In one of the roughest Key West World Championship finals in recent memory, seven race teams were crowned tops in their classes Sunday and no one was injured.
As winds howled at more than 20 knots out of the northwest, competitors had some scary moments as the frothy chop sent several boats airborne and damaged others so badly they had to drop out.
“It wasn’t just insane, it was brutal,” said Miss Geico driver Marc Granet of Boca Raton who, with throttleman Scott Begovich of Jupiter defended their world title in the Superboat Unlimited class. “Rough water is the great equalizer.”
Miss Geico, a 44-foot lime-green Victory with twin 1,650-horsepower engines, went into Sunday’s final as the underdog after finishing second in Wednesday’s opener and third on Friday.
“We decided our strategy would be to run it all out as fast as we could,” Granet said.
Miss Geico took the lead from the start and never gave it up, averaging 81.2 mph over the bumpy, 41.5-mile course. It was the team’s ninth world championship win in Key West.
Meanwhile, Broadco, a 40-foot MTI with twin 1,020-horsepower engines, won its first Superboat world championship, besting a fleet of eight boats with an average speed of 80.24 mph.
“It was probably the roughest race I’ve ever been in,” said driver Chuck Broaddus of St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
In a turn, bouncing over four-to-six foot waves, Broaddus said he and throttleman Grant Bruggemann of Bradenton were running so close to runner-up WHM Motorsports that “I could have reached out and shook Billy’s hand,” referring to WHM driver Billy Mauff.
Hooters Instigator, driven by Paul Teague of Valencia, California, and throttled by Giancarlo Cangiano of Italy, won the Superboat Extreme class. In Superboat Vee, Snowy Mountain Brewery — with driver Brian Forehand of Wilmington, North Carolina, and throttleman Michael Janssen of Denver — scored a wall-to-wall victory.
In the Stock class, SOS Venezuela — with driver Chris Schoenbohm of Orlando and throttleman Gary Ballough of Boca Raton — came from behind to take the title.
Black Pearl, driven by Gary Jones of Bradenton and throttled by Billy Glueck of Sarasota, won Manufacturer Production 3. In Manufacturer Production 4, it was InTone Crazy Chicken, with driver Dee Early of Buford, Georgia, and throttleman Anthony Silveira of Baltimore.
▪ UTSA 3, FIU 1: The host Panthers (6-22, 3-12 Conference USA) lost 26-24, 25-27, 12-25, 25-27 to the Roadrunners. The Roadrunners improved to 18-7 and remained atop the conference at 14-0.
University of Miami senior Wilfredo Gonzalez defeated George Goldhoff of Texas 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on the last day of the Florida Invitational hosted by the University of Florida.