By Gregg Mansfield
Photography by Jeff Gerardi/123freeze.com
The APBA National Championship Series got off to roaring start at the Thunder on Cocoa Beach.
The first race of the offshore season tends to be a shakeout as teams are still getting comfortable with their boats after making improvements in the offseason. With just eight races in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, teams must come ready to race.
That was the case for the season opener in Florida at the Thunder on Cocoa Beach where nearly 60 teams turned out in May. The event, produced by P1 Powerboat, featured a 7.5-mile course and rough water to greet the racers.
Thunder on Cocoa Beach is a terrific opener for the offshore race season and while the rain dampened the Friday block party in downtown Cocoa Beach, it didn’t stop race fans from the sun-filled weekend that included a Saturday night concert by Generation Radio and a full day of racing on Sunday.
When the spray settled in Cocoa Beach, the winners were some familiar names from the 2021 season with a sprinkle of new competitors.
Super Stock had the largest field with 11 catamarans for the start but quickly became a two-boat race between Jackhammer in the 32’ Victory and LPC in a 32’ Doug Wright with both competitors running a pair of Mercury Racing 300R outboards.
Driver Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado in Jackhammer pushed it to the limit for the victory with LPC’s Anthony Smith and Loren Peters finish second and Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping was third.
In Super Cat, the Graydel/C.J. Grant Racing team unwrapped a new 388 Skater catamaran in Cocoa Beach and wasted little time showing off what the new toy could do. A perfect setup gave driver Chris Grant and throttleman Billy Moore a solid win over second-place finisher M CON piloted by Myrick Coil and Tyler Miller handling the sticks.
The six-boat Stock V class winner was driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Kevin Smith of LSB Hurricane of Awesomeness and finishing second was NMB RV Resort led by Kirk Hanna and Mark Rinda. The Mod V winner was Team SunPrint with driver Steven Fehrman and throttleman Steve Miklos.
Cocoa Beach marked the debut of the Mercury Racing 450R Factory Stock class and the inaugural race had just two entries, but more competitors are expected to join as the season progresses. Running in an MTI, KLOVAR Motorsports of Randy Keys and Billy Allen outpaced the MTI duo of Taylor Scism and Johnny Tomlinson.
The Class 1 victory went to Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly in Huski Chocolate with the JBS Racing team of Jeff Stevenson and Michael Stancombe taking second place.
The bracket classes winners included:
Bracket Class 300: Rollin’ Dirty Offshore (Jimmy Jensen and Clyde Petty); Bracket Class 400: Predator Stahlman Motorsports (Dean Stahlman and Nate Hunt; Bracket Class 500: Bronx Phantom (Robert Winoski and Vincent Winoski); Bracket 600: Rum Runners (Michael McColgan and Francis Vellutato Jr.); Bracket Class 700: Jackhammer (Brian Guy and Julian Maldonado).
The series moves to Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., in early June and then three races over five weeks starting in Sarasota, Fla., July 2-3.