Florida superboat series will continue despite deaths

Organiser of Key West World Championship says: "We will continue racing"

The organisers of the Key West World Championship say they will continue running the superboat series, despite the deaths of three racers at this year’s event.

John Carbonell, director of the championship, told the Miami Herald: “We will continue racing. I’m not twisting anyone’s arm. If somebody’s concerned or scared, they shouldn’t go out there. They know the risk of accidents to themselves and other people are high.”

The first fatal crash happened on November 9, and resulted in the deaths of Robert Morgan, 74, and Jeff Tillman, 47. The pair were killed when their 46ft, 1,200hp boat took off before crashing back down in the sea upside down.

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Just two days later, offshore racing champion Joey Gratton, 59, died when his 38ft powerboat rolled during the final turn of a seven-lap race. His co-driver, Stephen Page, 57, escaped serious injury and left hospital the same day.

“Everyone is pushing a little too hard,” fellow competitor Lee Austin, 67, told the Florida newspaper.

“I’ve been racing all my life. It’s something we love to do. You get killed easier on the freeway than you do here. We’ll all probably take turns a little slower and reduce speed. Personally, I’ll be racing in future with those three guys on my mind.”

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