A little more than a month from now, this year’s offshore powerboat racing season will kick off in Cocoa Beach, Fla., with the first race of the second-year American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series. But while question marks remains around two of the sport’s premiere catamaran ranks with Class 1 sketchy thanks to international COVID-19 reentry restrictions and the Supercat class likely to see a transitional, lower-boat-count year, the Super Stock ranks will be the cream of the catamaran categories. Right now, there are more than 13 teams that could—key word—be on the typically rowdy Cocoa Beach course when the green flag flies.
Repaired from a collision with Performance Boat Center during the inaugural Offshore At The Ozarks event in 2020, CR Racing (captured here during the 2019 Race World Offshore Key West Championships) will be running hard in one of the most competitive fleets in Super Stock-class history. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Teams committed to running a full season from the Midwest alone include Jackhammer, which earned an Offshore Powerboat Association World Championship title last year in Morehead City, N.C., 2019 APBA Offshore Championship Series winner Performance Boat Center, 2019 Race World Offshore Key West champion CR Racing, Team Allen Lawncare and LPC. Add in teams from around the country including DoubleEdge Motorsports, FJ Propeller, Paint Factory Racing, Phase5 and Shaun Torrente Racing (STR) and you’re looking at nine solidly competitive players.
And then are the wild cards, teams you’ll likely—key word again—see on the racecourse though not necessarily at every race. They include Deep V Cats, Ocean Performance, Skunkworks Offshore and Wicked Racing. On any given Sunday, any of those teams could run to a checkered flag.
Fans might even get a glimpse of The Hulk team this season.
“Possibly a race or two,” said Dan Lawrence, the team’s longtime driver.
Jackhammer’s Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado earned an OPA world title last year.
Ryan Beckley, the de facto spokesmen for the Super Stock-class team owners group, is particularly bullish—even for him—on the class for 2021. The Sarasota, Fla.-based veteran offshore racer and owner of the S-111 DoubleEdge Motorsports team sees pent-up demand for competition after last year’s COVID-19-shortened three-event season.
“I think a lot of teams are itching to get back to racing—2019 was so promising with nine boats at each event and then came the abbreviated schedule last year,” he said. “Everyone seems eager to get back out there.
“Obviously with Cocoa Beach being the first event, most people are looking for a rougher ocean race,” he continued. “Hopefully it will even up everyone and have a good, safe and competitive race to start the year off right. The rest of the season is promising with a good schedule so hopefully all of those events go off without a hitch and the Super Stock class will continue to grow.”
Equally fired up for the upcoming season is Shaun Torrente of the STR team. Though the Florida-based Torrente is no stranger to powerboat racing having notched back-to-back international world championships in the F1 H20 tunnel in 2018 and 2019, he and teammate Eric Belisle were new to the Super Stock field last year. That they were mostly dominant with an all-new 32-foot Doug Wright raceboat in their first and second events ruffled a few feathers among their competitors.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy images of Super Stock teams committed to all or part of the 2021 season.
And Torrente was—and is—having none of it.
“Every time we show up, we expect to win,” he said. “Because we put in the work.”
To meet those expectations, Torrente and Belisle will have to get through the likes of proven Super Stock-class veterans, Gary Ballough of FJ Propeller, Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams in Performance Boat Center (who’ll be running Hering propellers this season), Hering Propellers company owner Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall in CR Racing and Bill Allen, who’s in the process of building a new race shop, in Team Allen Lawncare and Landscaping. The Jackhammer team’s Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado proved last year that they can be competitive as long as they keep their 32-foot Victory catamaran right side up, as did Loren Peter and Mike Wright in the LPC 32-foot Doug Wright cat.
Also new to the class in 2019 though far from offshore racing rookies, Phase5 teammates Albert Penta and Jay Muller showed they have plenty of speed and moxie in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran during last year’s Offshore At The Ozarks event. And, of course, there could be some surprises such as a new owner campaigning the Shadow Pirate 32-foot Doug Wright cat (the boat currently is under contract), which in the talented hands of owner Nick Scafidi often was one of the fastest boats on the course.
In short, the 2021 Super Stock-class season could see the most competitive field in the history of the class.
“All the boats are fast in our class and it’s very competitive,” said Ballough, who runs a 32-foot Victory cat. “Darren Kittredge will be driving a full season with me and we are busy testing outside our box trying to find speed and acceleration to be a podium team. FJ Propeller is behind us again in our efforts in sponsorship for the entire year.
“We’re looking forward to some bumpy water,” he added. “It will level the playing field for all of us.”
STR’s Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle are hoping this is the most common view for their fellow Super Stock-class competitors.
On another Super Stock-class personnel note. LPC’s Mike Wright is bowing out of the cockpit. A new throttleman to join team owner and driver Loren Peters has not been announced.
“Loren and the team will be racing but I decided to step out of the boat for this season,” said Wright. “I’ll still be involved with the team and be at some of the races and may fill in and throttle in other classes from time to time.”
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