Offshore racing fans with an eye for subplots need look no further than the Super Stock class at this weekend’s Offshore At The Ozarks-Cat Edition event in Central Missouri. The nine-boat fleet is simply loaded with back-stories. And that’s a good thing, as there has been just one offshore powerboat race this season, the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Crystal Coast Grand Prix in Morehead City, N.C.
In terms of results-based prognostication for the upcoming Performance Boat Center-sponsored, OPA-produced event, the sample size is simply too small for anything beyond wild-eyed conjecture. Add the event’s dramatic three-race format—two eight lap-races Friday with half points awarded to the top-three finishers, one 15-lap on Saturday for full points for the top-three finishers—for the 4.3-mile course and handicapping becomes that much more difficult and pointless.
Here’s a quick look at the teams involved and what they are bringing to the game.
The CR Racing team duo of Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall took second place in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran behind Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle of the new Shaun Torrente Racing team in Morehead City. But it entered the contest having taken first place overall against a strong fleet in the 2019 Race World Offshore Key West Championships. The Lake of the Ozarks is home-water for Boaz, who recently acquired Hering Propellers and is relocating the Washington-based outfit to the area early next year, and Unnerstall, and they have a legion of rabid fans. They will start practicing tomorrow, according to Boaz.
No American offshore racer knows 32-foot Victory catamarans better than Gary Ballough, a former XCAT Series competitor and multi-time Stock-class world champion. Since taking delivery of the 32-footer last year and having it rigged by TNT Custom Marine, the veteran Florida-based throttleman has been methodically dialing it in. Ballough and driver Darren Kittredge who finished third in Morehead City, would of course love a checkered flag. But they are keeping their expectations in check.
“We are not delusional—we know we don’t have the fastest boat and there is nothing we can do to make it go any faster,” said Ballough, who arrived at the Lake of the Ozarks this afternoon. “But I knew that going in with the Victory 32—it’s an all-around boat that is much better in rough water than flat.
“The two-day race format will make it fun,” he added. “We’re hoping for a podium finish—we’d be happy with that—but we’re really just glad to be racing.”
With roll-overs in Morehead City this month and Key West last year, Jackhammer team owner/driver Reese Langheim and throttleman Ricky Maldonado have now had to repair their 32-foot Victory catamaran twice. Both know that three times will be anything but a charm. And they’re not about to let that happen.
“We can rig a brand-new boat from scratch in basically two days but this is a lot more work—plus we took the engines completely apart as saltwater is deadly for them,” said Maldonado in reference to the Morehead City roll-over. “This flip is the very last thing to cross our minds and we really hope that never happens again. It is time-consuming and very costly.”
Added Langheim, “We do have a strategy and it’s very simple: Finish the race on the last lap. That’s it. We won’t be pushing too hard as we want to have a solid platform for the OPA World Championships in North Carolina in a few weeks.”
Like the Jackhammer and Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping crew, the LPC team of Loren Peters and Mike Wright left Key West with plenty of repair work to do after the most spectacular double blow-over with Team Allen in recent offshore racing history. Peters and Wright painstakingly repaired their 32-foot Doug Wright raceboat, and took the opportunity to make it safer and stronger.
“When we rebuilt the boat, we were able to pick up some performance as well,” said Wright, who finished fourth with Peters in Morehead City but was running third before the restart required after Jackhammer rolled. “We’ve been prop testing and trying different setups—we’re both super busy with our businesses so we test when we can. We’re getting ready to test shortly today.”
Performance Boat Center
Consistency led the Performance Boat Center team of Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams to the overall Super Stock-class title during the six-race 2019 American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series. They followed that up with an outstanding performance in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran with a second-place overall finish at the Race World Offshore Key West Championship. Between the almost non-existent 2020 race season and the relentless flurry of activity at the multi-brand dealership that employs and sponsors them, Coil and Williams have been mostly out of the boat this year.
“We have been out practicing three times in the last week,” Coil said, then chuckled. “I hope that it is enough time to compete.”
Though Offshore at the Ozarks will be the first official race for owner/driver Albert Penta and Jay Muller in the reborn Phase05—the 32-foot Doug Wright cat formerly ran as Killer Bee—both have solid racing backgrounds. Penta ran a same-named V-bottom in the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Pro-Stock V class. Muller has claimed Super Boat International world championships in both the Superboat and Super Stock V classes.
“We tested in Connecticut last week with some new combinations of props and got some good speed and acceleration out of the boat,” Muller said. “We plan on testing Thursday and Friday in the Ozarks to get some more performance, as well as to get some more seat time together.”
Coming off an impressive start with a dominant first-place finish in their new 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran in Morehead City, throttleman Shaun Torrente and rookie driver Eric Belisle are looking to repeat that performance in the Ozarks this weekend. Torrente, who also is preparing to defend his two-time, back-to-back F1H2O tunnel-boat world title with Team Abu Dhabi, thinks there’s still more to be had from his new 32-footer.
“We have a good baseline setup, but there are definitely things we can improve,” he said.
Team Allen Lawn Care And Landscaping
Bill Allen and his crew had plenty of repair work to do on their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran after their simultaneous back-flip with LPC in Key West last year. Repairs included replacing the canopied cat’s entire top deck, and Allen said that while they were at it they took steps to improve cockpit safety for himself and driver Larry Pinegar. Though Allen and company didn’t compete in Morehead City, they ran the renovated 32-footer often on the Lake of the Ozarks this summer and have been pleased with results. For the Offshore At The Ozarks event—and with some good fortune for the 2021 season—they secured Iowa-based Shaw and Heating Cooling and Karl Chevrolet as new sponsors.
“We want to win it—that’s it,” Allen said. “It’s supposed to be windy this weekend, and if it bumps up we might have a real shot. We’re good in rough water.”
TNT Caddy Shack/S-111
Joined again this year by driver Tom Kennedy, Ryan Beckley has again secured, TNT Caddy Shack, a golf cart supplier in the Lake of the Ozarks, as his primary backer for this weekend’s contest. (TNT Caddy Shack was set to be Beckley’s sponsor for the Lake Race, which was cancelled this year.) Though Beckley knows that he and Kennedy are mostly outmatched by the Doug Wright cats in his 30-foot Skater Powerboats raceboat, he’s had good luck on the Central Missouri waterway. Three years ago, he took the Super Stock-class win at the Lake Race. Beckley said that he and Kennedy are continuing to improve as a cockpit duo.
“Tom is getting better and better in the turns,” he said, then laughed. “He’s more used to going really fast in a straight line at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.”
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