Jay Muller and Billy Mauff, the cockpit duo in the WHM Motorsports team’s 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, have a very simple plan for the annual three-race Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., which begin early next month. They want to send a strong message from the start. They want to be the team to chase.
“I like to go out and win the first race of the week,” said Muller, who throttles the boat with Mauff handling the driving duties. “That sets the tone for the rest of the week.
“Last year on the first day, we led Performance Boat Center during the whole race until we ended up getting a little air and they snuck under us,” he continued. “On Friday, we took first and they finished fourth. Sunday, we were biding our time and then we had the incident with Pro Floors Racing. We were able to go on and finish third, but it wasn’t enough for the world championship.”
For all intents and purposes—and with some noteworthy challenges by the STIHL team of Jake Noble and Grant Bruggemann—the battle for Superboat-class supremacy has been between the WHM Motorsports Skater, which runs Sterling Performance power and the Performance Boat Center Skater 388 cat, which also is on the Sterling Performance engine program.
WHM Motorsports took first place at the SBI double-points contest in Michigan City, Ind., as well as taking first at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix and Offshore Powerboat Association Lake Race in Central Missouri. Performance Boat Center took first place at the SBI season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., the next SBI race in Mentor, Ohio, and the SBI Nationals in Clearwater.
With the exception of the Cocoa Beach race, where WHM Motorsports took out a turn buoy, and the Clearwater contest, where STIHL finished second and WHM ran third, if one team claimed first place the other finished second.
Muller said that while WHM Motorsports appears to have a higher running attitude than Performance Boat Center, the difference is not significant.
“If you look at our boat in the water you can see that it sits a little bit higher,” he said. “Our boat has a little higher-compression tunnel, so we pack more air than the other guys do. That’s basically the difference. With these bigger boats and how little horsepower we have, if you run them flat and tucked in they seem to scrub speed.”
For the upcoming Key West Worlds, WHM Motorsports has fresh Sterling Performance engines. Muller said the team has been delighted with the 750-hp Sterling mills.
“We’ve had no issues with the engines at all,” he said.
The WHM Motorsports team earned the Superboat-class world title in 2015, but finished second to Performance Boat Center the following year. Looking back at his offshore racing history, Muller said he’s taken one world title or another—depending on class as he also ran in the Stock-class ranks—roughly every other year. But while he’s hoping that pattern of victory continues in Key West next month, he’s taking nothing for granted.
“This class has come such a long way,” he said. “You have to run so hard from the very first lap to the very last lap. You have to run your first lap as if it were your last lap. And you need a little luck.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.