Roger Bourget, who is teaming with a boating star, realized quickly he no longer was driving a motorcycle.
ST. PETERSBURG - When Bob Teague tried to sum up the sport of offshore powerboat racing for his teammate, rookie driver Roger Bourget, he needed two words: "civilized violence."
"I knew what he meant when I ran my first race," said Bourget, who is best known for building custom motorcycles. "When you are out there running, it sounds like someone is out there pounding on the side of a boat with a sledgehammer."
Bouncing across the waves at 100 mph in a 36-foot catamaran takes a toll on the human body. But Teague, who started racing in the early '70s with the legendary Bob Nordskog, remembers when powerboat racing meant being out of sight of land for hours on end.
"Back then, we used to just take off across the open ocean," said the throttleman, whose California-based Teague Custom Marine services the international performance boating community. "We brought life rafts and provisions because if something went wrong out there, you weren't just late for the party. You didn't come back until somebody came and got you."
Powerboat racing has changed greatly in the past 20 years. Today's courses average 5 miles and are full of turns, which make the boat's prerace setup critical.
"There is a lot that goes into it," Teague said. "We have a dozen different pairs of props, three different gears and ballast that we can place around the boat depending on the conditions. When you put it all together, we probably have more than 100 different options."
Teague, who won the American Powerboat Association Offshore Division's Super Cat Light national and world championship last year in Liquid Metal, teammed with chopper king Bourget this year to compete on the new Offshore Super Series tour.
The series, which features big, enclosed catamarans and vee-bottom boats, kicked off its inaugural season two months ago in Biloxi, Miss. Teague and Bourget finished fourth in their first outing together, but they said St. Petersburg's could be the race in which they get out front and stay there.
"A catamaran runs much faster when you have clean water," said Teague, who was a 2003 inductee into the APBA Hall of Champions. "If you don't have to worry about other people's wakes, you can really get the speed up."
The No. 77 Bourget Motorsports Skater competes in the OSS Cat Lite class - twin-hulled, 36- to 38-foot boats powered by two 525-horsepower engines. The cats are almost as fast as the 38- to 40-footers that race in the OSS Cat class. (The Super Cat Light and Super Cat classes essentially have the same specifications.)
Bourget, who started his motorsports career as a designer for Sea Ray boats, has his share of high-performance watercraft.
"He has bought a race boat every year for the past five years just in case he had a chance to race it," said Bourget's wife, Brigette. "He didn't want to race with anybody but Bob (Teague). Now he finally has the chance."
Bourget has always marched to the beat of his own drum. He started customizing Harley Davidson motorcycles but switched to building his own bikes after deciding many custom bikes looked the same.
"I was in Sturgis, S.D., at a rally and came out on the street and couldn't find my '84 Soft Tail," Bourget said. "That is when I decided I had to start making my own motorcycles. Whatever it is I have, I don't like them to look like anything else."
Bourget hopes to add an OSS title to his motorsports resume. Teague, who turned rookie John Talley into a national and world champion in one year, said he believes the godfather of custom bikes has what it takes.
"We are just going to go and run our race," Teague said. "Hopefully, we will get out in front early and stay there."
- For more information on Bourget's motorcycles, go to www.bourgets.com For more information on Teague's racing career, go to www.teaguecustommarine.com