The 2012 Super Boat International (SBI) Key West World Championship was truly a global event with two international teams winning top honors. The Spirit of Qatar, driven by Sheik Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and throttled by Steve Curtis, won the biggest and fastest class in offshore racing… Superboat 'Unlimited'. Team Maritimo, with Aussie racers Ross Willaton and Peter McGrath, won the new 'Superboat' Class. This new class, engineered by founder of SBI John Carbonell, was developed this year in an effort to combine multiple classes whilst encouraging more competition. It proved to be very successful.
Spirit of Qatar - 2012 Super Boat Key West World Championship
Carbonell states, 'This new Superboat Class seems to be coming together. We have been able to take three classes and combine them into one, but we still have some things to work out. The teams in this class have committed financially to see it work and are very sincere in their interest to helping it evolve. Next year, we will be looking forward to having even more boats in the class. I am very pleased how this year’s World Championship event came together and the fabulous turnout of boats and fans.'
In the drivers meeting on Sunday morning prior to the final day of racing, Carbonell was quoted as saying, ‘the wall is back.' To some boat racers, it meant a challenge and to others it struck fear, and to some, it meant nothing. It was probably the later two groups it concerned the most.
'The Wall' is known by racers as continuous large waves that appear between turns one and two, reaching heights in excess of eight feet. Previous years have not seen the conditions prevalent this year. Racers, in all size of boats, would make the turn and navigate the big sea conditions. It was apparent after teams finished racing, the crews were wiped out by enduring the hard pounding to their equipment and the toll it took on them to finish the race.
After much work on their boat during the first few days of racing and testing, The Spirit of Qatar was able to hold off Team Gasse for first place in the Superboat Unlimited Class. The big red boat of Team Gasse was leading going into Sunday’s event even after they replaced both engines when they suffered a broken water line and took on two feet of water in the engine compartment after Friday’s race. But, in Sunday’s main event, the team broke a power steering fitting in the early laps and couldn’t hold off Hassan’s catamaran.
Peter Meyer, from Team Instigator, gave the fans a show. Meyer was deep in the pack after the start of the final race and worked his way to the front ultimately achieving a win and his fifth straight World Championship Title. It has been rumored that after 30 years of racing, Meyer will retire on top. 'I couldn’t be any more happy than I am today with my racing career. I am so fortunate to have been able to do this and come back and win today. I never let off the throttles and I was determined to win or blow my engines trying. Fortunately, my boat and motors both held together. I am so thankful for my team and what we have been able to achieve. As for my future… ask me next year,' smiles Meyer.
The new Superboat Class had Team Stihl leading into Sunday with back-to-back great runs, but it was the team from down under, Australia’s Team Maritimo, that stole the show. The team that had never run in the class with the new motor package put on a show for Key West fans and the world to see. Team Maritimo, in their sleek white with blue design, impressed not only the fans, but also the competitors in their class.
Another class that saw unbelievable action was the Superboat Extreme Class, which was recently formed by having three classes combined into one. Fans enjoyed watching the competition in this class as there were 11 boats competing for first place. These vee-bottom and catamaran boats are monitored by GPS and cannot exceed 117 mph in that class.
Other champions that took World Titles in the 32nd Annual Key West Race include Team Aqua Mani (Turbine Class), Snowy Mountain Brewery (Superboat Vee Limited), Team BlackSand (Super Stock Class), Team Kilt (P-3 Class) and Rum Runners (P-4 Class).
There is not enough time to talk about all the teams that put on great performances and did such outstanding jobs during race week. But to highlight: there were two female racers, both of which took podium finishes; teams such as Tilted Kilt who overcame challenges in previous years to finally win the coveted title and teams that raced all year long to have their hopes dashed by mechanical failures. That’s what makes the Key West World Championships, the most exciting racing event of the year.
The Super Boat racing season starts in the middle of May and runs through the second week of November, culminating with the Key West World Championships in Key West, Florida.
The 2013 season begins next May 17th through the 19th with the Fourth Annual Space Coast Super Boat Grand Prix in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The National Series races will consist of six events throughout the year and culminating with the World Championships again in Key West, Florida November 3rd through the 10th.
Super Boat International website