Despite spending much of the season preparing its 42-foot Marine Technology Inc. (MTI) catamaran for the Super Boat International (SBI) Key West Offshore World Championships, Team Warpaint Offshore Racing lost any chance of finishing at or near the top after crashing into a channel marker during the start of the second of three races at the 33rd annual event in Key West, Fla., back in November.
A month after Friday’s unfortunate start incident, which eliminated the team from the championships after taking third in Wednesday’s race, owner and driver Bob Vesper said the team has moved past the incident, but wants to make it clear that the starts need to be handled differently in the 2014 season especially with the potential growth of the Superboat class.
“We are definitely disappointed with the outcome in Key West, especially the way the start was handled,” said Vesper, who has raced alongside throttleman Danny Crank for five years. “The worst part was that we were able to get (MTI owner) Randy Scism in the boat on Thursday to get his input so we couldn’t wait to apply that to the races on Friday and Sunday.
“Friday’s start was a debacle,” Vesper continued. “If they can’t get it organized with seven boats how are they going to handle 10 or 12 boats? If we’re really going to take this sport to the next level, which I believe this class can do, we need to be more professional and we need to find a way to improve the inspection process.”
Team manager Patti Raffa said the 42-footer is at MTI’s shop being repaired alongside Superboat-class competitor Team CRC, which crashed during testing on Tuesday in Key West. Raffa added that the boat did its job and minimized the damage considering it went head to head with a 3,000-pound marker. She also congratulated Billy Mauff and the WHM Motorsports team for a job well done in Key West.
Team Warpaint, which plans to run the full nine-race SBI schedule, expects the boat to be ready in time to complete testing before the season opener in Charlotte Harbor, Fla., in early April.
“We were so excited for Key West,” Raffa said. “We had just put a new set of Sterling engines in the boat and everything was ready to go. So we’re channeling that excitement to 2014. We can’t wait to see what happens with the Superboat class and welcome some of the new teams entering the class.”