Just heard from PWC Offshore’s Mark Gerner, who told me some early results from yesterday’s Long Beach-2-Catalina And Back PWC Offshore Championships. The summary? It looks like big water, big fog, and heavily modified boats in the Pro class resulted in some big losses for the favored pros.
First to fall victim was Chris MacClugage, who had mechanical problems on the line and wasn’t even able to start the race. Out of the Queen’s gate Craig Warner took the lead by a small margin, followed by Sean Conner, Pat Roque, Lee Phan, Chris Lawrence, Mark Gerner, Robert Carreon, Andy Wise and Tyler White all mixing it up close behind. As soon as the racers exited the Queens Gate into the Pacific conditions got really big. Robert Carreon suffered a breakdown and Lee Phan fell back a bit, leaving Warner, Roque, Gerner, Tyler White and then Sean Conner.
Tyler White would then go on to break about a mile offshore, followed by race leader Warner about two miles out. Gerner then took over the lead as the race headed into heavy fog conditions. Pat Roque delaminated a hull about this same time and fell back a bit, before Andy Wise also broke down, followed by another breakdown by Chris Lawrence.
With the fog growing even thicker, Gerner took about a two-mile lead on the field and was first to the turnboat. But about a mile offshore following the turn Gerner too would fall victim, blowing a supercharger belt and dropping out of the race.
That left Pat Roque, second to the turnboat, to assume the lead, followed 60 yards later by Sean Conner, with Kim Bushong a distant third. Halfway back Rogue, too, would suffer a mechanical and completely break, while Kim Bushong would pass Conner to take over the lead and begin to build a sizable lead. Conner would ultimately fall back, losing his position to Pham, and Kim Bushong of PWCOFFSHORE Racing would hold on for the win, with Paul Pham second and Brian Steeves third.
Of note, first, second, and third place finishers were all on nearly stock boats. Gerner notes that the race footage helicopters were all forced to turn back due to the fog only a few miles into the race. Shawn Alladio also stopped her own race and just resorted to tow and rescue for all the other racers breaking down.
“It was carnage in the Pro Class,” summed up Gerner. “The pros were holding heavily modified rockets wide open in big water and it took a toll. The little video we did get was hardcore!”