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  1. #1
    Michelle May-Schmidt

    Cool Viper Marine joins Competitive EDGE Marine Fleet

    Viper Marine joins Competitive EDGE Marine Fleet
    Sets sights on National Factory 1 Title with New Name, New Team

    Fort Lauderdale, FL - - The Viper Marine Factory 1 team didn't fare so badly during the 2001 APBA Offshore National Pro Series. After all, they placed 7th in a field of twenty-two competitors. For the 2002 season, the team has a new name, a new face, and a new management team that Owner/Driver, Curtis Watkins, feels is the winning combination. "I definitely feel that this year, the National Title is within our reach," said the thirty-two year old, from Fort Lauderdale.

    Watkins began his competitive watersports career, actually, in stand-up jet skiing, during the Yamaha sponsored, South Florida Hot Water Tour. During his practice sessions, he met John Thames, a fellow jet skier, who shared many of the same hobbies as Watkins. This year, Thames joins him as the throttleman for the newly named Patriot Offshore Racing Team. "I enjoy the adrenaline and the speed of racing," said Thames, who will enter the Factory 1 class this year, with plans on moving to Super Vee, with Watkins, for 2003.

    Thames is no stranger on the sea or flying throughout the air. The thirty-four year old from Tega Cay, South Carolina, now resides in Fort Lauderdale, where he can continue the rigorous training schedule already established from professional snow boarding into ongoing practice for the 2002 APBA Offshore National Pro Series with Curtis. Training schedules are nothing new to John. He has captained various yachts, ranging from 36' to 110', concentrating highly on tournament sport fishing throughout the Caribbean and entire east coast offshore waters. Still training, Thames has earned a degree as a professional pilot, and continues to utilize his private pilot's license to keep on the competitive edge.

    Watkins, originally from Massachusetts, worked for his family owned company, Simplex, a leader in commercial fire alarm and security systems. His career there lasted ten years, where he held many positions in both service and sales, including a position as the Northeast Regional Manager, overseeing the service operations of nineteen offices throughout New England and New York. In 1999, the company was sold, giving him the opportunity to launch his own real estate development company, which he operates today, from Fort Lauderdale.

    "Picking up the National Title would be the crowning achievement," said Watkins, who recently joined the Competitive EDGE Marine Fleet of race teams, along with National and World Champion racers, Rick Turmel, of Tamarac, and Charlie Haimes, of Weston. Turmel, and 5 time World Champion Crew Chief, Steve Schmidt, partners in Competitive EDGE, have prepared the 29' Fountain for the 2002 season, with Turmel in charge of training the team on the water. The team will be testing off the shores of the world famous Fort Lauderdale Beach, also known as the Boating Capital of the World. "The hard work we have spent off season, not just in research and development, but with the testing of our raceboat, should give our team the Competitive Edge to be in the Winners Circle this year," said Watkins.

    The Patriot Offshore Race Team will compete in the 2002 APBA Offshore National Pro Series, and earn points for the APBA Offshore Southeast Division along with the Offshore Power Boat Racing Association FORCE Gold Cup Offshore Series, for a Florida State Title, and that means travel. In April, the team will compete in St. Cloud, and Daytona Beach, Florida. In May, they heads to Marathon, then in June, it's Cape Cod. The city of Savannah will come alive over the Fourth of July weekend, as the boats scream into the harbor. By the way, all races will be aired on the new FOX Speed Channel, so if you can still keep track of the team from home.

    August will be a challenging month for the team as they compete in three race events. There's Cleveland, Ohio on the 9th, Corpus Christi, Texas on the 23rd and then back home to compete in the Art Kriner Memorial FORCE Gold Cup Offshore Race to benefit Kids In Distress in Fort Lauderdale on August 30th - 31st over Labor Day Weekend. The following weekend, Watkins and Thames will head down to the world famous Holiday Isle Resorts in Islamorada, for the FORCE Gold Cup Offshore Championship, then back up to Atlantic City, New Jersey, braving the rough waters to continue the last races in the National Series.

    The National Championships will be held the weekend of October 18th in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team hopes to claim victory and the title as Factory 1 Champions. "That's the goal they have set, and that's what we plan to help them achieve," said Turmel, who will assist the team at all the National Race Events.

    "We chose the name Patriot, because that's what we are. We believe in the freedom of being an American, and the freedom to compete on the water. This year, we plan to offer corporate marketing programs where businesses can join us and take advantage of being part of our team, while promoting their company and entertaining their clients," said Watkins, whose team will be profiled monthly in the Offshore Racing Review, a marine industry publication. "Marketing with our team gets the benefits of Automotive Motorsports, at a fraction of the cost. There's nothing like it," said Watkins.

    For more information on the Patriot Offshore Racing Team, visit - Competitive EDGE Marine Page or email: [email protected].
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