Multi-World Champion Billy Shipley is preparing for a triumphant return to offshore racing in 2024.

Back in September 2023, driver Shipley, along with his throttleman Chad Woody, were sidelined from racing in Bracket 200 class when a section of the bottom of their 35' Fountain Team Woody got ripped out during the race in Clearwater, FL. Now, with repairs nearing completion after a six-month hiatus, Shipley hopes to join his teammate in the cockpit as soon as May 17 for the 15th annivesary of the Thunder on Cocoa Beach race. "We're going to make the circuit this year," he tells Speedboat.

During the Clearwater race, more than half the boat was delaminated, Shipley says. "At first, we were afraid the boat was permanently damaged. Chad towed it to Lone Star Fiberglass and Gel Coat Repair in Montgomery, TX, and they said the boat needed to be derigged and the engines removed. So it was hauled over to 'Lil Bill' Reeves at Victory Marine in Dickinson, TX, who agreed to take the engines out right away." After Reeves pulled the engines, the boat was taken back to Lone Star, where the entire bottom of the Fountain was ground off and then recapped.

"At the time, our hope was to have the boat ready for Key West, which was about five weeks out. But that proved to be impossible. In fact, the team at Lone Star wasn't sure the boat would even be able to race again. I was devastated, because the boat is a piece of history. It's a kilo record holder, to this day, and it belonged to Reggie Fountain. So I said, 'Just keep working on it, and figure out what you can do.' They told me it would be expensive, and I said, 'I don't care. Just keep working on it.' Ultimately, they had to take the entire bottom off and start from scratch. The boat was upside down for five months as they laid the fiberglass back on it."

In addition to running the Fountain in Bracket 200 class, Shipley and Woody will run their Team Woody Lavey Craft in Bracket 400 class. Meanwhile, they have purchased a 30' Phantom open-canopy boat that they may end up running in Bracket Class 500. It's currently being stripped down, gelcoated and re-rigged by Vinny Winoski at Marker 1, a full service marine and boat repair shop located in Sarasota, FL.

"We're not sure when it's going to be ready," Shipley says. "It might just end up being a pleasure boat."

Shipley said his first order of business will be to reinstall the Fountain's engines—built by Tommy Keeter's KPE (Keeter Performance Engineering) of Wichita Falls, TX—and get some testing done. Yesterday, he completed his annual dunker training at Darkside Rescue in Sarasota, FL. He and Chad plan to race at least six races this season, including Cocoa Beach, FL, Lake of the Ozarks, MO, Michigan City, IN, Clearwater, FL, Inglewood, FL, and Key West, FL, with Sarasota as a possibility.

Shipley gives special shout-outs to Corbin Certain for derigging and re-installing the gimbals and trim tabs, to Salvador at Lone Star Fiberglass, and to all of his sponsors for helping him get back in action.