Fueled by the likes of Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith of the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness team, Steve Papp of Done Deal and Randy Schleuss of Typhoon combined with inaugural six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship, the Pro Stock V class is booming. When the green flag drops at the May 15-17 season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., there could well be 10 to 12 teams in the Pro Stock V fleet, formerly called Super Vee Lite under the Offshore Powerboat Association umbrella.
Among the outfits that eventually will compete in the Pro Stock V class category on the OPA/Powerboat P1-produced series is Team Raven. The key word, of course, is eventually as 25-year-old Robert Bryant, the team’s Englewood Beach owner and throttleman, recently purchased a canopied 32-foot Bandit V-bottom with a 509-cubic-inch engine. To meet Pro Stock V-class specification, the 32-footer needs a Mercury Racing 525 EFI engine, which Bryant plans to purchase in the near future.
So the team, which earned an OPA Class 5 World Championship in 2018 in a currently for-sale open-cockpit 29-footer, will run its new canopied raceboat in Class 4. Once they’ve secured their 525-hp fuel injected engine, they’ll install it in the 32-footer and step up to Pro Stock V.
“It’s been a long time dream of mine to run in Pro Stock, especially after watching them in Englewood Beach last year,” said Bryant, who was introduced to offshore racing 10 years ago by his father and crew chief, Allen, a former crewman for V-bottom offshore racing veteran Billy Glueck. “We didn’t plan on purchasing a new boat right now, especially this close to the start of the season when we had been working on our boat all off season, but we couldn’t pass this up.
“We’re debuting a new paint job in Cocoa Beach and I’ll be throttling the boat with our back-up driver, David Piper, for Cocoa until Andy Copeland is back for Lake of the Ozarks,” he continued. “We plan to race the full season with David and Andy alternating as drivers.”
By the third race of the APBA Championship Series—the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix July 6-7—Team Raven plans to step up to the Pro V Stock class. But the boat will be dressed in its pearl-white paintjob with carbon fiber accents for its Class 4 debut in Cocoa Beach. The team also will compete in Class 4 at the Lake Race, the second event in the series, on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.
But what Bryant said he’s looking forward to most this season is stepping up to what will be one of the largest and most competitive classes on the APBA circuit.
“It’s a little bit different from the bracket racing I’ve done,” he said. “You have to set up the boat and run perfectly to win. It’s so competitive.”