by Bob Wonders
Twenty seven crews turned out for the opening round of the 2011 Superboat International Racing Series off Cocoa Beach, Florida, last weekend.
Nothing could catch the turbine-powered 'Miss Geico' as it roars past Cocoa Beach. - Superboat
The awesome, turbine-powered catamaran Miss Geico turned it on for the big crowd packing the beaches and piers along the length of the famous Cocoa Beach race circuit.
Superboat International president, John Carbonell, labelled the second annual Brighthouse Networks Space Coast Grand Prix as one of, if not the best, season opener in the past 20-years.
'We have seen some of the closest head-to-head racing and our decision to shorten the race course and bring it closer to the beach and the fans has paid off,' he said.
'This has proven to deliver exciting racing for crews involved and the fans watching the action,' he added.
Seven classes grabbed the headlines, ranging from the incredible power of Miss Geico through to Superboat Unlimited, Super Vee Limited and Manufacturer Production boats.
As usual, offshore powerboat racing was tough on boats engines and crews, despite what observers rated as ‘perfect conditions’.
Nine boats failed to complete the course and registered the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish).
There was no shortage of close racing, and none better than the clash between ‘Loriblu Fastboats’ and ‘Team Stihl’ in Super Cat.
Two eventual winners in the pits, 'Loriblu Fastboats', which claimed victory in Super Cat and 'WHM Motorsports', winner in Superboat Unlimited. - Superboat
J.R.Noble, owner/driver of ‘Team Stihl’, described the finish between the two as 'a heartbreaker.'
'It was an incredible race,' he said, 'we experienced some equipment problems that slowed us down on corners.
'We saw ‘Loriblu Fastboats’ having similar problems so we stayed with it.
'Coming into the final turn we were both off the pace, but then, almost at the same time, we both picked up speed for the finish and we were beaten by a boat length, a heartbreaker,' he added.
Other class winners at Cocoa Beach included ‘WHM Motorsports’ (Superboat Unlimited), ‘GEICO Caveman’ (Superboat Vee Extreme), ‘Absolutely Not’ (Super Vee Limited), ‘Talbot Excavating’ (Superboat Stock), Twisted Metal (P1), ‘Zipp Express’ (P2) and ‘Team Velocity’ (P4).
Local favourite, Bob Bull’s Unlimited Superboat entrant ‘CMS’ struck mechanical problems early in the race, but did thrill the crowd with a blow-by-blow battle with ‘WHM Motorsports’ at more than 100mph (160km/hr) before the engine problems brought and end to its race.
Local favourite looked the goods, but succumbed to mechanical problems in the opening round at Cocoa Beach. - Superboat
'I wish ‘CMS’ could have stayed with us,' Billy Mauff, of the ‘WHM Motorsports’ crew said.
'It would have been a great race between us.
'This race and this location is great, I was unable to make it here last year, but I’m glad I got here for the opening round,' he added.
Marc Granet, the man behind the wheel of the frightenly fast Miss Geico, (it averaged 108mph (173km/hr) for the 82.5 mile (133 km) course) was another to praise the venue.
'The fans were lined up the entire length of Cocoa Beach,' he said, 'it was absolutely incredible.'
According to John Carbonell, the support from the fans and the volunteers who help have made the Cocoa Beach race a marquee event on the Superboat International calendar.
Crews and mechanics are now preparing for round two, scheduled for the 21st Miami Grand Prix off the Florida city June 30th.
The boys from 'Infinity' had obvious reasons to smile, and not only for their third place in Super Cat. - Superboat
'Fountain Talladega' claimed second spot behind 'Twisted Metal' in Manufacturers Production. - Superboat
'Risk' took Gary Ballough to an astonishing 100 career wins when it claimed the Superboat Stock Class. - Michigan City Grand Prix
For further information visit Superboat International website