Year in and year out, no one threw a better party at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships than powerboat-racing great Al Copeland. Copeland, who died in 2008, invited all of the racing teams and their guests to his annual bash, and food and drink—for as long as they lasted—were on him. I met Copeland during his party at the 2002 SBI Worlds in New Orleans and he was a gracious, colorful host.
That tradition continued this year on Saturday night (11/4) at the SBI Worlds in Key West, Fla.. But this time around it was Al Copeland, Jr., hosting the event, which was a coming-out party of sorts for his new catamaran, Phenomenon.
Powered by four turbine engines reportedly producing a combined 12,000 hp, the 55-plus-foot-long cat was built, according to Copeland, to break the propeller-driven powerboat speed record. (The existing American Power Boat Association-sanctioned record of 220.505 mph was set by Russ Dave Villwock in an Unlimited hydroplane on March 13, 2004.) Copeland said breaking the record had been one of his father’s goals.
About the boat itself, the Copeland camp didn’t provide much information, including who designed it and who built it. Contrary to the buzz at the party, the cat was not designed by Michael Peters. (A call to his office was all it took to dispel that one.)
Latham Marine created the catamaran’s rudder-steering system, but beyond that details were minimal.—Matt Trulio