At least one thing was clear at the end of yesterday’s weather-challenged 35th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix—the third event of the six-contest American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1—in Southwest Florida: The sport is alive, well and full of surprises.
In the one of the most competitive races of the day, Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping eventually pulled to the front of the Super Stock class and took the checkered flag (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Who could predict, for example, that in the final turn of the final lap of the final race of the day Class One leaders Victory and Miss GEICO would crash separately within seconds of one another and hand the win to the Australia-based 222 Offshore Racing team of Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella, followed by Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson in Lucas Oil Satcom Direct? It was a wild end to a day of racing that saw a mix of utter dominance and close competition.
“Miss GEICO flipped in the last corner running second and, running just 300 or 400 feet ahead of GEICO, Victory team flipped the same way,” said Ricky Maldonado, a representative from the Victory team. “The Victory boat barely had any damage. It will be ready for the next race. I already ordered new (Mercury 1100 Comp) engines for it.”
A wreck in the final turn of the Class One contest left the Miss GEICO catamaran badly damaged (click image to enlarge).
Said Miss GEICO team throttleman Steve Curtis in his typically understated manner, “They (Victory) cut hard into the bend and spun. We tried to avoid them and had a splash.”
Damage to the 41-foot Miss GEICO catamaran appeared to be significant. Gary Stray, the crew chief for the Miss GEICO team, could not be reached for comment on plans to repair the boat when this story went live.
On the dominant side, the Pro Stock Vee class LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness team of driver/owner Brit Lilly and throttleman Kevin Smith displayed the skills that have translated to multiple national and world championships in Lilly’s 30-foot Extreme V-bottom. Lilly and Smith grabbed the lead early and never let it go.
“We pulled the hole-shot and led from start to finish,” said Lilly, who with Smith also earned a second-place finish in the two-boat Super Vee class against the new Instigator By Knucklehead Racing team of Ed Smith (no relation to OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith) and Anthony Smith (the son of the OPA head).
The same kind of dominant performance was the order of the day for the father-and-son team of Stephen and Steve Kildahl in Boatfloater.com in the Super Vee Extreme ranks, which shared the 6.17-mile racecourse with the Pro Stock Vee and Super Stock teams.
“We got off to a great start, had the right setup and never looked back,” said the senior Kildahl, who has started every Sarasota race in the event’s 35-year history and calls the city home (read the story). “It’s always great to race with my son and it was awesome to win in our hometown.”
For Stephen and Steve Kildahl in Boatfloater.com, the Super Vee Extreme-class hometown win was particularly sweet (click image to enlarge).
But while the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness and Boatfloater.com teams were running away with victories in their classes, the Super Stock Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping team of throttleman/owner Bill Allen and driver Larry Pinegar had to claw their way through the high-flying 13-catamaran field to take the checkered flag. In the later laps, Allen and Pinegar eventually found the speed they needed in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran to overtake FJ Propeller throttleman Gary Ballough and driver Loren Leibel in the 32-foot Victory cat in the two- to three-foot seas.
Taking over the entire racecourse for the third contest of the day, the Supercat field boasted seven teams. The M-Con cockpit duo of throttleman/owner Tyler Miller and driver Tyson Garvin notched their first win of the season, followed by Grant Bruggemann and Wayne Valder in Pro Floors Racing and the Performance Boat Center team of Myrick Coil and John Tomlinson.
“We battled with AMH Motorsports for two laps then lead from that point to the finish,” Miller said. “The race went well—the ‘ole girl’ was set up for the new layout of the course. I’m so proud of our team, our fans and everyone who helped support us to make our dream of just a few years ago into a reality.”
M-Con passed AMH Motorsports early in the race and held the lead for the Supercat-class win (click image to enlarge).
The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix marked the midpoint in the APBA series. Lucy Nicandri, the lead organizer of the event and the executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children—its longtime beneficiary—said yesterday’s races were a fitting conclusion to the weeklong Sarasota Grand Prix Festival. The few race-start delays created by rain and thunderstorms in the area were unavoidable footnotes in the most successful Sarasota event since the mid to late 1990s.
“With 68 teams entered, the boat count was impressive and reminded me of how strong the competition on the water was in Sarasota 20 years ago,” she said. “I feel this series is what offshore racing needed and it will only get stronger as it continues. And feedback from our key sponsors, the City of Sarasota, Visit Sarasota County, the race teams and—of course—Suncoast Charities for Children was overwhelmingly positive.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the 35th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix.
The next race in the APBA Offshore Championship Series is the 25th annual St. Clair River Classic (July 26-28) in Michigan. For complete results from the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix as they become available, visit the event’s website or the OPA website.
With yesterday’s Sarasota victory, the Class 4 Simmons Marine team has gone three for three in the six-race APBA Offshore Championship Series (click image to enlarge).
Editor’s note: Speedonthewater.com thanks event announcers Martin Sanborn and Mike Yowaiski with their assistance in reporting this story,
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