by Bob Wonders
Sarasota, Florida played host to the 27th staging of Superboat International’s Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix last weekend with local crews pleasing the huge crowds by winning several of the leading classes.
'Loriblu' on its way to winning Super Cat off Sarasota. - US offshore
‘Team Velocity’, with a crew comprising father (Steve Kildahl, throttles) and son (Stephen Kildahl, driver) took out P4 class averaging a very good 61.17mph (98.4 km/hr) to defeat ‘Florida National Guard’ with ‘Dare Devil’ third.
‘Hawaiian Tropic’, Walter Ottaviano on the wheel, Bill McComb handling throttles, proved too good in and claimed the chequered flag to win P2.
The awesome turbine-powered Miss Geico thrilled the crowd and proved itself the fastest boat on the course with a convincing performance in Turbine Class, averaging an eye-watering 123.49mph (198.7km/hr).
Superboat International rated the attendance as 'tens of thousands' as 40 of the top offshore boats in the US did battle in relatively quiet water.
A major beneficiary of the event is the Suncoast Foundation, which raises funds and provides facilities to assist local children ands families in need of support.
Stephen Kildahl admitted ‘Team Velocity’ started its race with a completely new set up.
'It proved a winner for us and with a lot of local sponsors here and our hometown crowd we were thrilled to perform so well,' he said.
As his father, Steve Kildahl confirmed; 'This new set up was a gamble and we weren’t sure what result we would achieve, but as Stephen said, it paid off.'
The other hometown crew, ‘Hawaiian Tropic’, the 38’ Skater owned by throttlesman Bill McComb, was ‘dialled in and ran flawlessly’.
'Hawaiian Tropic' on its way to a class win in the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix. - US offshore
'There’s nothing like winning in your own backyard, you couldn’t ask for a better result,' McComb said.
'And Walt (Ottaviano, driver) did a great job keeping the boat level and taking it turn by turn,' he added.
Miss GEICO, the 50’ turbine-powered Mystic which proved itself fastest boat in the course, was throttled by Scott Begovich and driven by Marc Granet.
Miss GEICO and its turbine power had too many 'horses' for 'Hawaiian Tropic'. - US offshore
Despite its convincing victory, teamwork was definitely required as Begovich was hampered by issues throughout the race.
Major problem stemmed from throttles that were stuck wide open.
Miss GEICO went into one turn in that condition and had to manoeuvre into the run-off area until the throttles could be freed and return to the actual course.
John Carbonell, president of Superboat International, was modest when the event was praised as one of the best.
'All I could say was thank you, but this event takes so many volunteers, a great support staff, along with Lucy Nicandri and the Suncoast Foundation, all working together to make this such a spectacular event,' he declared.
'It would not be the event it is without their support and, of course, the support of all the race teams that compete here,' he added, 'we thank them all for their involvement.'
Mr Carbonell has also announced that teams from Central Europe and the Ukraine will be joining Superboat International next year.
'I’m equally delighted to announce that the powerboat federation involved has adopted Superboat International rules for its own events,' he added.
Remaining first place finishers at Sarasota were ‘Fountain Talladega’ (P1), ‘Pump It’ (P3), ‘Cintron 21’ (Superboat Unlimited), GEICO Caveman (Superboat Vee Extreme), ‘Instigator V-01’ (Superboat Vee Unlimited), ‘Page Motorsports’ (Superboat 850), Loriblu Fastboats’ (Supercat), ‘Absolutely Not’ (Superboat Vee Limited) and ‘Risk’ (Superboat Stock).
The offshore superboats come together again over the weekend of August 5-7 for the third annual Great Lakes Grand Prix at Michigan City, Indiana.
'Risk' passes 'Talbot Excavating' for a narrow Superboat Stock win. - US offshore
'Phantom' flies high in Superboat Vee Limited, but was off the pace and could only manage fourth place in the event won by 'Absolutely Not.' - US offshore
'Stihl' topped the 100mph mark (160km/hr), but could only manage second place behind 'Loriblu'; that helicopter nearly needed full throttle to keep up with the boats. - US offshore
'Absolutely Not'returned an average speed of 75mph (120km/hr) to claim victory in Superboat Vee Limited. - US offshore