During hurricane season, it’s normal for a storm to brew in Florida, head up the Eastern seaboard, and hit the Chesapeake Bay. But just the reverse seems to have happened as Arnold, Md.’s Brit Lilly took his 29-foot Hurricane of Awesomeness down to Key West for the Race World Offshore World Championships earlier this month. Lilly dominated racing and ended up taking home the title of World Champion in the Stock V class.
This is not Lilly’s first world championship: he already has 10 under his belt. But this one is special, as it is very personal.
Lilly’s Hurricane is a single-engine Extreme Vee based on the hull design of boatbuilder Mark Spates, who passed away from cancer in 2019. In 2003, the first generation of the hull scored a perfect season and won the World Championship with Spates’ friend Steve Miklos at the helm.
“I knew Brit’s father,” Miklos says of racing great Art Lilly, who has more world championships than anyone. “I had raced rather unsuccessfully against him. So, when Mark asked me [before his death] to meet Art’s son and help out, I reluctantly agreed.”
After Spates’ passing, Miklos worked with the family to honor his wishes and get the boat designs and molds to Brit. “I’m not a boatbuilder,” he says. “I would glue my hands together – and have. But Brit—coming out of that shop, he could easily be a top-five boatbuilder in no time. He does it right; doesn’t cut corners. There aren’t a lot of boatbuilders like that.”
Lilly’s original plan was to build pleasure boats from the designs; five-seaters with outboard engines perfect for poker runs and family Sundays. But when the pandemic hit, Lilly spent his time doing what he was made to do: perfecting race boats.
Starting in February of 2020, Lilly put in thousands of hours working on the boat at his family’s shop, Lilly Sport Boats in Arnold.
“We used some of my own bottom designs to incorporate better handling at top speeds,” says Lilly, who pushed Hurricane to 95 mph on the straightaways in Key West. “We also went a different route for the materials to make it stronger and lighter. The first generations were fiberglass, but these are all carbon, Kevlar, and epoxy.”
“Anybody in offshore powerboat racing knows Lilly Sport Boats,” says Jimmy Jernigan, president of the Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association and a good friend of Lilly. “And anybody can make a boat go fast, but Brit will make it go the fastest. It’s in his blood.”
The result is a world champion boat with a story. “I wasn’t really planning this,” Lilly says. “But Mark (Spates) wanted me to keep doing it and get these boats out there. The Extreme boat lives on, and so does he.”
Brit Lilly, Kevin Smith, and Hurricane of Awesomeness will next be in Englewood, Fl., for the Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Championships. In 2022, look for Lilly racing again with Travis Pastrana in the 47-foot Miss Geico catamaran.