Australian luxury cruiser manufacturer Maritimo’s specialist race team, Maritimo Offshore Racing, is on the countdown to the upcoming 34th annual Super Boat International Key West World Offshore Powerboat Championships, starting on November 8 this year, with its state-of-the-art race boat leaving for the USA this week.
Having won the World Championships in 2012 the Maritimo Offshore Racing team’s goal is to return to Key West with the totally new boat, which complies with the new rules introduced after the 2012 win, and take out the Superboat category again.
Maritimo did at one stage also plan to contest the Superboat Unlimited Championship but a decision was made to put all the team’s resources into the one race team and one boat hoping for the ultimate result.
Maritimo’s race team throttleman Ross (Rossco) Willaton said the Superboat category was going to be very competitive and there would be a total of nine or ten teams contesting it, but Maritimo Offshore Racing was quietly confident.
At 41 feet we are one of the biggest boats in the class and I think our boat will be perfectly suited to the rough conditions on one part of the course.
“Our overall waterline length, deep tunnels and wide sponsons will give us an advantage I think.”
Willaton said when Maritimo won in 2012 the race organisers decided to change the rules which effectively eliminated Maritimo from being able to compete the following year.
“We have been quietly working away since then and we are heading back with a totally new boat which we believe will give us a really good crack at the Superboat category,” he said
“The competition will be fierce and last year’s world championship winner Broadco and the Stihl team will be the ones to beat, but we want to show the Americans that 2012 wasn’t a fluke.”
Maritimo Offshore’s raceboat has MerCruiser Number Six stern drives with 750 horsepower per side.
Willaton will be teamed up with internationally renowned racer Gary Ballough in the event with Travis Thompson the relief driver should anything happen to Ballough.
Gary Ballough has been 13 times national champion and 14 times world in the US and has had extensive experience racing at Key West. He is also experienced in the class one race boats that compete in the United Arab Emirates .
“Gary lives in Florida and he knows the course intimately so he will be a great asset for us,” said Willaton. “He is also racing in another category so we have to have a back up should there be any injuries.”
“Travis and Kurt Davies, our chief team engineer, will make up the rest of the team. “ I will be in the USA on October 25 to offload the raceboat and then it will go to the Miss Geico Racing facility before going down to Key West as part of the Miss Geico convoy. “Kurt has done a great job of the motors and in shakedown tests in the days before the boat left for the USA it was performing well.”
Willaton and Maritimo’s Peter McGrath took out the 2012 world championship.
He said the regulations and specifications for the Superboat category were rigid and while it was a very competitive race, the guidelines made it a level playing field for all competitors.
“It’s not just a matter of throwing buckets of money at it to gain an edge as all the boats have to be equally matched,” he said. “It gets down to skill and I guess a bit of luck on the day.”
Willaton said racing takes place over three days with two days over a 45-mile course and the final day over a 90-mile course with double race points. He said the Maritimo team had spent a great deal of time and effort setting up the Superboat category entry and it was performing well with maximum power to the water being achieved.
Maritimo founder Bill Barry-Cotter, AM, said he wanted to go back to Key West to prove a point. “After we won in 2012 they changed the rules in terms of both the hull specifications and also the drive systems that could be used,” he said. “They banned surface drives and as all our boats were surface drives we couldn’t get ready in time to defend our world championship win in 2013.
“With the new MerCruiser Number six stern drive boat running well I am confident we will give them a run for their money.”
Maritimo’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Greg Haines, said the experience and learnings of the offshore race team ultimately led to improvements in the company’s production cruiser range. “You can’t beat this type of experience,” he said.