I confess: I took great personal pleasure in reporting that The Hulk took first place in the SuperStock Class during yesterday’s Race World Offshore Clearwater Hooters Offshore Nationals event. That I respect and enjoy the team’s Dan Lawrence and Rob Nunziato has (almost) nothing to do with it. I was just glad to see yet another Stock-class team taking to the water this season.
Because it’s been a banner year for the outboard engine-powered canopied-catamaran class.
So far during six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, the class has averaged eight teams per race—with a high of 13 teams registered and 12 taking the green flag for the Sarasota Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix in July. A pair of teams—FJ Propeller and Jackhammer—are making history this season by running 32-foot Victory Team cats in the Stock-class ranks for the first time in domestic offshore racing history.
New for 2019, the Performance Boat Center Stock-class team of Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams currently sits first in APBA series points. And Performance Boat Center is one of four teams from the Midwest including CR Racing, Jackhammer, Team Allen Lawncare and Landscaping and WIA Marine Insurance.
The list goes on and on. But you could make a case that Stock class has eclipsed the Class One and Supercat contingents as—race to race—the most consistently exciting class in offshore racing.
A healthy part of the credit must go to the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1, the organizers behind the APBA series. They have created an attractive circuit that has propelled not just the Stock class but offshore racing in general this season. A rising tide lifts all ships, as the saying goes, and the success of the series also has translated to consistently excellent Supercat-, Pro Stock Vee- and Super Vee Extreme-class fleets.
But there’s more to it than that. According to Stock-class veteran Ryan Beckley, the change of spec power from the often-finicky 2.5-liter 280-hp outboard from Mercury Racing to the more-reliable 300XS a few years back has made the class more attractive to would-be racers.
“I think a lot of people were really afraid of the 280-hp, 2.5-liter engine because they required rebuild after rebuild during the season,” he said. “People have gotten on board with the 300XS and really come around to it. We used to rebuild our 2.5-liter powerheads at least two times a season. We haven’t had to touch our 300s since we got them—and most of the other teams haven’t either.”
Beckley said he believes the class will continue to grow.
“I would not be surprised to see 15 Stock-class boats in Fort Myers Beach and Key West,” he said. “We have a bunch of great guys in our class, and the competition is really good.”