The Super Boat International (SBI) playbook for 2013 features a new pair of venues–Biloxi, Miss., and Orange Beach, Ala.–to its nine stop circuit across the US and provides offshore enthusiasts with an exciting, new Superboat Class. Biloxi revs up high-powered action set to fuel the waters with a season-opener along the Mississippi Gulf Coast April 25-28 at the 9th annual Smokin’ The Sound.
Fans can get an up-close look Friday and Saturday at the performance machines displayed in the Race Village, situated west of Grand Casino on Highway 90. On Sunday, the “L” shaped course takes racers along a liquid eight mile track on the Mississippi Sound, blasting past Casino Row and back to Biloxi Bay. Best viewing advantages are atop the parking garages of the Beau Rivage, Hard Rock (situated at the Start/Finish Line) and Isle Casino. “Typically, this is not my favorite type of course,” 77 Lucas Oil co-owner and throttleman Nigel (Captain) Hook said. “But this venue has the attraction of all the casinos and great viewing for the fans.”
The new Superboat Class features a consolidation of three catamaran categories: Superboat 750, Superboat 850 and Super Cat with hull lengths ranging from 36’ – 46’ and a minimum weight of 9500 lbs. The class structuring was initiated by equipment owners in an effort to maintain a competitive balance, contain costs and maximize safety (straightaway speeds are not to exceed 150 mph). A surprise return of the former Reliable Carriers 42’ MTI now re-dressed as Spirit of Qatar and outfitted with a pair of 750 hp Scorpion engines sets the stage for super racing with an inaugural class line-up that includes Bob “JR” Noble and Grant Bruggemann aboard Stihl, veteran contenders Billy Mauff and Jay Muller of WHM to name a few.
Nigel Hook returns to the Superboat Extreme pack in 77 Lucas Oil as Miles Jennings takes the helm, standing in for driver Michael Silfverberg in the SilverHook 48 GP.
“Stepping into Michael’s shoes won’t be easy,” Hook explained. “I have a lot of respect for Miles. We have raced again each other for many years, in many countries and he has his own very special shoes.” In a new and economical plan incorporating poker runs and racing for 2013, the team opted to swap the Mercury 850 hp engines out of the 17 Lucas Oil Skater hull into the vee-hull SilverHook.
Among the missing in action this weekend are fan favorites Miss GEICO and GASSE. According to GASSE throttleace John Tomlinson, “plans are to run Sarasota and Key West this year.”
For those Desert Storm fans, keep an eye out for Tomlinson who said he would be running a 388 Skater in the poker run.
I caught up with Miss GEICO throttleman Scott Begovich at the P1 Superstock USA opener in Stuart last weekend and talked with him on the team’s mega revision status and the anticipated debut of Miss GEICO sporting the new Mercury Racing 1650 power package. “It’s slowly, but surely. It was a lot more changes than we thought. We literally ripped everything out of the boat…re-enforced and re-rigged the entire boat.”
And several remodeling components feature major safety moves: redid the canopy; installed a new roll cage and state-of-the-art fire system; ripped out the dash and moved the gauges down to foot level for easy exiting in case of accident, as well as easy-to-access on board seat belt cutter and built-in flashlight. Their goal is to have the boat race ready for Cocoa Beach.
“Because of everything we are doing to the inside of the boat,” Begovich said, “we will be showing up in our yellow wrap, but I can tell you this, everything under the hatches is phenomenal.”
Unfortunately, multi-titled Scott Free Racing won’t be among the Super Vee Lite fleet as the Sarasota-based father/son team of Stephen and Steve Kildahl are ironing out last minute issues according to dad, Steve, who’s been racing for 27 years. “We’ve got some sponsor details that need to be worked out, so our first race is Cocoa Beach.” Stephen grabbed the wheel back in 2007 and together they’ve scored 14 wins including a pair of National Titles and a World Championship. Stephen’s racing accomplishments don’t stop there: recently he was selected as Performance Driver – Offshore Category in a contest sponsored by Champion Spark Plugs.
The SBI tour continues with Cocoa Beach (May 17-19), Orange Beach (May 31-June 2), Sarasota (July 5-7), Miami (July 19-21), moves up to Michigan City (August 2-4) and New York (September 6-8), then moves back to Florida for its National Championship slated for Clearwater (September 27-29) and wraps-up in Key West for the 33rd annual World Championship (Nov. 3 – 10).
Can’t make it to one of the super events? You can tune in to live race day coverage by registering at new.livestream.com. For up-to-the-minute info, check-out www.superboat.com.
Bobbye Miller Kenyon’s high performance articles have appeared in Hot Boat Magazine, along with fast-paced marine industry news in her Hot Sheet Column from 1997 – 2008. Her company, Offshore Public Relations, is a multi-faceted firm that has represented marine industry leaders and champions of the offshore racing arena. A native Miamian, she enjoys boating off the Florida Keys waters of Key Largo to Islamorada and the lakes of the Kentucky countryside.