With a full day of racing ahead, the 39th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix produced by Powerboat P1 begins at 10 a.m. today with the Mod V and Bracket 400, 300 and 200 classes. That’s a good thing as those classes comprise almost a third of the 64 teams in town for this weekend’s action in Southwest Florida. They will be followed by the eight-team Super Cat class at 11:30 a.m., the six-boat Class 1 fleet at 1 p.m. and the five-team 450R Factory Stock-class teams at 2:30 p.m.
If fans learned anything from yesterday’s races and Class 1 pole-position qualifying round, it’s this: Sometimes completing a day of offshore racing takes every available minute.
But that was yesterday. Here are a few points of intrigue for today:
• As previously reported, the Mod V-class points battle is close, with current lead held by LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness and Boatfloater.com and Fastboys Racing are tied for second place in American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series points. New to the LSB cockpit last month in Cocoa Beach, Fla., driver Kyle Miller will team up with Jay Wohltman, his regular throttleman in the Whoa Moma Mod V raceboat, as longtime LSB throttleman Kevin Smith couldn’t be in Sarasota this weekend.
The question isn’t whether Miller and with Wohltman improve upon the results Miller and Smith delivered in Cocoa Beach—first place is kind of tough to top—but if today’s LSB new cockpit pairing can match that performance.
• The biggest question in the Class 1 contest that will follow is simple: How many teams will finish? Yesterday’s qualifying round was bumpy as mechanical gremlins, rather most performances, stole the show. Still, hope springs eternal in offshore powerboat racing, especially when you have the likes of throttleman Steve Curtis sharing the cockpit of Huski Ice Spritz with driver Brit Lilly and throttleman John Tomlinson racing alongside driver Travis Pastrana (yes, that Travis Pastrana) in Pothole Heroes.
The 222 Offshore Australia team is prepped, ready and more than a little motivated for a win today.
That said, both teams will have to get by driver Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella in 222 Offshore Australia, as the truly international cockpit duo smoked the six-mile course in qualifying yesterday to claim today’s pole position.
• The Super Cat-class M CON/Monster Energy team prevailed in Thunder On Cocoa Beach, the second race of the five-contest APBA series and the first of six races in the Union International Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series. The Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing team bested M CON/Monster Energy on its Lake of the Ozarks home-water in the LOTO Powerfest event produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association. Though the Central Missouri contest isn’t part of the APBA series, it is on the Super Cat owners group’s internal championship schedule. So it matters.
Short version? A “rubber match” of sorts is on the line today for the M CON/Monster Energy and Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing teams.
• Though SV Offshore Racing team owner/throttleman Vinnie Diorio has yet to see the success of M CON/Monster Energy owner/throttleman Tyler Miller or owner/driver Wayne Valder of Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing, he is every bit as committed to the sport, which the Wisconsinite entered three years ago. To that end, he brought on rookie driver Matt Jamniczky this season who, said Diorio, “has been getting better and better every time he gets in the boat.”
As for Jamniczky, he’s exactly what the sport needs—humble, well-spoken, charming and totally into it. He’s not just good for offshore racing’s present. He’s good for its future.
Matt Jamniczky and his wife, Jennifer, are welcome additions to the Super Cat family.
• There five 450R Factory Stock teams set to take the final green flag of the day. If today’s weather and water conditions follow yesterday’s pattern, the stiff onshore afternoon breeze and frothy water could make for a wild and wooly race—just as they did for the Super Stock class contest on Saturday.
Today’s Predictions And Wild Guesses
For the record, I had a slightly better outing when it came to yesterday’s prognostications for the Super Stock race than my friend and speedonthewater.com colleague Eric Colby. Two of the three teams I picked to finish on the podium actually did, whereas Colby had one, CMR Construction and Roofing, finish in the money.
Also for the record? Neither of us were even close to the picking the correct finishing order.
Today, we’re just going to pick winners in each class. It’s far less democratic and far more “risky” in terms of offending those teams not included, but a whole lot more fun. So here goes.
• The father-and-son Boatfloater.com cockpit duo of Steve and Stephen Kildahl gets my nod for today’s victory in the Mod V class. Not only is Sarasota home-water for them, the elder Kildahl has competed in every Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix produced in its 39-year history.
For Mod V-class Boatfloater.com team owner Steve Kildahl (left) and his wife, Kim, Sarasota is home.
• In Super Cat, I’m going with Wayne Valder and throttleman Grant Bruggemann in Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing. Valder, who I bumped into last night at the CMR-sponsored party at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency, could be the most joyful person in the sport, maybe even on the planet. But joie de vivre never should be mistaken for indifference to results. The guy is fired up.
Plus, Sarasota is home-water for his throttleman.
• Though Huski Ice Spritz versus Pothole Heroes is a battle of titans and worthy of the buzz it’s getting, I’ll be shocked—mechanical issues be damned—if 222 Offshore Australia doesn’t claim victory in Class 1. Not only did the team lose the checkered flag on the final turn of the final lap the contest it was dominating in Cocoa Beach, it was unmatched in yesterday’s qualifying round.
TS Motorsports driver Taylor Scism is ready to get back in the cockpit with throttleman John Tomlinson.
• Reunited in the TS Motorsports cockpit with throttleman John Tomlinson, driver Taylor Scism, who I briefly caught up with on Friday night during the block in the dry pits, is eager to share the cockpit with her original 450R Factory Stock teammate. Tomlinson drove a brilliant race—something I’ve come to expect but never take for granted from offshore racing’s GOAT—in yesterday’s Super Stock race and he’ll hop into the cockpit with Scism fresh from the Class 1 contest. On paper at least, it’s tough to see another team beating them.
In the Mod V contest, Colby is going with Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann in SunPrint/Hooters, like Boatfloater.com another local team, to take the checkered flag. “They’ve been running well this year and seem to have the gremlins solved,” he said.
And that is the only prediction for today’s winners where we differ. Colby, who has covered the sport far longer than I have (he was my boss when I started at Powerboat magazine in the early 1990s), also believes 222 Offshore Australia will run to Class 1 glory. “They’re always fast and their luck has to turn at some point,” he explained. “Plus they’re on pole position.”
Like this reporter, he has Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing taking the Super Cat win. “After watching them dominate last year’s Sarasota race in person, I can’t go against them,” he said.
Last but far from least, Colby sees TS Motorsports besting the four other teams in the 450R Factory Stock class, “Taylor is going to want to prove she’s a champion after the boat finished second in Cocoa Beach,” he said.
My hope is that we have as much luck as did we did yesterday with our picks. Luck, of course, is the operative word in that sentence
And that’s something we wish it to all teams competing today.
If the 450R Factory Stock teams face the same mid-afternoon conditions the Super Stock class did yesterday (above), today’s contest could be a rowdy affair.
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