Story and photos by DinaRella / additional photos from FL Keys News Bureau (Andy Newman), RWO (R Cox) & Powerboatracingworld (Bob Eddings)

Key West is famous for two types of roosters -- both boisterous magnets for attracting attention. Type A annoy below the hotel terrace window at 3AM after you pried one's self off the stool in front of Rick's Bar or a piece of pricy dessert at the Red Garter. Type B roll in by water one week a year with big white tails, during the Key West Worlds.

The fabled Florida hot-spot enjoyed an epic rooster tail outbreak with over 400-plus (my estimate) mammoth marine machines from November 4th to 10th. Besides the Race World Offshore (RWO) selection of speedsters, the Florida Powerboat Club (FPC) deserves much of the credit since a whopping 269 of those in town to rule the roost were part of Stu Jones poker run pilgrimage -- and each TAIL told a different TALE.

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Flipping Out

The first offshore installment to hit Mile Marker 1, were the 28 teams competing professionally. In its debut season hosting the legendary racing series, RWO took over where Superboat International (SBI) left off after 38 years strong -- which meant big boots to fill. Apart from criticism (mainly from the social media meatheads thousands of miles away), regarding classes running uncontested to trophy triumphs and technical issues with the free live stream; for the initial go-around, the organizers should take a bow.

A host of new activities to promote the sport spread over the week long agenda and featured: an international flag procession from the poker run teams, a boat building contest, a shopping village in the pits to benefit the local community, and three daily awards ceremonies open to the public. But the biggie was -- American country music singer Lee Brice, (currently causing hysteria with his hit single "I Hope You're Happy Now"), and Nick Norman performed at Thursday night's Rockin' the Races concert at the Truman Waterfront Amphitheater.

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On water action was dominated by the traditional 388 Skaters of Super Cat with 2019 World Championship bragging rights after Wednesday, Friday and double-point, double-lap Sunday scrimmages being awarded to WHM Motorsports, Pro Floors Racing and M-Con. But, it wasn't a complete Skater-fest on the 4.48 mile course, the go-fast community welcomed the new 39' canopied Outerlimits Factory Billet Power catamaran SV Offshore Racing to the family.

Originally unearthed in August at the Bristol, Rhode Island-based factory and rigged at Offshore Marine Services by throttle god, Steve Curtis, for the upcoming season the red beast will be outfitted with naturally aspirated 750-hp Factory Billet engines. Honestly, I don't know what evoked more stupefied stares – the raceboat or the rig pulling it. Kenworth-a-“hauler”ics in the crowd at Friday's Duval Street block party went crazy at the sight of it.

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In other "breaking news" trumping Kanye West finding Jesus... Wednesday's unrehearsed, perfectly synchronized back-flip by two identical Wright Performance twin hulls caused a commotion around the globe. Being that Super Stock contenders Larry Pinegar and Billy Allen in Team Allen Lawn Care and Loren Peters and Mike Wright in LPC are better amigos than opponents, the guys were partaking in a little deck-to-deck duel during the friendly-yet-fierce combat. While hammering hard into the harbor near enough to toss a Trump 2020 flag between boats.. simultaneously both 32-footers went from horizontal to vertical to game-over.

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Faster than a fat kid hits the ground on a seesaw, photos of the flip taken by vacationing British offshore racing affiliate Bob Eddings, and videos from others went viral. By happy hour, my mom rang to say it made the local news -- in Connecticut. Speculation regarding what had the cats "dancing with the stars" started instantly.

In layman's terms, the most accurate analysis I've read came from Lorne Campbell, who specializes in high-speed boat design, hydrodynamics and wind tunnel testing. It's safe to assume he knows a thing or two about pirouetting powerboats. With both boats coming in so quick and close, "aerodynamically, they were running as one, very wide quadramaran, and the two cats of 32 feet became a single hull of the same length with double the weight and width. Mathematical calculations later determined an approximate 70% increase in aero lift was being felt", said Campbell.

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Tunnel pressure was also examined. In normal conditions the bow rises and as air from the tunnel escapes, it drops back down. By having two boats together, the air escape gaps beneath the hulls became sealed off with twice the amount of air needing to be released, which in turn increased the lift underneath.

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Ironically, 48 hours later, Jackhammer campaigned by Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado flipped in a familiar fashion on the fifth lap of Friday's 12:30 Super Stock face-off. All six racers survived the terrifying turnovers bruised and banged up, but with no major injuries.

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Poker Run "Radness"

Down the other end of town, boat crash conjecture did not run as deep around the Florida Powerboat Club headquarters -- there was too much bada-bling and rad-to-the-bone boats blowing minds, instead of blowing over to focus on. Not to mention, the 450Rs strapped to the sterns of the cats and center consoles, were finally outed for ogling.

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In the eye-candy corral of manufacturers in the poker run village, it was let's make a deal time all weekend long, as witnessed by the continued success story behind Performance Boat Center and Sunsation Powerboats. Their 2020 model 32 CCX, spotlighted in RDP’s coverage of the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, went to the New Jersey couple in the photo below. The Center Console Extreme is so fully-loaded, it could sell itself.

Making a first-time appearance in the village, joining Hardin and Mercury Marine, Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, Outerlimits Powerboats and others was Georgia-based Adrenaline Powerboats. The "American Made" all-epoxy, Carbon Fiber infused 45 Speede, adored by all since its Miami Boat Show splashing, was the chosen one on exhibit.

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Hardware-wise displays were dynamite, but it was those that were tied up that turned it out!. The Six Carat 60-foot Tirranna led the super-sized center console craze with its half a dozen dangling diamond 450R Mercury Marine outboards. Oklahoma owner Derek Wachob, not wanting to exclude any of his family jewels, also brought along his canopied 52’ MTI Black Diamond and mini MTI 340X Black Diamond Express.

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Another MTI causing eyeballs to go ballistic -- the new 390X. Cut from CNC molds with integrated steps up the back, the catamaran hit Key West sporting twin Mercury Racing 450R supercharged 4.6-liter V8 outboards and produced 120 mph upticks during non-stop weekend passes parading through the port giving test rides.

It was first uncovered to a private audience on Tuesday evening at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami, and sold faster than a big-screen TV blowout on Black Friday. Tom Hall owner of the 340X MTI Just Got Bored -- the same gentleman from the Mercury Racing cooler-war bidding bonanza from RDP's summer poker run recollection of stories -- made an irresistible offer to company owner Randy Scism, and by week's end, Hall was hauling a brand-new red, white and black 390X to his toy box.

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As predicted, the silent explosion of 450Rs transformed transoms in ways expected and unexpected, and what a view... they seemed to get their pics snapped more than a quad set of super models. On the other hand, sadly (and for others gladly) stern drives were no longer the star attraction, but could still be spotted in the shuffle on the old-school Apaches and Fountains faithful in town.

Throughout the entire week, Key West burst into a nautical nirvana of V-bottoms, twin hulls and consoles, and while I didn't eye any West Coast Eliminators eating up the waves, a few DCBs were squeezed into the marinas, which were all stocked to capacity as far out as neighboring Stock Island.

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When I finally made it to the gorgeous Stock Island sanctuary Saturday morning to meet up with friends, I was greeted by another treat -- the addictive call of the turbines. Ignoring the rain pellets, I ran the entire length of the landing down to the gas dock to the sexy 1850 hp turbine-powered Mystic C5000 spooling up, after fueling up for the manufacturer’s lunch run.

The gracious owner, Chris Cox, let me hop-slide-crawl, call it what you will -- into the cockpit for deeper drooling and inspection. While peering through the rear window, I couldn’t help but notice not far off was the 80' Nor-Tech Lady Lisa,(also down on the poker run). Of course I had to head over to owner Red Reynold's Roadster. The most compelling feature of this massive seafaring miracle, I actually discovered while writing this... its up for grabs. I just saw it listed for three million if any RDPers are ready, willing and able for an upgrade!

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Due to Saturday's windy, wet weather and temperatures tumbling to the mid 70s (forcing Floridians to break out the fleece), the highly anticipated FPC fun run to a secret key was canceled. Well, not really. The RUN was nixed, but the FUN was not.

By early afternoon, the powerboat pop-up party did happen, just not on water. Boats may have been stationary, but the JL Audios were cranked and the Coronas were cracked (open not broken). The Midnight Express caravan along the wharf was also to thank for their entertaining barrage of bare assets and booty shakers dancing till dusk set in over the clouds, and it was time to regroup for drinks after dark.

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Cocktailing in KW

It's Key West... so it goes without saying, rooster tails over the Atlantic Ocean by day generally lead to libations by night; and for any performance boaters who were at the Sandbar Sports Grill for the party, that was certainly the case. It was an unforgettable night. This year the block on Greene Street was closed off giving guests plenty of room to roam, and a sneak peak of the new MTI 390X on display outside.

Running the party auction was a voice all to familiar with the mic, the charismatic Nolan Ferris, event organizer and MC from the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run. It was standing and shouting room only during bidding time, which included various Poker Run Experiences, a Marine Design Corp TrimSync system (for outboards or stern drives), Lifeline vests and tons of raffle items.

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Another place worthy of a nighttime walk-by for a cocktail or two was right back to ground zero. Yup, the same spot you spent most of the day at! The LED lights made such a splash under transoms and inside the cockpits onboard, that the center consoles turned the Conch Republic quay into a fiesta under the stars brighter than Prince's 2007 Super Bowl half-time extravaganza. Especially impressive at the edge of the pier was the new 399 Deep Impact with its one-of-a-kind new purple LED rubrails running along the sides of the boat.

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And now... calendar countdown time to Thursday February 13th -- opening day of the Miami International Boat Show. RDP will see you there!

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