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Records Set And Memories Made In 2023 Gateway Marathon

On the face of things, the six-boat 2023 Ocean Cup Gateway Marathon fleet appeared to be a loose collection of open- and closed-cockpit sportboats, a center console and one 52-foot catamaran. But as last weekend’s event in South Florida proved, endurance racing attracts all kinds competitors with all kinds of great stories, each shooting to either set a new record or break an existing one.

The vessel they choose is for the most part secondary to the joys and challenges of battling the clock in open water.

Owned by Ocean Cup Series founder Nigel Hook, this 52-foot Mystic catamaran was the fastest boat in last weekend’s Gateway Cup event. Photos courtesy/copyright Leonard Bryant and Neil London.

Take the father-and-daughter duo of Michael and Kristal Drury, who ran a 28-foot, outboard-powered LaveyCraft V-bottom dubbed Revelation Racing, in last Saturday’s 128-mile run from Palm Beach to West End, Bahamas, and back. Not only did they have the smallest registered entry in the event, they averaged a solid 59.31 mph for a total running time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 29 seconds for their class win.

On the speediest side of the 2023 event, Ocean Cup Series found Nigel Hook, Nick Pjatikin and Tim Pattison smoked the roundtrip journey in Ocean Cup, Hook’s 52-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran, by averaging 102.31 mph for a time of 1 hour, 15 minutes and 4 seconds.

For Michael Drury and his daughter, Kristal, the 2023 Gateway Marathon was a family affair.

Unfortunately for the big V-bottoms in the contest, the open-cockpit 47-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats Patriotic Duty out of Northern California and the canopied 42-foot Fountain Powerboats Copelands Raymarine from Southern California, mechanical issues prevented them from finishing. But there was good news for the Fountain camp, as Southwest Florida’s Simon Williams and Jon Lynch of Fountain dealer Cortez Cove Marina ran a 2023-model-year 38SCX equipped with a trio of 400-hp Mercury Marine V-10 Verado outboard engines and completed the trek in 1 hour, 50 minutes and 41 seconds by averaging 69.99 mph.

But perhaps the best story of the event came from the team of offshore powerboat racing veterans Lorne Leibel, Ryan Beckley and Bob Latham in Leibel’s 47-foot Apache built in the 1980s. Beckley, who currently runs in the Super Stock ranks with his CELSIUS teammate Chris Hopgood, navigated for the trio. The founder of Latham Marine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Latham—who hadn’t been in a raceboat cockpit as a competitor since 1989—handled the throttles for the Sterling Performance engines-powered V-bottom. Leibel, who notched a Super Cat-class world title in 2021 in Key West, Fla., did the driving.

The trio averaged 79.41 mph on its way to a total running time of 1 hour, 37 minutes and 13 seconds.

Simon Williams and Jon Lynch tackled the Gateway Marathon in a Fountain Powerboats 38SCX center console.

“Our goal was to average 80 mph so we pretty much nailed that,” Beckley said. “The engines had like 32 hours on them, and before we left John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine (the Miami-based business that stores and cares for Leibel’s Apache) called Lorne and said, ‘Don’t break it.’

“It was amazing—a beautiful day in South Florida,” he continued. “It wasn’t rough, but there were some big waves in the Gulf Stream and on the inside near the Florida coast.”

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Mechanical gremlins knocked Copelands Raymarine and Patriotic Duty out of the contest.

The event was sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association and the Union Internationale Motonautique. All records are pending approval of the sanctioning bodies.

“The Ocean Cup has considerable potential and the fleet is growing,” said Rich Luhrs, the APBA Offshore Racing Commission chairman who provided his broadcast services for the event. “There is definitely a desire for big-water competition separate and distinct from our current closed-course series on a more limited scale.

Current and former offshore racers of note, Ryan Beckley, Bob Latham and Lorne Leibel established a new mark for the run in Leibel’s vintage 47-footer Apache V-bottom powered by Sterling Performance engines.

“This type of racing is undergoing a rebirth in Britain and, as with the example of Lorne Leibel’s magnificent Apache, there are numerous vintage hulls laying in various stages of restoration just itching for a chance to stretch their considerable legs,” he continued. “There is certainly a place for both the old and new styles of offshore racing. Neither one is necessarily ‘better,’ simply different like vanilla and chocolate.”

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