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Breaking: Controversy Erupts Between APBA And OPA

The growing internal divide between the American Power Boat Association and the Offshore Powerboat Association spilled into public view yesterday with two press releases—one from each organization. At least on the surface, the current issue surrounds next week’s OPA-produced LOTO Powerfest races at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.

The first event of the 2023 Offshore Powerboat Association season, LOTO Powerfest will not be sanctioned by the American Powerboat Association. Photo from the 2022 event by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In the APBA press release, offshore racing commission chairman Rich Luhrs announced that the organization will not be sanctioning the event as originally planned.  

“The promoter for the ‘LOTO Powerfest’ scheduled for June 1-3, 2023, at Lake of the Ozarks has failed to complete the APBA sanctioning forms and payment requirements after an extended deadline,” Luhrs said. “Therefore, the race has been removed from the APBA Regional calendar and will be conducted as a non-APBA sanctioned event without Regional or National points.”

A few hours later, OPA made an announcement of its own.

“The unfolding situation between OPA Racing and the APBA has caused some confusion,” Ed Smith, the president of OPA, wrote in his organization’s release. “OPA Racing is not sanctioned by APBA. This is a decision we had to make this off-season. The long-term vision for the sport is one that’s heavily debated. And one APBA and OPA do not see eye to eye on.

“As a member organization, APBA’s role in offshore is to usher in a form of consistency under their sanction,” he continued. “Providing an umbrella for which the race teams can compete under. Without choosing their entity, competing towards a unified championship. This model has been broken by bias. The rulebook has been made such a staple of their outfit, and disregarded with blatant carelessness, that we no longer feel comfortable being in association.”

A hotbed for high-performance powerboating, the Lake of the Ozarks hosts one offshore powerboat race each season.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story—speedonthewater.com will provide updates as they become available.

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