCauley took the checkered flag in both Supercat races today.
“We are going to limp across the start line in the second race (for starting points),” Miller said. “Then we’ll pull engine and work through the night. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
With nine boats in the fleet, the first Super Stock-class flipped the narrative. But from the start when the new Shaun Torrente Racing 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran pulled away from the fleet and kept on pulling, it was clear the battle would be for second and third place. Backed by Offshore At The Ozarks title-sponsor Performance Boat Center, Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams held second place briefly in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran before being overtaken by Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall in CR Racing, another 32-foot Doug Wright cat.
When CR Racing exited the race in the early laps, Bill Allen and Larry Pinegar in the Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping 32-footer slid into second place and never let it go. In an impressive outing for their first race, the Phase 05 team of owner/driver Albert Penta and throttleman Jay Muller also passed Performance Boat Center, which fell back in the pack as the race progressed, to take third.
With a hard-stop time of 4 p.m. on the event permit, delays earlier in the day forced the event organizers to shorten the second Supercat-class race to five laps. The M-Con, Gone Again and SV Offshore teams took the green flag for the contest, while Dependable Marine remained in the pits to continue to chase down its mechanical issues. (Throttleman Mark Kowalski said he expects the team’s 38-foot Skater to be ready for tomorrow’s race.)
Good to his word, M-Con’s Miller started the race on one engine—the objective being accumulating starting points.
“We somehow got it on plane with one engine to get it across the start-finish line to get the points,” Miller said, then laughed. “We got up to 51.8 mph.
“In three or four hours, we should have it ready to test with the spare engine installed,” he added.
Enjoy more action from today’s contests on the Lake of the Ozarks in the slideshow above.
SV Racing throttleman Vinnie Diorio and driver Simon Prevost got off to an explosive start and completed two laps in their 39-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats catamaran before exiting the race. Their second-race performance was good enough for second place.
“That was all we wanted to do, go out and do one more lap than Tyler in M-Con,” said Diorio. “Now we’ll go back and do more work on our steering system.”
Once again, the Gone Again cockpit duo of Moore and McCauley took the checkered flag, though Moore said they’ll be working on their 38-footer tonight.
“We’re having a handling issue—the boat is real darty through the turns,” Moore said “But we’ll get something figured out.”
Participating alongside the Supercat fleet was the 47-foot Miss GEICO catamaran with throttleman Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly sharing the cockpit. But it proved to be a costly crowd-pleaser for the Class ONE team.
“Today we broke an input shaft to the transmission on the port engine,” said Gary Stray, the Miss GEICO team crew chief. “The boat ran very well prior to that. It was the first time the boat has been on a racecourse since the extensive propeller and gear ratio testing we recently completed.”
Having accomplished their objective of finishing ahead of M-Con in today’s second race, Diorio, Prevost and the SV Offshore crew will return to working on their 39-footer’s steering system.
Though Shaun Torrente Racing once again commanded the nine-boat Super Stock field, the second race—with a full eight laps—was particularly good for two teams that call the Lake of the Ozarks their home-water. The Jackhammer and LPC teams finished second and third.
The runner-up result was particularly satisfying for the Jackhammer cockpit crew of Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado, who rolled their 32-foot Victory catamaran at the Crystal Coast Grand Prix in Morehead City last month. For the first two laps, they led the STR team’s Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle, which by finishing first in race No. 1 had to start on the outside of the course.
“After all of our issues this week, that was even more an achievement for us,” Maldonado said. “We blew a powerhead yesterday and basically built one from scavenging parts from all over the place. I have to admit I made a big mistake and it cost us the lead, but it’s fine—we still have Saturday. I do have to congratulate Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle in STR and thank them for running a clean race.”
Torrente, who described his new 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran as “ a rocket ship,” said the contest provided a learning experience for Belisle. Today’s races were Belisle’s second and third behind the wheel of the raceboat.
“My driver got the experience of chasing someone down,” Torrente said. “The first time we made the move to get by them, he made a mistake and he knew it right away. But we pulled the same move again and made it stick.”
The M-Con team is already in the process of replacing its port engine at Performance Boat Center ahead of tomorrow’s longer race. Photo courtesy Tyler Miller/M-Con copyright speedonthewater.com.
Tomorrow’s 15-lap races are scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. for the Super Stock class and 4:30 p.m. for the Supercat class. All of today’s results are unofficial pending verification by the Offshore Powerboat Association. For complete results as they become available, visit the OPA website.
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