For most of the 2016 Super Boat International offshore racing reason, the Superboat-class Performance Boat Center Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran looked unbeatable. Throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Myrick Coil seemed to make all the right moves in the 38-footer powered by twin Sterling Performance engines on their way to claiming the national championship last month.
The Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Skater driven by Myrick Coil and throttled by John Tomlinson finished first on Wednesday and Sunday to win the Superboat-class world championship. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Still, while the Performance Boat Center team was an easy pick to take the title this week at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., even the best racers in the game can make costly mistakes. Just ask Tomlinson, who was less than delighted with his fourth-place finish in Friday’s race after finishing first by overtaking WHM Motorsports on the final lap Wednesday.
“On Friday we had a position we wanted to take on the start but we were dead last out of the milling area,” Tomlinson said a couple of hours before today’s race. “Instead of just going to where there was a hole, we tried to go to that position and it just wasn’t there. Today, we’ll take what’s in front of us.”
And that’s exactly what they did on Sunday afternoon by finishing first and unofficially claiming the world title. What was behind them, however, proved to be nasty as the Pro Floors Racing MTI spun and rolled—and a split-second later was run over by WHM Motorsports, the points leader heading into Sunday’s double-points affair—in the first turn on the first lap.
Fortunately, Pro Floors’ Chris Hanley and Wayne Valder were uninjured in the wreck. WHM’s Billy Mauff and Jay Muller also escaped harm, but their 40-foot Skater did not as much of the catamaran’s hull was damaged. To their credit, they kept racing but they were unable to mount a challenge to either Performance Boat Center or STIHL, the first- and second-place finishers. WHM finished third and Teague Custom Marine took fourth. The overall class standings ended up as Performance Boat Center, WHM and STIHL.
Wake Effects crew chief Gene Greber signals to the team of Rusty Rahm and Jeff Harris, who went on to win the Superboat Unlimited world championship in the Wake Effects 48-foot MTI. Photo by Jason Johnson
In another exciting race with attrition and carnage as well, the Wake Effects team of throttleman Jeff Harris and rookie driver Rusty Rahm had a few things go its way, including the struggle of its teammates and world champion favorites Bob Bull and Randy Scism in the CMS 52-foot MTI, en route to the Superboat Unlimited victory and an apparent world title to go with their Florida and national championships.
Rahm, who announced this week that he’s now the official owner of the Wake Effects 48-foot MTI and is planning to return for a full season in 2017 with Harris by his side, said after taking its first victory in Key West that the team appeared to win today’s double-points race by enough time over the Team CRC Sunlight Supply team of Mike DeFrees and Gary Ballough.
“I’m speechless, I really am,” said Rahm, who owns Wake Effects in Osage Beach, Mo. “Everything came together perfectly for us today. I still can’t believe it. I didn’t expect to win it with Bob and Randy here. I was optimistic that our team could go 1-2 overall, but I really didn’t think we’d be No. 1.
“Jeff was so good today,” he continued. “He and I are getting much more comfortable with each other in every race, and man did he nail the setup today.”
Although results are unofficial pending penalties, it appears that Wake Effects was followed up in the world championship standings by Team CRC Sunlight Supply , then CMS and Envy, the 50-foot Mystic cat driven by Chris Cox and throttled by Herb Stotler, who were both ecstatic to finish all three races in Key West.
Early on in the Superboat Unlimited race, the Miss GEICO team of Scott Begovich and Marc Granet, appeared to hit a roller while attempting the second turn of the first lap and came down hard enough to destroy the rear port side of the 44-foot cat. The Maritimo team left the race after spinning out in a turn on the fourth lap (the crew was OK), and CMS battled mechanical issues that forced the boat into guardian mode several times through 10 of the race’s 13 laps.
Stepping into the throttleman role for Peter Meyer in AHM Construction/Instigator, Anthony Smith appeared to mesh perfectly with driver Johnny Stanch. Within a few laps, they claimed the early lead from Cooper Standard/Twisted Metal in the Superboat Extreme class. The gap between the two boats extended past 30 seconds before Cooper Standard had to head back to the pits with a mechanical problem.
The battle of the Fountains went to AMH Construction/Instigator, which was defending its 2015 world championship in the class. While they have frequently competed against one another during the years, Stanch and Smith had not shared the cockpit for six years.
In addition to thanking Stanch and Smith for their last-minute teamwork—Smith arrived in Key West yesterday via private jet—Meyer was quick to credit his engine builder, Frank McComas, and his mechanics Kenny Adams and John Mengler.
“I’ve never had a failure with these engines—Frank builds one hell of a motor,” he said. “And Kenny and John do a great job of keeping it all together.”
Tied in points heading into today’s Superboat Vee-class contest, the Boatfloater.com and LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness teams were handed a gift when points-leader Sun Print, which appeared to struggle from the start, exited early with a mechanical issue. Several laps later, the Boatfloater.com father-and-son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl—leading the race at the time—departed with a mechanical problem. That left LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Ron Umlandt to claim world title in their 30-foot Extreme V-bottom.
“I am still trying to cool off and get my heart rate down,” Lilly said a couple of hours after the race. “I knew before we started today that whoever was in front, Sun Print, Boatfloater or us, would be the champion.
“I wanted it so bad, I felt like,” he continued. “I had the boat dialed in enough to where we had a shot, but I made adjustments every day. I can’t tell you how excited were are. It’s such a great team victory.”
Check out more of Pete Boden’s photos from Sunday’s races in the slideshow above.
Going three for three this week in the FJ Propeller 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran, owner/throttleman Gary Ballough and driver Daren Kittredge ran away from the Stock-class fleet and never looked back on their way a Stock-class world title.
That result was more than a first for Ballough’s newest protégé. Prior to this week’s Key West Worlds, Kittredge, who hails from Massachusetts, and Ballough shared the cockpit just once together at the Lake Race on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.
“Gary did a great job setting up the boat,” Kittredge said. “Gary did a great job balancing the boat and we got a great start today.”
“We tried to do our homework before we got here,” said Ballough said. “We like to work with all Mercury parts so getting our new 300XS engine program was a bit of challenge at times, but it seems to be working. Those motors are fantastic. I think we had an advantage because we started working with them as soon as they were voted in.”
Pete Boden caught a few shots of the Pro Floors Racing accident during the first turn of the Superboat-class race.
In the Manufacturer Production 3 class, the Strictly Business 35-foot Fountain V-bottom team caught up with the 2nd Amendment 36-foot Spectre catamaran midway through the race and took a big lead that they never let go. But with two first-place finishes this week in the bank, that wasn’t enough for to spoil the world championship party for 2nd Amendment’s throttleman Neil Wobbe and driver Karl Steger.
“It was a fantastic race,” Steger said. “Our goal was to defend our world title. We knew we had to finish ahead of The Developer to win, so we held back a little to preserve the equipment. Strictly Business got ahead of us and they tried to pull us in, but we held back.”
“We have another race next weekend,” added Wobbe in reference to next weekend’s Offshore Powerboat Association National and World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla.
Crazy Chicken ran mostly uncontested against Allen Lawn Care, which broke down near the end of the race, to claim its seventh world title in Manufacturer Production 4 class. As they did last year, the cockpit duo of throttleman Anthony Silveria and driver Dee Early finished first in all three races this week.
“We did what we wanted to do,” Early said. “The boat stayed together and we had no major issues. It’s always great to win the worlds in Key West because with three races they really test you. It takes a lot of people for us to be here and I want to thank everyone who helped and our sponsors. Now we can relax.”
Editor’s note: Official results for the 2016 SBI World Championships had not been posted when this story went live. For complete results when the become available, visit the SBI website.
Complete 2016 Key West Coverage
Day 2 Highlights: Reversals of Fortune for WHM, CMS and Miss GEICO
Day 1 Highlights from the 2016 Key West World Championships: GEICO Finally Finds Success