SOURCE ~ The Palm Beach Post written by Sharon Robb
JUPITER — For the first two laps of the marquis race, it looked like the Palm Beach County World Offshore Powerboat Championships was going to go down to the wire.
But as the big boats battled rough seas and wind, Miss Geico throttle man Scott Begovich of Jupiter felt the starboard motor begin to lose power and knew the race was all but over.
By virtue of its win on Friday and second-place finish on Sunday, Team Cintron won the overall world championship title.
Team Cintron, a sleek 50-foot silver Mystic with 1,500 horsepower engines, was throttled by Rich Wyatt and driven by owner Hugh Fuller of Clearwater.
“This was a great race and everyone involved did a superb job in putting it together,” Fuller said. “Every member of our team did a great job getting the boat ready and it ran great out there.”
Aqua Mania won Sunday’s final race after placing third on Friday and finished third overall.
Cat Can Do 1, the only other extreme boat in the field, dropped out of the race early with mechanical problems.
Miss Geico, runner-up on the first day of racing, managed to hang on to place third on Sunday and finished second overall.
The Riviera Beach-based crowd favorite and reigning world champion Miss Geico, a 48-foot MTI, was driven by Marc Granet of Boca Raton.
“We lost power in our starboard motor on Lap 3 and we don’t know why,” Begovich said. “It was a good battle for the first two laps. Everybody was one, two three and it could have been anyone’s game. Then we came down the back straightaway and All of a sudden the boat started hesitating and starboard motor wouldn’t go over 4,000 rpms when we’re used to running almost 7,000 rpms.
“We tried to stay in the race thinking maybe one of them would break and knowing we had to finish to win,” Begovich said. “We still had a shot if something had happened with Cintron. As luck would have it, they ran a great two days and you can’t fault them for that. We have been battling Cintron for three years. We’ll get ‘em.”
After winning two classes on Sunday, throttle man Anthony Smith, 30, of Brick, N.J. became the first racer in the sport’s history to win three national and two world titles in one season with powerboats Wazzup I, Wazzup II and Phoenix Parts.com
“I am extremely tired,” Smith said with a laugh. “We are all ecstatic. It’s hard to pull off a world championship, no one gives it to you. It hasn’t set in yet. I think it will start setting it when I start packing up on Monday.”
Forty-three boats, ranging from 24 to 50 feet in length including the Super Cat Lite boat Infinity from Norway, competed in seven classes over a 5.5-mile oval loop a half-mile offshore between Carlin Park and Juno Beach Pier.
“This is our fifth season here in the U.S., the competition level is high,” said Norwegian throttleman Morten Lindeman, whose Fort Myers-based boat posted its highest race finish ever with a second place.
In the opening race, Batboat.com blew a wing. The race was delayed briefly to clear the boat’s debris.
The capacity crowd was estimated at 75,000 at Juno Beach Pier, Carlin Park and Jupiter Inlet along with heavy spectator boat traffic.
“I was blown away by the boats out there on the course on a rough day, the spectator-fleet was just ridiculously crowded, it was great,” said Begovich, one of the race organizers. “We’re green, this is the first time we have ever done anything like this and I couldn’t be happier.”
Miss Geico and Team Cintron will renew their rivalry in two weeks at the SBI Key West World Championship Power Boat Races. For other racers, the Offshore Powerboat Association event was their season-ender.
“We have the best team in the world, these guys will be working every night before Key West to get the boat back running,” Granet said.