SBI Key West Worlds: Finals Analysis

As it is every year, Saturday is a “down day” for the teams competing in the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla. It’s a day for the competitors to repair, tweak and tune their boats—there’s plenty of that happening right now in the dry pits—discuss strategy based on forecasted weather conditions for Sunday’s races and, if necessary, do a little propeller and setup testing. And once whatever needed work is completed, it’s a time for the drivers, throttlemen and their crews to mentally regroup, clear their heads and simply chill out.

Up For Grabs in Superboat

All of the races on Wednesday and Friday left the teams and offshore racing fans with plenty to ponder, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Superboat class. With Sunday’s race being a double points affair, there are at least three—and possibly four—teams that could win the world title depending on what happens tomorrow. On Wednesday, Stihl finished first, Broadco took second and the new WHM Motorsports ran third. On Friday, Broadco finished first, Team AMSOIL took second, WHM Motorsports ran third again—and Stihl didn’t finish. Failing to finish a race is very big deal in the triple-race format, and that could come back to haunt the cockpit duo of J.R. Noble and Mark Kowalski, as a failure to finish also could end up foiling Team AMSOIL’s run for a world title. (Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix)

CMS Eyeing Unlimited Success

You have to love—or at the very least appreciate—tactical team racing. In Wednesday’s race Bob Bull and Randy Scism don’t complete a full lap in Bull’s new CMS 52-footer. But that’s OK, because their fellow CMS teammates John Tomlinson and Jeff Harris in Bull’s 48-footer take the win, with defending Unlimited class world champion Miss GEICO taking second and CRC running third. Come Friday’s race, the CMS teams dominate from start to finish and take first and second place with—go figure—Tomlinson and Harris finishing first. Bull and Scism take second and Miss GEICO—still in contention for a shot at the world crown—takes third. Is it “unfair” that CMS brought two teams in aggressive attempt to take the Unlimited class title, as I heard a few fans mumble yesterday? Hell no—it’s exactly the kind of effort and commitment the sport needs, and Bull should be applauded—not vilified—for it. This is, after all, Unlimited class and if huge money spent on the hardware and talent it takes to win a title bugs you then you might want to follow another class. (Photo by Jay Nichols/Naples Image.)

Head to Head in Superboat Vee

I’m looking at the lap speeds from Wednesday’s contest between first-place finisher Snowy Mountain Brewery and Sun Print/ and shaking my head in awe. Check it out: Snowy was faster on the first lap, Sun Print was faster on the second lap. Snowy was faster on the third lap, Sun Print was faster on the fourth lap. Snowy was .3 mph faster on the fifth lap, and .4 mph faster on the sixth lap. On the seventh lap, Snowy was .4 faster than Sun Print. And that, my friends, is how you ended up with a six-second overall time distance (22:21 for Snowy and 22:27 for Sun Print) between the two V-bottoms in a seven-lap, 28.6-mile race. Average speed for Snowy was 76.78 mph. Average speed for Sun Print was 76.44 mph. Compare that to Wednesday’s average speeds—74.88 mph for Snowy and 73.86 mph for Sun Print—and, taking nothing away from the cock duos and supporting crews for either the team, that the added parity restriction (lower drive height) applied to Snowy after its winning performance on Wednesday had the desired effect. Come Sunday, this could be the race to watch. (Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix)

Talbot Stock Rising

Based on its continually improving performance during the season that ended with a 2014 National Championship in Clearwater, Fla., The Hulk/Redline Oil was my pick to take the Stock-class world title. Yes, I knew that the Kyler Talbot’s new 32-foot Doug Wright was coming and, yes, I knew that rigging and throttling ace—and let’s face it overall good guy—Grant Bruggemann was handling the rigging and set up for them. But I also knew that everything about the new raceboat had taken longer than expected, and if it did make it to Key West it would so as a new and mostly untested boat. Come Wednesday, Talbot and Jay Muller ran the new 32-footer to a win, with SOS Venezuela and The Hulk/Redline Oil finished second and third. With the exception of Hulk and SOS swapping places, Friday’s result was the same. Does this mean Talbot Excavating has a lock on the world title? No, because “This is racing and anything can happen,” “To finish first you first must finish,” “The smartest teams take checkered flags” … pick your cliché. (I have more if none of those suit you.) But is Talbot Excavating well positioned to take the title? Absolutely(Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix)

Editor’s Note: Look for a wrap-ups shortly after each race ends tomorrow, as well as a final wrap-up from the SBI Awards Ceremony. Tomorrow’s race times are: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Complete 2014 Key West Coverage