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Victory Cat Fleet Coming To The Lake Race

Just one year ago, Miss GEICO was the only Victory Team-built hull regularly competing in domestic offshore racing. But come Saturday at the Lake Race on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri—the second stop on the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series—five Victory-built cats will hit the water.

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The new Victory Team-built, TNT Custom Marine-rigged FJ Propeller Super Stock catamaran will be one of five Victory-built boats in action at the Lake Race this Saturday (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In Class One, the Dubai-based Victory team itself will compete against the Riviera Beach, Fla.-headquartered Miss GEICO team and 222 Offshore, an Australian team operating out of the Miss GEICO facility this season—and all three teams are running 41-foot Victory cats with Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines.

In the Super Stock class, Gary Ballough will run his new 32-foot Victory cat called FJ Propeller and powered by 300-hp Mercury Racing outboard engines for the second time. (Ballough debuted the 32-footer earlier this at the APBA Offshore Championship Series season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla.) In addition to the locally based CR Racing, Performance Boat Center and Team Allen Lawncare and Landscaping teams—all running 32-foot Doug Wright cats—Ballough and driver Darren Kittredge will be going up against Reese Langheim and Brad Wade in the new Jackhammer team raceboat, another brand-new 32-foot Victory cat.

All running 41-foot Victory cats in the Class One ranks, Miss GEICO, 222 Offshore and Victory teams will go head to head this weekend at the Lake Race. Photos courtesy/copyright Loren Morissey/Speedonthewater.com.

Ballough, who had run 32-foot Victory-built catamarans in the X-Cat Series in the Middle East, said he was delighted with the boat’s performance in Cocoa Beach, where he and driver Loren Libel held an early lead and finished third out of 10 teams. He added he is eager to throttle it again in the Lake Race with Kittredge, who will alternative with Libel this season on the FJ Propeller team.

“Everything was fantastic,”  said Ballough. “Cocoa Beach was a shakedown for the boat—it was its first time in the ocean and we hadn’t been able to do any testing with it. And we couldn’t have been happier with it and Loren drove perfectly.

“It’s just going to take a little dialing in,” he added, then laughed. “We’re sneaking up on the setup.”

Unlike Ballough’s boat, which was built by the Victory Team in Dubai but rigged at TNT Custom Marine in Miami, the Jackhammer cat was rigged by the Victory Team as its United States headquarters in Edgewater, Fla. Victory representatives retrieved the 32-footer from its U.S. port of entry in Savanah, Ga., last Friday and have been working on it ever since. The boat reportedly left Florida for Missouri last night.

“All of the electronics are in, all the hatches are on and the outboards have been installed,” said Ricky Maldonado, a Victory Team representative who is leading the effort to important 32-foot canopied racing cats and 34-foot open-cockpit pleasure cats into this this country. We took it out on the water for about an hour last night. It’s going to be very competitive.

“And the boat is just gorgeous,” he added. “I can’t seem to take a picture that does it justice just yet.”

That will leave Langheim and Lewis just one day—Friday—to get acquainted with the new boat before Saturday’s races. To that end, the cockpit duo plans to take a consevative approach with the 32-footer throughtout the weekend.

“We have to run on Friday, not just because we need to get some time in the boat but because we’re still breaking in the engines,” said Langheim. “We’ll see how it goes. I have people down here who can help me finish whatever is left to do. We have the safety stuff and GPS to put in but we’ll be fine.

“We probably won’t run it really hard in this race because we’ve never run it before,” he added, then laughed. “I don’t want to end up upside-down in a brand-new boat.”

Shown here before leaving the Victory Team’s U.S. headquarters after rigging, the Jackhammer 32-foot Victory cat is scheduled to arrive at the Lake of the Ozarks tomorrow.

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