Today’s waters off Cocoa Beach, Fla., lived up to their nasty reputation as Super Boat International kicked off its 2015 offshore racing season. Easterly winds gusting to 20 mph and frothy 3- to 5-foot seas—that grew even larger throughout the afternoon—gave the competitors across SBI’s seven classes as much as they could handle in all three races, which began shortly after noon.
“It was brutal,” said Marc Granet, the driver of the 44-foot Miss GEICO catamaran that finished second in the Superboat Unlimited class. “It wasn’t any fun being in the boat.”
Here’s a breakdown of today’s action:
Race No. 1: Hang Time for Superboat Vee and Production Classes
Today’s conditions were wild enough to produce serious air and less-than-happy landings for the competitors in the Superboat and Production 3 and 4 classes. When they weren’t airborne, the boats seemed to vanish between the swells.
For a look at the wild action from Cocoa Beach, check out the slideshow above. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
After getting a poor start, Superboat Vee-class racers Steve Miklos and Jason “Huck” McGonnell in Sun Print eventually chased down the father-and-son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl in Boatfloater.com. (The Phantom team of Mark Neimann and Tom Maddalena—sharing the cockpit for the first time—did take an early lead, but were overtaken by Boatfloater.com and Sun Print.) The drama continued after the race, when a broken trim tab nearly torn from Sun Print’s transom caused the boat to take on water and nearly sink.
“No one on the Sea Tow boat that towed us in had a pump,” Miklos said, then laughed. “But we made it.
“I finally found a CG I like in the new boat,” he continued. “Huck and I got it all sorted out after we stopped to redo his seat belts. We’ve never raced together in the boat, but we do race Karts together. He did a great job.”
The Production 3 class came down to a battle between a 36-foot Spectre catamaran—Second Amendment—and a 38-foot Fountain V-bottom—The Developer. The catamaran duo of Joe Vaughn and Karl Steger led for much of the race, but slowed dramatically after a hard landing in one of the later laps. That opened the door to victory for J.P. Larkin and Scott Brown in The Developer, which had been making ground in the straightaways but swinging wide and losing ground in the turns. In Production 4, the Fast Forward team of Gino Marrone and Joe Irwin took first place by completing the most laps—six out of 10—and simply outlasting the P4-class field.
Race No. 2: Lead Swaps and Mechanicals
Originally listed in the Superboat Unlimited class on the SBI entry sheet for Cocoa Beach, Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson joined the all-V-bottom Superboat Extreme class in their Lucas Oil-SilverHook 48-footer. And they faced stiff competition against Twisted Metal’s Billy Glueck and Brett Lee Furshman and John Stanch and Ben Robertson in Hooters-Instigator.
Twisted Metal jumped out to an early lead but took out a turn buoy at the northern end of the course on the first lap. The buoy remained stuck on the nose of the 40-foot Fountain for its next few trips around the course. Hitting that buoy cost Twisted Metal in the form of a one-minute time penalty and a $1,200 fine per the SBI rulebook. But the team kept pushing, more than making up for the time penalty finishing first in the class. Appearing to battle mechanical issues throughout the race, Lucas Oil-SilverHook finished second and Hooters-Instigator took third.
Manned by Kyler Talbot and Jay Muller, Talbot Excavating shot to the lead on the first lap with Smart Marine Service and Papa’s Pillar Rum giving chase in the Stock class. Near the middle of the race, Papa’s Pillar Rum piloted by Scott Porta and Mike Fosse grabbed the lead.
The battle between the two 32-foot Doug Wright catamarans lastest into the latter stages of the race. With Chris Schoenbohm and Shaun Torrente in the cockpit, Smart Marine Service looked strong at the start but eventually fell prey to a broken gearcase in one of its 280-hp outboard engines. Also a victim of mechanical gremlins was Papa’s Pillar Rum and GB Racing/FJ Propellers. That left Ryan Beckley and Jake Noble in Beckley’s 30-foot Reliable Services Group Skater Powerboats cat, the smallest boat in the Stock-class field, to try to catch Talbot Excavating, which ran a smooth race to the first-place finish.
Race No. 3: Big Boys Play Rough
Even before the Superboat Unlimited class took to the wicked waters off Cocoa Beach, the fleet was two boats in the hole. For Envy team owner/driver Chris Cox and his throttleman/engine builder Herb Stotler, the weekend was over before it got started. That’s because, after a week of successful testing on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, they found metal shavings in the oil for their 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran’s starboard BPM drive before Saturday’s test session. Still recovering from back surgery, Bob Bull wasn’t ready in time to man the cockpit of his 52-foot CMS Marine Technology catamaran with MTI founder Randy Scism. Still, the CMS camp started in good shape with John Tomlinson and Jeff Harris handling the team’s 48-footer.
With the simultaneous start for both classes as tight and they come, Marc Granet and Scott Begovich in Miss GEICO emerged in the Unlimited class lead, as did Billy Mauff and Jay Muller in WHM Motosports in the Superboat fleet. But before the second lap was complete, CMS had passed Miss GEICO on the backstretch.
Broadco eventually reeled in WHM Motorsports—catching scary air more than once in the process—but barrel-rolled on their way to the northernmost turn and came to rest upside-down. Broadco’s Chuck Broaddus and Grant Bruggemann emerged from the violent crash without serious injuries. (Mauff and Muller slowed immediately and milled in the area to be sure that Broaddus and Bruggemann were OK, but then headed back to the wet pits without finishing the race.)
“Everything worked as it should have,” Bruggemann said. “I asked Chuck if he was OK, he asked me if I was OK, and then I helped him climb out of the (bottom) escape hatch. Then I turned off the battery switches and a few other things and climbed out.”
With Cleveland Construction out early with a mechanical failure, J.R. Noble and Mark Kowalski were left to finish solo in STIHL to take the Superboat-class win, though the Skater 388 cat did experience a signifcant engine fire on its way back to the docks.
“We won the race, but not the way we wanted to,” said Noble. “We were so sorry for Chuck and Grant, but relieved they were OK.”
Miss GEICO continued to chase CMS hard, but Tomlinson and Harris were able to hold them off to take first place in the Unlimited class as Miss GEICO faded.
“We paced ourselves early with GEICO,” Tomlinson said. “I don’t think either of us ran as hard as we could have, but it was one of those races where if you go 100 percent the entire race I don’t know if the stuff comes back to the dock. But the boat was phenomenal. We kept a good pace and ran it pretty hard. It was no slouch.
“We kept a strong pace the whole race,” he continued. “You have to manage the equipment, keep it all together and make it back to the dock in races like that.”
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2015 SBI Cocoa Beach Space Coast Grand Prix Results (Unofficial)
2. Miss GEICO
2. WHM Motorsports
1. Twisted Metal
2. Lucas Oil-SilverHook
1. Sun Print
1. Talbot Excavating
2. Reliable Services Group
3. Papa’s Pillar Rum
1. The Developer
2. Second Amendment
1. Fast Forward
2. Christie’s Photography Services
3. Two Cruel