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Robert “J.R.” Noble Celebrated, STIHL To Race Again

Family members, friends, teammates, former competitors and fans of Robert “J.R.” Noble have gathered today in Orlando, Fla., to celebrate the life of the veteran offshore powerboat racer. Noble died Tuesday, March 8, of cardiac arrest—according to family sources—in his home in Orlando. He was 58 years old.

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Noble was a widely respected and influential member of the offshore powerboat racing community. Photo courtesy/copyright STIHL Offshore Racing team.

The president of STIHL Southeast and the owner/driver of the STIHL Offshore Racing team, Noble started his powerboat-racing career in 2007 in Super Boat International’s Stock catamaran class. In 2008, he was joined in the cockpit by veteran throttleman Grant Bruggemann. In 2010, Noble moved into the Super Cat Light inboard catamaran class. Two years later, he joined the Superboat-class ranks.

Bruggemann raced with Noble for all but the 2007, 2014 and 2015 seasons. Earlier this year, the formidable cockpit duo announced they would be uniting in Noble’s new Superboat-class STIHL Skater 388 catamaran.

During today’s celebration, which drew more than 300 guests and is still ongoing, Robert Noble, Sr., announced that his grandson, Jake, would race this season in the new STIHL catamaran with Bruggemann for the complete 2016 SBI season.

“There’s no one else Grant would want to race with,” said Kellie Lee, Bruggemann’s fiance. “J.R. started the STIHL team, and Grant taught him how to race.”

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Hundreds of guests from inside and outside of the offshore racing community came to celebrate the life of Noble today. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Known for a winning combination of skill, intelligence and aggression on the racecourse, Noble earned Stock-class world and national championships in 2008 and Superboat-class national championships in 2013 and 2014. But perhaps his greatest achievements in the sport were helping retool the Superboat-class technical engine specifications in late 2013 and spearheading the three-part television program on the 2014 and 2015 SBI World Championships in Key West, Fla. The 2015 show aired on NBC Sports last month and can be watched in entirety on the SBI website.

Open only to family members and close friends, a private service was held for Noble last weekend.

Editor’s note: A comprehensive feature on the offshore racing life of Robert “J.R.” Noble will appear in the next issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine, which will go live Tuesday, March 22.

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