A seven-boat Unlimited-class fleet is headed for this weekend’s upcoming SBI National Championships. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Although the fleets aren’t final until the boats hit the racecourse, the 2015 Super Boat International National Championships Sept. 26-27 are looking to have one of the biggest turnouts since they came to Clearwater, Fla., seven years ago. At present, the SBI entry sheet for the event lists 37 entries across seven classes. As it has for every SBI race this season, speedonthewater.com will carry the livestream online from the event.
With the registration of a second CMS raceboat this week, the Unlimited class is at present looking to be the strongest fleet with seven entries—more than it had at the 2014 SBI World Championships in Key West, Fla—in Clearwater. And with six boats registered in the Superboat catamaran category and four V-bottoms signed up for Superboat Extreme, SBI’s other two premiere “big-boat” classes also are solid.
That the CMS team has locked down the national title for 2015 does not diminish what should be a strong finish to a tough Unlimited-class season. As noted above, the CMS team plans to field two boats, with team owner Bob Bull and Randy Scism in one Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran and John Tomlinson and Jeff Harris in another—and neither duo takes losing lightly. Heading into Clearwater with its most lackluster SBI season in recent years, the Miss GEICO Offshore Racing Team team of Scott Begovich and Marc Granet—the 2013 and 2014 world champs in the class—has nothing to lose but pride, meaning there is, in fact, quite a bit on the line for the GEICO folks.
For a look at the 2015 SBI National Championships Unlimited-class fleet, check out the slideshow above. Photos courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.
While neither the Alex and Ani nor Envy Unlimited-class teams can be ruled out of podium finishes in Clearwater, most likely they’ll be competing for pride—and $10,000—in what has become an intra-squad battle (so to speak) as they have the same engine builder, Stotler Racing Engines. You could view it as a battle of turbo (Alex and Ani) versus blower (Envy) power. Or you could see it as rivalry between two colorful drivers/team owners, Alex and Ani’s Jimmy Cazzani and Envy’s Chris Cox, climbing into their respective cockpits for the first time this season. Either way, it’s good fun and remains an intriguing rivalry and subplot for Clearwater.
Also slated to hit the SBI racecourse for the first time this year in the Unlimited class is the Marine Concepts/Speed Racer team of driver/owner Randy Kent and throttleman Chris Hanley. A veteran offshore racer from New Zealand, Hanley was involved in an offshore racing accident that left him seriously injured. His return to the racecourse isn’t just great news for Kent, it’s great news for fans of offshore racing worldwide.
As for Nigel Hook, the defending 2014 National Champion and the only racer running a V-bottom in the Unlimited class, he’ll be joined by driver Jay Johnson in the Lucas Oil/Silverhook entry in Clearwater. Without question, it’s been a strange season for Hook who was moved to the Superboat Extreme class for the SBI season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and then returned to the Unlimited class—his preference from the start—for the third race of the season in Michigan City, Ind.
Editor’s note: Veteran high-performance marine journalist Eric Colby will be covering SBI Nationals for speedonthewater.com. A former Powerboat magazine editor, Colby currently covers high-performance boats for Boating magazine, handles video reviews for boattest.com and is a columnist for performanceboats.com.
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