Take your adrenaline threshold to the edge as Super Boat International (SBI) descends upon the Southernmost City in the U.S. with fast and furious racing when the 38th annual Key West World Championship takes the green flag November 4-11.
If you mention the words Key West around the high performance crowd, you’re bound to get a superlative round of responses that describe the legendary site. “Key West is the world’s only city that breathes offshore powerboat racing for a week,” former Super Vee champion Michel Karsenti explained. Current Superboat World Champion John Tomlinson of Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s provided an unequivocal description of the site that continues to entice racers from around the globe. “Key West always has the hype.”
Most racers agree that Key West is one of the premier racing venues on the planet with one of the most challenging, yet thrilling courses in the world. And, the general consensus is that if you haven’t raced there, well then you’ve literally missed the boat.
So, when the calendar flips to November, the eclectic mood that permeates this Florida Keys destination accelerates into a highly fueled liquid speed track for a super-charged race week as top offshore contenders compete for the ultimate prize all racers covet. As retired and multi-titled Peter Meyer said, “It’s the bragging point of offshore. I won Key West – I won the Worlds!”
The mega event wraps up the SBI 2018 season with 3 days of competition that includes a 4 race format slated for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday as teams power their racing machines across an ever-changing 4.5 mile course that rips past VIP spectators along the Outer Mole, through Mallory Square into Key West Harbor and turns back out to the Atlantic Ocean. The synergy is awesome. “It can be flat, it can be rough,” the throttle ace Tomlinson once told me. “It is always challenging.”
This year’s lineup is set to showcase some of the country’s best contenders, as well as international entries. The Superboat Unlimited fleet includes dual Victory Team competitors from Dubai (UAE-3 with Gary Ballough and Elsa Mohamed Abdul Rahman, while UAE-33 pairs Salem Ali Aladidi and John Tomlinson) and the reigning World Champs Miss Geico with James Sheppard and Steve Curtis.
Looking forward to the upcoming Superboat contest, WHM driver and recently crowned 2018 National Champion Billy Mauff said, “It’s all counting down to our Key West finals in November. Every race is a battle. It could be anybody’s day. It’s as simple as a prop call that can cost you race.”
While BoatFloater.com continues their pursuit of a Superboat Vee world championship title as a father/son team, driver Stephen Kildahl said, “I feel we have sacrificed some performance in some of the regular season races to try new setups to see what works and what doesn’t. We have finished 2nd the last two years at the Worlds and we are definitely hungry to get the World Championship. The competition will be tough, so picking the right setup all three days will be the key to taking home the title.”
An evenly matched pack of Superboat Stock Class teams equals deck-to-deck racing that spotlights defending World Champs Shadow Pirate and 2018 National Champion FJ Propeller, while new-to-the-class Team Allen Lawn Care & Landscaping driver Andrei Allen reflected on placing second in the National standings and the upcoming race. “We knew this year in the new class would be full of learning. We did learn we can be competitive and expect to be very competitive in Key West.”
Key West is a dynamic magnet that has lured a mix of “winning-driven”competitors and high performance aficionados for a record-breaking 38 years. Now, it’s game on as the stage is set: to be the best, you have to race and win in Key West!
Bobbye Miller Kenyon is an award-winning journalist whose high-performance articles appeared in Hot Boat Magazine, along with fast-paced marine industry news in her Hot Sheet Column, from 1997-2008 and Powerboat Magazine from 2009-2012. She received a special award from the State of Kentucky in 2014 as she was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Governor Steven L. Beshear for her writing efforts that showcased the diverse boating locales throughout the Bluegrass State. Her company, Offshore Public Relations, is a multi-faceted firm that has represented marine industry leaders and champions in 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.