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Offshore Racing Safety And Rescue Veterans Working With OPGP

Longtime Lavin Memorial Safety Foundation representatives Steve Dillon, Craig Dunham and Gary Mcghee have agreed to work with the Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix in establishing safety and rescue plans and protocols for fledgling organization’s inaugural season this year, according to a press release. With their combined experience of more than 50 years, the Foundation’s trio will focus on providing specialized training for local rescue teams including classroom and hands-on practical experience with rescue techniques, dunker testing with an emphasis on “racer self-extrication as well as rescuer extrication training,” racecourse safety plan consultation and providing cockpit safety tours to local rescue teams.


During the upcoming Qatar Cup, the Lavin Foundation team will help familiarize local safety and rescue crews with boats currently being shipped from the U.S. to Doha, the country’s capital city.

Founded by Dr. Matt Houghton and the Lavin family in 1986 after the death of offshore racer Mark Lavin, the organization provided the safety-and-rescue teams for the American Power Boat Association’s Offshore division events from 1986 to 1990, the Offshore Professional Tour events from 1990 to 1992 and Union of Internationale Motonautique Victory Team from 1991 to 2005.

Houghton died last summer, but according to Dillon the remaining foundation members hope to carry on his legacy through their work with the OPGP.

“What we want to do is bring our expertise and work with local rescue teams, take our dunker with us and go over the safety systems with them in every boat,” said Dillon, who was initially contacted by Steve Curtis, the acting president of OPGP. “We have a safety program and we’ve done a lot of rescues. We want to work with the safety crews to enable them to do the best job possible.”

“Dr. Matt really had this set up to go forward, and we want to keep it alive and keep it going,” he added.

In addition to what likely will be an ongoing role with OPGP throughout the 2015 season, Dillon, Dunham and Mcghee have been invited to the upcoming Qatar Cup, which is being held jointly by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and OPGP, in February and will be on hand in a consulting capacity. Their primary goal is to help familiarize local safety and rescue crews with the United States-based raceboats and their safety systems (escape hatches, oxygen, etc.) that are coming to Doha for the event, Dillon explained.

“For the Qatar Cup were are going to have an advisory role—that is my understanding,” he said. ” They have been doing races in Qatar at all levels for some time. We’re not going over there to reinvent the wheel. And we’re also going there to have further discussions with Steve about defining what we’ll be doing for OPGP.”

Said Curtis, “Steve, Craig and Gary are the ones who helped set up the Lavin Foundation and worked with APBA, and since we are going to run by APBA rules and guidelines we felt like working with them was the right move going forward. I have known Steve for over 20 years and the Lavin Foundation is probably the only thing of its kind that is still standing in offshore racing.”