With 10- to 15-mph winds coming out of the east and rising one- to three-foot seas, the first contest of the Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., concluded today with outstanding performances by a pair of 2017 world champions as well as one 2016 world title holder.
The first race—one of four today—featured the Stock class and the Manufacturer Production 3 and 4 classes. The Missouri-based CR Racing/Anchoring.com team of co-owners Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall in its 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran grabbed an immediate lead over the eight other Stock-class teams. Within two laps, Boaz and Unnerstall had built an almost 10-second lead over FJ Propeller and Shadow Pirate, another pair of 32-foot Doug Wright cats. But within two laps, the Shadow Pirate team of owner/throttleman Nick Scafidi, back in the cockpit defending his 2017 SBI Stock-class world title, and driver Marc Granet—competing together for the first time—had cut the lead to six seconds. One lap later, they grabbed the lead from CR Racing, which also fell behind FJ Propeller. And that was how they finished.
“I knew CR Racing was running loose and carrying a lot of speed—no doubt about that—so I had to out-throttle them in the rough,” said Scafidi. “About halfway through the race Marc got the hang of the boat and off we went.”
“They took a few flyers in the rough water and we were able to catch up bit by bit,” said Granet. “Nick and I synced up immediately. This boat turns on a dime and we were finally able to pass them in the harbor turn.”
In Manufacturer Production 3, the Developer/Wix Filters led Simmons Marine and Thee Dollhouse Offshore Racing wire to wire to claim the checkered flag, while in Manufacturer Production 4, Bay To Bay Properties/Team Woody bested Two Cruel and Yabba Dabba Do to take first place.
Continuing the defending world champion success theme, back-to-back Superboat Vee-class world champs Brit Lilly and teammate Kevin Smith—running the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness/Rev-X Oil boat for the first time together since 2015—grabbed the lead on the first lap of today’s second race and never let it go.
“I have to take my hat off to Kevin,” said Lilly. “He throttled the piss out of it today.”
But while Lilly and Smith led the nine-boat field from wire to wire, they were far from unchallenged. Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann chased hard in Sunprint Management and were just two seconds behind LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness when they crossed the finish line.
“They were coming hard and we kept screwing up,” said Lilly.
Added Smith, “We had a really good run. We had the setup right and we let the boat eat. We had two- to three-footers with the occasional four. It has lumpy.”
Finishing in third place, the father-and-son duo of Steve and Stephen Kildahl in Boatfloater.com overcame a hook early in the race to work their way through the pack and eventually overtake Marker 17 Marine near the end of the contest.
In the third race of the day—the five-boat Superboat class—Pro Floors Racing NZ-1 led early before pulling off the course with a fire in the engine compartment of its Skater 388 catamaran, which the team leased for the SBI Worlds from the Cleveland Construction team. That opened the door for the M-Con team of driver Tyson Garvin and throttleman/owner Tyler Miller running its 40-foot Skater to move into and hold first place.
“I guess there’s nothing like waiting until the Worlds to get our first checkered flag,” said Miller with a chuckle. “Everything went as good as possible today. It was bumpier than expected—turn one was really rough. Overall the boat did awesome—we’re super excited to finally get a win. I can’t give enough credit to the team at Skater for getting it ready to race after the gaping hole we put in it in Clearwater.”
In their best finish of the 2018 season, the AMH Construction team of rookie driver/owner Aaron Hope and throttleman Anthony Smith claimed second place in its 38-foot Skater. Never a factor in the battle for the top two slots, the WHM Motorsports duo of owner/driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Jay Muller finished third in its 40-foot Skater.
As for defending Superboat-class world champions driver Myrick Coil and throttleman John Tomlinson in the Performance Boat Center Skater 388, they found themselves on the outside of the five-boat pack at the start and within the first few laps began developing engine problems.
“The boat felt strong, but on the second or third lap something went wrong with our starboard engine,” Tomlinson said. “We were making ground—I really thought we could have won that race—but the engine lost power. We were down 1,300 to 1,500 rpm.”
The final race of the day saw the Superboat Unlimited-class 2016 world champion Wake Effects team of driver/owner Rusty Rahm and throttleman Jeff Harris take a commanding lead in its 48-foot MTI catamaran and never come close to letting it go. The two Dubai-based Victory team boats manned by driver Elsa Mohamed Abdul Rahmanan and throttleman Steve Curtis and driver Salem Ali Aladidi and throttleman John Tomlinson gave chase but, save for the possibility of a mechanical issue, the final result was never in question.
“The boat was dialed in today,” said Rusty Rahm. “It’s nice to get that first win out of the way; now we’re looking ahead to Friday. We are confident that we can win here this year, but if there’s one thing I know about Key West is you never can predict anything. We’re happy with the win and hope to keep the momentum going.”
“Everything went really good, we just couldn’t run with a (Mercury Racing) 1650-powered boat like Wake Effects,” Tomlinson said.