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Rookie Moves in Key West, Part VI: One from the Heart

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For Mike Yowaiski and Jim Jackson, their first Key West Worlds will always hold a special place. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Just a little more than a week ago, the Maxed Out Motorsports team left for the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla. None of the team members knew what lay ahead, but we did know we were in for the ride of our lives. Key West is without a doubt the most challenging race site because of the conditions and three days of racing. The first two days of racing were very flat—most people said it was abnormal racing conditions for the famous venue.

On the first day we finished fourth, but since Two Cruel broke out of the speed bracket, we got third despite our mechanical issues. Wow, not bad for the first day! Friday came around with the same conditions, but we changed the set up to get some more speed. Although we may have hoped for a better finish than fourth, at least we finished. Remember, you have to finish to win it.

Then came Sunday and everything changed. The clouds, rain and wind came in and had everyone thinking about our setup. We rode out to Fort Taylor, spent some time studying the water conditions and made our prop choice. Conditions were good for our boat so we were hopeful and felt great.

The race started and we were right in the mix. As we made our way out to turn one it got rougher and rougher. We learned why it’s called “The Wall”—the waves were four to five feet high and went straight up, like walls. All of the boats were still deck-to-deck even in these rough conditions.

These images in the slideshow are from the only camera on board Maxed Out Offshore racing that survived the race.

The conditions were the toughest we’ve ever face, but we made the best of it. We held onto second for a little more than a half a lap, but Two Cruel got around us putting us in third. After another lap we knew Crazy Chicken and Two Cruel were too far ahead so we settled in for third and that is where we finished. It was an awesome race week with all the manufacture production four boats. We missed making the podium by 2.5 points—not bad for a team tackling the Key West Worlds for the first time.

The Bigger Picture
Anyone who follows Offshore Power Boat Racing knows Racing Performance Ministries and Mr. Jim Black. During the years, Jim has been a very influential person in my life, in fact, so important that my wife and I flew him to Maryland to officiate our wedding. Every Sunday race morning he does a service at the drivers’ meeting talking about different passages from the Bible and how they relate to everyday life.

Well, Sunday in Key West was one of the best I ever heard. He talked about the month of November and how it’s the month of Thanksgiving. He told stories from the Bible talking about how people were thankful for what they had, being humble and never taking anything for granted. As I listened to him, I related to what the Bible was saying and I started to think about all the people I had to thank for being in the position I was in, here in my first race in Key West. When I started thinking about how to close this series of stories from one of the best weeks in my life, I thought I should take a moment to thank all the people who got me here:

Jim and Liz JacksonMaxed Out Offshore Racing team owners: I’m so grateful they took a chance on me. It has been an amazing ride and they are great friends. From times at race sites to Oysters Fests at the Tiki Bar, it has been awesome getting to know both of them on such a personal level. Jim and I finished on the podium at every race except for one in our first season racing together. When he talked about the possibility of racing in Key West I could hardly contain myself. We had our ups and downs but we did it. Thank you for the amazing ride.

Shannon Yowaiski—my amazing, understanding and supportive wife: Shannon and I went to Key West the very first year we dated five years ago. As we were walking down the street someone drove by yelling, “Hey Mikey!” She had no idea what she was getting herself into. Three years later we got engaged on the deck of Broadco during the block party on Friday night. To say that Key West is special to both of us would be a huge understatement. The races this year were even more special because she got to see me race in Key West and it means the world to me that she was there to share it. She is my rock and my best friend in the world making me a better person everyday.

Ted and Diane Ginnity, John and Deb Smith, Mark Fitzgerald, Lizzy Pyles, John Hough, Scott Church and John Fobare—our Key West Crew: We had an amazing team in Key West. Although we had our differences as most teams do, we pulled together to finish off an epic week. Each of these people started with a personal friendship with either Jim or me, but ended up becoming part of this team, supporting every aspect of Maxed Out. Thanks to all of your for you encouragement, hard work, and dedication.

Stan and Lynn Yowaiski—my mom and dad: While my dad thought this idea was awesome but very scary, he always supported me and watched all the races. My mom has a hard time with the rough-water races. Her first race was a very rough ocean race in Atlantic City and it’s been hard to get her back to a race site ever since. Thanks you both for believing in me no matter how scared they were for my safety.

Last but not least, thank you to all the race teams and industry friends over the years for their friendship. I don’t want to name anyone because I consider you all great friends and don’t want to leave anyone out. Thank you to all my friends from the Chesapeake Bay Powerboat Association and The Maryland Powerboat Club. Having so many Maryland friends in Key West always makes for great memories. The well wishes and support were amazing.

I can wrap Key West in one word—awesome. Racing there was everything I thought it would and more, and I hope to be back in 2016. Till next season …

Related stories

2015 Key West Worlds and Poker Run Coverage Overview
Rookie Moves in Key West, Part V: Making Downtime Count
Rookie Moves in Key West, Part IV: Anticipation Meets Preparation for Race Day No. 2
Rookie Moves in Key West, Part III: Gremlins Arise in Race No. 1
Rookie Moves in Key West, Part II: Yesterday’s Testing Will Be Tested Today
First Person: Rookie Moves at the Key West Worlds, Part I

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