SBI National Championship Preview

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Performance driven competitors. Photo Courtesy Super Boat International

After Florida’s West Coast got a powerful punch from Hurricane Irma a few weeks ago, Executive Producer Frank Chivas made a call to Super Boat International (SBI) officials with an important request: “Clearwater Beach is open for business. We got to get this event to happen…we got a good team and we all work together…we’re ready for you.”

Within days, SBI officials and local organizers joined forces in a full-throttle mode to resume preparations for the 9th annual Clearwater Super Boat International National Championship slated for September 29 – October 1. “There has been overwhelming demand and support from Clearwater and the local community to help get things back to normal and make sure the race still happens,” per the statement posted on the SBI website. “The situation is so fluid every hour of every day, this decision is not made lightly. Our teams want to help and show a unified force. And if the community wants our help by racing and giving a level of inspiration…then we are in.”

And organizers aren’t the only ones looking to move the event forward and support community rebuilding efforts. “The past few weeks have been stressful for everybody that was in the path of Irma…it will be good for the teams to get back on the course,” Sarasota’s Stephen Kildahl of BoatFloater.com said. “The fact that they want us there to support the community and racing is great,” Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s driver Myrick Coil added. “We’re bringing a lot of family and friends down with us to load up the area with spectators.”

Straight from their record-setting Key West/Cuba run, Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson are set to join the Superboat Unlimited class line-up. “The crew finally had time to work on our 77 Lucas Oil SilverHook after the Cuba world record,” Nigel told me last week. “We’ll be testing on Lake Monroe Thursday and Friday before Clearwater as it’s only a couple of hours away.”

Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s is at the top of the 2017 Superboat Class standings. Photo Courtesy: Super Boat International

Myrick Coil and John Tomlinson have generated some of the circuit’s most dynamic racing and for the second consecutive season, the Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s team maintains a comfortable lead in the Superboat Class points chase. “The points lead is an awesome feeling, it’s kind of a deja vu feeling since we were in the lead last year heading into Clearwater,” Myrick said. “It’s all good, when you have a team owner like Mark Waddington of Performance Boat Center. He loves the competition. He’s as much into it as we are. It’s an exciting team to be a part of.”

Competition promises to be high powered in the Superboat Vee fleet as 3rd ranked Stephen Kildahl explained. “Clearwater usually provides semi-flat water, but can be tricky in Turn 1…I think our boat will be able to handle the intermediate water well.” The Kildahl father/son team has tweaked the hull and engine since the Michigan City race; however, they’re also dialing in a test ride at the Clearwater race as they set their sights towards the World Championship in Key West (the event is good to go for November 5-12). “Clearwater is a very important race because it’s the last race before the Worlds, so if you want to try something new, now is the time to do it. We will be trying different things for this race to see what works and what doesn’t before the World Championship.”

Although the 2017 season has delivered a series of mishaps for Nick Scafidi, the Superboat Stock contender says, “I’m not a quitter. We’ll be there…I’ll be racing with Scott (Porta).I’m working on the boat now, trying to get it ready. We’re very excited that the town is doing everything they can to put the race back together.”

Racers are ready to wrap-up the season with a high powered performance: a super contest along a 4.1 mile lap stretching down Clearwater Beach designed to deliver competitive racing on a fan-friendly liquid track and clinching top honors in the national points chase. As Myrick Coil described it, “Nothing beats winning!”

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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.

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