Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tom Phan Wins The 2011 APBA Long Beach to Catalina and Back Offshore National Championship. Steve Friebe of PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing wins the 2011 Triple Crown!

Start of 2011 LB2CAT 
Tom Phan Wins The 2011 APBA Long Beach to Catalina and Back Offshore National Championship.  Steve Friebe of PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing wins the 2011 Triple Crown! 

Tom Phan
Once again RPM Racing Enterprises produced the 2011 Long Beach to Catalina & Back APBA PWC Offshore National Championships aka The LB2CAT with Tom Phan of Southern California, USA taking the overall win on his Kawasaki ULTRA 300X!  This prestigious National Championship event is part of the Long Beach Offshore Powerfest weekend that took place on July 16th and 17th. Three separate racing events including the 63rd Annual Catalina Ski Race on Saturday July 16th, the American Powerboat Racing Association’s (APBA) Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association (POPRA) Offshore “Rum Run” race and culminated on Sunday July 17th with the APBA Professional Watercraft Racers (PWC) National Offshore Championship Long Beach to Catalina and Back race (LB2CAT) presented by Sea-Doo and Sea-Tow.   The race is a test of a PWC racer’s physical endurance, navigation ability and a fast reliable craft’s ability to successfully make it across the treacherous channel to Avalon and back 58 miles without stopping or refueling.   

Craig Warner
After two epic rough water Triple Crown (TCO) races in 2011, the third and final race would  be a letdown for the rough water “hard core“ offshore zealots  with racers waking up to flat water on July 17.  “I am not a fan of flat water” said former US Marine Russell Libby, “rough water levels the playing field and makes it more about the rider than the boat.”  One 300X rider actually withdrew his entry just prior to the event, “it’s just too flat” he said.  In the 2010 LB2CAT race, racers would wake up to fog, five footers and cross chop that would end up breaking 85% of the Pro Open watercraft and turn back the PWCOFFSHORE helicopter due to the fog.  This year presented the exact opposite course conditions that racers encountered during the 2010 LB2CAT.      

Tyler White
Mark Gerner
Going into the 2011 LB2CAT Race, the point’s leader for the 2011 TCO was back to back 2008 and 2009 overall LB2CAT winner Craig Warner of Corona, CA #1 sponsored by Monster Energy and Kawasaki.  Warner was in the lead for the TCO title and back again in pursuit of his third APBA Offshore National title on a Kawasaki Ultra 300X. Among the early entry favorites were former 2009  Triple Crown Champion, PWCOFFSHORE.COM Founder Mark Gerner #58 on a Kawasaki Ultra 300X who had come in second behind Craig Warner in both of the first two 2011 Triple Crown rough water races.  Tyler White #3 out of Alice Texas of TAD Racing was also an early favorite racing his Kawasaki Ultra 300X.  Unfortunately for both Craig Warner and Mark Gerner who were going into this race 1st and 2nd respectively for the TCO, both would go down with mechanical issues while both were in contention for an overall win.  Warner went down while en route to Avalon and Gerner on the way back just outside the break wall entrance back into the Long Beach Harbor.   Tom Phan would continue on with a very impressive performance and overall victory racing his Kawasaki ULTRA 300X.

KC Heidler
Tom Phan would be first to the turn boat on a smoking fast ULTRA 300X followed by Tyler White and Mark Gerner and then KC Heidler all racing the Kawasaki ULTRA 300X.  Once again, navigation would play a key role on the return trip with two separate lead packs heading different directions back across the channel.  Podium finishers would be Tom Phan (1st), Tyler White (2nd) of TAD Racing in Texas and three time Vet Master IJSBA World Champion and Iron Man Triathlete KC Heidler of PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing taking 3rd place.  All three of the podium racers were racing the Kawasaki ULTRA 300X.  This is the 4th consecutive LB2CAT win for the Kawasaki ULTRA Platform; this win continues to demonstrate Kawasaki’s dominance of offshore racing.  “It looks like a Kawasaki 300X convention around here” one racer was heard saying at the launch ramp.   It should be noted that every class in the 2011 LB2CAT was won by the Kawasaki ULTRA platform.   
Always humble and outwardly gregarious, Tom Phan was gracious with his win thanking his riding friends and fellow offshore racers Jack Chang and Santiago Kuan for their participation in training runs in preparation for the race.  A talented offshore racer, those who know Tom Phan know him as an exceptionally nice person who would give the shirt off of his back for other racers.  Mark Gerner said “ I remember Tom Phan offering to drive 140 miles to pick up a part for another racer who was in need, and the time he insisted that I ride his craft when mine was down and then refusing to take any gas money.”  Tom Phan is “one of the good guys” in our sport Gerner said.  A gentleman racer who is a capable, competent and a hard- hitting offshore racer, this is Tom Phan and our new 2011 Offshore National Champion! 
Steve Friebe

Veteran professional racer Steve Friebe of PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing won the overall points for the 2011 Triple Crown racing his SeaDoo RXTX 255 joining the ranks of previous TCO winners Lee Phan and Mark Gerner.  Friebe put in an impressive performance in the first two TCO races and his 5th place overall finish at the 2011 LB2CAT pushed him into the #1 TCO spot for the 2011 TCO.  KC Heidler of PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing would take 2nd in the TCO and John Feeney of Offshore Robot Racing out of Southern California would take 3rd overall for the 2011 TCO racing his Kawasaki ULTRA 300X.   Steve Friebe would also win the prestigious 2011 PWCOFFSHORE Warrior Award for his actions during the 2011 offshore racing season.  Friebe joins the ranks of previous PWCOFFSHORE Warrior Award winners Ms. Shawn Alladio and John “The Master”  Belton.  Last years LB2CAT champion Kim Bushong would suffer a mechanical early in the race taking him out of contention.     
Russell Libby

Former US Marine Russell Libby would give up his race for another racer who was struggling with a mechanical issue.  Libby would slow his pace and hover next to another Kawasaki that was struggling with only three of four operational cylinders.  Once again, Russell Libby demonstrated that you can take the Marine out of the Marine Corps but you can’t take Corps out of the Marine.  Russell “would not leave his friend behind” during the race.         

Warren Leighton
This year’s LB2CAT featured some international competition with an Australian team that came to compete in this historic 58 mile offshore race.  David Baker and Warren Leighton crossed the pond from Australia to compete and would both put in impressive performances on Kawasaki’s with Warren Leighton winning the sportsman class.  300X Racer Tommy Kolleck of Southern California would lend one of his craft to the team as would Robert Carreon to allow the Australian Team to participate.  Never a dull moment in racing, the Kawasaki ULTRA 250X craft to be used by Leighton would go down only six days prior to the race requiring the team to do a hasty rebuild of the entire engine in only a few days.  Not only did the Australian Team demonstrate their offshore racing prowess, they also demonstrated phenomenal technical skills doing a complete engine rebuild on the craft in only a few days that resulted in the craft running flawlessly throughout the entire race.  

John Feeney
Five classes of personal water craft including the “Sportsman” for the “first time LB2CAT offshore racer” class, “Manufacturer’s Stock” classes to entice the PWC enthusiast to participate on a 100% stock craft and “Super Stock Limited” class (open to all racers that have done minor modifications to their boats except the powertrain) Vet Master and of course the Professional Class.     

The 2011 LB2CAT Class winners were:  PRO Tyler White TAD Racing Kawasaki ULTRA 300X, Vet Master Andy Wise TAD Racing Kawasaki ULTRA 260X, Amateur Open Tom Phan Kawasaki ULTRA 300X, Super Stock Limited Santiago Kuan racing the Kawasaki ULTRA 300X, Sportsman Warren Leighton on the Kawasaki ULTRA 250X. 

Warren Leighton and David Baker
Andy Wise TAD Racing
PWCOFFSHORE.COM and FLY Racing sponsored a “Longest Distance Travelled Award” for the racers that demonstrated the greatest commitment in distance traveled to participate in the race.  Warren Leighton and David Baker from Australia were awarded the FLY Racing Carbon Kevlar Helmet for their long distance travels from Australia to participate.  This is the same helmet used by the PWCOFFSHORE.COM Race Team, the helmet awarded to the team included the custom PWCOFFSHORE race team decal kit from PWCOFFSHORE.   

Derek Newton
The youngest athlete on the course was 17 year old Derek Newton out of Southern California who competed on his Kawasaki 15F.  Newton spent some time prepping for the race with the PWCOFFSHORE.COM Race Team prior to the event.  Newton’s navigation was spot on during the race resulting in an impressive performance from Newton.     

PWCOFFSHORE.COM will be producing a DVD again this year covering the race with helicopter footage and racer interviews!  Stay tuned! 

Pos         Boat #   Name    Class      Time
1              35           Tom Phan            Amateur Open  0:54:55
2              3              Tyler White        Pro/Am                0:55:10
3              7              K.C. Heidler        Pro/Am                0:55:35
4              10           John Feeney      Amateur Open  0:57:23
5              50           Steve Friebe      Pro/Am                0:57:55
6              77X         Tom Cruz             Amateur Open  0:58:00
7              8              Lee Phan             Pro/Am                0:58:50
8              33           Andy Wise          Vet/Master        0:58:56
9              777         Tommy Kolleck Amateur Open  1:01:47
10           470         Akira Tanaka      Amateur Open  1:01:55

Steve Friebe
Congratulations to Tom Phan #35, Moreno Valley, CA on capturing the 2011 Long Beach to Catalina & Back presented by Sea-Doo, Sea-Tow, Tom's Truck Center and Dana Point Jet Ski. With almost perfect weather and on a borrowed boat, Tom Phan marched to victory after the two favorites, Craig Warner #71 RSM, CA Monster Energy/Kawasaki and #58 Mark Gerner, Aliso Viejo, CA riders both retired with motor woes. Warner was the early favorite, winning both Round #1 of the Triple Crown of Offshore Racing - Dana Point to Avalon & Back and Round # 2- Dana Point to Oceanside & Back. Gerner was 2nd to Warner in both rounds of the Triple Crown but it was Phan's day as he passed Gerner approximately 1.5 miles from the breakwater on the return to Long Beach and set his sights on his 1st LB2Cat win finishing just shy of the record with a time of 54 minutes 55 seconds. TAD Racing entry Tyler White was hot on Phan's heels but would end up in the 2nd spot overall and 1st in the Pro/Am Class with a time of 55 minutes 10 seconds. Third Place went veteran racer, K.C. Heidler, #7 Irvine, CA Tom's Truck Center entrant who finished a mere 25 seconds behind White. It is of note to all that this year’s LB2Cat was an international event with two entries from Australia- David Baker, #169 and Warren Leighton #4 who traveled across the pond to compete and say they'll be back next year!!!

Congratulations to Steve Friebe #58, Clovis, CA Clawson's Motorsports sponsored rider on winning the overall title for the 2011 Triple Crown of Offshore Racing! Friebe returned to the racing scene in 2011 after a year off and was a dominant force in offshore endurance racing during all three rounds of the Triple Crown of Offshore Racing. Ten points behind Friebe was K.C. Heidler #7 Irvine, CA Tom's Truck Center who took 2nd Place in the 2011 TCO overall standings. K.C. had a tremendous year and looks to be a potential threat for the 2012 TCO. 3rd Place overall in the 2011 TCO went to John Feeney, #10 Corona Del Mar, CA.
On behalf of RPM Racing Enterprises, we want to thank all staff, volunteers and race teams that participated in the LB2Cat and all three rounds of the Triple Crown of Offshore Racing!

On board video of start of race:
2011 LB2CAT Pictures by PWCOFFSHORE.COM Flickr Account: