Last November’s Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., certainly didn’t go the way the father-and-son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl thought they would. While coming out of the milling circle to start the first race of the three-day competition, their boat, which is sponsored by Boat Floater Industries, was run over by the 40-foot Fountain, Hooters/Instigator, that competes in the Superboat Extreme class.
“My dad just looked to his right and saw their boat coming,” recalled Stephen Kildahl. “When I heard him say, ‘Look out,’ I ducked as best I could. All you can do is hope it’s going to be OK.”
The Kildahls came to the 2015 SBI Key West Worlds with high hopes and left—before the green flag dropped for the first race—with a damaged boat. But they plan to come back strong this season.
The accident punched a hole in the side of the Kildahl’s 29-foot Extreme that races in the Super Vee class. The canopy did its job, protecting the team, but the duo that competes under the Scott Free Racing name as a tribute to Steve’s late brother was done for the week before it could even get started.
Stephen Kildahl explained that the team could have repaired the hole in the hull and continued in Key West, but since he and his dad didn’t know the extent of the damage to the canopy structure, they didn’t want to risk it failing in another incident in the ensuing races. The canopy had flexed quite a bit during the hit and the polycarbonate sections of the boat’s windshield had some cracks in them.
The Kildahls are based in Sarasota, Fla., and took the boat to Gary Armington at nearby Talon Marine, for repairs over the winter. After peeling back the internal liner for the canopy, they discovered that the canopy framework was in good shape and that the bulkhead that separates the cockpit from the engine compartment was in tact. Armington repaired the hole in the hull and the canopy and the team ordered new windshield pieces from Extreme Powerboats president Mark Spates.
Stephen Kildahl said he and his dad hope to get the repaired boat back from Armington by early February at the latest. They will rig it with their Innovation Vortec 550-hp engines and IMCO SC drive and test in preparation for the season opener at Cocoa Beach, Fla., in May. The team has full sponsorship from Boat Floater for 2016 and will run 10 races with Superboat International (www.superboat.com), the Offshore Powerboat Association and whoever sponsors their hometown event in Sarasota, Fla., over July 4th weekend.