In the six races so far this season, the Super Boat International (SBI) Unlimited class averaged slightly less than three entries per event. In all races but one—Michigan City, Ind., where the SilverHook/Lucas Oil team ran uncontested—at least one boat in the class either did not start or did not finish. Those participation and race day attrition numbers reportedly had SBI head John Carbonell considering scuttling the entire category after just two Unlimited teams showed up for the most recent races in Orange Beach, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.
If SBI’s latest proposal approved by the Superboat Unlimited-class, the teams such as Miss GEICO (shown here at the 2014 Sarasota race) will participate in four Florida-based events in 2015. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image
But a few weeks ago, SBI came up with an alternative plan that would require Unlimited-class race teams to commit to running four events in Florida—Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota, Clearwater and Key West—in 2015. In addition to that schedule commitment, each team would have to make a financial commitment of $50,000 to the organization, with $25,000 paid in advance at the 2014 Key West Offshore World Championships and another $25,000 due before the first race (Charlotte Harbor) of the 2015 season.
At present there are between eight and 10 offshore raceboats in the United States that could meet the specifications for the class.
In the proposal, SBI would keep 20 percent of the fee if five teams participate, 25 percent of the fee if three to four teams participate, and 50 percent of the fee if one to two teams participate. The rest would be distributed as prize money to full-season Unlimited teams based on the number of boats participating throughout the season—including the three-race Key West event—and their overall finishing position as determined by points. Prize money for five boats would be $100,000 for first place, $60,000 for second place and $40,000 for third place. If 10 boats compete during the season, prize money would be $200,000 for first place, $120,000 for second place and $80,000 for third place.
According to several sources in the Unlimited-class ranks—who asked not to be named in this article—the proposal has been met with mixed reactions. Those sources also said that the matter will be decided during the upcoming SBI National Championships in Clearwater at the end of the month.