The team of Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson did exactly as it expected to do yesterday during its Lucas Oil Ocean Cup – Key West to Cuba record attempt in the Lucas Oil/SilverHook 48 GP V-bottom.

lucasoil cuba2

The Lucas Oil/SilverHook team made the 101-mile trek from Key West to Cuba look easy. The way back didn't go as smoothly. Photo courtesy SilverHook Powerboats

The veteran crew needed more than an hour—1 hour, 18 minutes, three seconds to be exact—to make the 101-mile run from Key West, Fla. to Havana, Cuba, and set a new one-way speed record. Powered by twin 1350-hp engines with Evo-X Headers from CMI, the 48-footer reached speeds up to 127 mph and maintained an average speed of 79.23 mph in the 5- to 7-foot swells. 

Hook, a world champion offshore racer who’s been involved in the sport for three decades, was ecstatic with the result and the reception in Cuba. Unfortunately the plan to also set a return record was halted after the port engine driveshaft gave out about 70 miles from Key West and the team had to idle back to Mallory Square on one engine.

"We've been planning this event for the last couple of years and we thought the easy part was going to be in the boat—that wasn't the case," Hook said with a chuckle. "We came across some huge seas almost immediately after leaving the Key West Harbor and there wasn't much consistency. Despite the tricky seas, the boat was at home since it was built to race in Europe in open ocean events. At the halfway point we were running pretty far behind our target time but we were being cautious to make sure we preserved the equipment. It was different than running a circuit race where you give the equipment a break with the turns. We were on it the whole time, which puts a lot of wear and tear on the drivetrain.

"The biggest moment was when we were about 15 miles from Cuba and we could see the sun glistening off the high rises of Havana," he continued. "It was almost like magic—the seas started to settle down and we were running 120-plus mph. We came into Havana full steam—it was like finishing a marathon on a sprint with all you got. And the welcome we received in Cuba was incredible." 

The team’s time surpassed an unofficial record of one hour, 51 minutes set by Germany’s Roger Kluh and legendary boat builder Mark McManus in 2015 in Kluh’s Apache Powerboats V-bottom Apache Star.

According to a report (download it here) produced by Azam Rangoonwala, Powerboat P1 USA's managing director, the record was sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association, which is governed by the Union Internationale Motonautique, with race management by Powerboat P1.

During the run UIM commissioner Fred Hauenstein was based in Cuba, and he had appointed Rangoonwala as his deputy UIM commissioner in Key West. The run was sanctioned by Powerboat P1 and APBA actually set five records:

APBA
Key West to Havana
Havana to Key West
Key West to Havana and back to Key West

UIM
Key West to Havana
Key West to Havana and back to Key West

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