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Team Yahoo Racing Crew Closes Out Memorable Year In Key West

To top off an impressive reunion of sorts for a veteran offshore racing crew that last competed in 2001, Curtis Morris, Jamin Jones and TR Hernandez are participating in this week’s Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run in Morris’ 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran dubbed Team Yahoo Racing. Based in Texas, the Team Yahoo Racing group has enjoyed a remarkable season that’s included top-speed shootout success and some pleasurable poker runs.

Curtis Morris and Jamin Jones needed just one pass on the three-quarter-mile Lake of the Ozarks Shootout course in Sunrise Beach, Mo., to win its class with a top speed of 160 mph. Photo by Pete Boden/copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

Formerly owned and campaigned by the Parker, Ariz.-based Bad Attitude Boats team of Kelly Kraiss and Ron Gibbs and called Top Cat, Morris purchased the boat less than a year ago after his wife gave him the go-ahead to get another boat.

“I’m a Skater guy—my raceboats were all Skaters—so I knew if I was going to get a boat again it had to be a Skater,” Morris said. “Fortunately we found this carbon-fiber-built 36-foot Skater, a 2009 model, and it’s everything Kelly and Ron advertised it to be. She’s solid and fast. Once I got it, I had a feeling we’d end up doing some kind of competition with it. That’s just the type of people we are.”

Morris laughed and explained that the team is already working on plans to make the boat, which is currently powered by a pair of 572-cubic-inch big-block engines with PSI superchargers and twin Holley dominators making around 1,500 hp aside, even faster and more powerful for 2022. (Look for more on the project in a future speedonthewater.com story.)

“The Skater has been a lot of fun so far; we’ve had a couple of hiccups but nothing TR couldn’t handle,” Morris said, adding that Kraiss has been a great help in getting to know the boat. “When we got the boat it was in good shape but it needed a little bottom work so David Whelan of Gulf Coast Complete Marine Service in Kemah (Texas) helped us out. Other than that, we updated some of the electronics and did preventive maintenance, the stuff you should always do, before the season started.”

Morris and Jones started things off with a bang, winning the Top Gun trophy at the Texas Outlaw Challenge in Clear Lake in late June with a 156-mph pass on the three-quarter-mile course.

Much to the team’s surprise, Morris and Jones went 157 mph in the 36-foot Skater and was the fastest boat in the Texas Outlaw Challenge top-speed shootout. Photo courtesy Todd Taylor/copyright Todd Taylor Images.

“Texas was pretty straightforward for us,” Morris said. “We didn’t have any expectations. We mainly went out there to get a feel for how the course was laid out—we wanted to learn how everything worked for when we come back next year with more power. We didn’t expect to win so that was cool. We did Lake of the Ozarks in August for the same reason; to experience everything the Shootout has to offer. We checked out Super Cat Fest and did the poker run and the shootout. That lake is crazy, and lots of fun.”

During the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri at the end of August, the 36-footer was the fastest catamaran not named American Ethanol, as Morris and Jones reached 160 mph on Saturday afternoon and didn’t need to make another pass on Sunday as their closest competitors—Chad Havens and Anthony Smith in Haven’s 40-foot Skater—made one attempt on Sunday, reaching 157 mph to improve on its 154-mph pass the day before.

“The Shootout was an unexpected win especially after a broken rocker arm made for an exciting 24 hours before the race,” Jones said. “After the Shootout we watched the broadcast coverage of our run on Saturday. Bob Teague was spot on with his speed estimate. But we did find humor in his comment that we ‘waited in the weeds’ until Saturday afternoon for our 160-mph run, when actually TR and I were scrambling to find and then replace the broken Jesel rocker arm from Friday’s poker run. But it all paid off. Curtis did an awesome job setting the boat and it worked out in the end.

“I have to give credit to the boating community for pulling together to help us track down the part we needed,” he continued. “After a few failed attempts, Alexi Sahagian of Boostpower USA in California tracked down James and Mitchell Watson from Watson Motorsports at the lake and they had one 1.7 ratio BBC intake rocker at their shop. They delivered it to us at the dock at Captain Ron’s and we made it out in time for the run on Saturday.”

The Texas-based Team Yahoo Racing Skater was part of the late-September Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run organized by the Florida Powerboat Club. Photo by Pete Boden

Morris added that the team, which originally got its name after his CPA told him several decades ago when he first started racing that his crew was nothing but a bunch of yahoos—and it stuck, had a blast at Lake of the Ozarks and also enjoyed its time in Destin, Fla., a month later during the Florida Powerboat Club’s Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run.

And this week, the guys are at it once again—having fun at another Florida Powerboat Club event, the Key West Poker Run. They’re also looking forward to taking in the rest of the races during the American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique Offshore World Championships produced by Race World Offshore and enjoying all of the poker run sights and sounds.

Editor’s note: Speedonthewater.com plans to cover the Team Yahoo Racing project as the team prepares for the 2022 shootout and poker run season.

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