With lighter winds and tamer seas than offshore racing teams encountered in Wednesday’s contests, the second round of the Super Boat International World Championships in Key West, Fla., today delivered tough competition, starting with the mid-morning Superboat Stock-class race and Manufacturer Production-class races. While throttleman/team owner Nick Scafidi and driver Marc Granet in the 32-foot Doug Wright Shadow Pirate catamaran backed up Wednesday’s first-place finish, they had to work a little harder today to take the win.
The Superboat Unlimited-class Victory team No. 33 and No. 3 catamaran took first and second place today in the second round of the SBI Key West Offshore World Championships today. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Though they led for much of the race, Scafidi and Granet lost the lead for the better part of a lap to a hard-charging Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping outfit, also running a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran, near the end of the six-and-three-quarter-lap, 30-mile race. Shadow Pirate appeared to have more speed on the first straightaway, while Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping seemed to have it on the front straightaway leading into turn No. 3.
With lap traffic in the mix and an accident involving Get Rubber Mulch (one member of the team reportedly was taken to a local hospital) in turn No. 1, Team Allen made a clean move to pass Shadow Pirate. But Scafidi and Granet eventually caught and passed the 32-footer piloted by driver Andrei Allen and throttleman Billy Allen.
In Stock class, Shadow Pirate claimed first place for the second time this week.
“I sure hope it was exciting to watch because it was exciting as hell inside the boat,” Granet said. “Once Team Allen passed us, we had to find our rhythm again. We had to go into full focus mode and it took everything we had to get the boat balanced again and pass them.
“I’m still learning to trust this boat,” he added. “It has some nuances, but you can turn it really, really hard.”
Even though they’re heading into Sunday’s double-points, double-distance contest with two first-place finishes, the Shadow Pirate duo is taking nothing for granted.
“We have seen this scenario enough times to know that we still have to do everything right,” Granet said. “There is no backing off. The boats are too competitive and close, and the crews are too good.”
In perhaps the strangest moment of the 2018 SBI Key West Worlds so far, the MGI Digital Technology/Lumberton Offroad 32-foot Doug Wright cat joined the pack from behind—and across the course—after the start.
“We were in the pits and I was on the phone with one of my customers who lost his home in one of today’s fires in California,” said Randy Sweers, the throttleman of the cat. “Next thing I know, I see the boats going on plane so we ran out of the pits and joined them. It was a little sketchy going into the first turn—Killer Bee hooked and we almost hit them. We got soaked.
“Brian (Marquardt) did a great job on the wheel,” he added. “We came all the way from dead last to a legitimate fourth place, and we’re in an older Doug Wright that’s 600 pounds heavier than the newer-technology boats, has a narrower tunnel and an older hull design.”
Finishing ahead of MGI Digital in second and third place were CR Racing and FJ Propeller.
Picking up right where they left off Wednesday, the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness/ team of driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Kevin Smith overcame tough competition, particularly from the Sunprint Management cockpit duo of Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann, who led for much of the race. The contest included a couple of hooks and more than a few near collisions, but Lilly and Smith were on point to take the victory ahead of Marker 17 Marine—having worked out Wednesday’s engine issues—and Boatfloater.com.
LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness faced stiff competition from Sunprint Management for most of the Superboat Vee-class race until a broken drive knocked Sunprint out of contention.
“It appeared that Sunprint had us covered,” said Lilly. “We caught them on the last lap. Something must have broken.
“This is Kevin’s water all the way,” he continued. “He had the boat perfectly balanced and he could just put the throttles down and let it run with the tabs up.”
Added Smith, “The conditions when we started looked they were going to be just like yesterday but then it calmed down. I tucked it in a lot of the time and played it safe, but I was also all over the place.”
Vinnie Diorio and Brian Forehand finished second in Marker 17 Marine, and the Boatfloater.com team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl took third.
In the Superboat-class contest, the third race of the day, the Pro Floors Racing NZ-1 cockpit duo of throttleman Grant Bruggemann and driver Wayne Valder looked to be in total turnaround mode as they led for much of the contest. The team, which exited Wednesday’s race—after leading early—with a fire (started by a power-steering pump failure) in its engine compartment, appeared to be on its way to victory. But it wasn’t to be for Bruggemann and Valder in their Skater 388 catamaran, which Valder leased from Cleveland Construction team owner Mark Small, as a hose blew off their starboard engine near the end of the race.
Pro Floors Racing’s misfortune proved to be a blessing for driver/owner Aaron Hope and throttleman Anthony Smith in the AMH Motorsports Skater 388 cat. Running solidly in second position for most of the contest, Hope and Smith took over first place after Pro Floors slowed and took the checkered flag.
Today’s first-place finish in the Superboat class another first for AMH Motorsports, which finished second Wednesday.
“We are over the moon as you can imagine,” Hope said. “Our team put in a lot of hard work. Taking a first place and a second place in Key West is hard to do.
“We passed Pro Floors on the last lap in the third turn,” he continued. “We went into the turn and I could see them, and when we came out I couldn’t see them. I said to Anthony, ‘They broke, they broke.’ He thought I said, ‘We broke.’ We were so concerned about holding onto to second and not screwing up.”
The Performance Boat Center team finished in second place after passing M-Con, Wednesday’s first-place finisher, in the late laps. M-Con finished third.
The final race of the day saw seven Unlimited-class boats take the green flag, a start that had driver/owner Rusty Rahm of Wednesday’s first-place Wake Effects team planning to file a protest with SBI. Rahm and Jeff Harris took a significant hose-down and were unable to finish the first lap.
The Victory No. 33 boat beat out its No. 3 counterpart to take the Superboat Unlimited-class win.
That left the battle for first and second place to the two Victory team boats. With Mercury Racing 1100 engines powering their No. 33 catamaran, throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Salem Ali Aladidi eventually prevailed over throttleman Steve Curtis and driver Elsa Mohamed Abdul Rahmanan in the No. 3 cat, which is powered by 1,000-hp Lamborghini engines.
“We were racing our butts off against the No. 3 boat,” Tomlinson said. “Steve actually left us behind at the start, but he couldn’t get out of the turns as well with the Lamborghini engines. After I passed him, he backed off to save the equipment.”