Without question, the 2017 offshore racing season has run hot and cold for Randy Sweers, the owner of the Salt Terminator/Autonation/FB Marine Group team that campaigns a 40-foot MTI catamaran powered by twin 750-hp Scorpion Enterprises engines. At the Sarasota (Fla.) Powerboat Grand Prix in July, Sweers and driver Glen Hibbard claimed second place in the six-boat Super Cat class. But at the Super Boat International National Championships earlier this month in Clearwater, Fla., handling issues forced Sweers and Hibbard to withdraw roughly halfway through the Superboat-class contest.
Despite mixed results in two races this season, Randy Sweers and company are heading into the SBI Key West Offshore World Championships with a positive attitude and a new setup for their 40-foot MTI catamaran. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Disappointed with the Clearwater performance, Sweers considered opting out of the upcoming SBI Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla. A chat with his son, Chase, changed his mind.
“I was frustrated,” said Sweers, the managing partner of Pompano Beach, Fla.-headquartered FB Marine Group, which he runs with his wife, Kim. “I was thinking about not going to Key West. I was even thinking about selling the boat. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like losing. I’m not used to it. But then my son came up to me and said, ‘Dad, I love going to races. It’s OK that you didn’t win. Mom and I had a great time.’ And that was enough for me.
“There’s so much more to what we do with offshore racing than the hour we spend on the racecourse,” he continued. “We had a great time in Clearwater. We rented a house with the whole team. On Saturday, I met a guy in the pits whose wife had overcome cancer. He ended up buying a Statement center console from me on Monday and I’m delivering it to him this week. And that’s just part of it. Our racing effort gives exposure to the Autonation Cure Bowl and a lot more. There’s so much more to all of this than what we do in the boat.”
Positive outlook and optimism notwithstanding, Sweers knows that he and his team have a lot work to do if they want to be competitive in Key West next month. He said he’s pleased with the reliability of his engines but needs to improve his 40-footer’s handling manners. To that end, the team is making setup changes.
“We’re testing to improve handling in the turns—speed into and out of the turns is where these races are being won or lost,” said Sweers. “The margin for error is minimal. If you’re not running 100 percent, you’re not going to win.
“We are a small-budget team racing against teams with more resources, and we’re fine with that,” he continued. “That’s part of what makes this fun and challenging, working with what you have. We’ve proven that the boat can run fast—we had some good results in Key West three years ago. We’re hoping that we have a little luck and can get up front.”
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