The 2023 Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Class 1 World Championship came to an end in November following the third race in the 42nd annual Race World Offshore Key West World Championship presented by Performance Boat Center.
As the leading class of offshore powerboat racing, Class 1 involves races of catamarans weighing at least 4,950kg with sterndrive Mercury Racing 9.0L, 1,110hp twin-turbocharged V8 engines. Capable of reaching speeds of 160 mph or higher, these boats demand technical proficiency and exceptional instincts from the driver and throttleman responsible for control and navigation.
The 222 Offshore Australia team, led by driver Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella, won the three-day Key West World Championship event, and secured the season championship in the UIM Class 1 Series, which featured seven teams representing Australia, Sweden, and the United States. The dfYOUNG team, consisting of driver Hugh D. Fuller—victorious in the 2001 Key West Offshore World Powerboat Championship alongside John Tomlinson—and throttleman Rich Wyatt, secured the top position among American teams in the UIM Class 1 Series, finishing in third place.
The following is a look at dfYOUNG’s result in Key West as well as a review of their season, which marked the first time Fuller and Wyatt competed together in the Class 1 series.
Fourth-Place Result on Day 1
The dfYOUNG team got off to a disappointing start in the first of three race days in Key West, finishing in fourth place. Driving the silver 50-foot Mystic Powerboat, the dfYOUNG team battled for positioning with the other five boats early in the race, but the MTI, XINSURANCE boat blew over at turn three in the Key West Harbor, triggering a restart. Fuller and Wyatt had to deal with mechanical issues in the restart. The 222 Offshore Australia team won the race, despite being in lane four, which was the farthest Nicholson and Carpitella had been from the pole position in the 2023 season.
Second Place on Day 2
Despite dealing with more mechanical issues on the second race day, the dfYOUNG team finished in second place behind 222 Offshore Australia, which averaged 106 mph in the 10-lap circuit. Conditions looked rough early in the day, but the wind died down before the start of the Class 1 race, prompting many of the teams to wish they had started the race with different gear combinations.
“We had some guardian issues, turbo temperatures we are still starting to sort out. When we ran the big blower motors, you just kind of mashed it,” Wyatt explained. “This class, every tenth and every turn counts. You need to be perfect. There are a lot of man-hours that go into it. There’s a lot of maintenance that goes into the gearbox and driveline that I wasn’t expecting.”
Mechanical Issues Again on Day 3
The dfYOUNG team and its 50-foot boat were again plagued by mechanical issues on the third and final race day at the Key West World Championship. Fuller and Wyatt brilliantly maneuvered the boat through the first nine of 14 laps but ran into mechanical issues relating to water pressure in the 10th lap. Many Class 1 teams dealt with similar water pressure issues throughout the season as they adjusted to using the Mercury Racing 1,100-hp engines for the first time.
The 222 Offshore Australia team again finished first, winning wire-to-wire in a dominant effort that hadn’t been seen in Class 1 racing since Zero Defect in the mid-1990s. Monster Energy/M CON and Team Defalco finished in second and third with 343 and 314 points, respectively. The dfYOUNG team finished fourth overall with 300 points.
Review of the 2023 Season
Before the Key West event, the dfYOUNG team concluded the UIM Class 1 Series with a third-place result with a total of 55 points. Huski Ice Spritz/SVEA Racing finished in second with 78 points, and 222 Offshore Australia claimed first with 110 points.
Nicholson and Carpitella won four of the six races, including in Sarasota and Michigan City. Huski Ice Spritz/SVEA Racing won the opening race in Cocoa Beach, while dfYOUNG won the second race in Sheboygan at the inaugural three-day Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge, which was the second-last of the season.
Despite mechanical issues in Key West, the 2023 offshore powerboat season can be considered a success for Fuller and Wyatt considering it was their first time competing together in Class 1. Fuller, who has won multiple world championships and is considered one of the sport’s most iconic figures, took a hiatus from powerboat racing before returning in 2023.
Fuller doesn’t intend for the 2023 season to be his last in the sport either. He’s hopeful to return to Class 1 racing in 2024 in what could be a longer season with more teams. Powerboat P1, which organizes the UIM Class 1 events, hopes to have 12 teams in 2024 with additional racing venues outside of the US in the Middle East and Scandinavia.