Great! Where’s that?
Earlier today, Ken and EJ Salamone (left) of the Rufstr team chatted with FJ Propeller’s Gary Ballough at the OPA World/National Championships in Englewood Beach. Photo courtesy/copyright Johnny Saris/Speedonthewater.com
OK, so now that I’m here I know—beyond what anyone can read on a map—that Englewood Beach is about 15 miles south of Sarasota and is the ideal place for an event like this. Englewood is a great small town that’s more than ready for a great event, and the restaurants, bars and other business are all very into hosting us and our event this week and weekend. The pits are massive and clean, and the host hotel has laid out the red carpet for the racers—it really appears to be a top-notch race site so far.
The Gulf of Mexico water have been calm but it is supposed to pick up slightly for tomorrow’s race and even more so for Sunday. Today, we’ll be helping Ken and EJ Salamone with their first test session back in Rufstr since their rollover in August. They are eager to get back in the seat, yet a little apprehensive considering their accident happened just a few months ago.
My father, Jason, and I have done some testing with it in the past few weeks and the Rufstr boat and it is performing flawlessly, which is a very good thing because the team competes in Class 5. With approximately 10 teams entered, that class should have some of the closest, toughest racing of the weekend.
Overall, the OPA fleet for this weekend is approaching 50 boats! That includes everything from the 36-foot Amsoil and Cleveland Construction Skater catamarans, to the 21-foot outboard-powered boats of Class 7. The racing should be epic—and I’ll provide updates through the weekend.
Editor’s Note: Veteran OPA offshore powerboat racer Johnny Saris is the driver of the Saris Racing Engines V-bottom, which he runs with his father, Jason, as throttleman in Class 4. This is his second article for speedonthewater.com.