In a little more than two weeks, the eight-race American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series will kick off with Thunder On Cocoa Beach in the famed Florida waterfront community. But the May 19-22 event, which is being produced by APBA member-organization Powerboat P1, also will be the first of six contests in what the United Kingdom-headquartered race organizer/producer has dubbed the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series.
With six Class 1 teams—Huski Racing, 222 Offshore Australia, 345 Racing/XINSURANCE, Team Defalco, JBS Racing and Lucas Oil/E3—committed to Cocoa Beach, the series will be off to a strong start. Here’s a quick look at each team planning to compete in what often is the roughest race of the year.
Huski’s Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly are more than a little familiar with the team’s 47-foot Victory catamaran. Photo by Cole McGowan copyright Powerboat P1.
Throttleman Steve Curtis will share the cockpit with driver Brit Lilly in Cocoa Beach. After that, if current plans hold, Travis Pastrana will join Curtis in the cockpit of the former Miss GEICO catamaran. All three teammates have experience in the Victory-built 47-footer.
“My passion for Class 1 racing is as strong as ever and I am delighted to have the opportunity to help take it back to the top of the sport where it belongs,” Curtis said this morning in a Powerboat P1 press release. “As part of the new Huski team I’m looking forward to racing against teams from outside the United States over the next seven months.”
In January, the Huski team announced it would field two boats in Class 1 competition this season, but that definitely won’t happen in Cocoa Beach and currently is in question for the rest of the year.
Curtis added that he’s equally at ease with Lilly or Pastrana behind the wheel.
“I get on really well with both of them,” he said. “They’re both good drivers and both are very calm in the boat.”
Added Lilly, “I’m so stoked to be on team Huski and running with Steve Curtis in Cocoa Beach. I going to pre-order my big-air shot from (speedonthewater.com chief photographer) Pete Boden.”
222 Offshore Australia
After two years of pandemic-forced frustration, the 222 Offshore Australia cockpit duo of Darren Nicholson and Italian throttleman Giovanni Carpitella are eager to compete. Photo courtesy/copyright EMB Photographics.
No team is more eager to get back in the Class 1 saddle than 222 Offshore Australia. Running a 49-foot Victory catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines, Aussie driver/team owner driver Darren Nicholson and Italian throttleman Giovanni Carpitella finished second overall behind the Dubai-based Victory team, which is so far committed to staying on the sidelines this season, in the 2019 Class 1 series.
And they’re hoping to improve on that result this season.
“It has been a difficult time in general over the last two years and it’s great to be returning to the U.S. and go Class 1 racing again,” Nicholson said. “We’ll be looking to go one better than when we finished second behind the Dubai-based Victory Team three years ago.”
Alex Pratt (left) will be joined by Miles Jennings in the Cayman Islands-based 345 Racing/XINSURANCE Victory-built raceboat. Photo by Cole McGowan copyright Powerboat P1.
Britain’s Miles Jennings, an offshore racing veteran, and newcomer Alex Pratt of Michigan—the man behind the Good Boy Vodka brand—will run a 42-foot Victory catamaran in the Class 1 ranks under the 345 Racing/XINSURANCE banner. Jennings will throttle and Pratt will drive.
Based in the Cayman Islands, the team is owned by Mario Rankin.
“Class 1 has the best boats, best crews and the best equipment,” Jennings said. “The Mercury Racing 1100 turbos have brought a modern, reliable package to the class and Powerboat P1’s national and international TV broadcast deals and live streaming take the racing into fans’ homes worldwide.”
Added Powerboat P1 chief executive officer Azam Rangoonwala, “The pairing of Alex and Miles is an exciting addition to our international fleet and it will see 27-year-old Alex become the youngest racer in the championship. Miles has racing in his blood having started his career in the 1970s and his titles include five-times world champion and 12-times British champion.”
For JBS Racing’s Jeff Stevenson and Micheal Stancombe, competing in Class 1 is a dream come true. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Based in the Florida Keys, the JBS Racing team of owner/driver Jeff Stevenson and throttleman Micheal Stancombe will run a 42-foot MTI catamaran powered by twin 1,100-hp engines from Sixteen Power in Michigan. With those engines providing the power, the JBS raceboat turned heads at the 2021 American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla.
The following weekend, the 42-footer competed at the Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla
“I’m so excited about joining Class 1,” Stevenson said. “It’s mythical. It’s as real as it gets—we’re like gladiators getting ready for battle.”
A 33-year veteran in the sport who most recently competed with Team Woody in the Bracket-class ranks, Stancombe has long dreamed of running in Class 1. Now, he has the chance.
“It’s racing with the best of the best,” he said.
Offshore racing newcomer Mike Falco is teaming up with veteran Chris Hanley in a 48-foot Outerlimits catamaran this season.
The newest outfit in Class 1, New York’s Team Defalco is owned by throttleman Mike Falco, a longtime performance-boat boat enthusiast who is the founder, president and chief executive officer of New York City-based Defalco Construction. He’ll be joined in the cockpit by driver Chris Hanley, a New Zealand-based veteran offshore racer who most recently ran with the Super Cat-class Broadco team and, prior to that, the Super Cat Pro Floors Racing team.
A newcomer to the sport, Falco will share the cockpit of an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats 48-foot catamaran with his Kiwi counterpart. Entering the Class 1 ranks has been a long-held dream for Falco.
“For some time I’ve wanted to get involved with offshore racing and be part of an international series,” he said. “I regard Class 1 as the pinnacle of the sport.”
Ocean Cup endurance racing isn’t the only form of offshore racing competiton on tap for the Lucas Oil/E3 team of Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson. Photo courtesy/copyright Daren Van Ryte/OC Photographics
The driving force behind the APBA Ocean Cup Series, the Lucas Oil/E3 team will see longtime teammates Nigel Hook, who is originally from the U.K. but lives in Southern California, and Jay Johnson run their 52-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran in the Class 1 series. Hook and Johnson are slated to run the cat in this weekend’s LuminSea Powerboat Races in Miami as a tune-up for the Class 1 season-opener, as well as in upcoming Ocean Cup events in Florida and California.
In late 2020, Powerboat P1 inked a 10-year deal with the UIM to produce Class 1 events. Pandemic travel restrictions all but crushed the Class 1 effort that year as well as in 2021. But now Rangoonwala said he believes the series—starting with the Cocoa Beach event—is on solid footing.
“The decision by new teams to enter Class 1 this year is superb news in respect of our aim to grow the class in the United States and at the same time develop plans to globalize the series over the coming years,” he said in the release. “We have a strong lineup of international teams and both national and worldwide TV coverage, plus live streaming.”
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222 Offshore Australia Planning Stateside Return For Class 1 Competition
Pratt And Jennings Teaming Up In 345 Racing’s XINSURANCE-Sponsored Class 1 Boat
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Countdown To Miami 2022: Huski To Unveil Second Class 1 Victory Raceboat