After a week of offshore powerboat racing that started on November 9, Superboat International crowned its 2016 world champions the following Sunday. For the first time in recent memory, every team in the professional categories that won the season-long national championship in its class also claimed the world title. The world championship is a stand-alone event, with the competitors racing on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The team with the best combined results for the week wins the world title.
In the Superboat Unlimited class, attrition on the final day of racing helped throttleman Jeff Harris and rookie driver Rusty Rahm complete his dream season in the 48-foot MTI catamaran, Wake Effects, which is powered by twin Mercury Racing 1650s. Rahm recently bought the boat from former owner Bob Bull and will campaign it again in 2017.
After a horrific 2016 season, the 44-foot Victory catamaran Miss GEICO looked to have finally solved its mechanical issues by taking the win on Wednesday. But driver Marc Granet and throttleman Scotty Begovich didn’t complete the required number of laps on Friday and didn’t even complete a lap on Sunday, sustaining significant hull damage in rough water on the first lap. The 2015 world champion, Bob Bull’s 52-foot MTI, CMS, finished second on Wednesday and walked away from the fleet on Friday, but succumbed to mechanical issues on Sunday and wound up third in the overall championship. After consistent runs on Wednesday and Friday, the 48-foot MTI, Team CRC Sunlight Supply, finished second on Sunday and second in the overall standings.
In the Superboat class, national champions Myrick Coil (driver) and John Tomlinson (throttleman) started off on a positive note on Wednesday when they piloted their 38-foot Skater, Performance Boat Center, around owner/driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Jay Muller in their 40-foot Skater, WHM Motorsports, on the last lap to take the checkered flag. The 39-foot MTI, Pro Floors New Zealand, finished third on Wednesday. On Friday, Performance Boat Center got a bad start and tried to catch up but couldn’t reel in winner WHM and had to settle for fourth place. The smallest boat in the fleet, the 36-foot Skater, Teague Custom Marine, finished second on Friday, while the 38-foot Skater, Stihl, finished second.
On Sunday, Tomlinson, who is widely regarded as the best throttleman in the sport, nailed the start, and Performance Boat Center battled the 38-foot Skater, Cleveland Construction, with throttleman Keith Holmes and driver Ed Smith for the top spot heading into the first turn. Conditions were tricky when the boats made the left-hand turn, and Cleveland Construction appeared to stuff, setting off a chain reaction. Pro Floors New Zealand flipped and WHM hit the overturned boat, causing bottom damage to WHM. Pro Floors‘ driver Wayne Vlader and throttleman Chris Hanley escaped the accident without injury. Eventually, Performance Boat Center got around Cleveland Construction and ran away with the checkered flag and the championship. Second on Sunday went to Grant Bruggemann and Jake Noble in the 38-foot Skater, Stihl, which was good enough for them to claim third in the overall championship. Noble had taken over the driving duties for the Stihl team after his father, J.R., unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. WHM crossed the finish in third, taking second in the championship. The always fast 38-foot Fountain, Cooper Standard, with throttleman Billy Glueck and driver Brett Lee Furshman started off the week with a convincing win on Wednesday. Second went to owner/throttleman Joe Ferrer and driver Jason Ventura in the 40-foot Fountain, Freedom. On Friday and Sunday, Ed Smith replaced Peter Meyer on the throttles in AMH Construction Instigator, and he and driver Johnny Stanch dominated the class, running away with victories on Friday and Sunday.
The Superboat Vee class was the most controversial of the week. On Wednesday, the super-fast 29-foot Outerlimits, Marker 17 Marine, which is driven and throttled by Brian Forehand and navigated by Dr. Michael Janssen, did what everyone expected, taking the win. During post-race technical inspection, the team was disqualified, which moved throttleman/owner Steve Miklos and driver Steve Fehrmann and their 29-foot Extreme, Sun Print Magic Butter, into first place. The father-son team of Steve (dad) and Stephen Kildahl finished second in their 29-foot Extreme, Boatfloater.com, and national champions Brit Lilly and Ron Umlandt and their 30-foot Extreme, LSB Rev-X Oil, took third. On Friday, Marker 17 Marine took the win again, but was out of the running for the world title. LSB Rev-X Oil finished second, followed by Boatfloater.com, so the championship was up for grabs on Sunday. During the Sabbath-day race, Marker 17 Marine and Sun Print Magic Butter collided, which opened the door for the other teams to move up. LSB Rev-X Oil and Boatfloater.com battled for laps until the latter succumbed to mechanical issues, and LSB Rev-X Oil claimed the world championship.
The most dominant performance of the week came in the Superboat Stock class. Even though owner/throttleman Gary Ballough was teamed with a new driver, Daren Kittredge, in the 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran, FJ Propeller, the team checked out at the start on all three days and ran away with the world championship. Second in the final tally went to Lee Austin and Damon Marotta in the 30-foot LA Marine catamaran, Specialty Marine Center, while veteran racer Ryan Beckley and driver Tanner Lewis took third in the 30-foot Skater, 5 Brothers Marine.