Boat racing | Key West World Championships

Miss Geico Superboat Unlimited racing team speeds to opening win at Key West World Championships

 

Miss Geico raced through rough conditions on the water, powering its way to a victory in the Superboat Unlimited.

 
In this aerial photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Miss Geico comes off a wave, but driver Mark Granet and throttleman Scott Begovich maintained control to avoid an accident Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, during the first of three race days at the Key West World Championship in Key West, Fla. Geico went on to win the superboat unlimited class with an average speed of 92.04 mph. More than 40 high-speed powerboats from the United States and other countries are entered. The second race is scheduled for Friday,and the finals, with double points, are set for Sunday.
In this aerial photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Miss Geico comes off a wave, but driver Mark Granet and throttleman Scott Begovich maintained control to avoid an accident Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, during the first of three race days at the Key West World Championship in Key West, Fla. Geico went on to win the superboat unlimited class with an average speed of 92.04 mph. More than 40 high-speed powerboats from the United States and other countries are entered. The second race is scheduled for Friday,and the finals, with double points, are set for Sunday.
Andy Newman / AP

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

The reinvigorated Miss Geico Superboat Unlimited racing team topped a fleet of 44 to take Wednesday’s opener of the Key West World Championships, averaging 92.04 miles per hour over an extremely rough 29-mile course.

Driver Marc Granet of Boca Raton and throttleman Scott Begovich of Jupiter credited their shore crew with setting up their 44-foot Victory with twin turbocharged 1,650-horsepower engines perfectly for the punishing waves outside Key West Harbor.

“Even with 30-mile-per-hour winds and six-foot seas, it was still controllable,” Granet said. “Some of the hits were so violent, you would see stars when you hit.”

Miss Geico, which won the 2011 world championship in the Turbine class, switched to Superboat Unlimited last year after its turbine boat burned and sank at a race in Sarasota. Underpowered and suffering from mechanical problems, it failed to finish the worlds.

Now, the team believes it can go all the way — even beating turbine boats — to claim the title of fastest on the water.

“From our perspective, turbine or turbocharged, our object is the top gun award,” Granet said. “The turbines out here are fair game for us. We’re coming after them. To win first overall, you can’t break and you need a combined overall top speed. It’s very difficult to do, and that’s why Key West is such a challenging event to race.”

Miss Geico beat runner-up Spirit of Qatar, a slightly smaller 41-foot Victory with twin 1,350 horsepower engines, by 45 seconds. But the Qatar entry’s driver, Nasser Al Attiyah, was all smiles in the pits after the race.

That’s because Wednesday was the 41-year-old Rally Car champion and skeet-shooting Olympic bronze medalist’s second time in the cockpit of a Superboat Unlimited. The first time was during testing Tuesday.

“Never in my life was I driving a boat,” Al Attiyah said.

“I come here from motorsports. [Wednesday] is a special day for me. Really, I feel good and enjoying my day with a second position.”

He credited his veteran throttleman Matteo Nicolini of Italy with showing him the ropes.

Qatar has a strong presence at the race with entries in two other classes besides Superboat Unlimited. However, the Turbine and Superboat race teams suffered mechanical problems and failed to finish their races.

Wednesday’s blustery weather caused Stock-class entry Steve Quick Jewelers to stuff its bow into a wave early in the first race.

However, the 30-footer emerged from the potentially deadly crash, and driver Steve Quick of Chicago and throttleman Lee Austin of Fort Lauderdale were not injured.

Other class leaders Wednesday: Superboat Extreme-Outerlimits; Superboat-Stihl; Superboat Vee-Snowy Mountain Brewery; Superboat Stock-Talbot Excavating; Manufacturer Production 3-Black Pearl; Manufacturer Production 4-Anger Management.

Racing continues Friday, with the final competition Sunday.

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Shane Hutto of Orlando holds up a large red snapper he caught off Port Canaveral with Cop Out Charters.

    Final red snapper of the season ready to be snapped up

    Only one weekend remains open in this summer’s eight-day red snapper recreational mini-season in federal South Atlantic waters. Anglers have from one minute after midnight Friday until midnight Saturday to bring home one fish per person of any size. After that, the season will be closed indefinitely.

  • Fishing report

    Captain Dean Panos of Double D charters out of Keystone Point Marina reported large amounts of Sargasso weeds in the Gulf Stream continue to attract large numbers of dolphins. Most of the dolphins have been schoolies but a few have been more than 30pounds. The dolphins have been in depths from 400 feet of water out as far as 18 miles.

  • Outdoors notebook

    This page is a regular weekly feature focusing on Florida outdoors adventures. Email scocking@MiamiHerald.com.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category