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Offshore Racing 2016 Preview: Stock Market Clash

Four boats are expected to make the green flag at the Space Coast Super Boat Grand Prix. Gary Ballough and Jimmie Harrison will be in Ballough’s 32’ Doug Wright catamaran, FJ Propeller, which will be powered by the new motors for the class, twin Mercury Racing 300XS outboards. The 2015 world champions, Kyler Talbot and Jay Muller, will be in their 32’ Doug Wright, Talbot Excavating. They are expected to run the full 2016 schedule. Ryan Beckley and Tanner Lewis will strap into Beckley’s 30’ Skater, which races under various sponsors’ names depending on the venue, are also planning to run the full season. Scott Porta and Mike Fosse are planning to race at Cocoa Beach in Porta’s 32’ Doug Wright, Papa’s Pilar Rum, but Porta doesn’t know how many races he will run in 2016.

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The 32’ Doug Wright, FJ Propellers, (S-19) was fast last year with 200-hp outboards. In 2016, the boat will run with twin 300s and a determined crew. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Familiar names that will be absent for much of 2016 include Dan Lawrence and Rob Nunziato and their 32’ Doug Wright, The Hulk. They’re going to sit out most of this season until the new motors approved for the class, the 300XS, get the bugs worked out. Another notable Stock class competitor, Chris Schoenbohm, who won the 2014 world championship and came up just short in 2015, sold his highly modified 32’ Doug Wright to an owner who is converting it to an open-cockpit pleasure boat. At his Orlando-based company, Smart Marine, Schoenbohm is building at least three of Phoenix XPR catamarans, a 32’ model and a one-off 30-footer, that he hopes will be on the racecourse before the end of 2016.

“Our goal is to attack the Super Stock class, the way the CMS team attacks the Superboat Unlimited class,” said Schoenbohm.

With the class approving the 300XS outboards for the 2017 season, many teams are content to run with the 280-hp versions that have been the motor for the class for years. Ballough, who was a proponent of 200XS outboards and even raced the motors against the more powerful 280s last year, is converting his boat to the 300 XS motors this year, albeit under protest and duress.

“Against my wishes, the class has gone this direction and ironically I think I’ll be the only one there with them, which will make me more disenchanted,” said the veteran throttleman.

After he was competitive with the 200XS motors last year, the thought of Ballough with twin 300-hp engines on the back of his 32’ Doug Wright and his sponsor giving the thumbs up to going all out after a national title, the rest of the Super Stock class is on notice. It should be an interesting 2016.

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