GREAT RACE CHAMP: Total Monster.
—Photo: ROBBIE CADIZ
Great Race winners to go after hat-trick
“Our particular mission is to win a hat-trick,” Joey Sabeeney, the experienced driver of the 2013 Carib Great Race winning vessel, is clear on his goal and is signalling his and his crew’s intentions for their future participation in the annual cross-island trek.
“There is only one other boat that has had the pleasure to win the title three times—Mr Solo Too—so we want to even that,” he said.
With the introduction of the 130 miles per hour class in 2011, and of vessels like Sabeeney’s and Peter Peake’s Total Monster boat, a 46-foot Douglas Skater Catamaran, the competition has become keener.
But Sabeeney, who won in 1993 with Diamond Cut and then in 1998 with Cutting Edge, says the size and design of his roaring speed demon helped kick-start the hat-trick objective this year.
“We had a race in ideal conditions for us. We are by far the largest boat and the heaviest and our particular catamaran design is not the best in smooth conditions, but where this boat stands out is in the complete opposite conditions, big water, chops, swells, that sort of thing. That is where that boat really excels and takes in front of any other hull in Trinidad and many other hulls in the world. We always knew even from the previous two years when we broke down that no one was able to keep up with us on the North Coast,” Sabeeney stated.
On race day two Saturdays ago, the run to the sister isle panned out exactly like that.
In the flat gulf waters, Mr Solo Too, a 37 foot Formula III Catamaran, put its advantage to good use, easing to the lead with two-time champions and defending winners FireOne Fury tussling with the Monster for second place. But as the race headed behind Gasparee Islands and ventured into the rough, choppy waters of the Bocas, Monster got the conditions in which it revels, pulling ahead of Fury. Within two and a half minutes of hitting the Bocas, Sabeeney, throttleman Peake, and navigators Alfred Bell and Daniel Peake eroded the Solo lead to nil, and eventually passed them outside Macqueripe.
“We basically continued to pull away from Solo till we had roughly a two-mile gap between us and Solo. What we did was just hold it there,” Sabeeney said, “We could have pushed it a little harder but we decided to follow the game plan (which) was to arrive in Tobago and finish the race.”
At that point, Sabeeney and company did not want to have flashbacks to the two previous runnings of the Race in 2011 and 2012 when the boat broke down. In the last three years and in 13 races, the boat has broken down four times, with two of the four coming in the Great Race.
The cause? A faulty drive shaft that eventually snapped and that Sabeeney and company replaced prior to two regattas ahead of the big race.
“We basically maintained our advantage all the way to the end,” he said adding that the rough waters along the North Coast really set up the race nicely for their vessel.
“As far as emotions, it was a fantastic feeling. You know, the older I have gotten, it wasn’t so much about me and what I could accomplish. It was more about the people I could disappoint; it is about the disappointment of letting people down especially over the last two years. So for me it was a real emotional finish from that viewpoint, knowing that my kids have something to brag about knowing that no longer they are going to go back to school and get heckled. It was a great feeling,” Sabeeney said, adding that for Peter Peake, it was special because it was his first Great Race win in over 30 years of competing.
The story is even more interesting given that Sabeeney and Peake were rivals for years before they decided to come together in 2010 and bring down Total Monster.
Sabeeney added that the 130mph class and the Great Race is set to be even more competitive with two more vessels expected in this class next year. And he reckoned that the Catamaran-design boats with this hull—which accounted for the top four spots this year—will dominate for years to come.
“A lot of people think the deep vees have the edge, but if you look at the results and the science around, the catamaran is a superior hull and technology to the deep vees. I won’t ever go back to deep vee hulls and I am very happy that the hard work paid off,” ended Sabeeny who also credited crew members Robin Joffer, Marshall Carrington and crew chief Nicholas Gomes with prepping the boat successfully.