With 74 total registered boats and spectacular weather, the 42nd annual Key West World Championships, produced by Race World Offshore, got underway today in the Southernmost U.S. city. Wednesday’s race was the first of three, with all classes expected to race both Friday and Sunday as well.
The fifth and final race of the day was arguably the most exciting, as 11 Super Cat competitors faced off for a thrilling bout that saw several 388 Skaters battling for the top spot. Reigning World Champion M CON/Monster Energy, with Myrick Coil and Tyler Miller, took the early lead and held onto it all the way through, grabbing the checkered flag. Chris Grant and Billy Moore in CJ Grant/Graydel finished second, and Rob Unnerstall and Casey Boaz took third in CR Racing/XINSURANCE.
“To see 11 Super Cats at the start was a great experience for offshore racing,” Miller said after the race. “We just couldn't be more proud of the outcome and our sponsor, Monster Energy. It's an amazing day. Our goal for the day was to get on the podium if we could, and then to win this thing on Sunday. So that's what we're looking forward to now. We’ll be doing some testing tomorrow and be back on the water on Friday. Hopefully we can be up here again.”
Race 2 featured six boats in Class 1 running with eight Modified Vee entries. In Class 1, reigning World Champions Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella piloting 222 Offshore Australia continued to be unstoppable, leading from start to finish. They were followed by Team DeFalco (with Michael Falco and Billy Moore) and Monster Energy/M CON (with Myrick Coil and Tyler Miller landing the first of their two podium finishes today).
In Modified Vee, challengers Steven Fehrmann and Steve Miklos in Sunprint/Hooters were the team to beat. They executed a flawless performance that put them at the top of the podium. They were followed by the father/son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl in Boatfloater.com, and Chris Uzzolina and Rob Hartmann of Laticrete/Relentless.
Another incredible race belonged to 450R Factory Stock Class, in the third race of the day. All year, MTIs have been duking it out with Doug Wright hulls; today’s battle pitted three against three. The MTI teams fought hard, and all three landed on the podium. The winners were GC Racing, featuring driver Willy Cabeza with his new teammate, throttleman Shaun Torrente, handing Cabeza his first win in the class. In second place was 151 Express, with Ian Morgan and Nick Imprescia in 151 Express; in third place were World Champions Taylor Scism and John Tomlinson in T/S Motorsports.
“The program that Shaun runs is very technically oriented when it comes to telemetry of the boat, Cabeza told Speedboat. “We have been using telemetry on the boat, but never to this level. Shaun’s ability to, to extract tech information out of the boat and interpolate it is incredible. He really crunches the data, an we learn so much about how to run the boat according to the data that we have. Shaun helps us eliminate all of the guesswork.”
Race 3 also featured Vee Extreme Class, which saw three competitors: winner Team Farnsworth/Hancock Claims (with Christian McCauley and Jay Healy), second-place finisher Team 25 (with Kirk Britto and Robert Lockyer) and third-place finisher Race Winning Brands (with Edward Wendt and William McComb). Also competing in Race 3 was the lone Extreme Class competitor, JBS Racing (with Jeff Stevenson and Micheal Stancombe).
Jackhammer, with Reese Langheim and Julian Maldonado, gave their 10 Super Cat competitors a pummeling by leading from start to finish. They were followed by Northwing (with Daren Kittredge and Casey Boaz) and Celsius (with Chris Hopgood and Jay Muller). One entry, Allied, did not finish.
The first race of the day saw four different Bracket Classes racing together: 2, 4, 5 and 7. Although boats in Bracket 2 had wrapped up racing for the day, the other three classes were still making laps when a red flag ended Race 1 for the remaining classes. Two boats from Bracket 5, Free Bird (with Reef Dellanos and Ryan Stahlman, son of Predator’s Dean Stahlman) and #501 XINSURANCE/Golf ’n’ Gator (with J.J. Turk and Micheal Stancombe) were involved in an accident at Turn 3, pitching three of the pilots out of their boats. Turk and Stancombe checked out OK and never left the race site, but Free Bird driver Dellanos and throttleman Stahlman were both hospitalized.
At the time of this writing, it was unclear how the Bracket Class teams would be ranked in the wake of the red flag incident and barring any potential breakouts. However, at the time of the accident, Bracket 2 Class racing had finished. Predator (with Dean Stahlman, Nate Hunt and new navigator Matthew Piotrowski) finished in first place; Batman Racing (with Eliot Toth and Jax Muller) in second, and OC Racing (with Joey Olivieri and Chris Volosin) in third.
In Bracket 4, Simmons Marine (with Jim Simmons and Jason Zolecki) led from start to finish. Team Woody (with Billy Shipley and Chad Woody) were in second place, and Allied Offshore Racing (with Jake Nicks and Mark Fernandez) were in third. In Bracket 5, #501 XINSURANCE/Golf Gator and Free Bird were out in front, followed by Bronx Phantom (with Vincent and Robert Winoski). Mean Streak (with Jeremy Hellems and Vance Hagen), which had been a strong competitor all season, suffered a mechanical problem and were towed back to the pits.
Bracket 7 competition still had two laps remaining, but was being led by #720 XINSURANCE/Golf n Gator (with Cameron Turk and Robert Bryant). They were followed by H:Craft (with Matthew Bell and Ricardo Maldonado).