Big Thunder Marine, a 46-foot Skater catamaran (#100) with four 1,200 hp engines, went airborne and violently crashed during the third lap of Wednesday’s race inside Key West Harbor. Robert M. Morgan of Sunrise Beach, Mo., and Jeffrey Tillman of Kaiser, Mo., were the throttleman and driver respectively piloting the boat.
Rescue divers were deployed by air and from a boat in less than a minute and the crew members were transferred to Lower Keys Medical Center, according to Rodrick Cox, public relations director for Superboat International. Both died later because they “they sustained injuries incompatible with life,” Cox said.
Carbonell said the force of the boat coming down was powerful and crushing.
Morgan had come out of retirement to race with SBI this year, Carbonell said.
“He told me a few days ago that this (Key West) was his last hurrah,” he said “He was a helluva of a nice guy and is going to be missed.”
Despite the accident and rescue efforts, the race continued. But Carbonell said he stopped the race before the scheduled seventh lap due to another accident, which stretched medical and safety resources. Scott Roman of Marlton, N.J., and Ron Roman of Lumberton, N.J., escaped injury after their Motley Crew boat overturned.
Carbonell said that the world championship will continue with scheduled races Friday and the finals Sunday.
“This is a very dangerous sport and the racers know that,” he said. “You push it to the edge and see how far you go.”
In the Superboat Unlimited class, driver Bob Bull of Macks Creek, Mo., piloted CMS to first place in the standings with an average speed of 120.31 mph during the first race which counts for 25 percent of accumulated points.
Second in the Superboat Unlimited standings was Gasse, with driver Tor Staubo of Oslo, Norway, and veteran world champion John Tomlinson of Miami on the throttle. Gasse achieved an average speed of 116.44 mph.
In the Superboat Vee Extreme class, Outerlimits with Joe Sgro of Bellmore, N.Y., placed first at 98.81 mph, while Mike Janssen of Denver piloted Watch Your Back to first in the Superboat Vee Limited class at 82.06 mph.
Miss Geico, running alone in the turbine class, posted the race’s fastest average speed at 122.23 mph with Marc Granet of Riviera Beach, Fla., at the helm.