A little more than 48 hours from now, the six-boat Union International Motonautique Class 1 fleet will vie for top honors in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Not only is Sunday’s Powerboat P1-produced event the first contest in the eight-race American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, it’s the first of eight races in the UIM Class 1 World Championship Series. And the 345 Racing/XINSURANCE team of rookie offshore racing throttleman Alex Pratt and veteran driver Miles Jennings will be in the mix.
Alex Pratt and Miles Jennings tested their 345 Racing/XINSURANCE raceboat for the first time yesterday to prepare for the first UIM Class 1 race of the season this Sunday.
Pratt and Jennings notched their first test session yesterday in the Atlantic Ocean off the famed Florida surfing mecca in their 41-foot Victory catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines. The boat is owned by Mario Rankin of the Cayman Islands. Norway’s Jan Zaborowski—the cat’s prior owner who campaigned it in Class 1 competition as Zabo Racing—has an ongoing consulting gig with the team this season.
“It went awesome—it felt really good,” said Pratt, a former motorcycle road racer who founded the Good Boy vodka brand, which now includes a hard-seltzer line. “We were going to test Tuesday but we couldn’t, so we hired a private crane to put the boat in the water yesterday.”
The 41-footer’s 1,100-hp, turbocharged quad-cam four-valve engines were brand-new until yesterday’s test session.
“We put their first hour on them—it’s always nice to have new stuff,” Pratt said, then chuckled. “Jan has the boat set up to be pretty aggressive, but we didn’t push it yesterday and our top speed was 138 mph. It’s not like having (Mercury Racing) 1350s of 1550s, but the boat is light and fast.
“Nobody wants to get wet, so we are going to be really safe on Sunday,” he continued. “It will be good for me to follow other people to see how fast they go and how they handle corners. When I was racing motorcycles, I always started by following someone faster and it really helped. I am going to take a learning approach to this. I’m not going to be that guy who goes out there and right away pushes too hard.”
Pratt and Jennings will test again on Saturday. Though Pratt has no offshore racing experience, he has plenty of seat time throttling big-power catamarans including his 52-foot Good Boy Vodka Mystic Powerboats catamaran with twin T-53 turbine engines under the hatches.
The team’s long-term plan is run to the entire 2022 season in the 345 Racing/XINSURANCE catamaran, which Pratt said he plans to replace with a boat of his own for 2023.
“This will help everyone involved get to know the program this year—you just can’t do everything all at once,” he explained. “We have so much to learn from Jan.
“And I am really grateful to have the sponsorship from XINSURANCE,” he added. “We have a long-term deal with them and it’s going to be incredibly helpful.”
Said Pratt (left), captured here with Jennings, “I am going to take a learning approach to this. I’m not going to be that guy who goes out there and right away pushes too hard.”
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