The Gateway Marathon Plays Rough

The Gateway Marathon Plays Rough

Among the ever-lingering questions in open-ocean offshore endurance racing is simply this: What happens if something catastrophic happens to your raceboat and help isn’t within your immediate reach?

Clear thinking and fast action on the part of Andy Copeland and Cody Wagoner played a major role in keeping the Super Fountain raceboat off the ocean floor. Photos courtesy of the Ocean Cup series by Tomas Velazquez copyright Tomas Pictures.

Last weekend during Gateway Marathon, a historic 128-mile roundtrip endurance race from Palm Beach Florida to West End, Grand Bahama, and the first event of the 2024 Ocean Cup Series, competitors Andy Copeland and Cody Wagoner had to answer that question when a heavy chunk of debris punched a hole in the bottom of their 40-foot Fountain V-bottom dubbed Super Fountain and originally built by Skater Powerboats. They were 32 miles off the South Florida coast.

And they worked the problem likes pros.

“It appears something hit under the throttle seat near the end of the first step and the bottom continued to peel toward the bow,” Copeland, who throttles the boat, explained in a Facebook post yesterday. “I could feel the drag after the first impact, but was hopeful it would remain intact. A minute or two after the first hit we crossed a small set of waves when a hole broke through and the boat immediately started taking in water. 

“I instructed Cody to turn around and head toward Florida,” he continued. “After the initial assessment, we pulled the life-raft because we would soon lose the boat taking in that amount of water.”

Before they lost power in their port engine approximately five minutes after the impact, Copeland made a distress call using his Raymarine RayMic ? system. The boat’s starboard engine kept running so they continued toward land.




Enjoy more images from last weekend’s Gateway Marathon.

“At that point the Coast Guard was now hovering above us asking if we needed the hoist. I gave them a thumbs up because we were still under power with the starboard engine,” Copeland wrote. “By a second stroke of luck, we noticed the driveshaft was spinning the water up to the exhaust and the exhaust was pushing out the water boat as fast as the hole was letting it in, so I realized we might be able to save the boat from sinking if the engine would stay running.”

Copeland’s wife, Nikole, was overhead in the team’s helicopter communicating with the team via handle signals. Through a combined effort involving the Super Fountain team crew and Sea-Tow after the starboard engine finally shut down, the made it all the way back to the launch ramp and onto it trailer.

The hull damage was severe. “The entire starboard side bottom was missing,” Copeland wrote  “It will take weeks to fully assess the damage and determine what the next step is. I would like to personally thank everyone for all of the support and this is only another chapter in our life of racing.”

Though the trek for the five remaining teams in the Gateway Marathon was less dramatic, it was still plenty rough.

Quipped Allen Bellinghausen of the Patriotic Duty team, “We are all still feeling our sore muscles two days after.”

“The race provided some challenging conditions,” said Allen Bellinghausen of the Northern California-based Patriotic Duty team, which includes Steve Seaton and Tony Adams and runs a 47-foot Outerlimits V-Bottom. “The seas were calm at first, but then delivered a good, old-fashioned beat-down. They even took out our port M8 drives at the end of the race.

Added Seaton, “I started out as a 105-mph cruise—I could’ve taken my hand off the wheel. And then it turned into a good, crashing beat-down and we had to come back into it even harder.

“I think we probably lost three minutes because I had to idle through the finish line at 7 mph,” he continued. “Had we not had to slow down because of the inlet, I think our average speed would’ve been right at 90 miles an hour.”

Averaging 87.86 mph, the team completed the roundtrip run in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 25 seconds.

“We are all still feeling our sore muscles two days after,” Bellinghausen added with a chuckle. “All in all, it was the best Ocean Cup event, ever.”

The Trump 2024 team of Nigel Hook and Roger Norman posted the fastest overall time in the rough-water event.

On the catamaran side of the endurance race, throttleman Nigel Hook and driver Roger Norman delivered the fastest time of the event in Hook’s 52-foot Mystic catamaran dubbed Trump 2024. The team averaged 97.40 mph to for a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 51 seconds.

For complete results from the 2024 Gateway Challenge, fans can visit the Ocean Cup Series website.

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