Before the end of the day, Rusty Rahm—the owner of the 48-foot MTI catamaran Wake Effects—will have a better idea of where his team sits in its quest to repeat as Superboat Unlimited champions at this year’s Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla.
Last season, Rahm, who owns the Osage Beach, Mo.-based Wake Effects dealership, and his teammate/throttleman Jeff Harris raced under the Wake Effects moniker as part of the two-boat CMS Offshore Racing team, and earned the Superboat Unlimited championship in Rahm’s rookie season in a down-to-the-wire finish.
This year, the team was on its own as CMS owner Bob Bull and his longtime throttleman Randy Scism—the founder of MTI—decided to sit out the season. Well at least until Key West, as the CMS team is back on the entry list with Bull’s orange and black 52-foot MTI powered by twin Mercury Racing 1650 engines, the same engines in Rahm’s red and black 48-footer.
Not only do the defending world champs have some high expectations to live up to following last year’s performance in Key West as well as their 2017 SBI national championship, they also have a sizable class standing in their way in their quest to bring home another world title.
In fact, they have seven boats standing in their way. There’s Mike DeFrees and Gary Ballough in Team CRC-Sunlight Supply, another 48-foot MTI, as well as three Victory Team-built catamarans—the 44-foot CT Marine team of Andy Strobert and Billy Moore, the 42-foot Jesses Ranch team of Miles Jennings and Ugur Isik, and of course the 47-foot Miss GEICO team of James Sheppard and Steve Curtis. Rounding out the class are a pair of V-bottoms—the Lucas Oil/SilverHook team of Jay Johnson and Nigel Hook in Hook’s 48-foot SilverHook and the Freedom team of Ryan Piper and Joe Ferrer in Ferrer’s 42-foot Fountain.
“Obviously we’re excited to race again in Key West and I think this is the most prepared we’ve been for any race this season,” Rahm said. “We’ve been going back and forth in terms of strategy and what’s the best approach here, and I think we’re planning to pull out all the stops and go balls to the walls starting with the first race on Wednesday. Our team chemistry this year has been great and our communication has improved tremendously—we are feeling pretty confident.
“We have to watch out for our teammates as the ‘kings’ (Bull and Scism) are coming out of retirement,” Rahm said jokingly. “We are planning to race as teammates again by sharing space in the pits and helping each other out when necessary with repairs and such, but there’s no doubt Bob and Randy are coming to win—they wouldn’t come to Key West otherwise.”
Rahm, who graciously donated a Wake Effects race team experience to be auctioned during the OffshoreOnly.com/Speedonthewater.com party on Thursday night at the Sandbar Sports Grill (read the story), said he feels comfortable with the pressure bestowed upon the national champions and defending world champs.
“Last year in Key West my driving had a lot of room for improvement so I think the experience is going to help us this year,” he said. “I’m much more confident in myself and the entire team. And although we won the national championship, that was mainly because we didn’t have a lot of competition, so we still have a lot to prove. Mechanical issues got the best of us most of the year so we need to prove that we can finish and finish first.”
It’s hard to imagine it was only two years ago that Rahm was doing the poker run in his 52-foot MTI pleasure boat dreaming of racing with the “big boys.” After taking a ride in Bull’s raceboat that year on one of the team’s off days, he was hooked. Now he’s in a much different seat and he’s definitely enjoying the ride.
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com.