Yesterday’s test session of the Stihl team’s Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran went off without a hitch, and the team is ready and eager to compete in the 2015 Super Boat International World Championships (Nov. 8-15). That’s the word from J.R. Noble, the Superboat-class team’s owner and driver, who shares the cockpit with throttleman Mark Kowalski.
“After our last test session, we are confident that the boat and the team are ready to go for Key West,” Noble said. “The next time you see the boat it will be in the water for a short test session the day before the first race Wednesday in Key West.”
Without question, everyone involved with the Stihl team is hoping for a reversal of fortune at the Worlds after a challenging regular season.
“We came off what I would describe as a fairytale season in 2014—winning six out of seven races—to what I would describe as an abominal series of races this year,” Noble said. “After having a drive fall off in Key West at the end of 2014, we had a blown engine at the first race of 2015 in Cocoa Beach, followed by a crash at the next race in Marathon. The damage from the crash had to be repaired at Skater in Michigan, so we had to miss the next race in Michigan City, Ind. In Clearwater, we had another breakdown. We have just had a host of mechanical issues this year.”
After the Clearwater event, the team had the boat torn down from stem to stern, according to Noble, and started from scratch. The cat’s twin 750-hp engines were sent to Frank McComas, the team’s engine builder, completely rebuilt and dynamometer tested. TNT Custom Marine in Miami handled the team’s rigging and setup chores. According to Noble, the source of the engine problems that began during the SBI season-opener in Cocoa Beach and plagued the team for the rest of the season was discovered and resolved during their recent rebuilds by McComas.
Noble, who is having a new Skater 388 raceboat built for the 2016 season, issued a mock “warning” to his fellow Superboat-class competitors at the upcoming SBI World Championships.
“I just want you all to realize that from a television standpoint you are all racing for second place,” he joked. “As Stihl is the title sponsor for all three one-hour episodes of the upcoming television program from Key West, I talked to (show producer) JM Associates. Even if our drives fall off, we will be getting a checkered flag.”