Ryan Beckley and Tanner Lewis flew to Stock-class OPA National and World titles in Engelwood Beach, Fla., last weekend. All photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
A two-week event, the Englewood Beach Waterfest in Florida was rounded out last weekend by hosting the Offshore Powerboat Association‘s 2016 National and World Championship Races. The solid fleet boasted 55 boats in OPA’s bracket, P1 Super Stock, Stock Outboard, Super Vee Light and Extreme classes. Competition happened Saturday and Sunday, with four races each day.
On both days, the first race included Super Vee Light and Class 6. Race No. 2 featured Classes 7, 5 and 4. Race No. 4 boasted P1 Super Stock, Stock Class 3 and Class 1. In the final race of each day, the Extreme-class teams took over the course. Water conditions on Saturday and Sunday were extremely different, and that lead to some exceptional racing for the estimated 100,000 spectators packed into Manasota Key.
Saturday’s racing started out flat and fast. The big story in the first race was the final round in the season-long battle between You Gun Learn and Smith Brothers Offshore Racing. Only a few points separated the two from a National Championship. You Gun Learn, with Warren Exner and Mike Bocchino on board, took the early lead and held it wire to wire to take home the gold and a National Championship.
Race No. 2 on Saturday proved just as exciting with 15 boats competing in Class 5. Three 30-foot Superboats dominated after Repeat Offender had to drop out of the lead with an engine issue. Reinforcer, Cisco and Rufstr lead the way with a tight battle between the three. Reinforcer came in first with Cisco in second and Rufstr 3 in third. Cisco was later disqualified for breaking out of their speed bracket, moving Rufstr into second and Pump It into third.
As the races progressed, the water got rougher and rougher. This played right into the hands of Ryan Beckley and Tanner Lewis in the Stock-class contest, giving them a huge advantage over Smart Marine. Smart Marine was not able to compete On Sunday thanks to some heavy delamination to their hull. That left Beckley and Lewis in the Cape Haze Marine 30 Skater Powerboats catamaran to bring home the OPA World Championship in Stock Class, besting Specialty Marine Center on Sunday.
The final race of the day brought on four hard-charging Extreme-class catamarans. The CRC/Sunlight Supply, Envy, Alex And Ani and Amazing Sensation teams put on an epic show for the fans in the now three- to four-foot seas. Alex And Ani had a rough start that allowed CRC/Sunlight Supply and Envy to pull away. Envy put on an incredible performance leading CRC/Sunlight Supply around the five-mile course for the whole race, eventually stretching its lead to a full straightaway.
A heavy four-to-six-foot groundswell topped with unruly chop greeted the competitors in Sunday’s races for the OPA World Championships. In the first contest of the day, the Typhoon team of Brit Lilly—fresh from taking a Superboat Vee world championships a week earlier at the Super Boat International World Championships in Key West, Fla.—and Randy Schluess, bested Whoa Momma in the rough water to take a hard-fought win in a six-boat Super Vee Light fleet.
For more action from the 2016 OPA World and National Championships check out the slideshow above.
Smith Brothers Racing, with Peter and Rich Smith aboard, had to best You Gun Learn by seven seconds to be crowned World Champions and they pulled it off in a high-flying fashion.
“It was a slugfest from the drop of the green flag,” said throttleman Rich Smith.
Class 7 was dominated all weekend by Hangin’ N’ Bangin in Race No. 2, giving them their second World and National Championship in a row. It was the same story for Saris Racing Engines, which battled hard with Brian Williamson and JJ Turk in the Perdition Phantom.
“The rough water is just what we needed to try stay ahead of them,” said Jason Saris.
Reinforcer, owned and throttled by Donald Goodwin and driven by Al Pisacano, beat Rufstr and Pump It to claim their World Championship for Class 5. In Class 3, Louis Gionconteri’s Strictly Business Fountain won the race even after sustaining considerable damage from a collision with Specialized Marine in Turn No. 1, edging out Wazzup Racing and Repeat Offender to take home a World Championship.
The final race of the day was dominated by CRC/Sunlight Supply with Jay Muller and Mike DeFrees in the cockpit. CRC/Sunlight Supply took an early lead with Envy charging hard and gaining ground until a mechanical failure took them out of the race. Serafino Cazzani and Johnny Stanch in Alex And Ani gave a valiant effort but in the end the longer hull prevailed, giving CRC/Sunlight Supply the title of World Champion.
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com wishes to thanks offshore racer Johnny Saris (above during the 2016 OPA National and World Championships) of the Saris Racing Engines teams covering the OPA 2016 season. For complete results as they become available from last weekend’s races, visit the OPA website.
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